We’re part of a loose coalition of concerned citizens (led by CAUSE, SURJ and various faith leaders) who are wading into the heated public conversation surrounding the unhomed of our community.
There has been a ferocious backlash against our homeless brothers and sisters here in Ventura after the horrible tragedy on our promenade. Unfortunately, this senseless act has spawned an angry and fearful group of villagers in “torches and pitchforks” mode. They are pushing forward an agenda of harsher treatment of our most vulnerable citizens, including increased criminalization, that would be harmful to both the homed and homeless of our community.
Cooler heads and warmer hearts are needed at the May 7th council meeting.
We know this is short notice, but if you are willing to help, please meet us at City Hall (California and Poli) on Monday at 5 pm to ensure a seat and please wear a blue shirt. The meeting starts at 6. We will provide matching “Tragedy is no excuse for hate” signs for you.
We want to have a strong physical presence in the room, whether or not you wish to speak at the podium. The bravest among us will be speaking (if you choose to, please understand that past speakers have been booed and hissed at). A two-minute speech is approximately 150 words.
We are focusing on empathetic personal stories for this meeting, with an eye toward toning down hateful rhetoric and encouraging people to re-connect with their better selves.
For example, 15 people are currently homeless because of the Thomas fire; one of our members who lost her home will discuss how that incident affected her. (2018 Ventura County demographics may be viewed here and here) Nationally, almost 8 out of 10 American workers are living paycheck to paycheck and couldn’t afford a surprise $500 expense. A brief encouragement to the besieged City Council would not be amiss either.
Further down the road, we will be looking toward supporting productive solutions to the complicated homeless issues in our community.
Here are two great resources from VC Continuum of Care Alliance on Ventura County’s homeless population as of 2018, the problems still unsolved and the solutions that are currently in place.