The April 2005 Edition of Street Spirit

A publication of the American Friends Service Committee


National AFSC AFSC Economic Justice BOSS Website



In this issue:

Murder of Mary Katherine King

Eyes Wide Open

California Lifts Food Stamp Ban

The Ordeal of Ramona Choyce

Republicans Shred Disabled Housing

Art and Activism of Jos Sances

The Paintings of Jos Sances

Gambling with Social Security

Billionaires Grow Richer, Poverty Worsens

Existence Itself Is Banned for the Homeless Poor

Bush Policy Errs on Chronic Homelessness

Sankofa House: A Rainbow for Homeless Women

Student Summit Against Hunger

A Lifetime at the Bus Stop

Working for Transit Justice

Poor Leonard's Almanack

BOSS Community Organizing

The Anguish of Classism





May 2005

February 2005






Street Spirit is published by American Friends Service Committee.

All works are copyrighted by the authors.

The views expressed in Street Spirit are those of the individual authors alone, and not necessarily that of the American Friends Service Committee.

BOSS Community Organizing

by Michael Diehl, BOSS Community Organizing Team

Mental Health Consumer Forum

On April 20, BOSS (Building Opportunities for Self Sufficiency), along with Lifelong SHP and BACS, is holding a conference for Mental Health Consumers regarding the implementation of the Mental Health Services Act, Proposition 63, a statewide measure passed in November 2004.

Both the Berkeley Mental Health Commission and the Alameda Behavioral Health Care Commission have had community forums, but not enough input has been given at these forums by mental health clients. The BOSS Community Organizing Team has been soliciting client input at BOSS sites and on the streets.

I have been making sure that client input is being heard in Sacramento, Alameda County, and the City of Berkeley. I have been going to the state capital as part of the California Network of Mental Health Clients. I was just elected chair of the Berkeley Mental Health Commission and am acting now as the liaison to the Alameda Behavioral Health Care Commission.

The need for supportive housing and respite care and reduction of imprisonment of mental health clients are some of the major issues I have been advocating on.

Bus Shelters

The BOSS Community Organizing Team is also getting reinvolved with issues of transportation justice. A homeless woman told us that a nice police officer let her sleep on a street bench, but wanted to know if we can get them to take out the dividers.

She was not aware of the history of this issue in Berkeley. About ten years ago, many bus shelters and benches were taken out to stop their use by the homeless. More recently, seniors organized through the Bus Riders Union and Gray Panthers have successfully advocated for new bus shelters.

BOSS clients at the Oakland Homeless Project said bus service has generally improved, but it is too expensive for those with very low incomes. They were pleased at reports of plans to implement Rapid Transit on the 40 line, as is the case with the 72.

We have talked about the need to improve transit between Alameda and Contra Costa County. We also need to make it easier for very low income clients who live in Oakland and the Berkeley flats to get to where more jobs are - the hills with gardening, groundskeeping, housecleaning and child care jobs, and the new job zones east of the hills.

Contact: Michael Diehl,

1515 Webster St,#303
Oakland, CA 94612Phone: (510) 238-8080, ext. 303

E-mail: Spirit

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