Target: Gary Phillips, Mayor of San Rafael, California
Goal: Reopen Boyd Park so homeless people have a place to stay.
Homeless people have been evicted from a San Rafael, California park for a month by the city’s mayor who wants to make sure they know that San Rafael “is not a place for them to hang out.” This is a regressive move that does nothing to actually address the causes of homelessness or help the people who find themselves in that situation. Demand that the mayor reverse this action at once.
While Boyd Park, a park where homeless San Rafael residents would often congregate and sleep, was ostensibly closed so that health and security officials could have the opportunity to clean it up, Mayor Gary Phillips was much more candid about his motivations for the closure when he discussed it with local media. Phillips placed the blame for the life circumstances of the homeless solely on their own actions, saying “They sit here, have their methamphetamine and go get a meal at [local services organization] St. Vincent de Paul.” He also highlighted that he’s only interested in getting them out of his city, saying “I want to break the cycle so [that] this is not a place for them to hang out.” Though it may not be surprising that this city would so blatantly discriminate against the homeless—it’s the seat of a county that, in 2009, had the fifth-highest income per capita in the whole country—that does not make it acceptable.
If Mayor Phillips is so interested in getting the homeless out of his city, maybe he should try doing something to actually alleviate the causes of homelessness instead of shooing the homeless away like animals. Sign the petition below to demand that Phillips make Boyd Park accessible to homeless people once again.
Dear Mayor Phillips,
I am writing you today regarding your decision to close Boyd Park for a month so that the homeless people who frequented it would leave. This is a backwards approach to homelessness that does no one any good.
Progressive responses to homelessness by other cities around the country have shown that in order to get homeless people off of city streets, you need to take a “housing first” approach. Seattle, for example, is looking into creating temporary tent cities for homeless people to live in. Likewise, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, and New Orleans have alleviated much homelessness among veterans in their cities by actually providing them with housing. You don’t seem that interested in that, however, because apparently homeless people are just too strung out on methamphetamine to get out of their life circumstances and too lazy to do anything but get a free meal from St. Vincent de Paul.
Your actions are clearly motivated more by a contempt for the homeless than any sincere desire to help them. In lieu of actually doing something to alleviate homelessness, I demand that you reverse your decision to close Boyd Park and make it accessible once again to your city’s homeless people.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Kiddo27 via Wikimedia Commons