Marijuana and hemp socio-economics.

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Postby Midnight toker » Tue Aug 08, 2006 1:39 pm

<img src=./bin/spacer.gif width=500 height=0>
What does homelessness have to do with medical marijuana/prohibition?

Well, I am homeless because I'm a medical marijuana patient. I tried to provide for myself and grow my own for ten years, and it costs me everything I had. Medical marijuana patients are barred from subsidized housing, can't get a job, and are still paying recreational prices for medical marijuana.

No ones knows how many are homeless merely because they use controlled substances. Abuse of a controlled substance is not required to be fired from your job and/or evicted from your apartment. All that's required is a positive drug test.

It seems society has come full circle, with one's fate determined by who they are rather than what they do and only the 'pure of pee' are allowed to succeed.

The San Francisco Chronicle wrote:S.F.'S HOMELESS AGING ON THE STREET

Chronic health problems on the rise as median age nears 50

- Kevin Fagan, Chronicle Staff Writer
Friday, August 4, 2006
The San Francisco Chronicle

<table class=posttable width=386 align=right><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg src=bin/homeless_age_chart.jpg></td></tr></table>A majority of the homeless people on San Francisco's streets have been there since the 1980s and never left, and without concentrated care they soon will start crowding hospital emergency rooms and dying in large numbers, according to a 14-year-long, first-of-its-kind examination of chronic homelessness in the United States.

The finding -- which the researchers say is reflected in other cities -- is sure to give added impetus to initiatives in San Francisco and elsewhere to create more programs that combine permanent housing and social services for residents under the same roof.

Without such supportive housing programs, the aging homeless are likely to experience rapid health decline and death, said Judy Hahn, the UCSF assistant professor who led the study.

"The already-troubling health issues for these older street people are not going to go away. They will just get worse, and we will see them in increasing numbers in our hospitals," Hahn said. "If they don't go into the hospitals, many will simply die from living outside. Giving them a residence with on-site health care available will go a long way toward avoiding these troubles."

Thirty UC researchers and students surveyed homeless people in San Francisco during four periods -- 1990-1994, 1996-1997, 1999-2000 and 2003 -- and found the median age of the homeless rose from 37 years old at the start to 46 by the end. Today, they estimate, the median age of the city's homeless population is about 50 -- which in hard-time street years is the equivalent of about 65 given the physical wear and tear, they said.

As the median age grew, so did the number of years the homeless had been on the street, the survey found.

<table class=posttable width=270 align=right><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg src=bin/homeless_health_chart.jpg width=270 align=right></td></tr></table>It also found worsening health problems usually associated with older people, reflected in higher rates of hypertension, diabetes and emphysema and in the number of emergency room visits. Hypertension, for instance, rose from 14 percent of those surveyed at the start of the 1990s to 21 percent in 2003.

The findings support what many social workers have long suspected -- that there was a "big bang" homeless population explosion as federal housing programs were slashed and the closing of mental hospitals hit home in the mid-1980s and that this core group constitutes the bulk of the street population.

Local and national homelessness experts said the study confirms their long-held belief that the homeless population is aging at an alarming rate and that the national movement to create supportive housing is going in the right direction.

"We've known instinctively about this phenomenon, but now having this research to back up that instinct is great," said Philip Mangano, President Bush's national point man on homelessness. "This shows that supportive housing is perfectly matched as an antidote to the premature aging of this population."

An account of the study's findings, co-written by Hahn and four other UC researchers, appeared this week in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Hahn said the "big bang" theory, first propounded in the early 2000s by University of Pennsylvania homelessness researcher Dennis Culhane, seems to be supported by her findings.

Aside from cuts to federal housing programs and the closing of mental institutions, she identified worsening drug abuse nationwide and rising housing prices as contributors to chronic homelessness over the past 20 years.

"It's clear to me, from our study, that a huge number hit the street back then, and some may have gone in and out of housing over the years, but they wind up back out there again," Hahn said. "The fact that the median age went up almost exactly with the calendar years as we did our study told us that this group wasn't being replenished by a lot of new people."

During the 14 years of research, 3,534 homeless adults were interviewed at six emergency shelters and soup kitchens. These included the biggest two such institutions in the city, Multi-Service Center South shelter, south of Market Street, and the St. Anthony Dining Room in the Tenderloin.

The team checked with social workers who worked closely with the homeless in Los Angeles, New York, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Toronto and Philadelphia and reported that the same aging phenomenon appeared to be happening in those cities, too.

Trent Rhorer, director of city homeless policy and head of San Francisco's Human Services Agency, said the study "could have a huge policy implication."

"The study suggests that a one-time increase in the supportive housing stock could have a big impact on homelessness, and not only have we been doing that, but we intend to keep creating supportive housing in the future," Rhorer said.

"The report suggests exactly what we have assumed -- that we are dealing with what, to some extent, is a static population and that we are dealing with the largest portion of the problem right now."

In the past three years, the city has created 1,482 units of supportive housing for homeless people. San Francisco's 10-Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness, written in 2004, calls for another 1,518 units to be created by 2010.

Michael Stoops, who has been working with the homeless around the country since the early 1980s and directs the National Coalition on Homelessness, said he isn't surprised by the report's findings because the U.S. population in general is aging as the Baby Boom generation grows.

