Recently, I engaged the Congressional candidates in the 45th who live in Irvine. I used the current and most conflicted public dilemma of homelessness (see also Notes). Only one progressive leader emerged: Kia Hamadanchy. Here’s that story.
On Tuesday, March 20th I, like many residents of Irvine, listened to the public comments, Irvine City Hall special meeting. The City was going to decide if they should litigate against a BoS decision to site the homeless population, evacuated from the Santa Ana River bed, to the county owned land, across from the OC Great Park, in Irvine. This homeless population includes many vulnerable people: families fallen on hard times, the mentally ill, and veterans who fought for our country. However, instead of supportive comments, I and others were embarrassed. Homeless people were called “druggies,” “criminals,” and “eyesores.” Over the next few days we watched the ‘No Homeless Shelter in Irvine’ and ‘No Tent City in Irvine’ protests and mobilization of affluent Irvine. We also saw leaders whom we respected and had elected to guide our city and county, fueling anti-homeless sentiment. Our leaders were not finding creative, innovative ways to say yes and begin to implement solutions. Research and evidence that has emerged, since the first Bush administration which began to use it, for the housing first model as the solution for homelessness was ignored. The description of the homeless as “eyesores” especially exposed an undeniable moral rot in Irvine and politics.
That’s when, Irvine For Everyone, a grassroots initiative emerged. We are a group of Irvine residents advocating for an integrated housing campus, comprising of the Regional Assessment Center + wrap around services + housing, on the county owned land across from the Great Park in Irvine. Irvine’s long term policy of preventing homelessness is not working. We need to acknowledge this and accept the regional leadership that is needed for South County. This is a transformation that will change the ways we’re a community. An affluent group that labels the homeless, sees them as unwelcome, and fights tooth and nail to put them away somewhere, far from the rest of us, is not a recipe for progress, much less thriving.
When no political candidate who is a resident of Irvine would call the horrific language out, that is also a failure of leadership. Of the four Democrats whom I invited to Irvine For Everyone Sign On Sheet, Mr. Kia Hamadanchy was the only one who responded. No hesitation. A true progressive. A leader who is not afraid to follow the values enshrined in one of our most beloved national monuments is truly a progressive leader. Do you remember the words of welcome on the Statue of Liberty? In the end though it is not just the values of diversity, hospitality, inclusion, but the silence that Lazarus’ poem refuses.
When Congressional candidates opt to remain silent in the face of a public crisis and don’t support good faith efforts in their own home city to change the status quo, they have no progressive or leadership qualities either. They’re not going to change anything in the government in Washington. That’s my bottom line. Thank you, Mr. Hamadanchy for showing us what true progressive leadership looks like.
Activist Ellee Koss recently shared her thoughts on whether the San Francisco Board of Supervisors had any progressives at all. Her definition of progressives caught my attention. It is key to solving the homelessness crisis in our county, state, nation, and indeed, our whole world!
Ellee’s definition of progressive is quite different from the standard.
Dictionary.com definition of a progressive is someone: favoring or advocating progress, change, improvement, or reform, as opposed to wishing to maintain things as they are, especially in political matters: a progressive mayor.
Ellee Koss’s definition: A progressive is someone who advocates for transformative policies; those that will shift the very foundation of being of a community; Examples are single payer/Medicare for all; basic income; free higher education that includes learning that supports the 21st C needs; parity in education and opportunities across the community no matter what… THINK BIG! THINK BOLD! .
#EndHomelessnessOC #StepUpIrvine #IrvineForEveryone
Please note that the author is NPP (No Party Preference) politically and has a Ph.D. in Library and Information Science. Her specialization is categorization and vocabulary design, including the classifications of race and politics. She is the curator and founder of the Anti-racism Digital Library/Thesaurus.