Homeless woman speaks up at Vallejo city meeting

December 3, 2010 12:48:43 AM PST
We often hear about the struggles the homeless face every day on the streets of big cities like San Francisco and Oakland, but life is just as hard for them in the suburbs and just as challenging for officials to deal with.

Kathy Cohrs lives on the streets of Vallejo and she's so fed up with the way the homeless are treated in the city, she showed up at Thursday night's Housing and Redevelopment Commission meeting to demand change.

"At 32 degrees at night, don't think anybody likes sleeping in that; I didn't. Thanksgiving night was the coldest night. I'll never forget it," says Cohrs.

Her motivation to fight comes from TJ Walkup -- a concerned citizen who is now working on a documentary about the life of the homeless in Vallejo.

"I live here right now and I've seen it every day and my conscious bothers me," says Walkup.

He also appeared at the meeting to plead with the commissioners to quit moving the homeless from their encampments, doing what he calls "sweeps," and taking their stuff away. In a city that is bankrupt, he questions this use of resources.

"What we're asking for is for the city to table any code enforcement that happens to dislocate a person's property," says Walkup.

Kathy has witnessed people being moved firsthand.

"It does take a long time to recoup their blankets, their pillows, their tents," says Cohrs.

The code enforcer says she has to move in on encampments because of concerns such as rat infestation and human waste.

"If anyone else has a better way to do this, I welcome it. We don't have time to be social workers, yet at the same time, we cannot humanely just kick these people around and treat them like trash," says code enforcement manager Nimat Shakoor-Grantham.

The commission was moved by the issue. Instead of dealing with whether to move the encampments, commissioners want to look for some federal money that can help get people like Cohrs off the streets for good.


Load Comments