The “Arnieville Sleepout” ended today with a celebration of what the participants had already achieved—publicity about budget cuts which threaten the survival of disabled citizens who depend on state support. It was named for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, in the tradition of the Hoovervilles which sprung up around the United States during the Great Depression.
Organizer Jean Stewart told the Planet that more than 200 people had stopped by or slept out in tents in the four days (from May 21 to May 25) members of Berkeley’s disabled community were assembled on the median strip at Adeline and Russell, across from the Berkeley Bowl.
The final party was held in the rain under a canopy, but the weather didn’t dampen the spirits of the campers. Councilmember Kriss Worthington showed up to say goodbye, along with many friends who brought cookies, beans and rice and other food for a potluck supper.
The protesters posted a list of things they don’t like about Schwarzenegger’s budget on a Facebook page:
“The Governor's budget plans to eliminate about 60% of IHSS [In Home Social Services] recipients and reduce IHSS wages by 30%. Approximately 440,000 low income seniors and people with disabilities in California use the IHSS program. At approximately $55,000 per person per year, nursing homes are five times as expensive as the IHSS. Cuts to IHSS and Medi-Cal come at a huge cost to society, both economically and morally.”
A handout at the site described IHSS as a model program that pays caregivers to help 450,00 poor elderly and disabled persons in their homes.
Other programs that support low income and disabled people are also threatened, including CalWorks, Adult Day Care and mental health rehabilitation.
Organizer Dan McMullan said that unless an acceptable budget is signed in the meantime, which seems very unlikely at the moment, the encampment would be back on June 22.