A rally that its organizers billed as an effort to help the homeless drew 20 people to downtown San Luis Obispo on Wednesday morning, even as those who routinely provide local homeless services criticized it as both unfair and harmful to those it purported to help.
Becky Jorgeson, who calls herself an “advocate for the homeless,” scheduled the rally at 8 a.m. Wednesday in front of the courthouse on Monterey Avenue. In doing so, she sent the media a laundry list of general complaints about the way the homeless are treated in San Luis Obispo County — by the courts, the Board of Supervisors and providers of services.
In that latter reference, she said the rally was “in protest of the general lack of respect for our homeless by Prado and Maxine Lewis shelters.”
That angered those who run and work with the shelters.
“It’s simply not true; there’s not a grain of truth in (the accusation),” said Dee Torres, director of Homeless Services for the Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo County.
She said the shelters have contracts for pest control, change the sheets regularly and perform other tasks to help those whose travails have left them homeless.
Torres said she has asked Jorgeson for specifics but has received none. Jorgeson disputes that.
County Supervisor Adam Hill, who has worked extensively with the shelters, told The Tribune they provide well for the homeless, especially given their limited resources.
Torres said Jorgeson is “dragging the clients through the mud” and “really doing more harm than good” by either creating or exploiting a rift in the homeless community and among their advocates.
However, Torres added, “I’m not looking for a fight. My goal is to end this.”
Jorgeson told The Tribune in a post-rally telephone interview that she is “not trying to shut the shelter down.”