In our monthly Bible study at Orange Grove Meeting this Sunday we explored the story of the Tower of Bible (Genesis 11). According to this story, the peoples of the earth had one language and moved into what is today Mesopotamia where they built a great city with an imposing tower. When God saw that the peoples had united to build a city apart from God, God scattered the people and created confusion ("balal" in Hebrew) by causing them to speak many languages. This story is often interpreted as God's punishment of the Babylonians for having one language and building a city and a tower simply to gain a great name, rather than to honor God and follow God's laws. The story is placed between the story of Noah's flood and the story of Abraham, the founder of monotheism, as a critique of the empire that later conquered the Israelites and destroyed Jerusalem, their holy city.
What struck us about the story is that having "one language" gave the Babylonians power--it united them--but it was also limited. This language had "few words." It lacked the richness that occurs when there are many languages, with subtle differences in meaning that arise from different cultural experiences.
The diversity of languages can be seen as a punishment (and it certainly can be inconvenient), but it can also be seen as God's way to thwart the impulse to create empires, like that of the Babylonians. When empires arise, they unite people by forcing them to speak a common language (i.e. Akkaddian [the Babylonian language), or Roman, or in the case of the American empire, English). This common language becomes a means of social control.
What this story reveals is that God did not want humankind to have a common language that could be used for this purpose. Diversity of languages meant that peoples could develop in diverse ways. This meant that the Hebrews could have their own language, apart from Akkadian.
This story is enriched by a pun that can only be understood if you know Akkadian and Hebrew. In Akkadian, the word "Babel" means "the Gate of God." In Hebrew, the word "balal" means the babbling of children. This was a way for the Hebrews to mock the pretensions of the Babylonians. Their "Gate of God" was (for the Hebrews) just baby talk.
It is also important to note that the story of Babel is replayed in the Book of Acts, where early Christians of many nations unite at Pentecost and praised God in many languages, but somehow could understand each other. The common language that united them was not the language of empire (i.e. Latin or Greek), but the language of the Holy Spirit.
Babylon became an important symbol in the history of the Church. When the Catholic church used the Latin language to create unity among Christians, it also imposed its hierarchical power structure. Only the elites trained by the Church could speak Latin, the language of power. Protestants like Martin Luther rebelled by translating the Bible into vernacular languages and called the Roman Church "Babylon." Translating the Bible in many languages created confusion and even led to religious wars, but ultimately it enabled Christianity to become more relevant and to reach common people who could finally understand the Bible in their own native tongue. As of September 2016, the full Bible has been translated into 554 languages, and 2,932 languages have at least some portion of the Bible.
There has been a lot of pressure in our country to unite around one language and to push for "English only." In 1998 voters in California passed Prop 227, which eliminated most bilingual education in California's public schools. There are social advantages to having all students be proficient in English, but we now see that there are also advantages in encouraging linguistic diversity. Over 120 languages are spoken in churches in LA every Sunday, and the United States trades with nations around the world. It is an advantage to be able to speak many languages, if we want to thrive as a world power, and if we want immigrants to feel included in our nation.
Our legislators have realized it is important to publish documents in many languages so that they can be understood by citizens for whom English is not their primary languages.
The diversity of cultures in America has enriched us in many ways, from food and dance to art and literature. Even
As an English prof, I loved to teach my students that the English language is a composite of many languages: it is a combination of French and Anglo-Saxon that took place after the French (Normans) conquered England in 1066 (with some Viking, Greek, Welch and Gaelic words throw in). This pot pouri of many languages means that English has a complex vocabulary that is extremely expressive. It also has many more words than either German or Romance languages that come from one common root stock.
Because of my love for diversity, I support Prop 58, which will give schools more freedom in using diverse languages as long as their purpose is to help students become fluent in English. As FCNLCA notes, 'It creates more choice. It maintains the requirement that public schools must teach students to become fluent in English, but also authorizes school districts--with parental and community input--to establish dual immersion programs for natige and non-native English speakers."
In other words, this Proposition honors God's intention to allow a little confusion--diversity of languages--so we can create a society where unity comes through a shared spirit, not through the requirements of empire.
