WASHINGTON, D.C. – The impact of judicial nominees can be traced back to the founding of this nation. Today that impact was felt in a painful way when Texas federal judge John Barker ruled that the current CDC moratorium exceeded the authority of the constitution. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued order 361 of the public health act to temporarily halt evictions back on September 4, 2020. This guidance shielded some tenants from eviction due to the current coronavirus pandemic. This order was also issued to help prevent spread of the coronavirus.
The state of Texas, which ranks at the top in carrying out evictions, is helping perpetuate homelessness. The state is living up to their slogan “everything is bigger in Texas”. According to the Eviction Lab, there have been 2,668 evictions carried out in the United States just in the last seven days. The state of Texas ranks at the top when it comes to executing evictions. Since March of last year, cities in Texas evicted people at an alarming rate. Austin executed 877 evictions, Fort Worth 12,353 evictions, and Houston executed 24,355 evictions. Bigger does not always equate to better.
The National Coalition for the Homeless supports adhering to eviction moratoria, and preventing housing displacement due to the pandemic economic downturn. As the top public health agency of the federal government, the CDC issued an order meant to protect the health and safety of everyone. By allowing evictions to proceed, city and state governments are ignoring the purpose of the CDC’s moratorium and guidance on quarantine and social distance. Housing is a human right. It says so in our declaration of independence; life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Public servants including the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government are supposed to execute that, not evictions.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Elizabeth MacDonough, the current Senate Parliamentarian ruled today that the Raise the Wage Act would not be included in the current American Rescue Plan. Her decision now puts a temporary halt to the Democrats plan to raise the wage. During a recent townhall, Senator Bernie Sanders I-VT, indicated that this fight to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour is not over. It’s disappointing for someone that does not have a vote to make that decision, but we will not give up. There are other ways to do this.
There are other economic solutions to focus on beside raising the wage that may make wages more sustainable. Guaranteed Income and Universal Livable Wage would eliminate the argument that jobs and businesses would be lost. It now becomes a matter of the will of the people instead of the skill of the politician.
Background: In 12 years, the cost of most necessities like housing, transportation and medical care, have increased, and in some cases, astronomically increased. But this the longest period of time the Federal minimum wage has remained stagnant since it was created. While the minimum wage is not the cause of homelessness, it does contribute to it. In the United States, there is not one county where you can afford a two-bedroom apartment working 40 hours per week earning minimum wage.
There are success stories with cities that have raised their own wages to $15 per hour. Millions of Americans have been lifted out of poverty, while millions are still there. In the most expensive cities in the nation, $15 per hour keep Americans in poverty. We are exploring things like guaranteed incomes and wages indexed to the local cost of housing. There is a deep income divide that must be addressed. Stay tuned, game on.
As we enter (hopefully) the final phase of the COVID pandemic with vaccinations, it is unclear in many states if there is a plan to inoculate every resident of the state facing a housing emergency.
California has the nation’s largest homeless population and has yet to clearly define their plan to distribute the vaccine to the hundreds of thousand people experiencing homelessness, or frontline homeless services workers. The is not just an issue of reaching folks who are homeless. The narrow Federal definition of homelessness prevents many from being clearly defined as vulnerable.
The National Coalition for the Homeless is asking the California Department of Public Health to prioritize vaccinations for all those without a stable place to live, those living outside or in a shelter, and those who work in service to these folks.
While the statewide plan issued by the Department of Public Health makes some mention of homelessness, direction on how to vaccinate all people who do not have permanent housing is vague. There are huge numbers of people sleeping outside in California and no real plan to reach this difficult to serve population. In addition, it is unclear if those who were recently relocated into housing meet the definition of homeless. We are asking for California officials to provide a clear plan that local communities can implement that takes into account the diverse needs of all of those experiencing homelessness.
Very few states, in fact, have published comprehensive plans to get COVID vaccines to the entire population of people who are unhoused. We are urging our advocacy network throughout the United States to reach out to their state health departments to ask if there are detailed plans to vaccinate homeless people. We hope that the media begin to ask these questions as well. We would ask that these plans be published on the state health department websites so that they can be implemented on the local level.
The National Coalition for the Homeless is hearing mixed messages from social service providers and there is a great deal of confusion in the field about the vaccination program and how homeless people fit into the plans. Now, as the country prepares to vaccinate the population, in most states there is no sign yet that homeless people, those who serve homeless people, are a priority to access to the vaccine.
