On May 13, 2015, the California Assembly Committee on Local Government voted 7-1 to approve AB 718 which: “Prohibits a city, county, or city and county from prohibiting or otherwise subjecting to civil or criminal penalties the act of sleeping or resting in a lawfully parked motor vehicle.”
Local ordinances make it illegal for a person to rest or sleep in their own private vehicle, even if otherwise lawfully parked on a public way within a local jurisdiction. In point of fact, the 2013 Homeless Census and Survey reported that people living in vehicles was one of the fastest growing segments of the homeless community.
Someone making minimum wage would have to work 163 hours a week in Oakland and 212 hours a week in San Francisco to be able to afford housing. — Working class Blacks and Latinos are being displaced at incredible rates from their neighborhoods. The historically Latino Mission neighborhood went from being 50 percent Latino in 2000 to just 38.5 percent in 2013 and Oakland has lost almost a quarter of her Black residents in the last decade.
“It is bad enough that homeless people are criminalized in our community. Do we really have to humiliate them as well?” asked Housing NOW Santa Cruz founding member Linda Lemaster. “Let’s hope that now is the time for basic dignity, an idea whose time has surely come,” said Rabbi Phil Posner.
Twinkle is beloved by volunteers and clients, and his desire to do good for his own community inspires many of us at Suitcase Clinic. “I’m just trying to bring people together,” he says. “I believe that we all have a right to happiness — in whatever way we believe that to be.”
Proponents of the Right to Rest bill — including a busload of advocates of homeless people from San Francisco and Oakland — turned out in great numbers. Supporters outnumbered opposition lobbyists from business alliances and city governments by 6 to 1 during legislative hearings in Sacramento.
Spending one night outdoors was a powerful lesson in how miserable it is to be homeless. And in Berkeley, it can take two years of miserable nights to get into affordable housing. “We have thousands of people in our country that are refugees just living in our doorways,” said Sally Hindman.
The Downtown Berkeley Association tries to look respectable while pouring their out-of-town real estate money into robbing the poor of their blankets. The real-estate juggernaut prefers to knock down cheap housing and kick out the artists, hippies and musicians who pester them about civil rights and democracy.