Monday, October 31, 2016
We met Neva and Grant Kaufmann at World Plenary of Friends in Peru and were fascinated by their story. The Kaufmans have lived in Bolivia for several decades but they are not typical Bolivian Friends. They are Conservative Friends who moved to Bolivia from Iowa twenty years ago and became cattle ranchers. They live as simply and as sustainably as possible. With their mostly homemade plain dress, they look like Friends who’ve stepped out of the 19th century.
They moved to an area called the Chaco, in the southeast part of Bolivia, where the climate is extremely hot and arid. When they arrived, the pond on their property looked like pea soup. To make the water drinkable, they had to boil it over a wood fire. The cistern held rainwater, but it rains so rarely the water was insufficient. They couldn’t grow corn because it is too dry. The ground was unproductive. They lost cattle because there was not enough grass to feed them. Through the Mennonites they learned about panicum gatton, a species of grass that grows in shade. They also learned about a system of ranching called sylvopastoralism, which is “the practice of combining forestry and grazing of domesticated animals in a mutually beneficial way.” Instead of cutting down trees to create a monoculture, the Kaufmanns planted panicum grass, which grows under trees and feeds their cattle. As a result of this practice, the Kaufmanns began to see deer, wild pigs and new species of birds. As their ranch prospered, neighboring ranchers also began to follow their example.
They learned that certain trees called choroquete thrive in this dry climate. Their leaves taste like salad. In June through October they drop their leaves and help create a cushion, which the cattle like to lick up. “It’s a beautiful symbiotic system,” explained Grant.
Their life hasn’t been easy. In the first year they killed over 300 poisonous snakes. They had to work hard to live sustainably but they have a happy family and a deep gratitude to God. Neva explained:
“Our family loves to work and loves to have fun. They love to milk cows. One son wanted a cow since he was four years old. Nathan likes ranching, and Rachel trains horses. She loves animals and is very gentle and kind.”
Grant told us: “The biblical counsel ‘whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might’ has encouraged us to press ahead with the ranch at a time when Bolivia's chronic political and legal instability, combined with threats of climate change, have discouraged many others. Thus far, I believe we have good cause to be thankful to our Creator for all that He has done for us and through us in our little corner of South America.”
Asked what was most memorable about the FWCC Plenary, they responded: “Knowing again that we are not alone….The essence of our Friends community seems to be sharing the love of God, whether we call it that or something else. This was the Pisaq experience for us.”)
How did you become a Quaker?
Neva responded: My earliest memories of Friends' meeting for worship were the quiet waiting with family and friends in Paullina meeting in NW Iowa. My Great Grandfather Anton Tjossem was one of the founders of that meeting in the late l800s. There were good agricultural lands available in that place and some Norwegian families moved to Obrien Co. where they could practice their religion undisturbed. There were also Scots who became a significant part of the Friends' community there. There were some who wore plain dress and used the classic English plain speech, but the focus of Paullina Friends was always the direct relationship with God, and adherence to principles of peace with all.
During the years following WWII most of the focus of our meeting was on promoting peace, offering homes to European refugees for a few years (we had two German families living in our upstairs and my dad hired the two men to help with farm work), encouraging the Friends Committee on National Legislation's work to seek a world free of war through justice, supporting AFSC in every way possible. When our generation approached the age to be drafted most of the young men registered as conscientious objectors. There was one non-registrant.
With so many influences toward peace and justice, I had few issues to settle having to do with peace on earth. But my own spiritual state was far from settled. During my college years, I tried a variety of churches, learning from a Baptist minister that there was a new covenant to be entered into with God! I tried to fit together the scripture that we memorized as children with the practices of Quaker meeting and an adult faith in relationship with God.
These questions drifted with me for several years until l972 when I joined an apple picking crew of young Friends in SE Ohio. As part of the local Friends' Meeting in Barnesville, Ohio I attended Stillwater Meeting. I still vividly remember the meeting for worship in which the “Presence in the Midst” became real to me. Although I had sat through countless meetings and church service in the years since attending Paullina Meeting as a child, never had I felt that God was present and active. Suddenly I was aware that this theory I had heard all my life, that when two or three gather together in His name He is present, was absolutely true right then and there! Nothing changed except that living reality.
The rest is a story of learning to allow Life to live in me. To guide and correct me. To strengthen me in the truth that comes gently and without fanfare. Thus to be a Friend.
