SafeGround StakeDown


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Poor People’s Campaign


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Canceled March Thursday

We had a march scheduled for Thursday, 12/15/16, from Loaves & Fishes to City Hall to welcome Mayor Steinberg to his position. We are canceling the event because a big storm is expected to hit us that day with rain and high winds. It would be a miserable walk for the few that would probably show up anyway, so we thought best to cancel the event altogether. We apologize for the cancellation and are very sorry for the bad weather.

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Homeless Advocates March


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News on City Hall Protest

Protesters occupying outside of Sacramento’s City Hall for the #Right2Rest has been ongoing since December 8, 2015. Its against the law to live outdoors, to be homeless in a city that does not have enough shelter beds and housing for everyone. This protest has changed the conversation that is usually artfully avoided. I don’t need to say more – read:

(For more links to news on mostly homelessness – )

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National Hunger & Homeless Awareness Week

Press Advisory – November 18, 2015
National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week
2015 focus on criminalization of homelessness
Contact: Paula Lomazzi, Sacramento Homeless Organizing Committee, 916.862.8649Untitled-1

This is National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. Communities throughout the nation are participating in this year’s weeklong event with various actions and campaigns. The event organizers have deemed the criminalization of homelessness as the focus of this year’s event, quoting the National Coalition for the Homeless campaign webpage “For this year’s H&H week we are focusing on the laws passed by local governments around the nation which prevent people experiencing homelessness from doing life-sustaining activities.”

Recently, very important voices of authority have called out for the decriminalization of homelessness. The US Department of Justice has determined that criminalizing homelessness is unconstitutional, and results in cruel and unusual punishment. To quote their August 8, 2015 press release “It should be uncontroversial that punishing conduct that is a universal and unavoidable consequence of being human violates the Eighth Amendment. . .  Sleeping is a life-sustaining activity—i.e., it must occur at some time in some place.  If a person literally has nowhere else to go, then enforcement of the anti-camping ordinance against that person criminalizes her for being homeless.”

The United Nations’ Human Rights Committee recently warned that criminalizing homelessness was “cruel, inhuman, and degrading”. The UN’s International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) called for the US to “abolish” laws and policies that criminalize homelessness and that we should create incentives to push for alternative policies. The US Interagency Council on Homelessness advised local governments against criminalizing homelessness because they create additional barriers for homeless people, fail to increase access to services, and undermine the impact of service providers.

This year, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) brought this question forward to homeless continuum of cares across the US in their NOFA application. As you are probably aware, they release this application every year for funding housing that serve homeless populations. In this highly competitive application, two points will be awarded to communities that can show they have implemented strategies that prevent criminalization of homelessness, further fair housing, and perform specific outreach.

These statements and pushes come none too soon, as laws against the condition of being homeless continue to increase… spite of the push back from local advocates and residents of conscience…in spite of the growing and overwhelming evidence that homeless people have not suddenly or miraculously become housed because it was against the law to not be housed or sheltered. Homeless shelter and housing programs continue to be insufficient to the needs.

Sacramento has one of the worse laws against the act of being homeless, Title 12-52. It actually defines the prohibited act of camping as “living outdoors”. This law has in effect made it against the law to be in such poverty that one cannot afford to pay rent and happens to live in a community that has inadequate resources for its homeless population. In utter inconsistency with reality, this ordinance actually makes it against the law for “any person to store personal property, including camp paraphernalia, in the following areas, except as otherwise provided by resolution of the city council: A. Any public property; or B. Any private property without the written consent of the owner.”, never distinuishing a homeless person committing these acts from a person that wants to store their bicycle in their cousin’s garage–without written permission.

These laws that criminalize homelessness are reminiscent of outdated laws of the past that sought to exclude people of color (Jim Crow Laws), or people with disfiguring disabilities (“Ugly Laws”), or people of a certain economic status from entering the State of California (“Anti-Oakie Laws”). In all those cases of past injustices, those laws were overturned with the help of the Federal Government. It looks like the Federal Government is again having to intervene in local jurisdiction’s unjust policies.

Along with this pressure from the Federal Government, communities across the nation are now saying enough is enough, that they no longer will tolerate their city treating people so poorly, cruelly and unjustly. We all want an end to homelessness. Making laws against homelessness does not help to end homelessness, and in fact makes it harder for individuals to get out of homelessness.


