Archive | January, 2016

Community Power Wins Affordable Housing in Oakland

How community activists rallied to halt a luxury tower for the rich and win affordable housing for the people of Oakland.

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Activists Block New Jails in Bay Area

“The contrast was dramatic. Funding could be found for a jail, but not for a hospital. I think that aggravated and motivated a very passionate outcry from people in Contra Costa County.”

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One Night at Liberty City—Just Before the Raid

I had been homeless for two years in Berkeley and the things bound up in the protest reminded me so strongly of my own sentiments while I was without housing in this city. So I borrowed a sleeping bag and I headed over to the occupation at Old City Hall.

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Liberty City and the Christmas Miracle

Thanks to the initiative of homeless people, the sleep-in grew into several weeks of relative safety for people otherwise being shoveled out of parks like trash or hustled off public streets by the merchant groups’ hired patrols. The homeless people developed a functional government and crafted “no drugs or alcohol” rules.

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In the Shadow of Bell v. Boise

Our entire community, unhoused and housed alike, is living in the Shadow of Bell v. Boise. Homeless people are being criminalized in violation of their Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. The hope is that we can all emerge into the sunlight, equally free.

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Laura’s Law Turns a Psychiatric Diagnosis into a Crime

Laura’s Law criminalizes mental illness and is spreading like cancer across California, county by county. Those labeled “noncompliant” can be subjected to forced medication and court-ordered involuntary treatment. In essence, they become captives of the criminal justice system even though they have committed no offense.

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San Mateo County Renters Fight Rising Evictions

Many low-income families living in the shadow of Silicon Valley’s enormous wealth are being threatened with evictions.

“With the current market and the housing crisis, we’re seeing landlords and investors taking advantage of the weak legal protections, exploiting the holes that exist in the law in order to turn a quick profit,” says Daniel Saver. “In the wake behind them, there’s a trail of human cost. It’s destroying communities.

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The New Housing for the Homeless: Prison Cells

No politician wants to be accused of working to eliminate jobs! So, the pressure to keep the prisons full is great. Criminalizing homelessness could be seen as a double win — keeping the prisons full while also “solving” the homelessness issue by giving homeless people beds in prison.

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Reflections on the New Year—Elegies, Praise, Poems

I have been thinking again about the French notion of liberty, fraternity (though now we’d say solidarity) and equality. I think I understand in a new way that these can be taken not just as political values, but also as a partial guide to how to conduct our lives.

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Resurrection of the Poor People’s Campaign

Rev. Barber told the activists gathered in the nation’s capital that by demonstrating in solidarity with poor people, they had become a link in the long history of people who fought for justice.

Hate Crime Laws Needed to Protect the Homeless

As homelessness becomes more visible, people living on the streets are targeted for bullying, assaults, harassment and even murders.

Life Is A Precious Gift: Mother Teresa’s House in Washington

We will never know how many huge pots of soup Jacob lifted with the sisters into trucks, to take to the homeless in the park. We will never know how many diseased bodies he fed, held and bathed, and the number of tears he dried in the early morning hours.

Mother Teresa’s Gift of Love in San Francisco

She took home with her the men who had only a few days left to live and were suffering the most, and tenderly cared for them around the clock. I am certain some of the people I was meeting were angels, whose job was to make certain no soul died alone and unloved.

My Back Pages: A Song for Miss Kay

She softly sings the soul anthem “Stand By Me.” It is a song for Miss Kay, a song for all of us. Her life, with its music and joy, followed by a downward slide into homelessness and death, tells us something deeper than words about the human condition.

My Back Pages: Kerry’s Kids, An Undying Dream

Oakland pediatrician Dr. Karen Kruger said, “Kerry’s death was so sudden and seemingly purposeless and shocking that I think there was a need for people that loved her to carry on her memory in a way that she would look down on from her cloud and be happy about.”