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Libby Fernandez: NOT a Friend of Homeless People

written by Tom Armstrong

Not a Friend.
Loaf & Fish Director Libby Fernandez was profiled in an issue of the Sacramento Business Journal. In the piece she was quoted telling homeless-averse business people what they want to hear. The first and third paragraphs in the profile follow [emphases mine]:
"Loaves and Fishes is the heart of downtown," Sister Libby Fernandez said. "It's a welcoming place for the very poor and homeless, and gives them a place to be during the day. We serve an average of 650 poor and homeless people each day, and if they weren't here, they would be at other places downtown.
... "When people who are homeless are here they can use our restrooms, our showers, wash up, get their clothes cleaned." she said. They can use our telephones, sit in our part and just be, without disturbing other people and other businesses. They can socialize here, and get services and help here."
In his book Managing the Underclass in American Society(1), John Irvin wrote about how the REAL effort in many metropolises is not to help the poor or homeless, but to coral them, to run them around in circles, to waste their time and to keep them out of public view. Police -- prompted by politicians who are prompted by business people -- in metropolises where such a polity, called "Warehousing the Rabble," is extant -- endlessly roust the homeless and otherwise keep 'em out of "nice neighborhoods." Does that sound like Sacramento? Yes.

And you know it's true: Homeless people in Sacramento get ticketed and arrested for conduct and actions that conventional citizens, doing the same activities, would never be bothered about by the police. There are laws on the books that exclusively or near-exclusively are there targeting the homeless to reduce them to the status of docile cows.

Libby, with her quotes in the Biz Journal, proves her fealty to the Warehousing the Rabble philosophy and the business community, in stark opposition to suffering homeless people. She is certainly no friend of the homeless. It's all a charade. She shows that she does not support the right of homeless folk to be treated the same as conventional Sacramento citizens.

Make no mistake, Libby is well known for delivering radically differing messages to suit the different audiences she addresses. It's called duplicity and Libby is shameless at it. To the business world, she's dutiful at keeping the stinky homeless away from the gentile public. To donors and volunteers, she is Mother Teresa, aiding the wretched. To the homeless, she pretends to be a champion of the poor. And to other groups, like the employees at Loaves & Fishes, the Jesuit volunteers, and the L&F Board of Directors, she has yet other masks to hide behind.

A change at the top at Loaves & Fishes is way, way, way overdue. It is time, too, to end the duplicity and for new management at Loaves & Fishes to embrace a new policy: one of compassion and genuine interest in helping homeless people find meaning in their lives and pathways to happiness in apartments of their own.
(1)  Full title: The Jail: Managing the Underclass in American Society.


Unknown said…
It's such a hard thing to figure out a solution to homelessness. I work for a non-profit and it's our goal to provide value for our volunteers, so we send them to Loaves and Fishes and we have never had a problem with them. Hopefully the city gets its act together in the next few years. You can see our website at

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