"Boomers are the biggest segment of the population for decades, so just like in the rest of the population, Boomers are aging in the homeless population," Stoops said. "As they've aged, society has had a tendency to give up on them; the attitude is that they'll never get off the streets because they've been there too long."

The homeless population in San Francisco is estimated on any given night to be about 6,000, according to the last one-day homeless count conducted by the city, in 2005. Throughout an entire year, though, the number of people who experience homelessness at some point is estimated to be closer to 17,000.

"This is probably the most important thing I've seen written about San Francisco homelessness," said Dr. Josh Bamberger, who as housing and urban health director at the city Department of Public Health runs treatment programs for the most severely homeless people in the city. "It shows this is largely a static population that we can actually house and treat, and then we will see a reduction on the street.

"So much of the rhetoric we hear is that homeless people are moving into San Francisco all the time, and we can never stem the tide," said Bamberger, who helped in the early stages of the study. "But this absolutely refutes that."

Fifty-year-old Nathan "Nasty" Swift, who has the wrinkled face of a 65-year-old and has been homeless most of the time since 1981, said the study's findings "sound about right to me."

Swift was a submarine sonar technician in the Navy, but after he mustered out on July 5, 1980, he said, he did too many drugs and made too many bad job decisions to stay stable.

"I was like a lot of guys who just burned out and had nothing around to help us," he said, heading to a panhandling spot on Market Street near Van Ness Avenue. "That study says we're all old and our health is shot? Sounds like me and everyone I know.

"I don't see a lot of young guys out here anymore. Just old guys like me."

<hr class=postrule>

<span class=postbold>See Also</span>: Helter Shelter

<span class=postbold>See Also</span>: Get Out (of) the Vote! - Jim Lohse
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Police keeping Tasers amid probe

Postby Midnight toker » Tue Aug 08, 2006 1:46 pm

<span class=postbold>See Also</span>: Man Shot With Taser Hospitalized For 2 Nights - 24 Aug 06

The Daily Times-Call wrote:Publish Date: 8/8/2006

Police keeping Tasers amid probe

By Amanda Arthur
The Daily Times-Call

LONGMONT — Boulder County officers may revise their policies on Taser use depending on the outcome of a probe into an incident in which a man died in Lafayette on Friday after being shot with a charge from one of the devices.

The American Civil Liberties Union called this weekend for a moratorium on Taser use in Boulder County after learning of 22-year-old Ryan Wilson’s death. But police departments and the sheriff’s office say it wouldn’t be prudent to change their Taser policies before knowing exactly what happened in Friday’s incident.

It’s too early to tell if the Taser caused Wilson’s death, Lafayette Police Chief Paul Schultz said Monday, adding that police don’t know if Wilson had a medical problem or was high on drugs when he was shot with the Taser on Friday night.

The Taser used in the incident will be sent back to the manufacturer in Scottsdale, Ariz., to find out whether it worked properly, Lafayette Sgt. Bill Palmer said at a press conference Monday.

Schultz added that he has no plans to bar his officers from carrying Tasers.

Boulder County, though, may reconsider its policy on Taser use if the investigation indicates Lafayette Officer John Harris’ Taser malfunctioned, county Sheriff Joe Pelle said.

While Taser use has come under fire in recent years, officers have also faced criticism when they used options other than Tasers, ranging from hand-to-hand combat to deadly force.

“You’re damned if you do, and you’re damned if you don’t,” Pelle said, who noted that Tasers often keep officers out of harm’s way when they’re in a dangerous situation. “It’s a tough decision.”

Pelle, along with Longmont Police Chief Mike Butler, decided last year to scale back their departments’ use of the weapons, which are intended to immobilize — but not kill — dangerous suspects with a 50,000-volt charge.

In Longmont, a suspect can be stunned with a Taser no more than three times during an incident. An officer may not use the device on people who are very young, pregnant or old, or who appear to be sick or injured, Butler said.

Longmont police used Tasers on suspects 48 times in 2005. Lafayette officers have never used a Taser more than six times a year since their adoption in the city in 2002.

In the incident Friday, Wilson had been camping in a field 100 yards outside the city and fled into Lafayette when detectives questioned him about a dozen marijuana plants he’d planted there, Schultz said.

Wilson ran for about a half-mile before tussling with Harris in a field outside Lafayette’s Clinica Campesina on South Boulder Road, just after 7 p.m. Wilson went into convulsions after Harris shot him with an X-26 Taxer, and Harris performed CPR until paramedics arrived, Schultz said.

Police say Wilson had a knife when he tangled with Harris, but they would not say whether Wilson was holding the knife.

Wilson was declared dead at Lafayette’s Exempla Good Samaritan Hospital at 8 p.m. Friday. Boulder County Coroner Tom Faure confirmed an autopsy was conducted but did not release any findings Monday.

Harris, a three-year department veteran, is on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of investigations into the case. Lafayette’s probe could take a month to complete, Schultz said.

Amanda Arthur can be reached at 303-684-5215, or by e-mail at aarthur@times-call.com.

