Posts Tagged ‘right to sleep’

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Sleep Deprivation – Eugene violates basic human rights
Article | January 31, 2013 – 12:00am | By Catherine Siskron

The tents are back. Set up by SLEEPS (Safe Legally Entitled Emergency Places to Sleep), the tents are reminders of two basic biological needs: the need for shelter and for sleep. These needs go with being human, and they are denied to the unhoused in our city.

Eugene prides itself on being a caring, inclusive community. And yet we have a caste of untouchables. As a community, we criminalize homelessness and violate the most basic human rights. We have laws that make it illegal to do in public things that people experiencing homelessness have no private place to perform. These are simple human needs, such as sleeping, sitting or standing for extended periods of time in any given place (“loitering”), and “trespassing” by leaning on a building or sitting on the edge of a planter.

In her Dec. 10 commemorative statement, Navi Pillay, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, focused on Articles 19, 20 and 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) — the rights to freedom of opinion and expression, to peaceful assembly and association and to take part in government.

Pillay noted that millions of people around the world are demanding civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. “They are asking,” she said, “for an end to a situation where governments simply decide what is best for their populations without even consulting them. They are asking for their right to participate fully in the important decisions and policies affecting their daily lives … [They] have been making it clear they are fed up with their leaders treating them with disdain and ignoring their needs, ambitions, fears and desires.” It is this disdain for the needs and rights of the majority that SLEEPS and Occupy Eugene are challenging. Some of the human rights violated in our community are even more basic than having a voice in public affairs.

Article 25 of the UDHR states: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”

Contrast this international ideal with the reality reflected in these local statistics:

•  7,218 homeless people sought social services through Lane County programs between July 2011 and April 2012.

•  2,882 shelter beds were set up at the Egan Warming Center during 15 nights of extreme weather at 10 faith-based sites.

• 2,285 homeless students attended public school in Lane County during the 2010-11 school year.

And the numbers of unsheltered are increasing. The unhoused include families with children, veterans with PTSD, the mentally ill, addicts, runaway youth and impoverished elderly. What happens to them on the 350 nights when the Egan warming shelters are not open?

Conrad Barney, a homeless activist, has been on a hunger strike since Dec. 11. He says one of the biggest problems of being homeless is sleep deprivation. In fact, sleep deprivation is not only a violation of basic human rights (Article 25 of the UDHR), but a common form of torture used on prisoners of conscience and frequently used to break suspects in criminal cases. Sleep deprivation causes anxiety, paranoia and disorientation. It undermines a person’s ability to function. It is a form of cruel and unusual punishment to which the homeless are subjected on a regular basis.

In rousting the homeless, the police are enforcing city anti-camping laws. It is up to the citizens of Eugene and the City Council to wake up to the fact that these laws violate not only Article 25 of UDHR, but also the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids cruel or unusual punishment.

Please write to your councilor in support of SLEEPS’ modest proposal that the camping laws be lifted. SLEEPS advocates for commonsense policies that would allow the unhoused to sleep safely in designated dry areas and to be provided toilets and garbage receptacles.

Changing these laws will benefit all Eugeneans. Currently the laws push the unhoused out into the wetlands and wilderness areas where there are no toilet or garbage facilities. Fecal matter, another “unavoidable consequence of being human,” is spread by rainfall and contaminates groundwater, creating a public safety hazard for both the housed and unhoused.

The city of Eugene is currently forming a Commission on Homelessness. The tents are back to remind us that the task before the commission is complex. Changing the (anti)-camping laws and exclusion zone laws is only the beginning.

About the Author

Catherine Siskron

Catherine Siskron is a longtime peace and social justice activist.

