Did you know that 250 Americans are evicted every hour. Did you know that the average age of a homeless person is 9? Today we report on the impact of evictions, a review of the Santa Fe SFUAD process and the five project designs advanced, and more on the crumbling Trump tyranny. Plus, a reprisal of the remarkable 6 minute Valarie Kaur talk which is must viewing.
First, we need to really ask for your support. We are expanding our activities quickly and with it costs that need to be shared. We are all volunteers, but need to pay for internet, facility rentals, flyers, and to sponsor events like our reception for two remarkable PRC candidates. So, if you possibly can, click over there and toss us some love. Sorry to even have to do this. And after reading this post return here and click to visit our Actions and Events page. It will tell you about how you can take action and become more informed with some great events and actions coming: a conference at SFCC on Getting Money Out of Politics with a tremendous array of speakers and breakouts, an opportunity to join the Retake Local Action Team and advocate for justice in Santa Fe, and opportunities to weigh in on the SFUAD, sign, to sign up for the Poor People’s Campaign, and more. And make sure to scroll to the end to view six minutes of the most inspiring talk I have ever seen, as Valarie Kaur is so inspiring she causes Rev. Barber to leap to his feet at the end….and Rev Barber is not a leaper.
Evictions, Affordable Housing, Homeless Children and Our Opportunity Here in Santa Fe.
I participated in the City of Santa Fe’s Community Input Session on Thursday. The room was jammed with well north of 100 folks. Five developers/land use experts presented concepts for the use of the SF University of Art & Design (SFUAD). While one presenter’s design sounded intriguing, I felt an undefined discomfort with what I had heard.
Then I headed to our Roundhouse Advocacy Team meeting and on the way, I caught a report featuring Matthew Desmond, author of the best selling book Evicted. I heard that 250 Americans are evicted every hour, the average age of a homeless person is 9 and then, in one heartbreaking example, Desmond described the eviction of a family in Milwaukee where the police eviction team found a teenager and three younger siblings in a home with their dead mother. Did they call in social services? Did they ask if the kids had any adult relatives? No. They removed all the furnishings, dumping them on the front lawn, changed the locks and left the children in the yard. This is capitalism at its worst. It is an extreme example of what happens every minute of every day of the year. And it is what happens if you do not have a thoughtful plan for addressing poverty, homelessness and the lack of affordable housing for the very poor. The radio report was moving and after a quick visit to the Eviction Lab website, I found a 2 minute video and a website with some very interesting research on evictions. Click here
to get to the video.
Then it hit me. In convening the presentations Thursday, Councilor Lindell called SFUAD “a generational opportunity,” a property that could do any number of things for Santa Fe and with that opportunity our city turned to developers, architects and experts in land use and infrastructure. They did not turn to experts in poverty, experts with insight into what is needed to really address poverty and homelessness.
Certainly, the City made a commendable effort to get input from under-served populations. They sought help from Somos, Earth Care, and Chainbreaker to name a few. They posted billboards on buses and ran ads in Spanish-speaking radio. But the input sought was to comment on five designs of buildings and space, not to provide framing input into what our priorities are as a city. I listened to five presentations and was impressed with the designs developed. Very nice looking, some good ideas. But for the most part the design teams spoke of sidewalks, parking, bandstands, infrastructure and mixed use business. They spoke of opportunities for artists and entrepreneurs, but no one mentioned health services, mental health services, transitional housing, or family counseling. No one even mentioned how the project could address homelessness or poverty. If we had started this planning by convening experts in addressing poverty instead of architects and developers, we might have seen five very different looking designs.
To my mind there was one of the five designs that had potential to be easily adapted to social purpose. The Midtown Ecodistrict focused on sustainable infrastructure, green building, a zero energy footprint and other appealing physical attributes, but what I especially appreciated was their reference to resident governance, community land trusts, and Sawmill CLT in Albuquerque. They didn’t want to define how space would be used, just be sure the infrastructure deployed the most cutting edge innovation in green building. In conversation afterward, one of the Ecodistrict presenters spoke glowingly of Sawmill and how Santa Fe could learn much from its design. This, at least, seemed a start.