Grant responded: Unlike Neva, who is a birthright Friend and descendant of the "Valiant 60", I came to Quakerism as a young adult. My father was Jewish and my mother Gentile/Christian. Although both believed in God, they had lived their lives basically as secular Americans.
Unwelcome in either synagogue or church because of their union, they simply chose to "do nothing" until their desires for a spiritual community and my own yearnings for a knowledge of God as a young teenager led us to visit a Friends meeting when I was around 13. Accepting as a matter of principle, they offered a welcome to our family, and the quiet worship offered an outlet for my own spiritual searchings.
Always a great reader, I had read the Bible and many religious books by this time but could never "put it all together". The transforming moment came some months later when an older Friend rose to speak in meeting and opened by quoting the first verses of the book of Hebrews: "God, who at sundry times and in diverse manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son..."
Like George Fox on Pendle Hill, "my heart did leap for joy!" If the eternal God did "in these days" speak to us by His Son, then there is a way through the veil of confusion and God, in all His fullness, is knowable! This summed up the Quaker message and provided me a way forward.
Some years later, I came in contact with Conservative Friends, whose clear Christian testimony, combined with unprogrammed worship and a prophetic understanding of ministry, dovetailed with my own understandings of God's work. I moved my membership to Ohio Yearly Meeting (Conservative) where I have remained a member ever since.
What has been your experience with FWCC?
Grant replied: Pisac was our third FWCC conference of Friends. (We also attended Tela, Honduras, and Ghost Ranch, NM, with our then-young children.) Our work in Bolivia has kept us rather much "out of the loop" of Quakerism for the last 20 years, so when we learned there was to be a world gathering virtually "next door" in Peru, we were pleased to be appointed by our yearly meeting (Ohio Conservative) as representatives. Although we have worked and had fellowship with many sorts of Christian people over the years, we remain very much Friends at heart. Nowhere else that I have been are people so open to the voice of God's spirit or so ready to accept one another (warts and all) with loving-kindness. These two traits, I believe, are the foundation for transformation. We cannot experience transformation (at least for the good) if we are hardened against the SOURCE of all good, nor if we harden ourselves against one another and come to view others in political terms (as pawns to be manipulated) rather than as fellow humans in whom we are called to "answer that of GOD". These are the hallmark traits of Friends, across all the diversity, so it came as no real surprise to see transformation happening in the hearts of those present or to hear of it occurring across the globe as the Friend's message has continued to spread well beyond our Anglo-American roots. We all went away, I think, if not transformed, at least blessed and reanimated to share the blessing with others.
What was most memorable about the Plenary in Peru?
Neva replied: What was most memorable about the gathering in Peru was knowing again that we are not alone. In Bolivia for close to 20 years, seeking to live in a way which promotes awareness of God's love and the abundance of His resources, there have been many frustrations. People do not necessarily understand generosity. It appears to some to be weakness or stupidity. Ever give from heart felt love and later learn that the recipient was hoping for MORE? Didn't think the gift was good enough? The essence of our Friends community seems to be sharing the love of God, whether we call it that or something else. This was the Pisaq experience.
Why did you move to Bolivia?
Grant replied: "Why Bolivia?" This is a question we are often asked (and ask ourselves). Why give up the comforts and security of life in the USA to invest our life savings and 20 years of our family's labor in one of the most backward areas of a poor country, known the world over for its political instability, corruption and legal insecurity? The only real answer I can give is what Jacob said when he reached Eben-Ezer: "Thus far has the LORD led me." As Friends and followers of Jesus, we have always tried to live our lives following the leadings of God's spirit. As such, we are no strangers to "outside the box" decisions, but always within the parameters of where God has called us, involving alternatives in agriculture and witnessing to God's love. I have always liked the saying, " If not us, who? If not now, when?" This world is full of brokenness and suffering. We each have God-given abilities and understanding. We are each called to foster SHALOM. What we do for even the least among people, we do for Christ. We have had our successes and failures. We have grown old in God's service and the world is passing to a new generation. To them, I would most want to communicate "In all your ways, acknowledge HIM and HE will direct your paths." Only God sees the end from the beginning. He is worthy of our trust.
Please tell us about the development of your ranch.