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Support for Captain



James Little – Captain

James Little, better know as “Captain” was cited for illegal camping a few weeks ago. He lost his ticket and immediately asked the courts system when he was supposed to appear. They could not give him that information and said they would only have that information after it turns into a warrant. And now he is being tried for failure to appear and could face jail time. He has a jury trial on November 3 at 8:30 AM.

When cited for camping, Captain had no tent, no blanket, no other camping gear. He was laying down on one of the carts that he builds. The trailer and his tools that he uses to make carts for other homeless people were also taken. Captain is 54, and did have a job at the Sacramento Union as a printer before the paper went out of business.

Captain has no other income now except recycling. Captain is known and loved in the community. He has received hundreds of camping tickets over the years. Captain was jailed a few years ago and nearly lost his dog, Lucky! We need to support Captain and let the city know that we will not tolerate the harassment of senior and disabled homeless residents!

Please show up and show your support for Captain! Thank you!

by Suzanne Hasting

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Bobby at Loaves & Fishes

by Sally Ooms

Volunteers at Loaves and Fishes come in many forms. Bobby is a long-term, full-time volunteer who has been working at Friendship Park facilities for almost a year. After he finished college back east, he decided he wanted to follow in his family’s footsteps and volunteer for a year. He, like his father and siblings before him, has become part of Jesuit Volunteers, a program that enlists young people to provide direct service in communities around the world.

Jesuit Volunteers serve people who are poor and marginalized through work at schools, non-profits and other sites. The program is built around the four Catholic Ignatian values of spiritual growth, simple living, communing with other Junior Volunteers and those they serve, and the pursuit of social justice.

We are sitting at Friendship Park, the Loaves and Fishes oasis at Twelfth Street and North C for homeless men, women and children. Nearby is the dining room, an emergency health services clinic, a free mental health clinic, a daytime hospitality center for homeless women and children, a private school for 3- to 5-year olds called Mustard Seed, an Bobby1overnight shelter for chronically mentally ill women and a warehouse that secures and stores perishable and non-perishable food.

Close by, and affiliated with Loaves and Fishes are various programs, from Clean and Sober which sponsors AA and NA meetings six days a week, to Family Promise, the headquarters for a network of local congregations that offer overnight shelter for homeless families. An office in the complex helps homeless people with applications and representation for disability certification at hearings and another—Tommy Klinkenbeard Legal Clinic—donates free legal services for homeless people who are accused of infractions and misdemeanors.

Bobby arrived last August and says his time with Loaves and Fishes has been a great experience. He has done a little of everything, from handing out meal tickets to working on computers. He usually assists with coffee service in the mornings. (According to 2007 statistics, Loaves and Fishes served 307,278 cups of coffee. The figure has to be much higher now and they are about to implement a healthful breakfast program as well.) Bobby is getting ready to work at the service center in the early afternoon, something he does almost every day. He is in charge of helping with men’s hygiene—seeing to it that they have shampoo, deodorant, soap, toothpaste, tissues, bug wipes, shoelaces and Q-Tips, to mention a few. “Whatever they need,” he says. “Stuff we all take for granted.”

While he is there to help people meet survival needs, he has enjoyed the camaraderie with them too. In the course of his duties, he has gotten to know a lot of people who come around regularly, and some who have only availed themselves of Loaves and Fishes’ services fleetingly. “I hang out with people. I try to direct them the right way when they tell me what they need. I listen to people. Sometimes you just need to be an ear for them.”

As if to prove the rapport he has had with folks, a man named Jose comes up to him and shakes his hand. They talk a bit, part English, and part Spanish—like old friends greeting one another for the day. “I listen to all the people,” Bobby says. “They tell me about growing up here, or where they have come from. Everyone has a unique story.”

The native of Scranton, PA, is due to start an internship with a Philadelphia media company when he returns back east. “I’ll be sorry to leave. I have never seen anything like this organization before. It is incredible what they do on a daily basis. There needs to be more awareness so people can relate to homeless people. I mean, we all have sort of similar basic human needs.”

He learned about Jesuit Volunteers through a school in Philadelphia. His father was a volunteer in 1979 and 1980. His sister worked as a volunteer with homeless people in Washington, D.C., in 2009. Another teaches at a charter school in New Jersey. “I chose the West Coast,” he says. “I live with other volunteers on 12th Street. It’s a great location and everyone in the house creates a supportive environment. Yes, it’s going to be hard leaving. It is something I will remember all my life.”


