Volume 35, Issue 1
COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
| Assault on Oakland's Homeless Population Continues |
By Lynda Carson
- It's cold and wet. Dawn breaks, and the screams of a howling cat in
the distance sounds like a child abandoned in the frigid cold of the
night, begging for attention.
A raggedy looking
homeless man recently near the entranceway of a Lucky store in Oakland,
is chased off by security a few evenings ago, barely a moment after I
had the pleasure of giving him a dollar, to buy something to eat.
Winter is in full bloom in Northern California, and the assault on
Oakland's homeless population is unrelenting and colder than the
governors latest budget cuts, that have been slashing and shredding the
safety net for California's poor, it's elderly, children, students,
chronically ill and disabled communities.
Across the nation, during December 2009 the latest report from the U.S.
Conference of Mayors reveals that nineteen cities reported a huge
increase in family homelessness due to a lack of affordable housing,
home foreclosures and high unemployment in various locations such as
San Francisco, Sacramento, Charleston, Nashville, Boston, Kansas City
and Dallas, between October 2008 and September of 2009.
During the past year, newly created tent cities and major homeless
encampments have also risen in Charleston, Los Angeles, Nashville,
Detroit, and Providence, Rhode Island, as the size of older more
established homeless encampments have increased their populations in
Seattle, Sacramento, Des Moines and Phoenix.
Among other cities, homeless encampments also exist in Hawaii, New
Orleans, Tampa, Albuquerque, Pensacola, Ukiah, Portland, La Mesa,
Philly, Colorado Springs, Eureka, Las Vegas, Compton, CA., and
throughout many other cities and states across the nation.
During the same period, hunger is reportedly on the rise and cities in
need of emergency food assistance during the past year included Boston,
Chicago, Charleston, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Denver, Kansas City,
Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, San Francisco and
Seattle, according to the December mayors report.
Locally, Operation Dignity estimates that around 1,064 people are
residing in homeless encampments throughout Oakland on any given night
and according to City officials, Oakland needs around 7,000 more
affordable housing units to end homelessness within Oakland's borders
during the next fifteen years.
The assault on the homeless
population is so brutal that during March of 2009, CalTrans released a
statement declaring that it dedicates one week a month to removing
homeless encampments from the City of Oakland.
For example, CalTrans reports that it cleared 420 homeless encampments
from the City of Oakland from July 1, 2008, through February 1, 2009,
at a cost of $84,000, and treats homeless encampments as being little
more than blight in the City of Oakland, and it's many diverse
In Berkeley many homeless people
can be found at Peoples Park on a daily basis, while Food Not Bombs
serves them free food five days a week, and in recent years the
homeless population and their encampments face a continual brutal
assault by authorities, at the Albany bulb.
populations on the rise in San Francisco, it's estimated that there are
6,000 to 12,000 homeless people living on the streets on any given
night, and with a surge of homeless people and 3 major homeless
encampments occurring in Fresno for it's more than 2,000 residents
needing housing during 2009, attacks by the City are common occurrences
against the homeless population. In addition, in Memphis, Tennessee,
it's reported that the cops have raided 17 homeless encampments during
the past year.
In Sacramento, the governor has
assaulted and shut down several homeless encampments during the past
year, displacing many from their communities.
In Asheville, North Carolina, around 550 homeless people are on the
streets any given night, with deaths in the community resulting from
hate crime violence, the lack of health care, and shortage of shelter
during cold harsh weather.
In response to the
homeless crisis occurring nationwide, the National Health Care for the
Homeless Council reported that the average age of death for people
experiencing homelessness is around 50 years, compared to about 78
years for non-homeless Americans.
Michigan, as recent as early December, Thomas J. McCloud Jr. and
Donates Tillman, both 15, were sentenced to spend the rest of their
lives in prison for brutally beating to death two homeless senior
citizens (Wilford "Frenchie" Hamilton and Lee Hoffmann Jr.), and a
third suspect will soon stand trial for the vicious homeless deaths
that occurred in that community during August of 2008.
The fear of homelessness is pervasive throughout society and as a
simple reminder, as recent as December 10th, it was the anniversary of
the death of Mary Jesus who leapt to her death from the Oakland Tribune
Tower on that fateful day in 2004, after facing homelessness and
eviction due to a major rent increase being imposed on her by her
landlords Mark Roemer, James Lewis and Dean Miller, as was stated in
copies of a suicide note she tossed to the crowd of hundreds of
traumatized bystanders below, who watched her leap to her death on
December 10, 2004.
Brutal deaths among the
homeless are being reported across the nation, and as recent as Dec. 8,
2009, a homeless woman in Hemet, CA., died from exposure due to the
cold during a storm. A homeless man was found dead at his encampment in
November along the Russian River. Other reports include a homeless man
who died in early December in his tent along the Guadalupe River in San
Jose, after a tree fell on him. Plus the 28 homeless deaths reported in
Santa Barbara during 2009, in addition to 50 homeless people who died
outdoor violent deaths in King County, Washington, during 2008, along
with another other 22 homeless victims who died outdoors by June of
2009 in the same area, including 131 homeless people who died on the
streets of Minnesota during 2008, with the numbers expected to be
similar by the end of 2009.
In closing, a
recent vigil to honor 67 homeless men and woman who died on the streets
of San Jose during 2009, took place on December 9, with the following
names of the dead being provided by EHC Life Builders.
Janell Alarid, Gregorio Alvarado-Rodriquez, Edward Atherton, Viola
Bailey, Ramon Barajas, Medina Bernardo, Ryan Buck, Nicandro Canseco,
Ronald Ceglio, Israel Chapa, Jose Cortez, Stephen Creal, Mary Lou
DeRosa, Nung Duong, Michael Eagan, David Escobar, Benjamin Espinoza,
Kimo Fernandez, Neil Fitzpatrick, Chareles Gadbery, Mark Gale, Norine
Gallager, Henry Garcia, Heise Kimberly, Daniel Hopkins, David Huang,
Jeffrey Ivers, Martin Jensen, Colby Jervis, David Johnson, Julia Jones,
James Leary, Michael Leyden, Kenneth Loyola, Phillip McLaughlin, Cheryl
Ann Mendoza, Richard Michels, Bill Mix, Gaylen Mix, Lois Moore, Bruce
Morowski, Theodore Nelligan, Alfonso Nuno, Robin Oreglia, Russell W.
Paquette, Joseph Paul, Kathryn Powell, Vivian Riley, Rita Rodriquez,
Anthony Rodriquez, John Ryan, Kelly Smith, Deally Som, Barry Sterns,
David Studt, Tom Sullivan, William Teixeria, Allison M. Thomas, Gregory
Thompson, George Tyson, Debra Wakayama, Lindon West, Thomas
White, Tommy Williams, Carl Wiseman, Jr., and Rickey Young.
Lynda Carson may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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