Archive | May, 2011

Taking It to the Streets

“I have the right to exist in public space.” Street youth created signs to protest attempts to banish them. Janny Castillo photo

When one of the Suitcase Clinic speakers asked all those who opposed the anti-sitting law to stand up, virtually everyone in the council chambers stood up, making a very strong statement to the City Council. It had been my hope that the homeless people and street youth who actually sit on the sidewalks would have a chance to speak, but sadly they were denied.

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Anatomy of a Takeover at a Health Care Corporation

WRAP Director Paul Boden denounced corporate landowners who let buildings sit empty in areas where homelessness is on the rise. Photo by Carol Harvey

When people’s health and well-being are based on a home, and a building is useable, a health care corporation leaving it empty is a savagely hypocritical act.. On April 11, 2011, resisters took over a vacant Kaiser Permanente building, and marked this predator medical corporation with a banner reading, “Kaiser Thrives, People Die.”

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The Rich Have Robbed and Ruined Our Nation

This impassioned cry for justice was made by Servant Brian K. Woodson at a tax day rally at the Federal Building in Oakland organized by the American Friends Service Committee as part of the April 12 Global Day of Action on Military Spending. Woodson is pastor of the Bay Area Christian Connection, an Oakland church with a women’s treatment program and a food program that this year has distributed over 453,000 pounds of food to inner-city residents.

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Berkeley Merchants Plot a Police Clampdown on Youth

The art of Art Hazelwood reminds us that the constitutional rights of homeless people are constantly violated by political officials and the police.

Nearly every homeless organization in Berkeley is now united in opposition to the sitting ban before it has even been introduced at the City Council. Already, some council members that the business associations had boasted were already in the bag are evidently having second thoughts about supporting the ban.

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Disaster Capitalism: A Perfect Alibi for the Far Right

Robert Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities notes that Ryan’s plan “would get about two-thirds of its more than $4 trillion in budget cuts over 10 years from programs that help people of limited means …” The proposed cuts to Medicaid alone would harm states, individuals and health care providers and could cost nearly two million private-sector jobs, according to Ethan Pollack of the Economic Policy Institute.

Economist Dean Baker summed up the Ryan plan eloquently as “government by people who hate you.”

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Cruel Cuts to Medi-Cal Are Creating a New Underclass

I have a close relative who is losing all of his teeth because of the lack of available dentistry under Medi-Cal (with the exception of extractions). The policy of not covering dental was first enacted under former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and now is the responsibility of Gov. Jerry Brown.

My relative is risking his health in order to retain one tooth — the last one he can use to chew food. A new lower class is being created before our eyes, one based on the ability to identify Medi-Cal recipients through their lack of teeth.

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A Capital Offense

Painting of Mother Teresa of Calcutta by San Francisco poet Judy Jones.

A reminder of the intolerable reality that in a nation of incredible wealth, we allow people to die—abandoned, suffering, alone.

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When Even the Sky Hurts

Berkeley poet Julia Vinograd.

Review by Mary Meriam “The writing of a poem is also the act of taking a stand against the sadness.” y homeless sister once dreamily said that she would like a wardrobe, a closet full of nice clothes. Clothes are a home for our bodies. Clothes broadcast to others where we stand in the world. […]

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Path to Prosperity—or Highway to Homelessness

“Safety Net” Artwork by Art Hazelwood

Congressional Democrats joined Republican extremists in slashing the safety net for poor families, seniors, the disabled and homeless.

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Writing for the Street Spirit: My 17 Year Journey

Writing for Street Spirit has awakened in me a sense of responsibility toward others. Street Spirit is a way for people silenced by big money and big media to have a voice.

Animal Friends: A Saving Grace for Homeless People

“I wrapped her in my jacket and promised I’d never let anybody hurt her again. And that’s my promise to her for the rest of her life. In my mind she’s a little angel that saved me as much as I saved her.”

A Testament to Street Spirit’s Justice Journalism

The game was rigged against the poor, but I will always relish the fact that Street Spirit took on the Oakland mayor and city council for their perverse assault on homeless recyclers. For me, that was hallowed ground. I will never regret the fact that we did not surrender that ground.

Tragic Death of Oakland Tenant Mary Jesus

Being evicted felt like the end of her life. As a disabled woman, she saw nothing ahead but a destitute life on the streets. She told a friend, “If I’m evicted tomorrow, I have no choice but to kill myself. I have no resources, no savings, no money, and nowhere to go.”

They Left Him to Die Like a Tramp on the Street

Life is sacred. It is not just an economic statistic when someone suffers and dies on the streets of our nation. It is some mother’s son, or daughter. It is a human being made in the image of God. It is a desecration of the sacred when that life is torn down.

Joy in the Midst of Sorrow in Santa Maria Orphanage

This amazing priest not only housed 300 orphaned children from the streets of Mexico City, but he also took care of 20 homeless elders in his own house and started a home for children dying of AIDS. Father Norman also ran a soup kitchen that fed many people in the village.