For those in California: Contact Dr. Tomás Aragón, the State Director of Public Health, at 516-553-1784. Tag @CApublicHealth in a tweet with the hashtag #VaccinateHomeless, or drop them a note on Facebook @capublichealth. “Please clarify when all homeless people, homeless and hunger social service providers (including those serving homeless people in permanent housing programs), throughout the state will be vaccinated.”
For those outside of California, please contact your state health department with a similar message to be made public.
According to George Santayana “An artist is a dreamer consenting to dream of the actual world,” which pretty much sums up the world occupied by homeless activist Richard Troxell who currently resides in Union County North Carolina.
Most of Richard’s work was in Austin, Texas, where he caused the most trouble and left his mark with a sculpture he designed called “the Homecoming” at Community First! Village. Richard can give you an hour’s long narrative about the chance meeting between the elderly woman depicted in the sculpture and the man and her daughter. He can give you the military background of the dad and how the elderly woman’s journey led to this place. This 7 year quest to bring this sculpture from concept to learning how to cast sculptures to collaborating with other artists to finally seeing his creation placed in 2019 is a dream realized for any artist, but the grassroots organizing and assistance offered by Richard to those oppressed by society may be his biggest impact on the world.
Richard had a day job helping people navigate the legal and social services network in Austin, but he had a side gig as the face of House the Homeless to twist the arms of city officials to stop pushing around people experiencing homelessness. Pushing people out of the arts areas of Austin; pushing them away from South by Southwest conference; pushing them off park benches, and pushing them out of sight. While everyone thinks Austin is some liberal oasis in the middle of a right wing fundamentalist state, sometimes the worst people who strip you of your rights are those with so called liberal beliefs. In the 1990s, nearly every city in the United States led by “progressive-man-of-the-people” mayors were horrible places to live for those experiencing homelessness. Chicago, San Francisco, Cleveland, and Seattle all had Mayors who were just cruel and heartless to homeless people. The City of Austin was no different with police sweeps, selective enforcement of certain laws, and attacks of free speech panhandling like the other liberal bastions. Richard found success fighting the “No Camping” ordinance in the courts after five years and argued his case for more humanity from City Hall in the court of public opinion. He fought disorderly conduct tickets for existing as a person without a home and regular attempts to shut down the shelters. Many cities including Austin pass these laws under the umbrella of “Quality of Life” ordinances. They are more appropriately called “Quality of Life for Mostly White Visitors to the City” ordinances, but they typically targeted the lowest income members of society. Richard successfully fought against an ordinance that made it illegal for certain people to rest in public which then began a cascade of other similar laws to fall.
Richard set up a huge fall event for 18 years to give out long underwear and winter gear to those facing a tough cold winter without regular shelter. The Thermal Underwear that “winterized them” and threw live music parties serving over 600 people, while his wife, Sylvia served them ham with cakes and pies, cornbread and real butter etc. (This event continues to this day.) He passed out hats during heat waves, emergency whistles to fend off serial assaults, and he worked to get those without a roof, some privacy in our society.
Semi-retired and relocated to North Carolina making personal COVID-19 face masks, Richard is now the national field general for House the Homeless and still on the quest to get the Universal Living Wage to be a part of the national discussion. Richard joined the National Coalition for the Homeless way back in the early 1990s and has always felt that the key to ending homelessness is giving people enough income to be able to sustain themselves free from shifting winds of benevolence from government or the religious sector. Richard wants to see a second statue in Washington DC to memorialize all the homeless individuals who did not survive without a roof over their head. He has become very interested in pushing for Social Security to be more equitable and not doom a person to a life of poverty if they are disabled. He would like to see social security income, SSI, assistance paired with a housing subsidy that limits the amount a person pays toward rent to no more than 30% of their income or even better 25% of their income as it was during the Nixon administration. In this way, people who cannot work will be able lift themselves off our streets. He will always bring the discussion back to honoring a person’s labor by paying them a wage that provides them the basic standard of living in a community. If Richard attends the meeting, he is going to bring up the need for a universal living wage in America. I was always surprised that he did not bring a neon sign with the Universal Living Wage logo so that he could turn on and off at various times during the National Coalition for the Homeless board meeting.
