Hello, My Name is Michael Hubman. I am a human rights and homeless rights activist. In October 2006 I founded Watercorps, a charity. At Watercorps we provide bulk drinking water to the homeless people on Skid Row Los Angeles.
The ultimate act of giving thirsty people water is the most rewarding thing that I do with my life. With out asking for it I have become known as Waterman to my clients on Skid Row. Watercorps has provided at least weekly deliveries of water from the very beginning, never missing a week.
When the weather turns hot Watercorps adds extra delivery days. When the forecast temperature for core city Los Angeles reaches 90 degrees F. We pull out all the stops and deliver water until we just can’t do it any more. Starting in the summer of 2007, with the help of a generous cold storage company we chilled and froze the water before giving it to our dear clients. The chilled and frozen water was a big hit with the men and women living on the sidewalks of the mean streets of Skid Row Los Angeles.
Last weekend was the first heat wave of 2008, in Los Angeles. On Friday May 12, 2008 we were able to make and extra effort. We bought 12 flats of 36 ea 12 Oz bottles and 16 one-gallon bottles. We loaded them onto two pallets and chilled them in the cold storage.
When I first began Watercorps I decided to concentrate my efforts in a specific service area. Until recently Skid Row Los Angeles did not have defined geographic boundaries. In response to police harassment, and their not being enough shelter beds to go around the ACLU sued the city and got a judgment. This judgment provided for a zone where people could sit or lay on the sidewalk between the hours of 9:00 PM and 6:00 AM, within a geographic boundary. This injunction has since been extended city wide, but for better or worse Classical Skid Row Los Angeles has been defined as Third Street (North), Central Av. (East), Seventh Street (South) and Los Angeles Street (West).
San Pedro Street further divides Classic Skid Row into two pieces East and West. Most of the major missions are on the west side of San Pedro Street. When I started Watercorps It was evident to me that I should concentrate on the eastern half of Classic Skid Row Los Angeles, and hope that the people on the west side were getting enough water from the major missions. I have since learned that Watercorps’ service area east of San Pedro Street is commonly known as the bottoms.
Last Friday when I delivered a good load of chilled water in the bottoms, I had allot of chilled water left over. Instead of letting it warm up, I drove across San Pedro Street on Fifth Street and turned left on San Julian Street. This is the largest concentration of homeless people around, hundreds of people on the street and only missions and single occupancy hotels on each side.
I stopped the vehicle and went around to the back, hundreds of hands reaching for a cold bottle of water it was gone in a flash.
As soon as Watercorps can increase output and saturate the bottoms with drinking water, the next stop is the west side of Classic Skid Row Los Angeles. These sidewalk dwellers need drinking water every bit as much.
Also, nobody should be fooled into thinking that Classic Skid Row is the extent of homelessness in Los Angeles. It is only the epicenter. There are and estimated 75,000 homeless people in Los Angeles County with about half of those in the city proper.
Watercorps helps to promote a sense of community by giving a gallon of water and some cups to a group of clients to share with each other. Sense of community is great, but what is even more gratifying, when we have enough water, is to give a whole gallon of water to every one who wants one.
Watercorps focuses it’s efforts on water and hydration, however I am asked for food all of the time. Very sad, many of our clients are also very old and infirm. Many are in wheelchairs often with the hospital tags still around there wrists. A lot of these people are just innocent simple folks who have nothing and have no place to go. Of the people who I get to know personally, I watch them as they burn there wick at what seems about four times the usual rate.
Since founding Watercorps, a charity, I have become a committed human rights and homeless rights activist. I began working with other human rights and homeless rights activists, Los Angeles Community Action Network, (LA CAN) in particular. I have participated in several actions with my human and homeless rights networking partners, marches and demonstrations at City Hall, Police Station, Police Commission and the courthouse. I have also attended many meetings and organizing conferences.
One of our most important organizing goals is continuing opposition to Safer Cities Initiative. This is Los Angeles’ gentrification effort. Safer Cities fields a special task force of police to harass and criminalize the homeless people who have chosen to make Skid Row Los Angeles there home. This is a five million dollar a year effort. Safer Cities issues more nuisance citations like sitting on the sidewalk and J- Walking on the homeless of Skid Row then the rest of the city combined.
As with most homeless people they do not have the money or the focus to deal with these citations. The failure to appear becomes a warrant and the homeless are now housed in the county jail at great expense and waste of resources. When they are let out it is usually with court supervision (probation).
This is only the beginning of the criminal justice nightmare. The police use probation to turn these poor people in third class citizens. Typically police will roll up to a homeless person and ask if they are on parole or probation. If the answer is yes they are handcuffed and stood up against the wall, to be interviewed, with they’re back to the cop and there nose against the wall. Often the cuffs are removed and they are left standing there while the police move on to another homeless person. Would you put up with something like that in your neighborhood?
I have made a personal commitment to deliver an at least monthly human rights and homeless rights presentation to the public comments forum of the Los Angeles City Council. I hope to publish these short presentations in future editions of this letter. I have just delivered my second monthly general human and homeless rights presentation, for a total of five times before the Los Angeles City Council.
I started the Independent Charities Union, which is attempting to organize other small charities giving us strong representation when dealing with large established charities and government, more on that later.
In the next letter I will introduce the Watercorps volunteers and network partners.
Founder Watercorps human and homeless rights activist.
Needs List is as follows: Local Volunteers Web / E-Mail help Bottled water fob. Los Angeles One gallon plastic bottles fob Los Angeles Cold Storage Space / Warehouse space in Los Angeles Pick Up Truck Cash Donations.