OPINION: City targets unhoused community

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Despite temperatures in the 90’s and the danger and noise of passing trains, unhoused Riversidians have set up tent encampents along the train tracks near Tyler and Indiana in Riverside California on Jun. 11. (Stephen Day | Raincross Gazette)
By Zach Reynosa

Homelessness is in fact a crime but not one committed by human beings trying to survive, but a crime of violence committed by the state which the city is not even trying to remotely hide.

The war on homelessness rages on in Riverside.

 On Oct 4. Riverside City Council had voted 6-1 to ban camping at the Santa Ana River bottom.

With more than 3,000 people currently residing at the river, 60% of them unsheltered, the city’s decision shows they deem being homeless a crime.

The goal of the ban is at least admirable in its moral goals, to decrease the amount of wildfires near the river to protect the homeless and anybody living nearby.

Yet the first to be removed from the area are ones that live next to houses along the river. The city prioritizes property above human beings whose needs are not being dealt with.

The ban also brings up concerns about whether or not Riverside has enough resources to house those taking up shelter near the river. At least Ward 2 City Council Member Clarissa Cervantes was able to detect this issue and stood as the lone vote against the ban.

The city stated that those who are affected by the ban could enroll in the Riverside County Partnership for the Homeless Outreach Meditation and Education Program. However, for those who have a criminal record, the court will determine eligibility. Only those with non-violent, low level crimes will be admitted.

This eliminates any hope of rehabilitation for anyone else even after being arrested for trying to survive.

The city uses this program as a safeguard for those wrongfully discriminating the homeless rather than providing aid. 

This ban is a prime example of the city enforcing its “homelessness is a crime” stance while actively disregarding ways that could prevent homlessness in the first place.

With an economic crash growing closer and closer the prevention of homelessness must be a major priority.

We as a community have seen what COVID-19 has done to the economic standing of millions of people throughout the country and even in our own home. COVID was a clear indication that when the system is put under pressure only the 99% experience the true force of economic downturn while the 1% takes advantage of our desperation and aggressively continues to make profits no matter the cost.

This dangerous mindset puts more and more people out of their homes and out on the streets where they are deemed as “invaluable” to society and looked upon as a parasite.

These people choose to set up near the river so they can be out of sight and have the choice to sleep somewhere other than some park bench or some bus stop. This is a space where they can settle down and not be constantly harassed by ignorant bystanders or, even worse, the police.

The ban will only provide a new influx of people finding new places to set up their temporary shelters where they will surely face more discrimination for years to come.

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3 thoughts on “OPINION: City targets unhoused community

  1. I live in the river bottom and we are all concerned about whats gonna happen they come with bulldozers and destroy the little belongings we have its quite devastating . Housing reps have came down to talk to us we fill out applications and never hear from them again. I read about all these millions of dollars but i dont see it being applied . They spend it on new razors to use down here to regulate the homeless well if were getting kicked out who are they going to regulate. We need real help.

  2. If u type in “the santa ana riverbottom ” into Google the response u get is a history of the place,within the first few paragraphs it clearly states that people have camping and living along this river for 9000 years, it begs the question why does it bother so many people, I mean yes there are often fires,but that can’t be put on us that’s like accusing ur neighbor because a bird shit on ur car, a fireman’s job is to fight fires whereever they maybe,u going to make all those people in homes along the riverbotton sell there house and move some place that there closest neighbors are 5 miles away because who’s to say Biff comes home drunk and hungry and goes to throw a steak in the oven but doesn’t make sure the fire was on then walks into the living room to turn on a soap opera and sparks a dubby and blows the whole neighborhood up,blaming us the homeless ,yes I’m homeless for about 13 years now and I have been moved by flood control 4 times now each and every time they come in out of the blue when u least expect it with some home stationary stating that I have to move ,no courtdate to be at to state my side or ask for more time or to have someone represent me,and then they scoop everything have into a pile and cover it with dirt, nothing saved or put in storage just smashed and destroyed while they laugh and joke and go home to there cars and homes and everything is rainbow colored and peachy,well it’s not 80 to 90 percent of the trash downers comes from people that don’t want to pay the trash man,or are to lazy to sit in line at the dump,it is truly sad how fake society is the way I see it 95 percent of the population ain’t nothing but a bunch of brand junkies,and concrete warriors that couldn’t survive out here and mostly won’t when the shit does hit the fan,God bless u and have mercy on ur soul and walk with u all the days of your life.

  3. I could not of said it better. Bravo for you to be able to say it like it is. I hope someone who needs to reads this

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