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Taser-death details vague

Postby Midnight toker » Tue Aug 08, 2006 2:13 pm

The Denver Post wrote:Article Launched: 8/08/2006 01:00 AM

Taser-death details vague
<b>Stepmom says man was peaceful; Lafayette conducts probe. The chase of Ryan Wilson began in Louisville over some marijuana plants, authorities said. </b>

By John Ingold
Denver Post Staff Writer

Lafayette - The stepmother of Ryan Michael Wilson, who died after being shot with a stun gun by police, said Monday that she can't believe officers had a good reason to hurt him.

Monique van Rhyn said Wilson, 22, was shy and nonconfrontational.

"He would rather walk away from something than to fight," she said. "He would rather not be in any confrontation."

<table class=posttable align=right width=300><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg src=bin/colorado_taser_death_police.jpg width=300></td></tr><tr><td class=postcap>Lafayette Police Chief Paul Schultz, right, talks Monday at a news conference about the incident that led to a man being killed Friday when he was shot by an officer s Taser. At left is Cmdr. Mark Battersby. Ryan Michael Wilson went into convulsions after he was shot. </td></tr></table>Lafayette police revealed more information Monday about the events leading up to the confrontation between Wilson and officer John Harris. But details were still sketchy as to what happened before Harris fired his Taser stun gun.

"We have not drawn any conclusions yet because it is early in the investigation," Police Chief Paul Schultz said.

Schultz said officers found a folding-style knife on Wilson, but investigators haven't determined whether it was used to threaten Harris.

Friday's events began about 7 p.m. when two undercover officers approached Wilson in a field in Louisville about some marijuana plants being grown there. Schultz said Wilson admitted the plants were his but then became suspicious of the officers and ran.

The officers gave chase, and Harris, a three-year police veteran, picked up the chase in Lafayette. Harris followed Wilson to a field near South Boulder Road and Centaur Village Drive. There was a confrontation, Schultz said, and Harris fired his Taser.

"Officers are trained to use the Tasers to defend themselves," Schultz said.

Wilson began having convulsions, and Harris started performing CPR while calling for medical help, Schultz said. An ambulance arrived within seven minutes, and Wilson was taken to Exempla Good Samaritan Medical Center in Lafayette, where he was pronounced dead about 8 p.m.

<table class=posttable align=right width=200><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg src=bin/colorado_taser_death_victim.jpg></td></tr></table>Wilson was artistic, van Rhyn said, and liked to draw and write poetry. He worked as a plumber's assistant until a few months ago when he was laid off.

Wilson had been arrested for several motor vehicle violations and twice pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct after getting into fights with his brother.

"There is no reason to die because you had a traffic ticket or you had a fight with your brother," van Rhyn said.

A Taser can send a 50,000-volt charge through a suspect for five seconds. Tasers are generally considered "less-lethal" weapons that give officers an option besides their guns. According to an American Civil Liberties Union report, Tasers contributed to 16 deaths nationwide in 2003.

Lafayette police began using Tasers in 2002, and Schultz said their use has declined since then to fewer than six times per year.

The department could review its Taser policies depending on the outcome of the investigation, Schultz said.

"It would be premature for us to do anything with Tasers until the investigation is complete."

Staff writer John Ingold can be reached at 720-929-0898 or jingold@denverpost.com.

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Dad: Taser use inappropriate

Postby budman » Wed Aug 09, 2006 3:38 pm

The Daily Times-Call wrote:Publish Date: 8/9/2006

Dad: Taser use inappropriate

Friend calls Wilson ‘sensitive, shy’

By Leslie Wilber
Times-Call News Group
The Daily Times-Call

LAFAYETTE — The 22-year-old man who died Friday night after a Lafayette police officer shot him with a Taser had been healthy, family members said this week.

“My son had no medical problems,” said Jack Wilson, Ryan Michael Wilson’s father. “He never had any illness. ... This is the effects of a stun gun used, I feel, inappropriately.”

Ryan Wilson died Friday at Exempla Good Samaritan Hospital about an hour after an officer shot him with a Taser in a field behind Clinica Campesina on West South Boulder Road.

Jack Wilson said Tuesday the family is seeking legal advice. He spoke with reporters after he arrived at Denver International Airport from San Antonio.

“I have a lot of questions that need to be answered,” he said.

Lafayette Police Chief Paul Schultz said members of the Boulder County Drug Task Force saw Ryan Wilson near a patch of 11 to 14 marijuana plants in Louisville at about 7 p.m., and Wilson ran after officers confronted him.

After about a half-mile chase, Lafayette Officer John Harris apparently shot Wilson with a Taser, Schultz said.

Police said Wilson was aggressive with the officer and had a knife but would not say whether Wilson was holding the knife.

A countywide team of investigators, led by Longmont Police Cmdr. Craig Earhart, is still investigating the death.

During a Monday news conference, Schultz said Wilson was a transient.

But Jack Wilson said his son was neither the vagrant nor the criminal authorities described.

Jack Wilson said Ryan Wilson lived in Louisville with his younger brother, Steven Wilson, 19.

Steven Wilson was admitted to a hospital after his brother’s death because of emotional problems, his father said.

“They were very close,” he said.

Ryan Wilson was quiet, but he could also be funny, said Monique van Rhyn, Jack Wilson’s wife.

“Sometimes, he would say something and we would have to think about it for a minute before we laughed,” van Rhyn said.

