Sanctuary Santa Cruz, a coalition of seven local groups and an adherent to the national Poor People’s Campaign, has voted to endorse two important ballot measures whose outcomes will affect the most vulnerable members of our community: Measure M, and Proposition 10.
Sanctuary does not endorse any individual’s political campaign. However, it is at the heart of our organization’s mission to stand up for those in our community who are facing abuse, extortion, profiling, and the fear that comes from not having the basic conditions to live a decent life, or the right to equal protection under the law. Creating Sanctuary means analyzing the conditions that make our community unsafe and acting to change them.
When most full-time working adults cannot pay to house themselves, life becomes untenable and risky for the majority. Those in acute danger include children and youth, the elderly, those who are temporarily or permanently disabled, those who work part-time or have low incomes. Women, girls, and LGBTQ people become more at risk of domestic and intimate partner violence when they have nowhere to go. And immigrants in our community, villainized by our federal government and by the worst elements of our media and society, are more frequently threatened, extorted, and silenced by unethical landlords. Behind it all we see a short-sighted, selfish investment in personal profit margins, when so many others are suffering.
Of course, people may have disagreements about the best ways to understand and solve large-scale urgent problems. But the past year’s campaign to address the urgency of rents rising beyond the community’s means and the gridlock of unaffordable housing has brought some of the most hateful, unethical, closed-minded elements in our community out into the light. What we have seen is that many of those who have all the power in Santa Cruz, including elected officials and the media, refuse to consider anyone else’s perspective, or the reality of the global economy, or new research and tools to address systemic housing problems. Our county’s Democrats prefer to break with their party rather than face local electoral control over the rental market. On the extreme edge, some landlords this year have evicted those working on the Measure M campaign; some have disseminated wild untruths about the measure or racist, fear-mongering propaganda. In other words, instead of working constructively on compromise, some of the most privileged people in our community have made democratic activity unfeasible and unsafe for those whose opinions they do not like.
Sanctuary Santa Cruz was founded to fight the threat of arbitrary displacement by deportation, so that our community members can continue to live, work, play, and grow up alongside us. At a time when the cloud of silence, hostility, and the threat of displacement hangs over us, Measure M and Proposition 10 are the voices of courage, hope, and caring, saying “we are here,” and “this is our home,” and “we’ll work this out.” This is what integrity and community sound like, and we say “Yes.”