He moved from the state with the highest number of uninsured people in the United States in Texas to the rural county of Union, North Carolina which boasts a large number of uninsured as well at 12.3%. So, plenty of work for Richard in North Carolina. Child poverty in Austin was around 13.1% when he left with about 12% of the population living in poverty while only 7.3% of the population of rural North Carolina live below the poverty level. The unemployment rate in Austin is around 6.3% while it is only 5% in Union County North Carolina. The semi-blue state of North Carolina has a partial postponement of evictions while the deep red state of Texas only has the federal CDC moratorium on evictions. All other state and local restrictions on evictions have expired during this pandemic in Texas. Austin is the fastest growing metro area in the United States, but it also boasts the widest income disparity of any community.
Two other goals for Richard that he has been looking at as the new administration begins in Washington include a federal ban on discharges onto the streets as well as more involvement by the US Department of Transportation under the guidance of newly ratified Transportation Cabinet Member, Mayor Pete Buttigieg to include those sleeping under the highway bridges of America in the plan to improve infrastructure. It is a sad reality in the United States that many sexually based offenders cannot find housing anywhere after they have served their time and often turn to encampments mostly under the nation’s highways. This is not to say everyone who lives under bridges are sexually based offenders, but there are a disproportionate number. This has led to absurd situations where offenders register with the County sheriff a highway bridge as their permanent residence, which is certainly not the safest or most effective way to reduce recidivism. In fact, the current method for tracking offenders is probably the dumbest and worst strategy on the planet to keep society safe. Richard saw the big plans for investing in roads and bridges out of the Biden administration and wants housing to be a part of that plan that would create a lot of well paying jobs. This is not to reward sexually based offenders, but to keep all society safe by reducing risks.
California passed a law Senate Bill 1152 in 2018 which attempts to eliminate hospitals from dumping patients onto the streets, and sets up a training protocol to prevent people showing up at the shelter in cabs with their hospital gown and an IV bag still attached. Richard would like to see this law expanded to include alcohol and drug treatment programs as well as mental health institutions; given some teeth for a strong enforcement mechanisms, and expanded to every health care facility that receives Health and Human Services dollars in the United States. He also has toyed with the idea of seeing the same apply to all federal institutions so that there has to be some thought about where an individual will live after leaving the US military, housing subsidized by the Department of Housing and Urban Development or the Department of Agriculture or even those released from a federal penitentiary. Richard demands that we discharge no one into homelessness (with strong enforcement). After a period of extreme cruelty by the United States government where we caged kids and separated them from their family, reinstated the federal death penalty and banned people from entering the country because of their religion, it is time to bring back a government of compassion and concern for the well being of everyone living within its borders.
Richard is a published author, Looking Up at the Bottom Line: The Struggle for the Living Wage, which carries on through today as he is in the process of publishing his latest book, Short Stories in a Long Journey. He self-published, Striking a Balance (about pending gentrification in East Austin) and Ending Homeless at its Core-Richard’s first e-book. If you are interested in more of his history of activism, you can pick them up on Amazon. He will continue to work toward economic justice as well as civil rights for the most vulnerable in our society albeit in a slightly more compassionate community in North Carolina. He combines the passions of an artist with the common sense of an advocate and the knowledge of a social worker making him one of the best friends to have if you do not have housing in America.
The population of people experiencing homelessness is diverse and may need different strategies to best serve their individual needs. For example, two dose vaccines pose a challenge for people who live unsheltered on the streets in cars or encampments, as they often are forced to move and therefore cannot always be found by outreach workers, and therefore might never receive the second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines. Cononie is encouraging communities to wait a couple of weeks and use the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine when it is approved for use. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be administered in just one dose, plus, it is easier to transport to those on the streets, and does not require the extreme cold storage that the other two vaccines require. (Please note, NCH encourages all to access whatever vaccine is available to them.)
Cononie has worked on the streets for decades in South Florida and currently travels the streets of Broward County assisting those largely forgotten by the rest of society. He has set up a firehouse model of emergency responders who go out on the street around the clock to provide personal protective gear, masks, water, and COVID tests. He can help house individuals if they are interested and can work to quarantine individuals who are recovering.