Jack Wilson, a truck driver, heard of his son’s death while working in New York.

“They told me he was chased by police in a field and was a victim of a stun gun incident,” he said, crying. “And that his heart stopped and they couldn’t bring him back.”

Ryan Wilson was born in 1983 at Boulder Community Hospital, his father said.

He grew up mostly in Lafayette and graduated from Monarch High School in 2002.

Traci Benbrook said Ryan Wilson worked for her family’s plumbing and HVAC company from 2002 through 2005 and said he was a stellar employee. He was friends with the family. Benbrook said they do not believe he threatened anyone in the incident and that they are heartbroken over his death.

“Though a little confused and misguided, Ryan was a sensitive, shy, somewhat passive soul. I could not imagine him ever wanting to hurt anyone,” she wrote in a statement to the Daily Times-Call. “Although Ryan made mistakes, as we all do, it is sad to know that he won’t be able to learn from them. I can only hope that his tragic death will bring awareness as to how law enforcement should enforce the law.”

<hr class=postrule>
<center>Times-Call staff writer Pierrette J. Shields contributed to this report. </center>

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Police reviewing Taser policies

Postby Midnight toker » Wed Aug 16, 2006 5:46 pm

The Aspen Daily News wrote:Police reviewing Taser policies

Troy Hooper - Aspen Daily News Staff Writer

Tue 08/15/2006 09:01PM MST

Sheriff skeptical of Taser International defense

Top law enforcement officials in Aspen are reviewing their departments' Taser policies following the recent death of a 22-year-old man in Lafayette and other high-profile incidents, including a local one involving a homeless woman.

"Basically I think it's really a responsibility of each agency's administration to review what is really going on with these fatalities that are linked but may or may not be caused by the Taser," said Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis, who last week instructed his staff to take a renewed look at stun guns.

The sheriff said his decision to review Tasers is due, in part, to the death of Ryan Michael Wilson, 22, who earlier this month died after Lafayette police shot him with a Taser gun while keeping tabs on a marijuana-growing operation.

"The Taser is called a less lethal weapon. It used to be called less than lethal. That's a red flag as far as I'm concerned. I can only use my deductive reasoning skills to conclude this is probably a response to the fact there is no guarantee that 50,000 volts of electricity won't kill you," Braudis said.

Tasers are awash in bad news: The U.S. Justice Department has also announced it is reviewing the deaths of up to 180 Americans who died after police officers used stun guns or similar electro-shock instruments to try to subdue them.

Meanwhile, Aspen Police Chief Loren Ryerson acknowledged he is following up on an independent investigator's suggestion that the Aspen Police Department develop a specific Taser policy -- to accompany its existing use-of-force policy -- in the wake of this summer's Taser shocking of a 63-year-old homeless woman, who was never charged with a crime. The officer involved has since lost her job.

"Yes, we are looking at a specific Taser policy. Our insurance company is taking a look at that and seeing how it may be useful for us," Ryerson said. "We review our policies on a regular basis anyway. We'll be looking at this one."

Legions of law enforcement officers maintain electro-shock instruments are effective intermediate weapons that make their jobs safer and the leading manufacturer, Taser International, stresses it has never been proven that their products have directly caused death. This summer, the Circuit Court for Saginaw County, Mich., entered a judgment in favor of Taser International ordering the dismissal of a liability lawsuit that claimed a stun gun led to a wrongful death. It was the 20th wrongful death or injury lawsuit that has been dismissed or judgment entered in favor of Taser, according to Taser International.

But Braudis believes more research on stun guns is in order.

"Being somewhat skeptical and cynical of the private sector's defense of their products, I'm looking for some answers," the sheriff said. "If the Taser ends up being a dangerous tool on the tool belt of our officers, we'll have to consider replacing it with something else or eliminating it."

However, the sheriff's weapons expert, deputy Brian Lemke, said he stands by Taser International's studies and says Tasers are getting a bad rap in the press.

"What the public really needs to be educated on is when they see the two words 'death' and 'Taser,' they make the correlation that the Taser killed the suspect. But in the majority of cases where the suspect has died by the Taser, many of these people have died of complications because of reactions to drug use, such as cocaine psychosis, and the subjects were on their way to becoming a medical. If the police didn't catch them, they would've crashed and burned anyway."

Others aren't so sure.

"It's a very dangerous instrument," said defense lawyer Walter Brown, who has filed federal lawsuits against the Rifle Police Department for two questionable incidents involving Taser guns. "It's supposed to be used as a defensive weapon but it's been used and abused for compliance issues, which is ridiculous."

There is also a pending lawsuit against the Carbondale Police Department and the town of Carbondale for the zapping of Steven Horn who was shocked multiple times after he ran a stop sign while delivering hay bales for a KDNK fundraiser.

Like the ones in Rifle, that lawsuit is still pending.

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Speakout: Taser maker staunchly defends product

Postby budman » Sat Aug 19, 2006 9:01 am

The Rocky Mountain News wrote:Speakout: Taser maker staunchly defends product even as bodies pile up

By Mark Silverstein And Mindy Barton
The Rocky Mountain News
August 19, 2006

The tragic death of 22-year-old Ryan Wilson on Aug. 4th has justifiably refocused public attention on the dangers posed when police officers fire their new high-powered electroshock weapons.

