December 10, 2008

Bee Story Looks at Situation of Bannon Street Irregulars and Other Homeless Encampments

A picture from the Bee story showing the Bannon Street encampment in late November.

First, it was the L.A. Times, and now the Sacramento Bee that has done an important story on its area homeless people.

The Bee story, "Sacramento seeks solutions for its wandering army of homeless," focuses on the Bannon Street Irregulars and an encampment over a mile to the east, called The Wasteland. It tells the tale of the pointlessness of the police rousting homeless people from campsites they've built in no-man's land. Where can the homeless go!?

The story also cites a lawsuit that is being pursued by several prominent Sac'to homeless-aid organizations to protect homeless folks' constitutional rights. The lawsuit seeks compensation for confiscation of homeless people's property and that some solution be found for the encampment-rousting run-around. The suit offers ideas and, generally, asks that the city and county to stop criminalizing homelessness.

The story could have been a tad more sympathetic to the trap homeless people find themselves in, but, generally, the story is a great, good thing, informing Sacramento citizens of the homeless encampment situation in the city.


anonyrod said...

Sorry to hear that there are so many homeless, if nothing else they have my sympathy.

What usually happens in such situations (as when when some selfish dude rings up to point out that they spoil his view), the first approach is always that they don't exist.

The government has no choice, if they don't want them there then find another place for them and provide transport and set up toilets and bathing facilities.

At least they have some comfort in being together, and if all have tents then life can be manageable. I hope that they can get some enjoyment despite their predicament.

However, shame on the local government until they recognize that they do exist and that there is no other solution but to help them.

Anonymous said...

January 13, 2009

(Contact: Ruben Botello, 717-300-3487)

The American Homeless Society has asked President-Elect Barack Obama to make a firm commitment to America’s homeless.

“He speaks about fixing our ailing economy from the bottom up,” Ruben Botello, founder of the American Homeless Society said. “At the bottom of our economy are tens of thousands of homeless men, women and children, and that’s where the fixing should start.”

Botello, a longtime homeless activist asked President-Elect Obama in a January 11 letter to “abolish homelessness” like slavery was abolished by President Lincoln. “Homelessness is just as bad as slavery in several ways and much worse in others,” he claimed.

The activist established the American Homeless Society in 1987 when he was homeless with his sons in California. He has been in several hunger strikes for homeless rights, including a 58-day strike against President Reagan’s “trickle down” economic policies that created more instead of less homelessness in the U.S.

“Trickle-down economics certainly didn’t help the homeless,” Botello stated. “President Obama’s bottom-up economic policies can if he starts at the real bottom.”

The Vietnam veteran calls for a nationwide Obama plan to end homelessness during his administration much like the 10-year plans some major cities have adopted to end homelessness under the Bush Administration.


January 11, 2009

TO: President-Elect Barack Obama

FROM: Ruben Botello, Founder

Dear Mr. Obama:

I have been in and out of homelessness since being honorably discharged as a USMC Vietnam veteran in 1969. I wound up homeless then, in and out of homelessness with my two sons in the Eighties, and homeless on my own again in the Nineties.

I started the American Homeless Society in 1987 while my sons and I were homeless in California. I have been in several hunger strikes, marches and demonstrations for homeless rights since then but have seen little progress.

My longest hunger strike was 58 days against President Reagan’s “trickle down” economic policies that created much more instead of less homelessness in our country. You now speak about fixing our nation’s economy from the “bottom up” and that should mean you are starting by ending involuntary homelessness at the bottom.

HUD Secretary Philip Mangano has been promoting 10-year plans to end homelessness in major cities across the country on behalf of the Bush Administration for the past few years. We would hope and pray you make a similar commitment to abolish homelessness but throughout our nation, not just in individual cities because there are far more homeless than these urban plans will ever reach.

Slavery was abolished in America over a century ago; why not abolish homelessness today, Mr. Obama? Homelessness is just as bad as slavery in several ways and much worse in others.

Men, women and children from all the races, colors, cultures, nationalities, ethnicities, religions and creeds in our diverse society find themselves homeless daily. They are forced to endure harassment, discrimination and persecution in our nation today much like the slaves President Lincoln’s armies fought to free in the Nineteenth Century.

America’s homeless are also forced to endure nature’s harshest conditions without warm homes or shelter for protection; without good food and nutrition; without essential hygiene, medicine and healthcare; and without the necessary education, training or experience required to qualify for the dwindling supply of jobs in today’s worsening economy. Many of America’s homeless today are even employed but underemployed and unable to afford existing rentals while thousands of others are altogether unemployable.

How can our great nation permit so many of these poor souls to continue to suffer and die needlessly on our streets? I joined the Marines to fight for my country in the Sixties so that all Americans could have a better life, not just the rich and well-to-do who are receiving all the bailouts today.

The list of barriers and obstacles facing today’s homeless goes on and on, Mr. Obama. Please, if you are serious about fixing our nation’s economy from the bottom-up, begin at the real bottom by making a firm commitment to end involuntary homelessness throughout our country without further ado.


Ruben Botello, Founder