Unfortunately, Cononie, a board member of the National Coalition for the Homeless, reports that the response in South Florida to the pandemic has been scatter shot at best. He has seen mistreatment of those experiencing homelessness at some of the local hospital emergency rooms, and Cononie said some of the hospitals have given up on serving homeless people altogether. Many people who are homeless report that hospitals will just give them a blanket, some food and then send them on their way saying, “Come back if it gets worse.”
Some cities have been successful in housing vulnerable and quarantined unhoused folks in hotel rooms, or other temporary housing. Cononie believes that his local health care system needs to find safe accommodation for those without housing to recuperate even if their symptoms are mild. The risk of them passing the virus to a large number of people at meal programs or shelters is significant and has deadly consequences for the fragile population served by the homeless continuum.
In South Florida, as in many communities, systems have either forgotten the population or have set up bureaucracies that make it impossible for those without an address to participate in programs that would keep them safe. The religious community has stepped up to help with meals and other basics, but the need is continually increasing as the pandemic has worn on. Broward County has a relatively high unemployment rate of 7.3%, and 14.6% of the Southern Florida population do not have health insurance, both of which can lead to increases in homelessness. Cononie is committed to bringing resources to people often forgotten to get them through this global health crisis.
The horrific story of the Bronx Parent Housing Network presented in the New York Times recently points to the need for those experiencing homelessness to be more involved in the governance, oversight and distribution of homeless dollars in every city in the United States. Staff and Board of the National Coalition wish to express our deep and profound sadness that women were allegedly sexually abused at a publicly funded shelter in New York City, and condemn all abuse, especially when inflicted on those seeking help in traumatic times.
“It is shocking that the board of an agency serving abuse victims would not put in place strict protocols to protect those women from assaults while they are attempting to rebuild their lives. This agency is using taxpayer dollars to provide emergency housing, and these staff and residents faced some of the same misogynistic, controlling behavior they were fleeing. It points to a need for better oversight by both the local government as well as the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the source of much of this funding,” said Donald Whitehead, executive director of NCH.
We believe that if people experiencing homeless were more involved in a meaningful way in the governance of the shelters in the United States, staff exploitation and harassment would be significantly decreased. Consumer feedback is a necessity in so many industries, why not in homeless or other social services? We at NCH have long advocated for both currently and formerly homeless folks to be employed with the task of collecting and reporting shelter concerns to community leaders.
The agency facing these disgusting allegations rose from a small organization only 5 years ago to a multi-million dollar operation, in response to the explosion of homelessness in NYC. We now spend billions of federal dollars to provide direly needed services to those experiencing homelessness across the country. Yet no city has instituted full oversight by people who have used these services. Unfortunately, people who are utilizing the services are not treated as equals to homeless services providers, Continuum of Care funding boards or in the oversight of the shelters.
This is not an isolated incident in New York City. We have documented media accounts of exploitation and harassment at shelters in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Los Angeles, Florida, and Washington, DC. But there are many examples of homeless led organizations that could be tapped by HUD and local communities to provide oversight of homeless services. San Francisco’s Coalition on Homelessness has the most advanced Shelter Monitoring Committee which could be modelled around the country. Baltimore, Cleveland, Denver, Portland and Philadelphia all have the infrastructure in place to take a leadership role in monitoring and providing peer support.
We must more fully integrate those experiencing homelessness into reforming our systems. NCH demands that:
Communities receiving federal homeless dollars initiate a review of protections against the harassment and exploitation of residents.
Each funded Continuum of Care should have a reporting system that prompts action by the local government.
Cities should employ an advisory committee of people who have been homeless, or a homeless ombudsman, to review agencies serving people who are unhoused and ensure that they are acting in the best interest of those experiencing homelessness.
HUD initiate a process where local groups of unhoused folks are given a chance to weigh in on local funding decisions, and ensure that recommendations are taken seriously by community leaders.
By Kelvin Lassiter
Fighting for justice and equality in housing and economics has been going on for quite some time. The National Coalition for the Homeless was formed in the early 1980’s after advocates had already started opening emergency shelters and food programs because of disastrous cuts made to affordable housing and health care through the 1970’s. Activism in the 1980’s led to the Homeless Assistance Act being passed, now known as the McKinney-Vento or HEARTH Act, which has provided the bulk of Federal homeless assistance dollars.
