Remembering Michael Bloom, Homeless Resident Who Fought To Change RV Parking Laws
Michael Bloom, the man involved in a lawsuit against the city of San Diego for unfair treatment of disabled homeless people living in campers has died. He was 72.
"He was always in pain — there wasn’t any time that he wasn’t in pain," said Michael's brother, Bill Bloom, during a memorial service at South Shores Park in Mission Bay Thursday.
Bloom was a native San Diegan who had been living out of an old camper for more than a decade. His brother said he was found dead in early June. It is unclear how he died, but he had recently suffered a heart attack that hospitalized him.
KPBS first spoke to Michael Bloom in 2017, he said paying $100 fines made it nearly impossible to live on his small disability checks.
"Not being able to eat or buy gas, they don’t realize how big a cut that is on anything you want to do," Bloom said in 2017.
Bloom often had to make tough decision between buying medication, paying tickets or getting essential supplies.
"Disposable income is just a big joke when you’re homeless,” he said.
Michael’s brother said even though he was disabled and in pain, Michael always managed to have a smile on his face.
"I promised mom that I’d always take care of Mike and do the best I can and I kept that promise," Bill Bloom said. "I gave him water, food and any way I could help him but he was very proud — he didn't want to accept help for some reason — he wanted to live life on his terms he didn't think a lot about money."
Michael Bloom said he was constantly in fear of getting ticketed, so much so that it was hard for him to sleep at night. When he talked with KPBS in 2019, community organizer Martha Sullivan had given him a place to park his camper, which helped him avoid fines.
"As long as things are working the way they are, I’m happy," he said standing outside his run-down camper parked in a private lot. "I love being able to be where I want to be at."
Sullivan later bought Michael a more functional camper and said they became friends through the push to change parking and habitation laws.
"He was a huge teacher of understanding because despite all the adversity that he faced and all the harm that was done to him he was a very compassionate and kind person who wanted that for everyone," she said after the memorial service finished Thursday.
Disability Rights California attorney Ann Menasche said there was a slight pause in ticketing during the peak of the pandemic but that is now over and fines plus impoundments are happening again. She said Bloom’s name will live on through the lawsuit.
"It’s incredibly sad — it’s really really tragic and it shows that people in this situation that are treated like this have shortened lives," she said.
Menasche said with ticketing still happening, they plan to take the case to trial.