Sold by Taser International, Tasers are promoted to the public as devices that can save lives when police would otherwise use firearms. The public is less aware, however, that police departments, with Taser International's blessing, encourage and authorize officers to use Tasers in situations like Ryan's, where no one would claim that firearms are justified.

Nor is the public generally aware of an increasingly common result: more than 200 persons have died shortly after being shocked by law enforcement Tasers. Ryan is the fifth such person to die in Colorado since 2002.

The number of Taser-associated deaths has steadily increased. There were 4 in 2001; 13 in 2002; 20 in 2003; 57 in 2004; 73 in 2005; and an additional 44 so far in 2006.

Most of the deceased posed no serious physical threat to police. Many were extremely agitated or intoxicated. Some had underlying heart problems. Taser International has reported that 80 percent of suspects shocked by Tasers were not brandishing any weapon.

Before the death toll mounts any higher, law enforcement agencies must declare a moratorium. They must immediately stop using Tasers in situations that do not present a substantial threat of death or serious bodily injury.

According to the sparse information released so far, undercover police spotted Ryan near a small patch of marijuana plants. He ran. A Lafayette police officer caught up and discharged an X26 Taser. Ryan immediately began convulsing and died.

With aggressive marketing and a well-oiled PR machine, Taser International has persuaded thousands of law enforcement agencies to buy Tasers. Beginning in 1999, promotional materials hawked the new M26 Advanced Taser as a nonlethal magic bullet that instantly and safely incapacitated suspects without physical struggle. Police departments rely on company-supplied training materials, which continually assure that Tasers are safe, effective and recommended in numerous situations where suspects pose no serious physical threat.

As the bodies began piling up, however, critics began asking whether Taser International had overstated its claims of safety. Company officials scoffed. One spokesperson maintained that Tasers were no more dangerous than Tylenol, while Taser International's president denied the existence of any evidence that Tasers could be dangerous.

Two years ago, Taser International spokespersons claimed that no medical examiner had ever implicated a Taser. As more autopsy reports began listing Tasers as a primary or contributing cause of death, however, (Amnesty International counted 23 in February), Taser International argued that coroners were not qualified to assess whether Tasers played a causal role.

Investigative reports by The New York Times and The Arizona Republic have raised serious questions about Taser International's safety claims, its marketing practices, and the reliability of the limited and flawed studies that Taser International cites. After the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Arizona attorney general launched inquires about allegedly deceptive statements, Taser International toned down some rhetoric and recently agreed to pay $20 million to settle a stockholders' lawsuit.

Taser International has always claimed that Tasers cannot produce enough current to cause fatal heart problems. In 2005, however, a U.S. Army memorandum concluded that Tasers could indeed cause ventricular fibrillation. It therefore recommended against shocking soldiers during training exercises.

Earlier this year, a peer-reviewed forensic engineering journal published a study that tested a Taser and concluded that it discharged current far more powerful than Taser International acknowledged - powerful enough to cause fatal heart disrhythmias.

In May, a biomedical engineering professor reported that Tasers caused the hearts of healthy pigs to stop beating, contradicting earlier Taser International-sponsored studies.

Taser International lavishly praises reports that provide qualified support to its safety claims. The company's critics ably dissect those analyses, while Taser International relentlessly grinds out a critique of every study that questions Tasers' safety.

With at least 211 deaths linked to this supposedly nonlethal weapon, however, the Taser proponents must bear the burden of proof in any battle of experts. It is a burden they have not met. There are no reputable independent studies that confirm the manufacturer's assurances of safety, especially in the real- world conditions in which Tasers are actually used and in which suspects actually die.

Law enforcement agencies must stop and question whether they have been sold a bill of goods. Agencies that currently use Tasers must reassess, not only to prevent the deaths of more Ryan Wilsons, but also to spare the public purse from the expensive lawsuits that will surely follow the ever-widening trail of broken bodies and shattered lives.

Mark Silverstein is legal director of the ACLU of Colorado. Mindy Barton is a volunteer attorney working at the ACLU of Colorado.

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Postby palmspringsbum » Fri Feb 16, 2007 10:22 pm

LA Voice wrote:

February 6, 2007

Here, in Venice, we have a tradition of championing the rights of poor people, as in 1965 when the City of Los Angeles tore down one third of Venice's 1600 structures in an attempt to get rid of the recalcitrant hippie population:
“They were stopped in court by the NAACP and the Peace and Freedom Party, who organized to protect the poor. The city's dream of building high rise hotels and apartments like Miami Beach was thwarted. Venice looked like it was bombed during World War 2 as little was rebuilt during the next decade.” (Wikipedia)
And, throughout the 70s, when the then Venice Town Council, in direct contrast to our present Venice Neighborhood Council: “felt that the poor had just as much right to live in Venice as the rich people who were buying property to develop. They realized that rapidly rising property values were on a collision course with the community's entrenched low-income population. The Venice Town Council's goal was to delay or at least scale down any project that might affect surrounding property values and the rents landlords charged ..."

