Letter writer condemns District 2 council candidate Barbanica’s approach on homelessness

Dear Editor:

District 2 Antioch City Council candidate Mike Barbanica offers two solutions to the problem of homelessness in Antioch: breakup homeless encampments and deny the homeless services. He also mentions arresting them. Breaking up encampments is an old solution that we have seen fail. It undermines the effort to get the homeless into housing. It is also now illegal.

Antioch took a similar approach on the issue of the growing number of Section 8 residents. This policy was halted, and the city settled a lawsuit with those residents after the city was accused of discrimination. Running people out of town is not the answer. It is a failed approach. It is a shameful solution. It makes the problem worse. California’s Right to Rest Act makes such actions illegal. (See related article)

The United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (“USICH”), an organization composed of nineteen federal cabinet and agency heads to advance federal collaboration to end family homelessness, has recognized that sweeps and the seizure of the personal property of the homeless is harmful and counterproductive. The USICH report, “Ending Homelessness for People Living in Encampments,” finds that “forced dispersal” of encampments is “inappropriate and undermines the goal of linking people to permanent housing opportunities.”

In the California Right to Rest Act of 2018 the California State Legislature defines harassment against the homeless as, “a knowing or willful course of conduct by law enforcement, public or private security personnel, or agent directed at a specific person that a reasonable person would consider as seriously alarming, consider pestering, troubling, disturbing, or threatening.”
When it comes to homelessness Antioch has other obligations.

The requirement to provide for housing and shelter for low-income and homeless individuals as stated in Antioch’s General Plan and to adhere to the requirements of government code is an “obligatory duty which a governmental entity is required to perform,” not a permissive one. Antioch’s mandatory duty created by California Government Code § 65583 et seq., known as the California Housing Accountability Act requires the city to provide for housing and shelter for low-income and homeless individuals.

Michael Kitterman

American Citizens Institute

A Research and Analysis Public Charity



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