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Angels of the Fields

by Sally Ooms

Every December a Sacramento River Delta event brings joy to hundreds of farm workers’ children. Kids from Clarksburg to Rio Vista, communities along the river, come to an invitation-only carnival hosted by the every-growing cadre of women called Angels of the Fields. Highlights of the event are a family photo with Santa and gifts that have been researched for appropriate age and gender.

“Sometimes the kids take their present home instead of opening it there,” says Yolanda Chavez, head of the core group of angels. “It might be the only present they get that season and they want to save it to open it on Christmas.”The carnival includes free food booths. Parents take their children around to game booths where they can win prizes, to pick up their goody bags (in addition to their special gift), and to visit Santa. There’s lots of entertainment too, like a Taiko group. After the performance, children are invited to bang on the drums.Angel Group

Yolanda began the Angels group 15 years ago with three other women when she was working for a corporation that served farm workers in Sacramento and Galt. The four felt they should do something special for farm workers, their families and their kids. “Migrant workers receive low pay, bad shelter, bad transportation. Affordable housing is a huge issue. Many are food insecure. They work hard, at times with only beans, potatoes and tortillas to eat. Now we are trying to see that they get nutritional education and connect our events with that.

“There are no health care clinics in the Delta, so people must somehow get to county clinics in Sacramento or rely on home remedies. Some people just do their own cures. Or they go to curanderos.”

“There is a kind of underground dental where they just pull problem teeth,” says Holly Pauls, another integral member of the Angels. “It’s scary.”

She also sees housing as a huge issue. She knows of people living in single wides with six children, two families with parents. There is rain coming through the roof and exposed wiring.

The first event the original angels began has become a tradition. Each May farm workers’ wives gather for a free day of “make-overs.” The day of relaxation includes facials, hair styling and massages. “A day when they are pampered,” Yolanda says.

Two of the four original angels have passed away. The group offers college scholarships in their names, about $500 apiece every year. They also sponsor a couple of farm worker youth for what is called life experiences at a camp in Monterrey Bay. Their umbrella financial agent is now the California Human Development Department as they are not a non-profit. “Just a group of angels who want to give back to the communities in the area,” Yolanda says. “We decided back then that we were just gonna do it. We reached out to our own families at first and then we started to grow and grow.”

“While our Christmas event is the key event, there are so many things during the year that enrich our program,” says Holly. “There are blankets needed for adults, and clothing for young and old, household items. At Christmas the clothing is almost all new and we have an area at the event where they can pick what they need.”

Gifts and donations come from many sources. For example, Asoka Ishiura, another core member of the group, says she brought scarves for women from the Sacramento Organization of Chinese Americans. Asoka says the Sacramento Employment Agency, which helps people get jobs and training, has donated pajamas and slippers.

Norma Koch, another organizer, says angels bring their skills and caring from all different occupations. “Of course, a lot have a farming background. Once one person is involved, they recruit the whole family. And young people who were once in the program are now volunteering for us.” She says many employees from area companies offer support. Employees of one company decided five or six years ago to give up their inter-office gift exchanges and each give to farm workers’ children.

Other entities have benefits for Angels of the Fields. The Moon Café in the Delta town of Locke hosted a fundraiser with musicians and artists’ donations. On Labor Day Weekend, the Tejano Festival in Sacramento at Cesar Chavez Plaza has pledged $5 of each ticket sold to Angels of the Fields. They also will be featured on the website and have prominence on it for a year.

The Angels will receive part of the proceeds from Farm to Every Fork, the Sept. 12 benefit dinner in Sacramento for area people facing food insecurity. “We’ve obviously grown,” says Yolanda. “Mostly by word of mouth. We are there asking, ‘How can we help?’ We don’t ever have to say much. We just tell people what families need now and people respond. We dabble in everything, wherever we are needed to help. We are 62 angels strong now. We are spreading our wings.”

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River City Food Bank

by Sally Ooms

Things are winding down at the River City Food Bank at 2 p.m. on a Tuesday. “But they are still coming,” says Executive Director Eileen Thomas. “We’ve had 156 today and will have more.” Volunteers hand out about 180 food bags a day to individuals and households,five days a week. By the end of the month, numbers will reach 5,200-5,500 households from the Sacramento area, she says.

