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January, 2010 Volume 35, Issue 1


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MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS

(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) -
P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924
mailto:editor@coastalpost.com



    Assault on Oakland's Homeless Population Continues
By Lynda Carson

   
Oakland - 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 communities.
    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.
With homeless 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.
    In Pontiac, 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 tenantsrule@yahoo.com














 














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