Bay Area activists bring homelessness issue to State Capitol with painted fence planks

Tara Campbell Image
Sunday, March 17, 2024
Bay Area activists bring homelessness issue to State Capitol
There was a call to action on the steps of the State Capitol. One painted fence plank at time, local groups rally to put an end to homelessness.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KGO) -- Voters were asked in this primary to approve billions of dollars in bonds to provide housing for the homeless and the mentally ill.

Prop 1 is narrowly passing at the moment with 20,000 more "yes" votes than "no" votes.

The unhoused issue was also in the spotlight on Saturday at the State Capitol, thanks to some Bay Area activists.

One painted fence plank at time as local groups rally to put an end to homelessness.

"Tiny Village Spirit. We build tiny house villages for homeless people. Currently, we're doing it for youth, or we're doing a hundred homes for 100 youth," said Inti Gonzalez, Youth organizer Tiny Village Spirit

MORE: Medical professionals trying to meet health needs of San Francisco's unhoused

Medical professionals are trying to meet the health needs of San Francisco's unhoused population

The nonprofit has also built a 25-home village in Oakland where they're cultivating community and providing resources.

"A lot of like supportive programs where we put art all over everything. We try to make it very beautiful like a place that they would want to live," said Gonzalez.

"It's really exciting to see things that are like manifesting in real time. And it's happening and they're young people who are being housed and have a community village and they have shared spaces and they have garden areas and it's healthy and it's wholesome and they just have new life," said Moni Law, an activist and member of the Way Church in Berkeley.

MORE: Will Prop. 1 help solve CA homelessness? Experts weigh in on $6B bond for mental health facilities

Proposition 1 on the ballot this March would use over $6 billion in bonds to provide housing for 11,000 people with mental health needs across the state. But not everyone agrees this is the best approach.

She's joining about a dozens groups, putting pressure on politicians for better policy and funding for homeless support services and solutions.

"I think this is tying together what people in the community know on the ground as people who work with the unhoused. And the legislators who are up in their offices who may not see what's happening they get the view, they get the vision, and they put it in practice as far as policy," she said.

VIDEO: Counting San Francisco's unhoused -- and why you never ask if they are homeless

ABC7 News followed volunteers as they combed through the streets of San Francisco to find and count the number of people who are unhoused.

And when it comes to being on the ground, O'Neill Fernandez knows the streets well.

"I'm from the unhoused community. You know, I'm lucky enough me and my wife and my 20 month old got out of a tent two months before she was born. So I'm one to speak from the experience of myself."

He's part of SOS Richmond, a nonprofit made up by staff who were previously unhoused serving some of the community's most vulnerable. And he's hopeful his story can make an impact.

"I've had the struggle, so I want to be here to get that voice. I am one of those voices. You know, everyone I brought with me here from our crew is one of those voices," Fernandez said.

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