Archive | October, 2016

The Desperate Housing Crisis in Berkeley

Every day I hear the desperation of people on the street. I worked as a community organizer for 14 years for BOSS, helping homeless people, but now I am jobless and homeless myself. I see how ineffective our housing policies are. We need a revival of street action and protest in Berkeley.

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Youth Spirit Artworks Tries to Save Street Spirit

“We can’t afford to lose this essential platform for human rights and social justice, and we can’t let down the 100-plus vendors for whom this is a literal lifeline.” — Sally Hindman

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Death in the West: Memorial for a Day Laborer

Roberto worked without medical coverage or a living wage. Not a cent went into Social Security for the aging worker. When he died in a doorway of the defunct U-Haul rental shop in at Allston Way and San Pablo in Berkeley, it took a day or so for anyone to notice.

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Miss Raynel’s Shanty

The structure, if you can call it that, is made from heavy plastic tied to a fence facing a field where trains speed by many times a day. Inside the tent, Miss Raynel’s young nieces are under a blanket. There’s nothing behind them but fencing and a wild dog running in the field.

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The U.S. Relationship to Violence in Mexico

More than 150,000 people have been killed in Mexico since former president Felipe Calderón declared a drug war, with U.S. support, in 2007, and another 27,000 disappearances have been reported. The most well-known example is the forced disappearance by police of 43 student teachers in Ayotzinapa in September 2014.

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Oakland Officials Distort the Law to Punish the Poor

What a masterful demolition job. There is nothing like deploying the law to perseucte the poor — to crush them, silence them. You stripped Oakland’s recyclers of the right to their labor, the right to their freedom, and the right to eke out an existence on the margins of society.

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Richmond’s Mayor Does the Bidding of Landlord Lobby

Richmond’s mayor accepted contributions from California Apartment Association (CAA) and then voted against a proposed 45-day urgency moratorium on rent increases and no-cause evictions. The CAA is a wealthy organization representing the interests of landlords, not tenants. They have been spending big money in Richmond to block renter protections.

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Oakland’s Evictions of Encampments Hurts Everyone

Even as Oakland was evicting many of its most vulnerable citizens from homeless encampments, the City declared a shelter crisis. Oakland officials had reports of the severe lack of available beds in homeless shelters, and they knew these displaced people had nowhere to go.

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Making a Home in an Oakland Encampment

It takes creativity to survive on the street and create a home near the freeway. Lance’s belongings are neatly arranged and he clearly takes pride in his abode. A feeling of being at home is a vibe felt at this address, as well as in the neighboring tiny homes or campers.

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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.