“Especially in the summer, we have a lot. We seRiverCity2e people in the summer we haven’t seen for months. Families with children have no lunch or breakfast available through the schools. That’s two extra meals a day and that’s tough for families that are already stretching to make ends meet.”

That population is a result of all different difficulties, like people “in between addresses” (her expression for homeless folks), and anyone who is so poor they can’t meet basic living expenses, like rent, utility bills, medical care or transportation costs. Eileen says a third of the people who come for food are the working poor. “People come to see us when they absolutely need to. Anyone with children and a minimum wage job will be at the food bank.”

River City is the oldest continuously serving food bank in Sacramento County. The concept is to provide healthy emergency food and other assistance such as referrals, senior programs, nutritional counseling, cooking classes and children’s snack bags.
Besides the areas for storage and pick up of food, the small space at 1800 28th Street, manages to house cubicles for people to talk about private issues with volunteers versed in the services that are available to help them become self-sufficient.

“We call this a choice food bank,” she says. “Most other food banks have prepackaged the food that recipients will get. Here they have a choice. Food is a personal thing. Maybe you don’t like canned potatoes. Here you can say that you don’t care for them, but that you really like diced tomatoes.

“We have personal shoppers who talk with the clients and treat them with respect as they go through the line. It takes about 20 volunteers a day to make this place hum.” Volunteers are the food bank’s lifeblood. Hundreds of them annually put in 11,000 hours of work helping stock the shelves and put together the bags for each individual or family moving through the line. Eileen calls the place a “food-in, food-out food bank. We buy food at a good price and we share it with others. When anything fresh comes in, it goes right out.”
They rely on food donations and surplus food donations. Staples they purchase on a bulk basis—peanut butter, tuna, eggs and dairy products. Most of their money comes from generous individuals and foundations.

Eileen Thomas

Eileen Thomas

Much care is taken to provide programs for the most vulnerable members of the community, like seniors. The food bank’s MIM program, Most Important Meal, offers weekly bags of healthy breakfast foods. They pack up and deliver kits—enough for a week—with V8 juice, crackers and cheese, granola bars, packaged and fresh fruit and gluten free granola. Eileen says the food bank is really filling a need for low-income seniors.
Then there are the BackSnacks for the kids, nutritious snack bags designed to tide children over the weekend when they might not be getting adequate food. These they deliver to seven schools in the area on Fridays during the school year.

Eileen takes me back to the area where food is stacked on shelves and the walls are lined with freezers and refrigerators. Fresh produce that day is cabbage, slaw, zucchinis and yellow squash, chopped salad with broccoli and bagged lettuce.

In cooperation with the Sacramento Natural Food Co-op and the Sacramento Cares Community Program, they educate clients about good food and healthful food preparation. The food bank gives recipes, this week for lentils. “It’s great protein,” says Eileen. “But lots of people don’t know what to do with them.”

CalFresh Outreach also assists food stamp recipients in obtaining food they need for good health, under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. In short, the food bank takes advantage of as many resources as possible to educate clients about eating well on an inadequate budget. “People are often new to poverty,” Eileen says. “To spread the word, we go to fairs, schools, college campuses and WIC, (the USDA nutritional service program).”

Eileen describes her volunteers as fabulous. “We are really a volunteer-fueled operation.” And they have to be versatile. “Every day is different.” A day she remembers in particular is Oct. 21, 2010, when the building they occupied on 27th Street burned to the ground. The day after they were serving out of Goodwill truck. Soon after, Trinity Cathedral offered a space. When it became too little, the food bank moved across the street to a Sutter Medical Center facility. In 2011, they finally had enough money to purchase their present location.

“In downtown Sacramento, there is a need for food. Hungry people there have to make their way to Loaves and Fishes or us. Everywhere else is at churches outside the major city area, so you have to live close to light rail and bus lines or be able to drive the freeways.”

She is excited that the parking garage across the street will soon have the Sacramento Food Co-op as a tenant. “This will bring two types of diverse people (two economic bases) together. We want good food for everyone. They are a fabulous partner and it’s going to be even better when they are close.”

River City Food Bank keeps serving the growing number of people who come through the door. “If there is anything we can do to raise people out of poverty, we are dedicated to doing that—one less person is going to be hungry and be in line.”

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