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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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.