Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Twenty-Seventh Night of PEOPLE PROJECT Safe Sleeping Space on City Hall

December 1, 2009

Contact: Verbena (707) 442-7465

PEOPLE PROJECT, a grass roots organization of local houseless people and their allies have been providing shelter and food on the steps of Eureka's city hall for twenty seven nights and plans to continue to do so until the city stops criminalizing houseless people and gives land where houseless people can be without harassment. PEOPLE PROJECT began the safe sleeping space on city hall which immediately meets immediate concrete needs for many people such as Mary. Mary is sixty five years old. She was a military combat nurse in Vietnam, where she was shot in the back, and was one of the last of the troops evacuated out of Da Nang. Mary has been living on the streets since she lost her home six months ago. She cannot stay at the Eureka Rescue Mission mission because of her companion dog, a yellow lab called Goldie. Mary needs Goldie for protection and warmth. At night he is the only heat source she has and because many people shun and harrass her, she needs Goldie for protection and companionship as well. A month and a half ago, Mary underwent open heart surgery to have two heart valves replaced, and she has been rushed to St. Joe's emergency room several times since the operation- only to be released back to the streets. If it weren't for PEOPLE PROJECT's tent at city hall, Mary would be sleeping in the mud where she is subject to attack from an array of people ranging from punk kids looking for a thrill to those who claim their duty it is "to serve and protect" but instead terrorize, to the poverty pimps who tear up her camp after first politely leaving a note with useless referrals that do not apply to Mary and her homeless situation.

When Mary is hungry, she can choose between St. Vincent de Paul's “free meal” (where as of November first she and all the other meal attendees can only have one tray of food and then must promptly leave) or she can eat out of a dumpster.

Even that single tray of food once a day is now endangered. WinCo Foods, which is a major contributor to the free meal, has threatened to withdraw from the program. The store management claims that houseless people are being wasteful with WinCo's refuse. This is based on the allegation that houseless people feed the birds their scraps (hard bread), and as a result, a seagull was run over by a vehicle while feeding on crumbs. This death of a seagull has raised more outrage from WinCo than the murder of Martin Cotton II, a homeless resident of Eureka, who was brutally beaten by Eureka Police officers Laird, Whitmer, Winkle, Watson, Siipola, Franco, and Baird in front of the Mission and then in the jail where he died in custody.

Mary and Martin's experiences are not unique. Due to our current oppressive economic, political and social systems, commonly held perceptions and state policies criminalize houseless folks as being a nuisance, lazy, and undeserving of respect. These perceptions sanction police to treat houseless community members as criminals even though they have a dignified (not luxurious) right to sleep and live. In Eureka, houseless residents are brutalized, humiliated, and denied their god given rights as well as their Constitutional rights every day. Like Mary, many other houseless people are veterans, some from the current wars in the middle east. As a result of the new policy requiring women to participate in large numbers in combat zones, we are seeing a huge increase in the number of women vets. Many of these vets are young mothers with children. Families like these try to fly below the radar because they know if they turn to conventional sources of help like the Department of Social Services, they will have their children stolen from them. Instead, they try to "pass": by day, working minimum wage part time jobs while by night, they are hunted, hounded from place to place as they desperately try to find some refuge where they can lay their heads. PEOPLE PROJECT plans to continue to help provide that refuge. We need the support of the community. Where is the moral outrage? Where are the churches?


  1. Where is Cynthia Mc Kinney, where is Tom Sebourn! Give out your home address Tom and the "homeless" can just stay at your place.

  2. Last I heard Cynthia McKinney was bringing medical supplies to the Palestinians. She was detained by the Israelis.

    A guy down the street from me did take in many homeless. The county fined him and made his life miserable.

    Is that all you got? No name? No ideas?
    Just stupid questions?

  3. So what are your ideas Tom? What are YOU doing? Besides whining

  4. Wouldn't it be a lot nicer if there were one or two households in every neighborhood that would welcome one or more individuals to stay for a few months?

  5. That's what we already did about a year ago. He is still living here. Started with nothing, now has a small motor home and 20 year old car. He also has a bank account to deposit his disability check. He helps out around the property for his rent.

    He is a disabled veteran and deserves a place to live as much as anybody else.

    I agree with the last post. If everyone that were able, helped someone that really wanted help, things would be much better. I'm not talking about people that are just lazy, or those that don't want to get off the streets and help themselves. I don't know what to do about that segment other than shelters.

  6. Of all the people an anonymous poster could have called to the carpet on and they picked Tom Sebourn? They should do their homework. Tom has been an outspoken advocate for people without homes. He has taken in his share of them. He and his father have fed them. I mean really, that's like saying Mother Teresa didn't really so much. So, anonymous, what have you done to help a person with no home? Did you take them in? Did you get them a hotel room for a cold and stormy night? Did you break bread with them?

    By some standards, I'm a rich Republican. The reality is that I am one paycheck away from losing all of my worldly property which has taken me nearly 20 years to earn. If that day should come, I pray that someone like Tom would be there to help me and my family get back on our feet, or at the very least, help me get some food in my kids' stomachs.

    I think some of Tom's ideas are far fetched for my Orange County brain to digest, but regardless, he has a heart of gold and some very good ideas worth further study.

    I am ready to pony up some $$$ for an EDAR (see other post) and so is Tom. Step up to the plate and tell me what your contribution will be?


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