Then, during the 80s and 90s: “low-income housing advocates feared that the demise of project-based Section 8 housing would be catastrophic. L.A. had 30 landlords buy out of Section 8 mortgages. ‘Venice is one of the last places in the country where low-income people can live by the beach,’ said Larry Gross of the Coalition for Economic Survival in L.A. ‘We’re just barely holding on to HUD-assisted housing there. But soon it will all be over and become condo conversions. In general it’s a bleak picture. The policies that have been enacted and the direction we’re heading seem to spell disaster for low-income people.’ People displaced from public housing and Section 8 added even more strain to the already tight affordable-housing markets. And their displacement from gentrifiable areas doubly helped the gentrifiers. Not only were Section 8 and public-housing units cleared for market rate units, but the removal of the undesirable poor residents instantly made the neighborhood ‘better’ and more attractive to wealthy residents.” (LIP Magazine)

In keeping with its traditional compassionate values, Venice has served its homeless citizens by means of a variety of agencies and churches like St. Joseph’s Center, Bible Tabernacle, Didi Hirsch and others over the past 30 years or more. While some members of the local residential community have made this possible, NIMBY-ism (Not In My Back Yard) has prevailed and services have been limited. Now, as the City of L.A. moves forward with its plans to gentrify Venice, upscale development is given the ‘green light’ by the City-backed Venice Neighborhood Council, headed up by Republican president, Dede Audet. Subsequently, the homeless and St. Joseph’s center are being asked to ‘move on’ - in order to maintain the “integrity” of the community while, at the same time, presumably, allowing property prices (which have leveled off and may be in decline) to stabilize.

A flyer distributed by SONIC (Save Our Neighborhood’s Integrity Committee) suggests that both St. Joseph’s Center and their unfortunate clients be relocated to a “suitable location in an industrial area” - thus, presumably, solving the problem. In their flyer they also refer to: “the recent proliferation of 7 medical marijuana stores, 2 methadone clinics, needle exchange, 3 notorious liquor stores and chronic prostitution” as somehow inextricably entwined with the new proposed St. Joseph’s Drop-In Day center. Which leads me to believe that: a) this SONIC group have a negative, dispassionate view of their homeless brothers and sisters and b) are naïve to believe that the problem can be dealt with somewhere else.

As we live in a predominantly Christian society, presided over by the notorious ‘born-again Christian’, Bush, would it not be more 'Christian-like' to treat our homeless citizens with greater compassion? ‘There, but for the Grace of God go I?’ Rather than condemning our homeless brothers and sisters to an industrial wasteland, would it not be the ‘Christian’ thing-to-do to provide more shelters and services in the very areas where they are most needed? Venice is one such area. Owing to exorbitant property and rental prices over the past decade, poor people have been squeezed out of their homes onto the streets. Not all the homeless in Venice come from outside the area, many of them were housed here until they could no longer afford the rents or their building was sold out to condo-conversion.

I advocate that we-the-people of Venice face the problem head-on with reasonable and compassionate solutions rather than segregation of the homeless populace. For instance, an adequate homeless ‘shelter’ is long overdue in our community. St. Josephs’ and the Bible Tabernacle have valiantly carried on, all these years, providing short-term ‘band-aid’ solutions to a long-term chronic disease. NIMBY-ism has obstructed the development of a more comprehensive, compassionate solution – hence we have a build-up of chronic homeless cases that have never received adequate treatment. Sending these cases to a Drop-In Day Center in the middle of an industrial park will not serve either the afflicted or the affected.

Homelessness cannot be swept under the rug and made to disappear. However much you may be repelled by those unfortunates; and however much you tremble at the thought of your property values plummeting; I recommend, for the sake of your own ‘integrity’, that you find compassion and empathy in your heart. Not all homeless people are drug addicts, alcoholics, criminals or prostitutes and it is unfair to dispose of them by assuming that they are. The ‘Christian’ thing to do is to strengthen your hearts and minds to the possibility of integrating those less fortunate back into the fabric of our society by embracing the problems with compassionate solutions.

“There, but for the Grace of God, go I”.


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Plan for homeless center in Venice hits heavy opposition

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Feb 17, 2007 9:40 pm

The L.A. Times wrote:
Plan for homeless center in Venice hits heavy opposition

<span class=postbold>Residents cite a 'state of siege' and say they can't handle more vagrants and addicts.</span>

By Martha Groves, Times Staff Writer
The L.A. Times
February 8, 2007

In nearly 24 years in Venice, Ty Allison has been threatened with a knife and assaulted by vagrants. Almost daily, he calls police to report that homeless people are using crack and methadone in his driveway.

Ana Petrova cleans up human feces every morning in the alley behind Peter's Marina Motors, the business she and her husband have operated on Lincoln Boulevard for 40 years.

Allison and Petrova say they feel compassion for the homeless, but they are among many neighborhood business owners and residents vigorously battling a walk-in services facility that St. Joseph Center plans to open in its former thrift shop at Lincoln and Flower Avenue.

"We're a neighborhood that is literally under a state of siege," said Allison, a freelance photographer who works out of his home just east of Lincoln. "We can't absorb this center."

As the Los Angeles region seeks solutions for its homeless population, and as police try to disperse the many denizens of downtown's skid row, residents of communities such as Venice and Hollywood are finding that the homeless problem is increasingly coming to their back door.

