Sunday, December 21, 2008

Environmental Justice & Homeless Camping

The current economic difficulties will obviously increase the need for the services the programs that serve the homeless provide, and that will have an impact on the already highly impacted lower reach area of the Parkway—from the confluence with the Sacramento River to CSUS—in terms of the historic permissiveness of local government for homeless encampments which severely reduce the ability of the adjacent communities to safely recreate in their area of the Parkway.

As the impacted adjacent communities are primarily lower income, the issue of environmental justice—while traditionally referring to toxic pollution—has been raised in the sense of allowing public safety to deteriorate more in poor communities than in rich.

A new report from the Property & Environment Research Center focuses on environmental justice.

An excerpt.

“Environmental justice” is a term that relates to claims that poor and minority households suffer harms from hazards imposed on them by large firms. It is alleged that powerful companies can steamroll the political system and are allowed to impose toxic wastes on people with little political power. Community organizers have used this claim to demand remediation of past environmental practices, such as Superfund sites, as well as demand participation in administrative processes that determine licensing of polluting facilities.”… (To the Reader)

“There are at least five potentially non-exclusive interpretations of the correlation between pollution and local demographics….(p. 2)

“3. A third interpretation focuses attention not so much on firms as on governments, and their failure to enforce environmental standards and regulations equitably. Governments might enforce standards more rigorously in areas with higher levels of political support for the current administration. Or, government enforcement agencies might lack the incentives to enforce standards unless forced to do so by stakeholders. Since the squeaky wheel gets the grease, agencies would be more likely to respond to better organized, better connected, and more politically powerful citizens. If so, this might also be a further reason firms would be attracted to areas with less political power.” (p. 3)