FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE –
Media Contact – LookingForMyRights@gmail.com
On Friday, January 27th, HouseLess community members and their advocates will gather in downtown Ashland for the “Let Us Sleep” rally. A free speech event focused on local issues of being houseless and societal discrimination against them.
Event speakers Laceyanna Mccoy and Joseph Gibson – who are both houseless people living in Ashland – say that Ashland’s “Prohibited Camping” laws dehumanize survival, while the city fails to provide viable alternatives to houseless humans. “Camping is recreational,” says Mccoy. “This is survival, but we are not being allowed to survive.”
Gibson wants to see more houseless community members included in conversations about houseless issues, including how local services are run and designed. “We need a seat at the table,” says Gibson. “No one has a vested interest in actual solutions like we do.”
Melissa Jones of Stabbin’ Wagon, when asked to participate in the “Let Us Sleep” rally, had this to say, “Every time the MPD Livability puts out prohibited camping notices, I call all the shelters and housing partners and they never have space. I have been willing to help relocate people for months and the City of Medford has yet to respond when I ask where I am supposed to take people. Rogue Retreat recently flooded and Kelly Shelter has a 600 person waiting list. I don’t know where people are supposed to go.”
Gibson says the event will focus on the importance of listening to houseless people, and not treating people like they are criminals just because they faced economic difficulties. Mccoy agrees: “I don’t mind the weather, it’s the police harassment that bothers me.”
The “Let Us Sleep” rally organizers have three demands for change in Ashland:
• Stop hunting us
• A voice in decision making
• We are not hiding anymore
On the last point, Mccoy says the event will be an opportunity for houseless people to be visible. She said she’s tired of housed people expecting her to change without providing viable alternatives to the streets.
“My kids are out here, you think I haven’t tried to get off the streets?” says Mccoy, who is a mother of three children. “I’ve tried everything that advocates suggest, I’ve been on all the waitlists — but I’m still out here.”
Community members are invited to attend the “Let Us Sleep” rally. Learn more about how to support the cause by e-mailing LookingForMyRights@gmail.com. The rally will take place at the Ashland Plaza, 26 N. Main Street in downtown Ashland, on Friday, January 27th from noon until 4pm. Members of the HouseLess community will be on-site and available interviews with the media.