Archive | December, 2015

A Futile and Brutal Act: Berkeley’s Anti-Homeless Laws

“Berkeley continues to outlaw homeless people in the face of overwhelming statements from the federal government and from nearly every university school of health and law school that says that criminalizing the poor is a futile and brutal act.” — Max Anderson, Berkeley City Council

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Suitcase Clinic’s Solidarity with People on the Street

“At the City Council meeting, I think we played a role in empowering our clients who spoke out against the criminalization of homelessness. More importantly, we stood in solidarity with them.”

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Two Square Feet of Space — Unless You Own a Business

This is how democracy works in Berkeley: The City Council majority represents the Downtown Berkeley Association. One guy — John Caner, the CEO of DBA, who wrote the initial law (with Maio and Arreguin) in a back room — felt represented in all the madness. And he didn’t have to say a word.

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Housing Project Threatens to Evict Seniors for Speaking Out

The lawyer for Redwood Gardens warned the senior and disabled tenants to “cease and desist” any and all criticism of management. Must the residents surrender their freedom of speech and right to privacy while living in the senior housing project? Noncompliance can result in “termination of tenancy.”

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On Homelessness and Human Rights in Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz has enacted bans on sleeping in parks and in vehicles, bans on blankets, and bans on sitting, camping, sleeping, breathing, resting, dreaming and existing. Have the activists been noisy and “boisterous” in protesting the cruel attacks on poor people in their community? Thank God they have.

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As Rents Skyrocket, Berkeley Attacks A Familiar Scapegoat

The second vote on the anti-homeless laws came on December 1, 2015, exactly 60 years to the day that Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on that Montgomery Bus. On the 60th anniversary of Rosa Park’s historic action, the City Council is rolling back those civil rights in Berkeley.

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Nothing Works Quite As Well As Housing

Our lack of affordable housing is a real public health crisis — the result of 30 years of complete neglect of homeless people by Mayor Tom Bates and, before that, his wife, former Mayor Loni Hancock. Their housing policy has been to ignore the people sleeping in parks, under overpasses and in alleys.

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Court Rules L.A. Housing Authority Illegally Cut Section 8 Subsidies

“This decision should not only lead to compensation for the tens of thousands of Los Angeles Section 8 recipients that were hurt by the illegal reduction in benefits going back in 2004-2006, but also protects all Section 8 recipients going forward, wherever they may be.” — Barrett Litt, attorney for Section 8 tenants

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The Lifelong Creativity of Berkeley Artist Eve Pageant

When I visited her home studio, the sheer numbers of her art pieces astounded me. Every wall was covered with her paintings, and shelves were filled with her sculptures. Her art ranged from fabulous human figure sculptures to sculptural reliefs to oil paintings to drawings, the best artwork I’d ever seen.

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Society’s Failure to Care Is the Root of Homelessness

In one of the richest places in the world, people become so wrapped up in their own comfort and status that they don’t care about the human beings they are stepping over.

Visionary Art of Leon Kennedy

In Leon Kennedy’s painting, his living friends are portrayed next to long-gone elders and assassinated civil rights leaders. Even death does not shatter the bonds of love and community.

Welcome to Homelessness

The worst thing about homelessness, I sensed, would have nothing to do with bad weather, hunger or sleep deprivation. It would be the way I soon would be cast out like a leper, as though one would contract a deadly disease just from being in my presence.

Big Money Spends a Fortune to Fight Rent Control

Wealthy landlords, realtors and developers have teamed up and are spending a fortune to fight the efforts of renters to repeal the Costa-Hawkins Act, the law that severely limits the rent control options of California cities. Tenants have also launched rent control campaigns in 10 California cities.

Vicious and Cruel Assault on the Poorest of the Poor

Elected leaders of the national tenants union denounced the housing bill proposed by HUD Secretary Ben Carson as a vicious and cruel assault on the poorest of the poor. “Millions will be displaced if these deeply cruel proposals see the light of day. Congress should reject them out of hand.”

The DBA’s Assault on Free Speech in Berkeley

The DBA launched a new poster destruction policy, despite being warned it was unconstitutional by the City Attorney. Tearing down fliers is a textbook example of a free speech violation. No one has the right to make content-based distinctions about what is allowed to be posted or said in legal, public places.