Allison's and Petrova's neighborhood, near Penmar Park in north Venice, has already seen a proliferation of operations — several medical marijuana stores, two methadone clinics and at least three liquor stores that, according to residents, sell single shots out their back doors — that would be unwelcome in Brentwood or Pacific Palisades. A guerrilla needle exchange has been a continuing problem in alleys throughout the area.

So residents mobilized when they learned late last year that St. Joseph Center, a reputable nonprofit provider of homeless services, was on the verge of relocating its homeless access center to the thrift-shop site from a nearby location west of Lincoln.

They organized Venice SONIC (Save Our Neighborhood's Integrity Committee) and hired an attorney, Robert P. Silverstein, who says Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl "has pushed the project through under stealth of night." Rosendahl countered that "this has been public through all of 2006."

Residents are sensitive to how others may view their opposition. "We know we're going to be tarred and feathered as NIMBY and anti-homeless," said Chris Williams of the Penmar Neighborhood Assn. "But that's just not true.

"The problem with this particular program … is that it enables the service-averse and criminal homeless to stay in their dysfunctional lifestyle. And that's not safe for our community and our seniors and children."

Besieged by upset residents and business owners, Rosendahl attended a meeting in December at the home of resident Carol Bodlander, where neighbors vented about drugs and prostitution, vagrancy, inadequate police presence and poor city response to requests for better lighting and other improvements.

With residents threatening a legal battle, Rosendahl organized a town hall meeting Tuesday evening at the Penmar Recreation Center.

It was standing room only as Rhonda Meister, executive director of St. Joseph Center, tried to ease residents' concerns. She told the crowd of more than 250 that the move was prompted by the sale of the building that had long housed the daytime center at 4th Street and Rose Avenue. That spot was near a number of other agencies and clinics — notably the Venice Family Clinic — that provide services to homeless and low-income people.

After new owners raised the rent to $10,000 a month, she said, St. Joseph Center researched more than 150 other properties, none of which was suitable. As a last resort, the organization decided to relocate the thrift shop and convert the space into a center offering showers, coffee, laundry services and a place to hang out during daytime hours. The homeless access center also would link participants to medical care, mental health treatment, substance abuse services and other aid.

Meister stressed that the 31-year-old organization — founded by two sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, an order that runs Mount Saint Mary's college and other institutions — was dedicated to meeting the immediate needs of homeless and low-income people and to getting them into housing. And she assured the crowd that the center would provide security guards who would rove around the facility and through nearby alleys.

In an interview Wednesday, Meister said she did not expect an increase in the numbers who would be served by the center. At its previous location, just south of the Santa Monica border, the center has seen about 3,000 people a year.

More than half of them are identified as coming from Santa Monica, and last June, its City Council voted to provide $75,000 to help St. Joseph create a new home for its access center. That was in addition to $100,000 from the city of Los Angeles and $86,000 from the county.

Tuesday's meeting featured a mix of outraged residents, well-known Venice Beach denizens and homeless advocates. Amy Thiel, who lives near the former thrift shop, tearfully urged officials to open the center's doors, saying the area's homeless "are members of our city and part of Venice, California…. [They] need help, resources and showers."

Rosendahl told the crowd that the city was installing new lighting and planned to close off some of the problematic alleys near the St. Joseph facility. But Andre de Montesquiou, owner of California Chicken Cafe on Lincoln Boulevard, said such improvements have been promised over the years but never delivered. "Don't throw these bones out to us," he said.

He and other members of Venice SONIC said they would prefer a facility that provided overnight shelter and did not push the homeless back out onto the street at closing time.

Lois M. Takahashi, an associate professor in UCLA's department of urban planning, said Venice and Santa Monica were already doing a lot to help homeless people.

"We have to think about the broader context here," Takahashi said. "We focus on the NIMBYs and cities that are offloading homeless, but we're not really talking as much about redistributing the responsibility across the region, which is a necessary element to solve this problem."

Sometimes, overcoming community concerns can be a simple matter of education and old-fashioned political support.

In Hollywood, a plan to create a housing complex and homeless services center near the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Gower Street appears to have overcome initial opposition from concerned residents and business owners.

"The community opposition has pretty much died down," said Helmi Hisserich, Hollywood administrator for the Community Redevelopment Agency, who credited a series of informational meetings and the strong backing of City Council President Eric Garcetti.

The CRA, which purchased the land from the First Presbyterian Church, plans a 40- to 60-unit complex with long-term subsidized apartments and on-site services to help tenants stay off the streets.

A proposed drop-in services center was scrapped. Hisserich wouldn't say whether the elimination of the drop-in center helped ease community concerns but acknowledged that such centers are "hot-button issues" and added, "The community response certainly helped shape the plan."


Times staff writer Ashraf Khalil contributed to this report.

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More on homelessnes in Holland

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Jan 05, 2008 11:54 pm

hollandsentinel.com wrote:More on homelessness in Holland

More on homelessness in Holland

December 30, 2007

Sharon Sharp looked at her husband. She began to talk and stuttered a little --

"Just tell it," Joshua Sharp said softly, looking down at his hands folded on the conference table in the Holland Rescue Mission's Family Hope Center.

