Good afternoon, Councilmembers.
My name is Jeffrey Alonzo Karahamuheto. I am the Organizing & Political Director at the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties. The ACLU has joined with more than sixty local nonprofit organizations to speak on behalf of the most vulnerable, most disenfranchised residents of our city.
We are here today to urge the City Council to reject this draconian ordinance which fails to meet the needs of thousands of San Diegans experiencing homelessness, fails to address the real issues facing the city, and falls far short of our shared values for an inclusive community that respects the intrinsic worth of every individual.
On any given night, there are not enough shelter beds available for an estimated 4,801 unsheltered San Diegans – including women and children – leaving many people with no options for safe places to rest or sleep. If passed, this ordinance will make it illegal for unsheltered people to be in most public spaces, evict people from established encampments, and strip people of personal property that is vital to their safety and well-being.
The hypocrisy, severity and injustice of this proposed encampment ordinance must not be ignored.
It claims that San Diego is “committed to protecting the life, health, and safety of its residents and all people within the geographical boundaries of the City.” In truth, the ordinance will condone the othering, dehumanizing and criminalizing of people experiencing homelessness. In truth, the ordinance threatens to violate the constitutional rights of unsheltered San Diegans…and therefore threatens us all.
As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
We urge city councilmembers to reject this ordinance. We urge you to invest instead in the effective “Housing First” policies that support the health, safety, well-being and constitutional rights of every San Diego resident.
Because “We the People” means everyone. Everyone.
Thank you for your time and careful consideration.