Testimony to the Coastal Commission

My name is Mary Getlein. I’ve lived in Venice since 1971. One question I have is since people are being arrested for being on the beach at those hours, those nighttime hours, what’s the point in having coastal access?

The people who live in oversized vehicles and other vehicles are residents. You don’t have to be in a home to have a home. You have a home in your heart. I was homeless for 10 years. Do you know what being homeless is like? It’s like being a Jew in Nazi Germany. Everywhere you go, you are hassled. You are humiliated. You are put down. They take away your dignity as a human being.

People need help to get out of being homeless. It takes forever and a day to get out of being homeless. If you have a choice to do something good today or to do something wrong, why would you choose the wrong thing? Why? Is this a case of being the “good German” who knew what was going on and did nothing?

People are not homeless by personal choice. Heh – I think I’ll become homeless today. No, man. They lose their jobs. They lose their apartments. And you’re out there with the trash. And the police treat you like shit. They treat you like trash. They kick you from one trash can to the next.

We are put on this earth to help each other – not stick a label on someone, put them in a box and ship them away. Where are these people suppose to go? These are children of God. These are not cockroaches. We’re not here to be exterminated. We’re here to do the right thing today and not be “Good Germans!”

We are not going to sit silently by and watch powers that be round up our friends and the only crime is to be without a home. Where are you going to be 30 years from now when people talk about this? What are you going to tell your children, your grandchildren what you did to save people’s lives? We’re talking about people living in RV’s that are harassed by vigilantes.

As I speak, they come and break windows of RV’s. People who are staying in them are old ladies. They can’t get around without a cane. And these big, strong men come and break their windows. Because they don’t want to see a RV by the park. Well, they have nowhere to go. There’s no affordable housing here in LA.

This is our home. You don’t need a house to have a home. Home is where your heart is. My heart is forever Venice! We will not be moved!