Hotel owner proposes ‘heart-centered’ solution to address city’s noticeable spike in homeless
An owner of a trio of Palm Springs boutique hotels believes she has an answer to how the scenic city can address an ugly issue.
Jessica Spry, who along with her husband Tim Spry own The Marley Palm Springs, Hotel El Cid, and The Stardust Hotel, said this week she is forming a community group aiming to offer a “heart-centered approach to activism” needed to help not only the local homeless population, but to address issues that have led to a noticeable increase in their numbers.
“As a Palm Springs resident, small business owner and homeless advocate, I'm here to say the homeless problem in Palm Springs is out of control and I want to do something about it,” she announced on a neighborhood social media page.
“I'm angry when I walk past people shooting up on East Palm Canyon Dr. I'm angry when our hotel guests' cars get broken into. I'm angry when I see our city getting exponentially worse and it doesn't feel like anyone is doing anything about it.”
Spry, who knows many homeless personally through her work at Well in the Desert, said she hopes to channel that anger into action.
“… I know anger doesn't solve problems,” she said. “No one hates or blames their way out of a problem. So for those who are using their anger to fuel this fight, this group is not for you. I respect all perspectives, it's just not what this group is about.”
Spry envisions a multi-part effort, including:
Forming a coalition to lobby for changes at Palm Springs City Council meetings
Educating members of the coalition about current laws around loitering, pan handling, and sleeping on the sidewalk
Community storage that would offer homeless individuals a secure place to store their belongings
A partnership or incentive program that encourages and rewards members of the homeless community who keep the city clean
Citywide clean-up sessions for coalition members
Mentorship of homeless community members from members of the group
“This group is about compassionate change,” she said. “Trust me, I have NO COMPASSION for theft or pan handling or loitering or watching my streets be taken over by homelessness.
“I'm not advocating (that) our community come out and build tent cities. I'm advocating for us to hold the city to the fire to make some changes while also bringing love and compassion to the issue.”
City leaders, business owners and law enforcement have focused increased attention on the homeless population in recent weeks after hearing from Police Chief Bryan Reyes that Riverside County has been housing recently-released prisoners in a downtown hotel to quarantine from COVID-19. Many of them have no place to live other than city streets after finishing their stay at the hotel.
Participate: Email Jessica Spry at Jessica_spry@me.com to volunteer for her project