Supportive Community Housing: A Solution for
People Who are Homeless Now, Or Will Be Soon
by Janice O'Brien
     In answer to Michael Heggerty's piece in the Union on Monday, May 15, 2017, and in solidarity with the piece about tiny houses fixing the huge problem of a growing number of people becoming homeless, I wish to speak out.
     Sierra Roots, the non-profit that is already serving this population has as its mission, the creation and development of a Supportive Community of small bedroom units surrounding a Community Center with  a commercial kitchen, laundry and bathrooms for the residents.
     We begin by building community with the people who are homeless, knowing that a sincere and trusting relationship is the first step towards health and purpose. We call this "building community with people who are without homes".  We have been doing this for several years now through our lunches, our advocacy work, getting medical help and opening a cold weather shelter this past winter.  This is a temporary help until supportive community housing is available.  
Read More:
(continued on our website blog)
Letter from our Friend David
     I would like to say I'm no different than any of you.  I've been fighting this disease
 for 30+ years.  I can say, as many of you say, I'll fail but I'll not.  I'm disagreeing.  My odds are stacked against me.  But without support from the start: Janice O'Brian, Sierra Roots and  h
er whole staff - an
d you people all know who you are (
Curley) - this journey wouldn't have begun.  
     There are a  lot of people I've disappointed for years by my stubborn attitude to stopping this problem,  W.B.C.F. Sgt.  Newberry, N.C.P.D. Chief Foley, Brendan Phil lips, Behavioral Health, Common Goals - all the people I need to make amends wit h.  Most of all my mother that never had the opportunity to see her favorite son of four boys, sober. 
    She's watching my every step, every day as I try my damndest to conquer this disease that I think is the most difficult of all for addicts to control.  I just want to say to all my party friends that it's possible!  I definitely know it's a different path for all of us but with a positive attitude and desire to get sober, an addict  can do this.  
     On the scale of a lifetime, 90 d ays 5-19-2017 is nothing, it's just putting the ingredients into the mixing bowl to make a gre at cake.  I can tell you there are a lot of people who think this cake will spoil before I pull it out of the oven to frost it.  But those are the things that make me want to bake a great cake even more.  When I hit a game -winning home run, I want this cake to end up in my face.  
     But with the power and the support by my peers that is all of you who put this air under my feet, my steps every day.  It still feels like I'm climbing M ount Everest without oxygen assistance.  So believe, if I can you can.  One step one day on belief.  You can too try it - it might fit. 

Your sober friend forever,  Love always,  D.A.F. (aka:  Mario)   5/16/2017
Project Development Team Update

     The Project Development Team is focused on the development of Supportive Permanent Community Housing for chronically homeless individuals in Nevada City. The diverse experiences and skills in this collaborative effort will be valuable in moving this project forward. Each team member identified their areas of experience and expertise and where they would most like to work within the team.
      PDT meetings in April focused on outlining the processes and phases of community development including site search and feasibility study.  A field trip to view potential sites in Nevada City was attended by  PDT and Board Members along with two real estate agents. Two of these sites have great potential, and the PDT will review feasibility in June.
      Members of the PDT will attend the NCCA Building Fair on June 2nd at the Maidu Government Center where a short presentation on Sustainable Building and Micro-House Basics is on the agenda.  
      June Project Development Team meetings are on Saturday, June 3rd at 1:30 p.m., June 12th and 26th at  6:00 p.m.  All meetings will be at Janice O'Brien's home. Contact PDT captain, Susan Davis at Project-Directors@A-Place-To- for more information.

    Grant WritingTeam Update
       The grant writing team met on Thursday, May 18th, and decided to apply fo r a Sierra Health Foundation
grant. At the team meeting on May 31st, the applica
tion process got  off to a great start, thanks to research by  team  members Paul Zeiff, Jim Carney, Eric Tomb, Betty Louise, Susan Davis, Michael Logue, and board members Janice O'Brien and Dee Anne Dinelli.
      We are submitting the One-to-One Advocacy Program as the proje ct.  This is a $15,000 grant which would get us off to an excellent start for this program. Our plan is to have the advocacy program in place when the sustainable community is built. We welcome new volunteers to this team.