Grant replied: In the development of the ranch, Phase 1 involved fencing the perimeter of the property so that we were able to control stocking numbers. Phase 2 was to divide the property internally into several large (200-1500 HA) paddocks so the movement of the cattle could be controlled and the native range better utilized. Phase 3 was to progressively fence smaller paddocks near water sources (digging new ponds where none existed previously), clearing the understory to about a 60% shade cover and seeding an adapted grass (panicum gatton) under the remaining tree cover.
The original information on the Gatton Panicum came from the British Foreign Agriculture Service's "Centro de Investigacion Agricola Tropical"(CIAT) which, at the time, had a model ranch not from where we now live in the Chaco. The Mennonites in the Paraguayan part of the Chaco had also worked with this species of grass, and it was from them that we got our first seed.
Concurrently, we brought in bulls of improved breeds to increase the growth rate of the cattle as the available nutrients also increased from grass and range management. All of this was (and is) a big project and we are nowhere near the end of it yet, but so far we can note a very substantial increase in meat and milk marketed, compared with the traditional system and, much to our satisfaction, a steady increase in wildlife, as the grass and water sources benefit the ranch's wild inhabitants as well as the cattle. The moment was right for the technology to spread among the local people as well and there are now many other ranches following the silvopasture system. I think the fact that we were just fellow cattlemen rather than a government or NGO project with outside funding, and dependent, as they are on our cattle for our livelihood, gave them the courage to try something new which their natural conservatism had heretofore resisted.
The biblical counsel "whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might" has encouraged us to press ahead with the ranch at a time when Bolivia's chronic political and legal instability, combined with threats of climate change have discouraged many others. Thus far, I believe we have good cause to be thankful to our Creator for all that He has done for us and through us in our little corner of South America
Some question whether meat production is sustainable. What are your thoughts?
Unfortunately, it seems to be a weakness of our times to discard the wisdom of Millennia in favor of our own new (and supposedly better) ideas. To me, the issue seems pretty straightforward. There are currently something like seven billion people on the earth, a figure projected to grow to at least 12 billion over the next couple of generations. All of these people are going to need to eat every day, which means a great deal more food must be produced. The present world food system relies very heavily on industrial type grain production, something which requires large expanses of flat land in moderate climatic zones and carries a high environmental cost.
A large portion of the earth's land area is unsuited to this type of agriculture. Of this land, nearly all but the driest deserts and polar ice caps is, however, utilizable by some type of grazing animals (cattle, sheep, goats, camels, llamas, and so forth). These animals, by the nature of their digestive systems, can convert raw nutrient vegetable matter (graze and browse) into high nutrient-dense proteins (meat and milk) as well as providing other useful goods like wool and leather. It was for these obvious benefits that these creatures were domesticated in the first place. In a properly managed grazing system, the total environmental cost is very low. Grazing animals return to the soil from which they derive nutrients about 98% of the what they consume, the remaining 2% being the famous belches, which are mostly a result of grain feeding. I do not recall seeing a ranch cow belch when processing forage….
God is the giver of life and the creator of all that is. He has created us humans as rational beings and entrusted the care of His creation into our hands. It is ours to manage as good stewards, not to hoard as miserly owners or to loot as robbers.
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
A Letter to the Pasadena City Council: The "Quiet Majority" Want the Homeless to be Housed, not Arrested
Dear Mayor Tornek and City Council Members,
I want to thank you for removing the anti-camping part of the ordinance. I hope that you will reconsider the aggressive panhandling part. A San Diego police officer who works with the homeless said, "You can't arrest your way out of this problem."
This morning as I awakened, I had mixed feelings. As a gardener, I rejoiced because of the much needed rain. As an advocate for the homeless, I wondered: how are my homeless brothers and sisters doing? As I lay in my dry, comfortable bed, I asked myself: Where are they sleeping?
Thank God they didn't have to worry about being arrested for sleeping in doorways or wherever else they found shelter from last night's storm.
I know that there been many complaints about the homeless from constituents. Jill and I and other people of faith have conducted informal surveys of around 25 business owners and managers in the Playhouse District and all but one of them expressed compassion for the homeless. None of them expressed a need for more police intervention. One woman who runs a bridal dress store told us she gives them water and that people working at Target give them food. The manager at Office Max told us some homeless people sleep in the rear entry of their building but leave very early and don't cause any trouble. Other businesses gave similar reports. The manager of Tender Greens told us a homeless woman works for her. Some said that homeless people sometimes come around and cause some inconvenience but leave when asked. None complained about aggressive panhandling.
