New: Arnieville's Back, Better than Ever

By Bob Patterson
Wednesday June 23, 2010 - 04:45:00 PM

Arnieville returned to Berkeley on Tuesday, June 22, 2010 with official opening ceremonies at precisely 5 p.m.  


Musical entertainment marked the “resurrection” of Arnieville and the renewal of disability activists’ protests against state budget cuts to senior and disability services. 


The encampment is named in memory of the Hoovervilles which sprang up in the Great Depression. 


The protesters returned to the same site at the intersection of Adeline Street and Russell, which they had used in May, for the location of their tent city.  


Their flyer urges people to “End the fear and Harassment!”  


It explains their complaint: “California’s yearly budget cycles threaten seniors and people with disabilities with homelessness and institutionalization. They threaten our caregivers with joblessness. Fingerprinting and unannounced visits harass us in our homes. Republicans block fair taxes on oil and other corporations.  


It adds: “Governor Arnie proposes to slash essential programs including In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS), MediCal, CalWORKS, Adult Day Health Care (ADHC), Mental Health Rehabilitiation and many others. He wants to expand forced mental health treatment, and fingerprint and photograph elderly and disabled people who use IHSS.  


The group urges “Tell Arnie: NO WAY! Tax oil and other corporations! End the 2/3 rule for budget and taxes!”  


A contingent of protesters went from Arnieville to the Berkeley City Council evening meeting later that day. They were expecting the City Council to approve a motion to send a letter to the Governor objecting to the budget cuts.  


A press conference to bring more media attention to the group's complaints is scheduled to take place at the Arnieville location on Thursday, June 24, 2010 at noon.  


According to their press release, organizers demand protection for California’s In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS), Medi-Cal, and other programs. They also deplore the Governor's plan to fingerprint, photograph and force unannounced home visits on elderly and disabled recipients of IHSS. “We have a right to privacy in our homes,” said Jean Stewart, 62. “This brands us as criminals without arrest or trial.” 


According to the organizers, “IHSS is a model program, saving the state hundreds of millions of dollars per year by maintaining disabled individuals in their homes. At $55,000 per person per year, nursing homes are five times more expensive than IHSS. At present, 385,074 IHSS caregivers provide services to 490,000 disabled and elderly Californians. The Governor’s budget proposes to eliminate up to 40% of IHSS funding. Cuts of this magnitude, and simultaneous cuts to Medi-Cal, would erase decades of progress and incur a huge economic, social, and moral cost. Thousands of Californian seniors and people with disabilities could end up in nursing homes. This is a violation of Olmstead, the Supreme Court decision holding that unnecessary segregation of individuals with disabilities in institutions constitutes discrimination on the basis of disability — the protest begins on the 11th anniversary of Olmstead.” 


“These programs are life-and-death matters and we live in a state of fear and anxiety,” says Dan McMullan, an ArnieVille organizer and director of the Disabled People Outside Project. “For years now, we’ve been assailed by a Governor intent on making the rich richer, while we get thrown under the Hummer. This year we’ve come together to resist.”