Sierra Roots Advocacy Program 
      Sierra Roots is training a group of volunteers to be advocates for homeless individuals in Nevada City. This program will bridge to the Supportive Community Permanent Housing (SCPH) effort that is actively pursuing funding and land.  One-to-One advocacy has proven to be very effective in assisting homeless  persons to secure the necessary resources and services for improving health, and increasing opportunities for employment and housing.
     Advocacy trainings will be offered on Wednesday, June 7,  6 PM to 7:30 PM and Saturday, June 10, from 10 to 11:30 AM. The location is 11189 Crystal View Heights, Nevada City (just off Cement Hill Road). Call for directions: 265-5403, and to RVSP.

"Time to Just Do It"
Charles Durrett (530) 265-9980 
Dominic Castro-Wehr (530) 913-5386 

      It used to be said that any man (old saying) that sits back at the scene of a crime or an obvious and blatant injustice and does nothing to prevent the travesty, but could have, is just as guilty as the perpetrator themselves. 
     Short of making bricks from recycled newspapers The Union has done what it could--it has generously given voice to this clear and present danger. 
     I guess that leaves it to the County government whose number one job is supposed to be public safety. Leaving folks out in the cold and dark is not safe. They could be part of the solution starting tomorrow. They have had a lease in front of them for over a year now and they do nothing. They sit on their hands. They have done numerous studies that virtually no one has read. I can't even get through them all. 

Dying from exposure is a tangible concern for Nevada County's homeless, and occurs with shameful regularity.   Read More:
(continued on our website blog)
Why I Hate "the Homeless"
by Tom Durkin

      Actually, I don't hate homeless people at all.  Some of them are friends of mine, and many of them are no longer homeless.  Hell, I've been homeless myself. Several times. (And no, I don't want to talk about it.) What I hate is the expression "the homeless."
      The late, great U. Utah Phillips - folksinger, social activist and former homeless person - said it best: "They are not the other. They are us."
We -homeless people - are not objects. Homeless defines our current condition in life, but it does not define who we are individually. We are people. Just like you. Don't objectify us; don't make us different from you. After all, as another late, great folksinger, Phil Ochs, said, "There but for fortune go you or I. "I never thought I'd be homeless - until the sudden day I was. (And I don't want to talk about that either. Everyone has a different story on how we became homeless.)  Call us homeless people, homeless individuals, homeless neighbors or even homeless assholes, if you are so inclined. Just don't call us "the homeless."  Don't deny our humanity. Homeless is an adjective, not a noun.
      After I got out of my last homeless episode, I volunteered to work at Hospitality House homeless shelter. I was quickly hired as a staff monitor, a job I held for about four years. I got to know the incredible diversity of homeless people. Even though I was in charge and had to exercise some tough love at times, I never thought of the guests as "them." They were always my people, and I was there to protect them, serve them and teach them how to end their homelessness. I considered myself a role model. A flawed model, true, but a model nonetheless.
     None has answered me nor have they changed using that easy, demeaning cliché. People tell me I'm obsessed with political correctness. They say it's a distinction without a difference, and that I'm quibbling over a minor point in grammar. I'm not obsessed with political correctness. I already said you could call us homeless assholes. What more do you want? There is a distinction with a difference between an adjective and a noun. In "homeless people," homeless is an adjective; it describes an unfortunate life circumstance. In "the homeless," homeless is a noun; it makes the homeless "them," "the other," not "us."
      Language has nuance. And in this case, how we describe each other either divides us or unites us. Why else are the media suddenly saying "sex trafficking" instead of "prostitution"? Because how we describe problem determines how we perceive it. Our "homeless citizens" unites us. "The homeless" divides us. I challenge writers and editors (and everybody else who really should have the compassion to know better) to consider the subliminal impact of their words. Are you going to continue to use your words to insidiously divide this community or subtly remind us that we're all in this together?

Big Thank You to Knights of Columbus for helping to support Sierra Roots with their Golf Classic! Call Chito at 520 432-0331 to sign up!

Next Monthly Volunteer Meeting  Thursday,  
June 8th, Thursday,  at 1 PM
First Methodist Church ~ 433 Broad Street, Nevada City

Our monthly meetings are intended for those who are just becoming acquainted with Sierra Roots and want to learn more about the various volunteer opportunities and for those already involved to keep you all up to date, informed and involved in discussion and planning.

Not everyone  is aware of the many ways Sierra Roots engages and builds community with our homeless friends while we continue to look for land for our Village.  We'll talk about some of the lesser known volunteer opportunities at this meeting also.

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