I don't doubt the validity of complaints you have received, but those who don't have complaints typically don't write and therefore aren't heard from. The next time you go to the Pasadena business district, you might consider asking the business owners and managers how they feel about the homeless. Maybe you have already done so. We really enjoyed getting to know the business owners and managers during our informal survey. They are very sympathetic people.
I am glad we live in a city where many if not most people have compassion for the poor and the homeless. I believe this "quiet majority" would be pleased to know that the CIty Council is committed to housing, not arresting, the homeless.
Friday, October 21, 2016
Pasadena's Annual Art Walk will have a new feature: honoring Pasadena's visionaries. I'm proud to say that Jill is one of them. Hope to see you here tonight!
Monday, October 17, 2016
On Monday, Oct. 17th Pasadena City Council will hear the first reading on an ordinance on whether the police should arrest folks for “camping” on city streets during the day, and if we should have permanent, supportive housing in all parts of Pasadena.
Please review these taking points and write to your City Council member urging them to take appropriate action.
Causes and Consequences of Criminalizing Behaviors Associated with Homelessness
1. Homelessness is caused by a severe shortage of affordable housing.
· We need housing and real solutions that are proven to work. It can be ended. Two states and nineteen cities have now ended homelessness for veterans. We have the opportunity to end homeless in Pasadena. We have seen the numbers go down due to the hard work of our housing department and many others. We need housing that people and afford, not more arrests, penalizing people for being poor. http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/comm_planning/veteran_information/mayors_challenge/
2. There is a direct correlation between the cuts in funding for affordable housing and the rise of homelessness and anti-camping measures.
· HUD’s low- to moderate-income housing budget authority fell by 77 percent between 1978 and 1983. Homelessness is primarily caused by a severe shortage of affordable housing, exacerbated by an 85% reduction in federal funding for affordable housing. Despite these cuts, two states and nineteen cities have now ended homelessness for veterans. One of the few housing programs that has not been cut is funding for permanent supportive housing. This can be access by a city if there is land set aside to build this. Margaret McAustin is the first to make sure this is built in her district. Marv’s place looks like a small Mediterranean Villa. It just won an award as one of the best permanent supportive housing in all of Southern California. We need this in very district.
3. There has been a significant rise in laws criminalizing homeless people in California, but these laws have only worsened, not solved, the problem.
· UC BerkeleyLaw’s Policy Advocacy Clinic conducted an extensive study of this problem in 2015 and concluded that “criminalization harms homeless people and perpetuates poverty by restricting access to the social safety net, affordable housing, and employment opportunities.” Since 2000, statewide arrests for “vagrancy” offenses have increased by 77 percent, even as arrests for “drunkenness” and “disorderly conduct” have decreased by 16 percent and 48 percent, respectively, suggesting that homeless people are being punished for their status, not their behavior. http://www.homelesslivesmatterberkeley.org/pdf/CA_New_Vagrancy_Laws.pdf
4. Criminalization measures do nothing to address the underlying causes of homelessness
The National Center on Homelessness and Poverty provides not only reasons why criminalization doesn’t work but also offers policy solutions that have proven effective. .https://www.nlchp.org/criminalization California’s “quality-of-life” laws are is a misnomer, because they devastate the quality of life of homeless people, with an aim to keep homeless people out of public spaces. http://files.ctctcdn.com/32a36ff6001/acdee492-e1fd-4c9c-a3a5-98b796230bbc.pdf
5. Pasadena could lose HUD funding to address homelessness if it is found to have criminalized homeless people. In the April 11, 2016, Bill Huang, Pasadena’s housing director was asked if this was the case and he agreed.
· In determining what projects are funded, HUD now examines whether applicant communities are preventing the criminalization of those experiencing homelessness by having ordinances that “ban camping in public spaces, ban loitering or begging, even limit to the time someone can spend sitting or lying down on a city sidewalk or park bench.” http://nationalhomeless.org/hud-puts-teeth-into-effort-to-stop-criminalizing-homeless-people/
6. The enforcement of anti-homeless laws is expensive, directing limited resources away from efforts that would effectively and humanely reduce homelessness.