But what about truly ending homelessness? On July 25, 2003, the key tenets of the Bring America Home Act were introduced to the nation. This plan, created through a national campaign, proposed a four-pronged approach to addressing the root causes of homelessness:
HOUSING JUSTICE Recognizing housing as a basic human right, increasing investment in federal affordable housing programs
HEALTH CARE Calling for single-payer or universal health coverage for all residents of the country
ECONOMIC JUSTICE Working towards living wages and benefits, providing labor supports for un- or under-employed workers
CIVIL RIGHTS PROTECTIONS Ensuring that poor and unhoused persons are free from added criminalization based on their housing or economic status, providing a path to housing and work for those who are formerly incarcerated
Immediately lift over 30 million people out of poverty
Move people closer to being able to afford a two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent
Finally bring the minimum wage to the level it would be factoring in the previous increases since the Fair Labor Standards Act became law in 1938
We encourage you to join us in supporting the Raise the Wage Act of 2021, encouraging your federal elected officials to support strong wage growth for working people. Our advocacy is only strengthened when the citizens of this nation play a part and lawmakers act on their constituent responses.
By Brian Davis
In January, I took on the Director of Grassroots Organizing role, formerly held by Michael Stoops, and am so honored to be working again for the oldest homeless civil rights organization in America. I was a board member of NCH from 2001 until 2017.
I previously worked 23 years for a small advocacy organization causing trouble in Cleveland, OH. I oversaw the homeless memorials, Stand Downs and constructed programs to better serve those without a permanent residence. I registered thousands of people to vote and sued the State of Ohio to protect the voting rights of low income people without identification. I also regularly organized lawsuits against the City of Cleveland when they attempted to make it illegal to be without a home. Every month I was the guy who faced people living in shelters and on the streets and had to answer their criticism for what a stupid system we the people had constructed for those who were hungry or struggling with housing. I worked for 23 years attempting to amplify those voices so they were heard at the County administration building, City Hall, and at hearing rooms in the Rayburn Office Building of Congress.
Report out from Cleveland:
According to the US Census, Cleveland once again became the poorest city in the United States in 2020. One third of the total population of poor people in Ohio live in Cleveland even though the city on the shores of Lake Erie only represents 3% of the total population of the Buckeye state. The County that Cleveland sits in runs most welfare programs, and funds the addiction services as well as the mental health system, but that often means that people experiencing homelessness are not treated as individuals. They are instead told to conform to the one-size-fits-all approach to receiving help or do it alone.
For decades the city had been one of the few cities in the United States that offered guaranteed access to shelter for anyone who wanted it. This became moot in the 2010s when the conditions in the shelter had deteriorated to the point that the reputation of the shelter was so bad many found that sleeping on the street was more attractive than staying in a shelter. In addition, HUD’s policy of funding permanent supportive housing over everything else closed most of the family shelters in Cleveland. The waiting list for housing was years long and the waiting list for a decent shelter bed was also excessively long. Before the pandemic there were 22,000 to 24,000 evictions a year, and a severe lack of beds for women fleeing domestic violence, and no specific programs for young people. So, in one of the poorest cities in America, the safety net for homeless people was in tatters then a global pandemic hit.
The congregate living shelters in Cleveland were all big facilities housing between 100 and 400 people in the same space. Back in March 2020, these shelters were ordered to reduce the population by half and a few facilities decided to close because they could no longer staff the facility during the pandemic. The County decided to either take over shelters, or begin to fund nights at a couple of hotels operated mostly by some sketchy landlords. They started moving people into hotels, which were operated similarly to the transitional shelters that changes in HUD funding priorities had nearly completely eliminated from the social service system. There were hotels for women, one for men, a mixed gender hotel and a Covid positive hotel. The hotel that the County paid to put families up in was actually a really upscale facility, and provided a degree of respect to low income people that we are not accustomed to seeing in this mean city.
The hotel rooms have been a lifesaver, and advocates hope that they continue past the pandemic. Advocates and service providers in Cleveland have really worked to keep people safe, especially severely mentally ill people who during a normal winter would be sleeping on the streets. Doctors and nurses from the local public hospital have taken it upon themselves to regularly check in on homeless people now spread out in hotels and shelters across the city. There hasn’t been much organized governmental coordination in response to the pandemic, but community groups have stepped forward to take the lead.
