Homeless issues discussed at Human Rights Commission

The Humboldt County Human Rights Commission discussed multiple issues regarding southern Humboldt County and homelessness during its Thursday meeting.

The panel unanimously passed a request from Commissioner Lance Morton to form an the ad hoc committee to arrange meetings with interested parties in Southern Humboldt regarding homeless issues. Morton recommended the commission review how larger cities have tackled homelessness issues so that they can take further steps toward resolving Humboldt County’s.

“I think we need to be better educated on the issue,” Morton said.

Morton recommended that the next step for the committee to tackle would be to gather people from different communities to express their views and find a compromise in order to unify everyone behind the issue.

District 3 Commissioner Brandie Wilson seconded the recommendation and added that the way Eureka has been taking care of the homeless issue has left only the small organizations and people to help serve them.

She said the city uses homeless services as a weapon. Wilson said she wanted to see Eureka being added to the process of meeting with community members to learn more.

“I believe that some of the tactics used in Eureka are inhumane,” Wilson said.

Morton said he would like to begin working on the issues as soon as possible. He said that he wants to start action in August.

During the meeting, a homeless advocate who identified himself as Jimmy Work gave recommendations to the commission on how to connect with homeless community members and he urged them to take action in solving the problems the homeless face with law enforcement.

“We need commissioners to go out there and see what’s going on,” Work said.

Work said the constitutional rights of the homeless are constantly being violated.

“Somebody has got to put a stop to them,” Work said.

Work asked the commission to take action to provide support by helping set up a sanctuary camp. He said the day camps don’t do very much for them — what they do need is a safe place to stay for the nights.

“We don’t have a problem with being regulated,” Work said. “But we have a problem when they’re talking down to us.”

After speaking with Work and getting his contact information, the panel thanked him for coming in and speaking with them about homeless issues.

Other business

The panel also discussed issues regarding human trafficking with Commissioner Lelehnia Dubois providing a report on the findings of the ad hoc committee on the issue.

She said through what she has found there are certain gaps in the community which aren’t necessarily because of marijuana cultivation practices, but the large black market which operates in the county.

“Our community as a whole is taking action,” Dubois said.

Dubois requested a time extension in order to complete her investigation into trafficking issues which was approved.

She said she is looking into agricultural workers permits which can help establish rights. She said she needs the extension because there have been concerns that it is possibly risky for undocumented workers.

The commission also expressed interest in looking into participating in Humboldt Pride in September and the North Coast Stand Down event in October.

The commission’s discussion on racial violence following the death of Humboldt State University student David Josiah Lawson was again postponed. The commission said it would be discussed at the next meeting on Aug. 3.

Sam Armanino can be reached at 707-441-0509.