· At the City Council meeting on April 11th, Tyron Hampton asked Police Chief Philip Sanchez what would happen if someone was arrested for camping/sleeping. He said that after making make arrests, then going to court, and then to be checked out at Huntington Hospital, in the end they would be brought back to the streets. The expensive cost to tax payers would be better spent on permanent supportive housing for the homeless. Research shows that it costs taxpayers approximately $40,000 a year for homeless people to stay on the street, and the cost to house a homeless person about $20,000 a year. http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/mar/12/shaun-donovan/hud-secretary-says-homeless-person-costs-taxpayers/7.
The enactment of anti-homeless laws raises significant moral, spiritual and legal questions about constitutional rights:
7. It could be cruel and unusual punishment if homelessness is criminalized without providing sufficient indoor places of shelter. In April when the City Council gave the directive to the City Attorney to begin crafting this ordinance, the lawyer said that passing this new ordinance could violate the Eighth Amendment. In 2006 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held a Los Angeles municipal law that prohibited sitting, lying, or sleeping in public places violated homeless people’s Eighth Amendment right to be free from “cruel and unusual punishment” since homeless people need to sleep and rest and the city did not provide them with the means to do so. This ruling called into question CA State Municipal Code 647 (e) which states that “lodging in any building, structure, vehicle or place, whether public of private, without the permission of the owner or person entitled to the possession or control of it.” Municipalities that have tried to implement this law could face law suits if they do so. Public funds created public walkways and the public should have a right to use them if the is no other legal place to rest.
8. It is immoral and against God’s laws to prevent someone from shelter and rest. Within most religious teachings, including Christianity, believers are directed to protect the rights of the poor and those without a home. “A righteous man knows the rights of the poor; a wicked man does not understand such knowledge” (Proverbs 29:7). “If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you” (Leviticus 25:35-36 ) See https://www.openbible.info/topics/helping_the_homeless
9. It is against the UN International Declaration of Human Rights to prevent sleeping which is a basic human need to survive. The US was a signatory of UN Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. This Declaration is not legally binding but sets a moral standard by which nations are judged and to which they are supposed to aspire. Article 25 states that “everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services.” In 1949, Congress enacted the US Housing Act, which called for “a decent and suitable living environment for every American family.” Our nation’s and our city’s aspirational goal is to provide affordable housing for everyone, not criminalize those who can’t afford housing. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_to_housing
Myths and Stereotypes about Homelessness
For year’s cities and their residents have been dealing with how to respond to the realities modern homelessness and poverty. We often labelled those without a home as “the homeless” and as people who ask for money in public areas as panhandlers. These two behaviors are separate but are often cited together by cities addressing “The Homelessness Issue”. Cities are often prompted to respond in some manner, usually through criminalization measures, due to public complaints, demands on law enforcement and legal departments, public health and public safety concerns, which are at times perpetuated by stereotypes and improper understanding of human relations.
10. Myth: People who beg on the street make vast amounts of money. A Pasadena police officer publicly stated that panhandlers make $200 an hour in Pasadena.
Reality: This is a rumor that has been passed around. If true, this would make Pasadena the most generous city in California. In San Francisco, a study showed that panhandlers average $25 per day. Regardless perceptions the community has of persons who are asking for money, it is still right to free speech.
Many people panhandle because they cannot find work or affordable housing, or live on the limited income they receive from SSI or from GR. Most homeless people would prefer to work than panhandle. Albuquerque’s Republican mayor offered homeless residents a chance to clean streets, and this program proved very successful. See https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2016/08/11/this-republican-mayor-has-an-incredibly-simple-idea-to-help-the-homeless-and-it-seems-to-be-working and https://thinkprogress.org/everything-you-think-you-know-about-panhandlers-is-wrong-36b41487730d#.t8sjkvbia
Reason to ask for money in public is complex and individual. Many do so in order to pay their rent or keep their cars. Pasadena Police also stated publicly that some panhandlers have homes (and even Mercedes!), thereby implying they didn’t need to beg for money. It is true that some people who ask for money do live in cars, motels or shared apartments, and panhandle to make rent payments, or to cover car expenses. If they didn’t panhandle, many would end up destitute on the street. It should also be noted that 45% of homeless people work part-time and 10% of students in California’s higher education system are homeless at some point. http://www.lifeofthelaw.org/2014/06/the-right-to-beg/ and http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/09/AR2010070902357.html
11. Myth: “Homeless people” are “service-resistant,” because they want to live on the streets. A police officer from Pasadena’s Hope Team stated that 80% of homeless people are “service resistant” implying homeless folks prefer living on the street.
