Sign O’ the Times (The Shelter)

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Mayor Garcetti’s A Bridge Home

Last week I attended a Los Angeles City Council meeting with members of LA CAN.  On the agenda was a vote on a proposed shelter for Korea Town.  The president of the council Wesson allowed speakers on each side 25 minutes to state their case.  The chambers were full and not everyone was allowed into the meeting.

Homeowners and people who live in Korea Town were divided about the shelter going into their area.  The mayor’s A Bridge Home would put similar shelters in each of the city’s council districts.  Never mentioned at this meeting was what will happen to the thousands of people who do not make it into one of these shelters.

Since the mayor is also putting over $20 million into increased police enforcement and sanitation workers, the belief is that this plan will start criminalizing homelessness, even though there is nowhere for the thousands left out of A Bridge Home to go.

LA CAN has started a petition for a forensic audit of how the HHH money is being spent.  The fear is that some of the money designed to be used only for permanent housing is being used for other things such as increased sweeps.

The mayor and city council members owe it to the people of Los Angeles and especially the homeless, to tell their plans for the thousands left out of the mayor’s plan.  We should also be asking why the shelters are only scheduled to exist for 3 years.  With the price of housing, how can they expect homelessness to go away in a period of 3 years?

A Bridge Home seems very unrealistic given the number of homeless and the price of housing in the area.  It is time we hold city council accountable and demand answers.

Shelters are Not the Solution to the Homeless Crisis in Los Angeles

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is proposing spending $20 million dollars on building emergency shelters in each of the 15 districts in Los Angeles and providing the city with more police and sanitation workers for homeless sweeps in the city’s A Bridge Home program.  This proposal is not viable as a solution to the homeless crisis Los Angeles and will not work as a temporary fix.

 

The most important reason his solution will not work is that the numbers don’t match.  Garcetti’s proposal to put a shelter in each district will not have enough beds to serve all of the homeless in those areas.  For example, a proposed shelter in Korea Town would provide 65 beds to an area with 368 homeless. Where are the other 303 going to sleep?  Providing a shelter with only 65 beds would put the other 303 people at risk for being arrested or being given tickets for sleeping on the sidewalk which they would not be able to pay.  Possibly ending in incarceration for not paying a ticket. This creates a situation where housing and employment would be more difficult to find.

 

Shelters are not permanent housing, can be dangerous and have time limits for those staying in them.  These time limits can be a couple of days weeks or months. If at the end of their stay in the shelter a person has not found permanent housing they are sent back to live in the street.  Many people staying at shelters experience violence from others who are staying in them or sometimes from staff. The large numbers of people staying in a confined area make it hard to properly ensure personal safety.  People down on their luck financially are mixed in with drug addicts and felons creating dangerous conditions.

 

There is no follow up from staff as to what happens to or where people end up living after leaving a shelter.  Because of the time limitations very few people leaving a shelter end up with permanent housing, as permanent housing is not available.   I personally was in a shelter where I was asked to leave one week prior to my having a place to stay. The staff at the shelter knew I had a place to stay in one week and made me leave anyway.  This left me with nowhere to stay for a week. This shelter and its staff failed to keep me safe, took 30% of the income I was making and intentionally made me homeless again. I call this the circle of homelessness where one is given shelter for a short period of time and sent back out on the street.  Being homeless is a barrier to employment as employers require workers to have an address, making it hard to get housing as most housing requires some type of income. This creates long periods of homelessness for many people.

 

The only solution to homelessness is permanent housing.  The $20 that Mayor Garcetti wants to spend on temporary shelters and homeless sweeps by the police and sanitation workers would be better spent on permanent housing.  The homeless do not need shampoo, backpacks or socks. The homeless need housing.

The Hate Movement (Part 1)

The Hate Movement began during the Obama Administration and has continued on into the Trump Administration.  I am writing this as a historical record of what has happened to me over the last 8 years so that future generations can learn from the mistakes of the past, and I do not mean mine.

The last 8 years of my life have been nothing short of terrifying.  Terrifying that American society has sunk this low.  I am a highly educated person, having earned a master’s degree in 2003.  Until March of 2009, I worked for a Canadian insurance company with a salary of $45,000 per year.  I lived in a condo, owned a vehicle and lead a fairly normal life.  My relationship of 13 years had ended a few years before leaving me in debt as I had supported us for most of those 13 years.

Because of the debt, which was not only accumulated by me, but I was the one stuck with paying it off after the relationship ended, I was staying with a friend as I could not afford to rent an apartment of my own.  When that ended I rented a room from a stranger.

The house I lived in was shared by my landlord and another man who was an artist.  I had a small room on the first floor.  Having gone from a condo to a room I had to put most of my belongings in storage.  This was a huge adjustment for me as I had lived on my own in apartments or condos since age 18.  I did not feel like myself living in a stranger’s house, having to live by their rules.  I had always been very independent and responsible.  Not only had my relationship ended but so had my independence.

Rumors

When looking at stories on social media, one can see how damaging fake news can be to those the stories are about,  The   only purpose of a rumor is to do another damage or harm.  It is a non physical form of violence.  Once out there, it can not be taken back.  I wondered what the laws of Judaism said about rumors and false information.  I did some research into the subject and found some interesting information.

One of the 613 Mitzvot or laws in the Torah states not to carry tales, Lev 19:16.  It has been said that disparaging speech kills three; the person who speaks it, the person who hears it, and the person about whom it is told, as found on the website Judaism 101.  This includes gossip and slander.  Judaism forbids causing any deception or embarrassment through speech.  It is forbidden even if  the statement is true.  In order to understand this law from the Torah I wondered what the defiinition of speech is and if non-verbal forms of communication are considered speech.  According to the website businessdictionary.com, the definition of non-verbal communication is:  1. Behavior and elements of speech aside from the words themselves that transmit meaning. Non-verbal communication includes pitch, speed, tone and volume of voice, gestures and facial expressions, body posture, stance, and proximity to the listener, eye movements and contact, and dress and appearance.  Just because one is communicating in a non verbal way does not mean it is not speech.

If we are to put this definition into context with what is going on in the world around us today, it would imply that using appearance, gestures, facial expressions, body posture stance and proximity to the listener, if used to demean or cause a person personal or financial harm,  is forbidden in Judaism, even if the statement is true.  That would make cyberbullying, fake stories on social media, using ones clothing or appearance to demean another are serious sins.

There are circumstances however when tale-bearing is allowed.  It is not commiting a sin if one is using speech to tell a story of another when it is a form of testimony.  This can be interpreted as meaning if one is telling a story to defend oneself or another regarding legal matters or other instances when such speech is necessary.

Today almost everyone has access of some sort to the internet.  Many people have social media accounts.  Unfortunately some use these sights as a means of harming some in their community by spreading false rumors and tales.  Our society has become dog eat dog, or in other words I need to be ahead of everyone else.  This has become so consuming to the young generation that they are willing to through people sunder the bus so to speak in order to get ahead.

If this trend continues our society will be in serious trouble.  Rumors affect the stock market, can ruin relationships, cause people to lose or not be able to obtain jobs.  Rumors have a negative rippling effect and can cause an increase in poverty, homelessness and an unstable society and economy.

Before you follow the trend and post a rumor on Facebook or where clothing intented to annoy or embarass another, think about what that says about the kind of person you are, how you are affecting others and the look at the big picture about how that is affecting our society at large.