Right to Thrive and Shelter

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THE RIGHT TO SURVIVE

People have the fundamental right to rest, shelter and accept free food in a non-obstructive manner on public lands, as well as the right to sleep in cars. It should be a civil rights violation for police, the city, private corporations and private security to violate the right to survive in public.

Such expansions of rights are what social movements are made of.

HOMELESSNESS HAS MANY CAUSES

There are many myths about homelessness including that the homeless are drug addicts, don’t want to work or even that they prefer living on the streets.  In truth the causes are varied but are most directly tied to a lack of available affordable housing. Low income households often do not earn enough to pay for food, clothing, transportation AND a place they can call home.

The poverty rate in Coos County is 21.7% exceeding the national average by 4 points.

The 2019 Point in Time Count lists 1,299 homeless individuals in Coos County, a jump of 36% from the 2018 count and a 27% increase in “households” compared to the previous year.

Many survivors of domestic violence become homeless when leaving an abusive relationship.

Health and homelessness are inextricably linked. Health problems can cause a person’s homelessness as well as be exacerbated by the experience. Housing is key to addressing the health needs of people experiencing homelessness.

HOUSING SHORTAGE CRITICAL & GETTING WORSE

A 2018 report prepared on behalf of the Coos County Commission details that a lack of affordable housing is only getting worse and is a major contributor to the sharp increase in area homeless population. Solving this problem is critical to easing the stress of the increase in the houseless but in the interim it is important to decriminalize poverty and being houseless.

 

RIGHT TO SHELTER

 

A law securing and enforcing basic rights for all people within the County of Coos, including the right to rest and shelter oneself from the elements in a non-obstructive manner in public spaces, to eat, share, accept or give food in any public space where food is not prohibited, to occupy one’s own legally parked motor vehicle, or occupy a legally parked motor vehicle belonging to another, with the owner’s permission, and to have a right and expectation of privacy and safety of or in one’s person and property.

SOLUTIONS WITH DIGNITY

Coos Commons Protection Councils’ mission is to support and empower individuals and communities in order to protect fundamental rights, quality of life, the natural environment, public health, and safety. As part of our recognition that environmental justice and social justice are interlocked we are pleased to be working with well known local social justice advocate Bittin Duggan to provide direct outreach services to the area’s homeless and disenfranchised in order to help them obtain the public services they need.

Bittin DugganBittin Foster Duggan, MA, originator and facilitator of the Growing Through It (GTI) art workshops, is a nationally exhibited artist who currently lives and works in Coos Bay, Oregon. Growing Through It (GTI) provides dignified services based on compassion, equity and respect to disenfranchised Coos County residents so that they may access individual and community services to meet their basic human needs so that they may live a healthier and more productive life to benefit our entire community.

In 1989, while in Egypt, on a trip to the Sinai Desert, she was injured in an auto accident. “I was in a coma for five days,” says Bittin. “When I came out I didn’t know who I was. I didn’t know what was the matter with me, but I knew that something inside of me was different.”

Bittin’s personal story of healing and ‘growing through it’ make her uniquely qualified to work with the more than 1300 homeless adults and children currently living in Coos County.

 

 

OUR APPROACH

CCPC through its GTI program supports sustainable homeless solutions designed to improve the quality of life for marginalized citizens on short and long term practices. The program provides direct services, supplies, materials and transportation to meet basic needs of poor people who live outdoors and those who have fallen through the cracks of our social welfare and family systems.

“Chronic homelessness refers to people who have chronic and complex health conditions, including mental illnesses, substance use disorders, and medical conditions who experience long-term homelessness– and can be found sleeping on the street or in shelters. Without stable housing, they cycle in and out of emergency departments, inpatient hospital stays, psychiatric centers, detoxification programs, and jails, resulting in high public costs and poor health outcomes for individuals including premature death…

“A chronically homeless person costs the tax-payer an average of $35,578 per year. Costs on average are reduced by 49.5% when they are placed in supportive housing. Supportive housing costs on average $12,800, making the net savings of more than $22,000 per year.” – US Department of Housing and Urban Development 2018

NEGLEY FLINN CHARITABLE FOUNDATION

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