Reality: t is true that there are people who do not want to go to shelters, or be forced into treatment. Some prefer jail to a treatment center. Many suffer from mental illness or substance use issues making them wary of authorities. With time and trust building on the part of HOPE team and Coordinated Entry System and Street Outreach teams, many are now in housing. The reason why permanent Supportive Housing is so effective is that it provides permanent housing first—bypassing the shelters and transitional housing, thus ending homelessness. Folks can enter housing, get stable and then work on their issues. One doctor who works with homeless people said that he wishes he could write a prescription an apartment and then renew it twelve times! Supportive housing doesn’t need to be renewed.
Pasadena has housed over 80 of the most chronically homeless and Utah has housed 90% of its chronically homeless folk using the Housing First model, which offers chronically homeless people a permanent, affordable home with wrap-around services if they are desired. With the right approach, the vast majority of homeless people are willing and able to be housed and many will seek treatment voluntarily when they are ready. http://www.npr.org/2015/12/10/459100751/utah-reduced-chronic-homelessness-by-91-percent-heres-how
12. Myth: Recent changes to State Laws have seen the release of large numbers of former inmates from jails, and most end up homeless, leading to an increase in crime.
Reality: Thanks to Prop 57, and requirements by the Supreme Court to reduce prison crowding, California has dramatically lowered incarceration—by about 55,000 inmates since 2006—with no broad increase in crime.
· Yet recidivism rates remain high and corrections spending continues to rise. Many people released from jail end up on the street and return to prison because of a lack of support services. Rather than send homeless former inmates back to jail (where it cost $64,000 a year to house in 2016), inmates who are trying to reenter society need to be supported. http://www.ppic.org/main/publication.asp?i=1208 and http://www.endhomelessness.org/pages/re_en and www.pasadenastarnews.com/article/ZZ/20111219/NEWS/111219233
13. Myth: We need more laws to address camping on the street.
Reality: Existing laws and codes that address these behaviors. Pasadena police do not need “new tools,” i.e. more stringent laws, to protect the public from aggressive panhandlers and camping. These current laws already provide ample protection to businesses and property owners:
a. If anyone leaves something (e.g. a tent or sleeping bag) on someone else’s private property, the owner can toss it in the trash or sell it as abandoned property. If someone leaves their property on a publicly owned site, according to Officer Domino Scott-Jackson, police have a right to evict people from a public place using a 72 hour notice and at hour 73, their belongings can then be removed. Items must be kept in storage for 30 days. If they aren’t claimed, they can be disposed of.\
b. Property owners have a right to put up a No Trespassing sign on their property. If someone goes on their property without permission to do so, they can call the police and the police on request of the owner can arrest the person for trespassing under Penal Code (PC) 602(o)(2).
c. A business owner can file a “Trespass Enforcement Authorization Letter” with the police department that allows officers to make arrests of those individuals who are on the property afterhours. If that letter were not on file, the officers could not request the individuals to leave or make any arrests. They would have to contact the owners every single time they find people at the property to investigate whether or not the person has permission from the owner to be there.
d. A person can be arrested for illegal camping or lodging under Pasadena Municipal code(PMC) 3.24.110(8) and/or Penal Code(PC) 647(e)
e. A person in possession of a shopping cart (with an identified business) could face a violation of PMC9.62.070 and PC485.
f. Businesses and churches that are open to the public have the right to ask folks to leave under PC602(o)(2). When the owner asks someone to leave and they refuse, they can be arrested.
g. Currently, it’s not illegal to pan-handle in Pasadena, as long as you are not blocking the driveway, impeding traffic or standing in the street (See Vehicle Code 22520.5(a) – infraction). But threatening behavior by a panhandler can be considered “accosting,” a crime according to California Penal Code Section 647.
h. If someone feels harassed by a pan handler, a citizen’s arrest can be made, showing that the panhandler intends to do something illegal, under code PC647(c), which addresses aggressive panhandling.