Sharon began to speak of drug abuse and how their families weren't much help and of coming to proverbial rock bottom, of her husband arrested for domestic violence when, police reports say, he grabbed his mother in the middle of an argument.

It was at this point that Sharon Sharp gave her husband of two and a half years an ultimatum. Either they could go to the shelter, get clean and start putting their life back together, or she would go it alone.

"It was a bad situation all around," she said.

Joshua Sharp was out of jail two days when he came to the shelter.

Sharon's drug of choice was methamphetamine. Joshua's was marijuana, then cocaine, meth and alcohol.

Sharon Sharp has been clean for six months, Joshua Sharp for 120 days. As he said the number, he smiled a little with obvious pride.

The couple have lived in a tent in Indianapolis, in Arizona, for several months in a Tallahassee, Fla., campground. When Sharon and Joshua Sharp returned to Allegan where they are both from, they spent most of the time living with other people like his mother. They had an apartment for a while, but were evicted.

She worries that a string of Christmas parties and toy donations will spoil their 3-year-old Zachary -- "because we're not staying," she said, confidant.

Zachary shows no sign of weakness. He is bright-eyed and eager to show off his remote control truck. But he also has asthma and requires a nebulizer.

The Holland Rescue Mission requires men not in its program to look for work.

Joshua Sharp works graveyard shift as a fork lift driver. He attends Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous and the Christian support group 70/ 7.

Sharon Sharp participates in the mission's life skills program. She attends classes in parenting, finances, addictions and Bible study and does light jobs around the mission.

She is four and a half months pregnant with their second child. Because the pregnancy is high risk, Sharon Sharp can't walk up stairs or lift much of anything. The pregnancy limits the types of jobs she can do around the mission.

It's one of her jobs to make sack lunches. Each weekday morning, 60 to 60 sack lunches go out the door with working residents.

Within the first 30 days of staying at the mission, 70 percent of the men get a job.

Five years ago, the average man's emergency shelter stay was 27-30 days. Today's average man stays longer than 60 days -- some stay upward of six months, Mission Executive Director Darryl Bartlett said. Five years ago, the mission logged 30,000 nights lodged. In the 2006-2007 fiscal year, that number was 47,000 nights.

Five years ago, the average man's shelter stay was 27-30 days. Today's average man stays longer than 60 days -- some stay upward of six months, Bartlett said.

"Everyone wants to think the homeless are from another area," he said.

Bartlett pointed out that 75 percent of mission residents have been in the Holland area for six months or longer -- 47 percent have never been homeless before.

The mission serves Allegan north to Lake Michigan Drive in northern Ottawa County and provides support services: Mental health, substance abuse, loss of social networks.

"I'm not scared about the future because we have all the support we need," Sharon Sharp said.

When the couple arrived in September, they were 21 days away from divorce. Now, as they sit next to each other at the table, they hold hands, they look at each other and they smile, even when telling painful details of a difficult year.

"This place probably saved our marriage," Sharon Sharp said.

"Our lives period," Joshua Sharp said.

Both are confidant they will make it this time, that their new support system of people who have helped them at the mission will keep them in check.

The single largest factor in determining whether someone will slip from poverty into homelessness is the lack of a friends and family network -- a safety net, Good Samaritan Executive Director Michael VandenBerg.

"About half of those are kids, which is really the part that breaks your heart," VandenBerg said.

The agency provides transitional housing and support services for 140 people a year. Most come out of the shelters, some off the streets.

Between an estimated 47 and 55 percent of the area's homeless are on the streets for the first time in their lives.

"We have families here tonight who were living stable lives, either renting or owning their own home and it all fell apart. Overtime it all started to crumble," Bartlett said. "They are one medical situation, one car breakdown, one any event away from losing everything. Without a car they can't get to work; they can't get to doctor appointments. When a parent or a child gets ill, it comes out of pocket and then it cascades. It just gets worse and worse."

Two years ago, Good Samaritan received 3,000 calls for assistance, VandenBerg said. Now that number is more like 4,500.

Each day, the mission responds an average of 3.5 new people who are finding themselves homeless, Bartlett said. Earlier this year, filled beyond capacity, the mission began putting mattresses on the floor of the emergency men's shelter.

Many avoid the shelter and its rules.

"There still is an element of the population who don't want to live by any rules," Bartlett said.

Bed times, curfews, the requisite five job applications a day, the fact that only married couples are allowed to live together in the family wing -- all of these are factors that keep people like Allan "Randy" Graves and his girlfriend from moving into the shelter.

"We're just living out in the woods right now -- here and there," Graves said.

Graves has lived in the area all of his life. He's been homeless here for about six months. First he lost his job, then his apartment.

"I was almost two, three years with them until I screwed up," he said. His employers accused him of stealing from them, Graves said.

Now, his days are filled with trying to keep warm. He hasn't looked for work in a while and collects soda cans for money. This is about the third time Graves has been homeless. The last time was four or five years ago, he said.

The Ottawa Area Housing Coalition is in the second year of a 10-year plan to end homelessness in the county. The coalition has identified 27 goals including seeking grants, raising awareness and adopting a "housing first" philosophy. Housing first is a federal initiative that focuses on getting those who are homeless into housing. Only then does it address any other barriers they may have to success.
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