Homeless News Roundup, from Oakland to Oklahoma – July 15

West Oakland Punks with Lunch. 

Misfits fight Homelessness

Oakland, CA

A group of self-described misfits are spending their own money to help combat the crisis of homelessness. As politicians debate and talk about solutions, every Sunday, Punks With Lunch assemble 80 to 180 healthy meals of sandwiches, fresh fruit, water and snacks, then head out to encampments at 35th and Peralta streets at 3:30 p.m. and Fifth and Brush streets at 4:30 p.m. to distribute them.

Besides providing meals, the loosely knit group has expanded its giveaways to include hygiene products, blankets, clothing and whatever else it can come up with. In partnership with  Dal Porto’s new Community Outreach Harm Reduction Team they added needle exchange and discarded syringe cleanup, human immunodeficiency awareness work, condom handout, distribution of the anti-overdose product Narcan (naloxone) and training in how to use it.

War againt poor people in Anaheim continues

Anaheim, CA

The war against poor people in Anaheim continues. Best known as the home to Mickey Mouse, there are also about 800 people that also call this tourist paradise home. In an effort to hide homeless people from its 20 million visitors that travel there each year, the city has been removing benches from bus stops along its main tourist thoroughfare, abutting Disneyland. This latest attack means now there is nowhere to sit since the poor are chased from local parks and other public spaces as well as ongoing evictions at the nearby river bed.

Jackpot of $500,000 for encampment residents in LA

Los Angeles, CA

The Los Angeles City Council Wednesday approved a nearly $500,000 settlement of a lawsuit that accused the police and city of working with a local business improvement district’s security firms to illegally seize homeless people’s property in Skid Row. “This case really arose because business improvement district officers were coming in and seizing homeless people’s property when those individuals simply walked away to go to a doctor’s appointment or to go to the bathroom,” Shelia Myers, an attorney for the plaintiffs, told City News Service. It should be noted that since 2014, the City has been under Federal Injunction prohibiting police from seizing property that is not abandoned, an immediate threat to health or safety, or evidence of a crime.

Investment to end homelessness raises concerns

Berkeley, CA

The Berkeley City Council recently approved $400,000 toward an ambitious new temporary shelter program estimated to cost more than $2 million each year to run. Homeless advocates and homeless people associated with the self-advocacy group First They Came From The Homeless raised several concerns.The proposal indicates that there will first be encampment resolution followed by shelter. Advocates state that based on the history of criminalization, the indication is that encampment residents will either go to jail or to a shelter. Most striking within the proposal is that it lacks mentioning housing as a permanent solution to homelessness, but focuses on expensive temporary shelters which officials admit they do not have the funds to implement.

Oklahoma launches text donation program to fight homelessness

Oklahoma City, OK

The city of Oklahoma City is rolling out a program designed to make it easier for residents to help homeless people.The city, in conjunction with the United Way of Central Oklahoma, is launching a program that allows donors to make donations via text message to agencies that work with the city’s homeless population. Donations will go to the United Way, which will distribute the contributions among 29 public agencies, private groups and faith-based organizations.

Homeless numbers up

Santa Clara County, CA

4,350 homeless individuals were counted in San Jose. This figure is a 7 percent increase from the previous census of 2015, when there were 4,063 homeless individuals in the city.

It was also reported 643 homeless encampments, 1,205 individuals who were chronically homeless, 104 homeless families with children, 330 unaccompanied homeless youth and 468 homeless veterans.  The total number of homeless people in Santa Clara County is 7,394, a 13 percent increase from the previous count in 2015, when there were 6,556 homeless people.

Homelessness is down overall in Marin County but chronic homelessness is up

Marin County, CA

Marin County Department of Health and Human Services shows the number of sheltered and unsheltered homeless in people decreased from 1,309 in 2015 to 1,117. Thirty-seven percent were sheltered and 63 percent were not. Thirty-two percent, or 329 people, were chronically homeless in 2017 compared to 20 percent in 2015, and almost all of them are unsheltered

About two-thirds of the homeless people in 2017 said rental assistance or more affordable housing is needed to obtain housing.