I had not identified myself as a homeless activist until last year when someone referred to me as one. My immediate response was embarrassment, because I realized that If I’m a “homeless activist” then homeless folks are in trouble. For all of my activist work, I knew that not one less person was homeless because of me.
I also had been seeing this when surveying homeless activist groups that have existed in Santa Cruz over the past decade. It seems the situation for homeless folks is worse off than ever in our town. Whenever someone finds a stray syringe or trash in the woods it is attributed to these folks and life is always made increasingly difficult for them through the closing of open space and bathrooms and then the successful Needle Exchange program was forced to close and move out of the area. Their situation is automatically illegal because the law forbids people sleeping outside at night. I became frustrated by the fact that very little has been done to help folks find an alternative.
I traveled to other cities to see what they were doing to combat these problems but what had the most effect were the many Youtube videos on the topic of homeless camps. I decide at once to found Santa Cruz Sanctuary Camp by simply creating a Facebook page referring to the vision.
A successful homeless camp must have the support of the community. I knew that I’d need something slick and irresistible to grab people’s attention so I did lots of research and created a video of my own to present my vision of a safe place for people to get a good nights sleep and to keep their things safe.
I realized that if we as a community could create a camp like this that it would create added safety for those who have homes as well as those who don’t; it will benefit everyone.
Since the video was release a few months ago, we’ve conducted several meetings with city officials, business leaders and community groups. There are weekly meetings to share info, research properties, create a “business plan” and plan for the formation of our first pilot camp of 25 - 50 people. We’re very excited to create the a solution that will provide a home for hundreds of people in the future.
- Brent Adams