There are still holes and problems come up every day during a pandemic especially since it has dragged on for such a long period of time. There are not enough tests for the staff or residents – hotels are not a priority for testing since they are not considered “congregate living facilities,” even though people have to gather for meals and pass each other in halls. There are way too many older folks being discharged from residential facilities, hoping that people will just survive alone in hotel rooms until a vaccine is available to them. While there are far fewer campsites, the number of people who ride around on public transportation all night is way up, and this has spread out the population in a bigger geographic area. Staff are completely stressed out and afraid, and there are far fewer volunteers to make meals and care for the population.
One good thing is that because of there being fewer unsheltered folks, the number of homeless deaths has come down. Turns out if you offer someone a space in a private room instead of just a bed in a dorm with 100 other guys, they are going to take it, and it is going to keep them safe!
In response to the deaths in Sacramento we are also urging that the decisions to open warming centers be made by elected officials and not unelected bureaucrats.
The state capital for the most populous state in the union, Sacramento, is struggling to serve low income people during the pandemic. Last week, they made the tragic decision to not open a warming center as a storm approached. On the evening of January 26 a thunderstorm hit the region with 70 mph winds and flooding that resulted in the death of at least five people living outside.
The National Coalition for the Homeless is renewing our call to open warming centers based on need and not some arbitrary number like the expected temperature outside. In response to the specific tragedy in Sacramento, we are urging that elected officials from around the country be forced to make the decision on when to open a warming center so that they have to face voters when their lack of action has deadly consequences. In Sacramento, NCH is asking that for the rest of the winter that the warming centers or a motel room be opened to anyone who requests a place inside in memory of those who lost their lives during this past storm. Karen Hunter was sleeping alone in a tent as the horrible wind struck Sacramento and lost her life because her government could not provide a safe place for her to ride out the storm.
As the storm approached on Tuesday January 26, three City Council members as well as the Mayor urged the County to open a warming center to get people inside, but City Manager, Howard Chan decided that the temperature was not going to below the 32 degree threshold mandated by the County according to an investigation by the Sacramento Bee’s Teresa Clift. The City of Sacramento has some byzantine rules about only opening the warming centers if the temperature gets to 32 degrees despite the heavy rain expected, and the fact that many people die of hypothermia because they are wet and cold. Chan justified his action to the Sacramento Bee saying that his fear was the warming center would become a Covid hotspot and spread the disease throughout the community. Other cities such as Cleveland have opened hotel rooms instead of gymnasiums to those who sleep outside to keep them safe from the elements as well as the coronavirus.
The public radio station quoted Mayor Darell Steinber as demanding the County open a safe place ahead of the storm. Here is how Kris Hooks of CapRadio described the lack of urgency from the County when describing the Mayor,
“Darrell Steinberg expressed outrage over the slow-moving bureaucracy to move people out of the elements. ‘We can’t get a Goddamn warming center open for more than one night because the county has rules? I’m sick of it,’ Steinberg said.”
The Sacramento Bee also included the same quote in their investigation, “Night of Terror: Sacramento homeless lined up for shelter during the storm. The doors never opened.”
“It is real simple,” said Donald Whitehead Executive Director of National Coalition for the Homeless, “City governments must respond when a taxpayer asks for a warm place inside or if they cannot keep their citizens safe they have no reason to exist. The threat of hypothermia is typically a result of an individual not being able to keep themselves dry and their temperature drops. We urge cities to respond when any individual asks for help by providing a safe, warm place for the everyone to sleep if they do not have night time shelter. So for example, if a couple, lets call them Mary and Joseph, shows up at City Hall and asks for a place to stay out of the elements, cities have a moral obligation to open up their doors and not force Mary to sleep in a barn exposed to the elements especially during inclement weather.”
The Sacramento Bee article quoted Mark Jordan who was living next to the tent Karen Hunter died in saying, “I just thought my heart was going to stop. I was so cold.” Since unelected bureaucrats do not seem to have moral compass to understand the needs of the population they serve, NCH is asking that the life and death decisions of when to open “warming centers” be made by someone in the community who will have to face the public in an election if they make the wrong decision. We believe that Karen Hunter paid with her life because an unelected bureaucrat made a decision that the thousands of people in Sacramento living outside could survive a thunderstorm with only a thin layer of nylon for protection.