The 1% wants to ban sleeping in cars - it hurts their ‘quality of life’
April 16, 2014
Across the United States, many local governments are responding to skyrocketing levels of inequality and the now decades-long crisis of homelessness among the very poor … by passing laws making it a crime to sleep in a parked car.
This happened most recently in Palo Alto, in California’s Silicon Valley, where new billionaires are seemingly minted every month – and where 92% of homeless people lack shelter of any kind. Dozens of cities have passed similar anti-homeless laws. The largest of them is Los Angeles, the longtime unofficial “homeless capital of America”, where lawyers are currently defending a similar vehicle-sleeping law before a skeptical federal appellate court. Laws against sleeping on sidewalks or in cars are called “quality of life” laws. But they certainly don’t protect the quality of life of the poor.
To be sure, people living in cars cannot be the best neighbors. Some people are able to acquire old and ugly – but still functioning – recreational vehicles with bathrooms; others do the best they can. These same cities have resisted efforts to provide more public toilet facilities, often on the grounds that this will make their city a “magnet” for homeless people from other cities. As a result, anti-homeless ordinances often spread to adjacent cities, leaving entire regions without public facilities of any kind.
Their hope, of course, is that homeless people will go elsewhere, despite the fact that the great majority of homeless people are trying to survive in the same communities in which they were last housed – and where they still maintain connections. Americans sleeping in their own cars literally have nowhere to go.
Indeed, nearly all homelessness in the US begins with a loss of income and an eviction for nonpayment of rent – a rent set entirely by market forces. The waiting lists are years long for the tiny fraction of housing with government subsidies. And rents have risen dramatically in the past two years, in part because long-time tenants must now compete with the millions of former homeowners who lost their homes in the Great Recession.
The paths from eviction to homelessness follow familiar patterns. For the completely destitute without family or friends able to help, that path leads more or less directly to the streets. For those slightly better off, unemployment and the exhaustion of meager savings – along with the good graces of family and friends – eventually leaves people with only two alternatives: a shelter cot or their old automobile.
However, in places like Los Angeles, the shelters are pretty much always full. Between 2011 and 2013, the number of unsheltered homeless people increased by 67%. In Palo Alto last year, there were 12 shelter beds for 157 homeless individuals. Homeless people in these cities do have choices: they can choose to sleep in a doorway, on a sidewalk, in a park, under a bridge or overpass, or – if they are relatively lucky – in a car. But these cities have ordinances that make all of those choices a criminal offense. The car is the best of bad options, now common enough that local bureaucrats have devised a new, if oxymoronic, term – the “vehicularly housed”.
People sleeping in cars try to find legal, nighttime parking places, where they will be less apparent and arouse the least hostility. But cities like Palo Alto and Los Angeles often forbid parking between 2am and 5am in commercial areas, where police write expensive tickets and arrest and impound the vehicles of repeat offenders. That leaves residential areas, where overnight street parking cannot, as a practical matter, be prohibited.
One finds the “vehicularly housed” in virtually every neighborhood, including my own. But the animus that drives anti-homeless laws seems to be greatest in the wealthiest cities, like Palo Alto, which has probably spawned more per-capita fortunes than any city on Earth, and in the more recently gentrified areas like Los Angeles’ Venice. These places are ruled by majorities of “liberals” who decry, with increasing fervor, the rapid rise in economic inequality. Nationally, 90% of Democrats (and 45% of Republicans) believe the government should act to reduce the rich-poor gap.
It is easy to be opposed to inequality in the abstract. So why are Los Angeles and Palo Alto spending virtually none of their budgets on efforts to provide housing for the very poor and homeless? When the most obvious evidence of inequality parks on their street, it appears, even liberals would rather just call the police. The word from the car: if you’re not going to do anything to help, please don’t make things worse.
The Jailmind expands. Society itself becoming the prison—where humankind cannot bear to face and solve its failings and so instead punishes the evidence, itself.
The backlog of rape kits has put justice on hold for a lot of people. Back in 2009, more than 11,000 untested kits were found in a Detroit Police Department storage facility. Some were more than 25 years old.
Mariska Hargitay speaks on some of the issues surrounding the rape kit backlog in Detroit, Michigan. #endthebacklog (x)
It costs between $1,000 – $1,500 to test every single rape kit. There are over 10,000 kits left in Detroit’s rape kit backlog. Your donation can go directly to testing them. Donate to the Detroit Crime Commission’s backlog initiative by clicking here.
I am pretty explicitly anti-police in every respect. But I support Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy and her push to catalogue the egregious backlog of unprocessed rape kits in Detroit.
Her work has already identified countless serial rapists in southeast Michigan, and will continue to identify these rapist pieces of shit as she moves forward.
Who cares if this process leads to conviction or not. Just give us the list. We can take care of the rest.
"After Detroit tested the first 10% of its backlogged kits, authorities were able to link cases to 46 serial rapists." (x)
Just think about it: 46 serial rapists. And the evidence against them was out there, all the time, in those backlogged kits. And that’s just 10% of them
Support 5 Days for the Cuban 5, June 4-11Following the March 7 and 8 International Commission of Inquiry by Voices for the Five in London, efforts are now turned to building the Third ‘5 Days for the Cuban 5’ in Washington D.C. from 4-11 June 2014.The final report of London’s International Commission of Inquiry will be presented to the U.S. public and will then be delivered direct to the Obama administration.The week of activities in Washington will bring together personalities from the U.S. and abroad, including jurists, parliamentarians, writers, intellectuals, activists and religious people to call for the freedom of the Cuban 5, five men unjustly imprisoned in U.S. prisons for defending their country against terrorism.René González, one of the Five who returned to Cuba after serving his entire sentence recently said. “The decision of arresting the Cuban 5 was made in Washington and it is there where the final decision of freeing them will take place.”The activities in Washington DC will include:
- Visits to Congress with Parliamentarians from other countries
- Two day Conference on U.S. Cuba Relations and the case of the Cuban 5
- Cultural events
- Rally Saturday June 7 at the White House calling for the freedom of the Cuban 5Many well known people have already added their support including academic Noam Chomsky, actor Danny Glover, writer and professor Angela Davis, poet Alice Walker, journalist and writer Ignacio Ramonet, Brazilian writer and liberation theology Frei Betto, retired U.S. Army Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, historian and writer Piero Gleijeses, Brazilian writer Fernando Morais, noted human rights attorney and International Action Center founder Ramsey Clark and many others.WAYS TO GET INVOLVEDCOME TO WASHINGTON For more details on how to attend seehttp://5daysforthecuban5.com/ENDORSE It takes less than a minute to add your name at the link belowhttp://5daysforthecuban5.com/add-your-voice/DONATE If you cannot travel to Washington please consider making a donation: http://5daysforthecuban5.com/donate-2/Thank you for your support.International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5
P.O. Box 22455 Oakland CA 94609 United States | firstname.lastname@example.org
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This is not a drill. This is as real as it gets.
Today in history: April 18, 1980 – In a victory for African liberation and self-determination, the people of Zimbabwe win independence after being ruled by British colonialism as “Southern Rhodesia” since 1888 and then by white minority rule as “Rhodesia” after 1965.
Via Freedom Road Socialist Organization (Fight Back)
Today in labor history, April 18, 2005: Members of Columbia’s Graduate Student Employees United and Yale’s Graduate Student Employees and Students Organization begin a five-day strike for union recognition. It was the first multi-university strike by Ivy League graduate students.