At the design presentation meeting on Thursday, City leaders spoke of how this is just the beginning of the process, there will be time to make adjustments and we can incorporate the best of each plan. But I am hoping there is time to do a deep dive consultation with health and human service providers, with advocates for the poor, and through this to consider how the City can take these developer ideas and inject them with a clearer social purpose. If this is a once in a generation opportunity, I hope we treat it like one and make equity and justice a cornerstone of the design.
Opportunities for Input. This phase of community input, there are two more opportunities to weigh in through a series of interactive online surveys of different length, depending upon the time you have available. I strongly suggest people take the time to respond to these surveys and provide input on the critical need for affordable housing. Review the five design proposals and if you also find the Ecodistrict to be most compelling, indicate this but also indicate that it is critical that we find a way to inject a far more explicit social purpose to this development. Click here to get to those surveys. On Sunday, there is also an opportunity to hear from the developers of the five designs and to comment directly. I went through this process and you will have time to talk with developers and raise concerns. Sunday, April 15th, 1:00 – 4:45 p.m. at Southside Library, 100 person limit. While the City indicates that the time commitment is 3 hours and 45 minutes, I found that you can come for the first 45 minutes with each developer presenting their concept and then tour the room and speak with developers and post your comments and priorities and exit, completing the input in 90 minutes.
The City has to get this right; let’s get behind developing a game-changing use for SFUAD that has a strong social purpose. 250 evictions an hour are simply unacceptable and nine year olds on the streets deserve leadership that cares to address their tragic circumstances. Please take the time to raise your voice.
CNN published a scathing report featuring excerpts from James Comey’s new book. I provide just one excerpt: “In one staggering part of the book, “A Higher Loyalty,” Comey said dealing with Trump reminded him of his days prosecuting Mafia kingpins with their “silent circle of assent.” “The boss in complete control. The loyalty oaths. The us-versus-them worldview. The lying about all things, large and small, in service to some code of loyalty that put the organization above morality and above the truth.”…. “What is happening now is not normal. … It is not fake news. It is not okay,” he writes, sketching a brutal, feudal world that seems incompatible with traditional perceptions of the presidency. Click here
to read the full CNN report. And if Comey’s revelations were not enough,
Amidst all this, RNC Deputy Chair, Elliott Broidy resigned after the Wall Street Journal
reported that Trump’s attorney and RNC member, Michael Cohen “helped make another payment: $1.6 million to a former Playboy playmate reportedly impregnated by Cohen’s RNC committee colleague Elliott Broidy. Broidy has reportedly resigned
from the RNC.” If you are counting former RNC Chair Steve Wynn resigned in January after dozens of women claimed that they had been subjected to sexual abuse. Such a pleasant group.
Trump, French, Britain Launch Intense Missile Strike Against Syria.
Will Iran or Russia Respond? What Now? Reports from media around the world report that France, the UK and the US launched missile attacks against Syria last night. Reports conflict, depending upon the country and source, but it is clear this was a stronger attack than last year and involved the US and two allies. Prime Minister May has claimed that they have confirmed that chemical weapons were used in Douma while Syria has claimed to have found evidence of rebel production of chemical weapons, suggesting that they may have used it against their own stronghold. China calls the US actions a violation of international law. Trump tweets: “Mission Accomplished.” Click here
to review comments from countries around the globe.
If you haven’t taken the Speak Up New Mexico! Legislative Priorities survey, please do so today to tell your legislators what bills you want to see become law. Click the blue button at left to take the survey. And if you want to get involved with our 2018-2018 Roundhouse Advocacy Team, we meet on the second and fourth Thursday of every month from 4:30-6:30pm at New Energy Economy, 343 E. Alameda. Next meeting, this Th, April 26. To RSVP, just write to me at paul@RetakeOurDemocracy.org. If you want to read about our 2018-2019 Election and Legislative Strategy, click here. We are quickly approaching 1000 survey completions!
Paul & Roxanne
P.S. I view this about once a month. It is the perfect use of a personal narrative to make the quest for justice personal and human.