In the past month or so, we have been made aware of 3 MORE homeless "evictions" that have taken place in Vallejo. Add that to the 2 evictions in March of this year and that unofficially makes 5 evictions in the past 5 months alone! And that accounts only for the evictions that we KNOW of.
These actions of various city departments have only compounded the problem. City leadership fails to act. City residents complain vigorously but offer no workable solutions. Churches stand idle as if the suffering of our vulnerable residents matter not.
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!! Displacing and humiliating people is not the answer. Nor will complaining or scapegoating solve anything. Ignorance is not bliss. Homeless residents are PEOPLE and a disproportionately vulnerable part of our community.
We have put this off for some time, but now more than ever our community must come together and engage in conversations for change -- not in debates of polarizing generalizations.
Homeless, advocates push for county coalition
Vallejo City Council members heard two of the city's self-described homeless members
share their concerns Tuesday night. One told of veterans facing depression, while the other noted an incident involving sheriff deputies in the midst of increasingly frequent routings of Vallejo-area homeless.
James Freeman, a 55-year-old San Pablo native, said in an interview Friday that shortly after a homeless encampment was emptied at the White Slough in March, he found his long-time stomping grounds near the waterfront River Park a bit more crowded.
A series of subsequent cleanups has chased him from four different locations in the past six weeks, after nearly a year and a half at one site, Freeman said.
Then, on June 27, Solano County Sheriffs deputies allegedly came into the camp, reportedly near county property but actually on city property, and removed some of the homeless' most prized possessions.
Freeman, 51, and homeless advocate Doug Darling said items like tents, medication and other essentials were missing when they returned later that day, and everything else was "trashed." Their main objection, the two said, was that the property had not been posted against loitering and they were given no notice to leave. That differed from nearby county property that was also being cleaned that day.
Darling said he understands that homeless people may be told to leave property, but added that there must be somewhere for them to relocate first. He said, with city leaders' support, he and fellow concerned resident Mark Mora hope to lead efforts to forge a homeless coalition uniting key figures citywide.
"The bottom line is it's cheaper to address the problem than deal with it later," Darling said. "I'm all for taking them off private property -- but they have to have somewhere to go. How long are we going to keep kicking the can, as the council would say. They are people, they need to be treated with dignity."
Darling and Mora said they hope to bring community leaders associated with homeless issues together soon. Darling, Freeman and a second homeless man plan to return Tuesday to city council chamber.
For more information on efforts to assist Vallejo's homeless, visit http://serveourvallejohomeless.blogspot.com.
Contact staff writer Jessica A. York at email@example.com or (707) 553-6834.