Wednesday, February 9, 2011

SafeGround to get its camp yanked

SafeGround, and other homeless encampments on the American River Parkway, are to be cleared out by Monday, Valentine’s Day , according to information in a Bee article, today, titled “Homeless must leave parkway camp; donations pay for other shelters," online [and — as you can see, at right — titled "Homeless must leave camp" in the paper's hardcopy, made-from-trees vestige-of-the-prior-century edition].

I am told that there is much woe and beating of breast going on in Friendship Park this morning.  The Park is where the headquarters of SafeGround is located, as well as that of SHOC.  And the Park is in the Loaves & Fishes' complex.  SafeGround, SHOC and Loaves are the central players in the Communitarian homeless movement — that segment of our metropolis's homeless-services charities that pushes "victimization" politics.

The effort to clean up the American River Parkway began with a Jan 20 article in Sacramento Press, "American River Parkway advocate: Park is 'no jewel'." Parkway advocate Bob Slobe took a series of pictures in the park that showed evidence of a large number of homeless people making use of the park to camp, and in so doing leaving a large accumulation of trash in their wake.

A Bee editorial on Jan 30, "Editorial: Big Surprise: Blight returns to river," highlighted the problem [that is, the colossal mess] and suggested as the solution giving SafeGround what it wants, a legal place to camp. Of course that oddly ignores the reality of SafeGround camps being a big part of the problem in the first place.  Mostly unbeknownst to the public, because of conveniently half-blind Bee editorials, is the failure of SafeGround to clearly show that it can take on the responsibility of administering a fully safe, mature and functional camp or (what it most wants) a village of Tuff Shed shacks.

County Supervisor Phil Serna hopes to have end-arounded most concerns, at least for the duration of winter, by having raised $35,000 to 'shelter' the SafeGround campers in beds at Salvation Army and to have paid for full-winter shelter in the Winter Sanctuary effort of Sacramento Steps Forward.  [BTW, my homeless pals believe the Bee article is mistaken at identifying 32 beds at Salvation Army that are new and opening up, they believe any beds that come 'online' will come from VOA's detox location.  Indeed, last winter 32 beds from the detox location were made available as winter "overflow' beds for men.]

This will all be helpful.  Men are swamping those shelter beds that are out there.  This is known since Union Gospel Mission offers short-term [7-day max] bunkbed slots for men and has been oversubscribed every day for quite some time.

So, what happens to SafeGround, now — an organization that has real success at little other than raising money?  and getting privileged circumstances for its core members and no one else?  I think they will see all this as another opportunity to protest and raise more money.  No doubt.

For the record, I support the idea of a SafeGround test village, writing extensively about that last May: "Vision of a Tuff Shed test village."  But the public should know that it is likely the case that "people in the know" -- that is, the sheriff and high-placed city and county officials -- already know that SafeGround is too immature and into its addictions to ever pull off responsible administration.  There are, among the homeless, many many eyes working for the police.  This is "real talk," something there is little of in the press or at protest rallys.

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