Article from Eugene Weekly.com – please visit the site and give commentary to Catherine Siskron in support of her article.

http://www.eugeneweekly.com/article/sleep-deprivation#.UQv9L6i7lYs

The photograph is from the article linked below, published on January 8, 2013, by Rachel McDonald

http://www.klcc.org/Feature.asp?FeatureID=4128

Posted by Ruthie Benjamin
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PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 10, 2011
Contact: Ibrahim Mubarak
Email: Right2DreamToo@gmail.com
Cell: 503.839.9992

On World Homeless Day, Right 2 Dream Too is proud to announce the 1:00
PM opening of our new space at W. Burnside & NW 4th Avenue in Portland

Portland, OR — Right 2 Dream Too (R2DToo) is today establishing a
membership space at the corner of West Burnside and NW 4th Avenue, in
Portland, OR.  The purposes of the space are as follows:

•       To awaken social and political groups to the importance of safe and
undisturbed sleep.
•       To create a safe, secure place for members to be.
•       To create places where members can sleep safely and undisturbed.
•       To engage in other educational activities as the Board of Directors
shall determine.

R2DToo is a newly founded Oregon nonprofit organization supported by
members of Right 2 Survive, a group of houseless and formerly
houseless individuals dedicated to defending the human, civil and
constitutional rights of people experiencing homelessness.
R2DToo’s facility will provide refuge for Portland’s unhoused
community who cannot access the insufficient stock of affordable
housing and shelter space to rest or sleep undisturbed.  Currently,
because of city ordinances that prohibit camping on public property
and restrict people’s rights simply to sit or lie on sidewalks,
Portland’s unhoused population is frequently under tremendous stress
and unable to get the proper amount of rest.  This is one of the
principle contributing factors to the tremendous health disparities
and high morbidity rates of people experiencing homelessness in our
community.

R2DToo’s new space will also provide a safe, welcoming place for
people who daily and nightly face the threat of violence on our city
streets.  All members agree to abide by a code of conduct that
respects the rights of fellow members and our neighbors to share our
public spaces civilly and equitably.  Our space will be guided by and
adhere to principles of nonviolence.  Plans include the possibility of
providing limited storage space for members to address the need for
unhoused individuals to have a secure place for storing belongings.

R2DToo hopes to offer educational programs and other forms of mutual
support and aid as resources become available.  It is R2DToo’s
intention to take input and direction from its members in designing
programs, trainings, events and activities.  R2DToo believes that
people experiencing homelessness are the experts at surviving on the
streets and are capable of providing the essential peer support that
is currently lacking in efforts to address the homeless crisis in our
city and our country.

Ibrahim Mubarak, co-founder of Right 2 Survive, Dignity Village and
Board Member of R2DToo, says “This is a direct result of the
government’s failure to admit that we have a housing problem in this
country – not only has the government failed to admit it, it has
failed to act on it.”  The housing crisis that has come to national
attention since 2008 has deeper roots in the refusal of the Federal
government to recognize housing as a human right.  As long as this
remains the case, homelessness will not end and we must explore
alternative, cost-effective pathways for those who lack housing or who
current programs, for a variety of reasons, do not serve.  R2DToo
hopes its space and the programs it develops will serve as a model for
addressing the unmet needs of thousands of Portlanders and will
inspire others in possession of empty lots or buildings to consider
creating similar spaces.

R2DToo is accepting donations and has a wishlist of needed items at
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Right-2-Dream-Too

For

more information about R2DToo and Right 2 Survive, please visit
Right 2 Survive at https://right2survive.wordpress.com/

For

more information about World Homeless Day, please visit:
http://www.worldhomelessday.org/

####

When R2S activist Julie McCurdy found out that a sexual predator, known to prey on homeless women and sex workers, was on the loose – she jumped into action,  organizing foot patrols to inform unhoused community members.

We are happy to report that Ronald Tarwater has been apprehended.  Thanks to everyone who participated in the foot patrols and donated to buy whistles.  We celebrate this small victory – though we know that the streets are still very unsafe for women, men and children who have no safe place to call home.

R2S continues to organize for the right to shelter, the right to sleep, the right to safety, and the right to self support!  Please join us in our efforts to decriminalize survival activities & to prioritize human needs in our city.

Contribute with your skills, talents, materials or money!!!!