The October 2006 Edition of Street Spirit

A publication of the American Friends Service Committee


National AFSC AFSC Economic Justice BOSS Website



In this issue:

Federal Housing Cuts to Blame for Homelessness

Judge Halts OHA Evictions

The Crime of Pushing a Cart

Giving Love to a Homeless Dog

Clergy Denounce Police Sweeps of Homeless

St. Mary's on the Move for Justice

Oaxaca's Radical Teachers

Berkeley Is Hard on the Homeless

Giant Puppets Stand Tall for Justice

Poor Leonard: On History

October Poetry of the Streets


September 2006

July 2006

June 2006

May 2006

April 2006

March 2006

February 2006

January 2006

November 2005

October 2005

September 2005

August 2005

July 2005

June 2005

May 2005

April 2005

March 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.

Federal Housing Cuts Left Millions Without Homes

Without Housing, a report by the Western Regional Advocacy Project, shows how decades of federal housing cutbacks caused a huge rise in homelessness.

by Terry Messman

Artist Art Hazelwood created this chart for WRAP to show how federal housing cutbacks created a massive rise in homelessness.

In 1898, French novelist Emile Zola wrote an open letter to the President of France, "J'Accuse!" ("I Accuse!"), that exposed a conspiracy by French authorities to frame Capt. Alfred Dreyfus and send him to Devil's Island for treason, a crime he did not commit, while the real perpetrators walked free, protected by their positions of power.

This month, homeless advocates on the West Coast will release a contemporary version of "J'Accuse!" in the form of a scathing report that shows how the unsheltered victims of our society's unjust economic policies have been falsely accused by government officials of creating the very homelessness that has imperiled their lives.

And like Zola's "J'Accuse!," this new report, entitled Without Housing, will boldly accuse the real culprits of their crimes -- the wrongdoers in positions of power in the federal government who have knowingly created a homeless crisis and refused to act responsibly to remedy it.

Like Dreyfus, the victims of homelessness have been sentenced to exile on the streets and alleys of America, a kind of Devil's Island of the soul that too often results in illness, disease, suffering and premature death on the streets.

To further exacerbate the misery of life on the streets, poor people have been falsely blamed for living dysfunctional lives that caused their own homelessness. City governments across the land have criminalized homeless people for sleeping outdoors, begging for help, and sitting on sidewalks.

The new study by WRAP, Without Housing, could readily be retitled, "J'Accuse! How Decades of Federal Housing Cutbacks Created Massive Homelessness in the U.S."

More on this story

Judge Refuses to Let Oakland Housing Authority Evict Poor Families

"There was not a shred of evidence to show that the tenants did something wrong, or even knew that something was wrong when they went through the process of moving into public housing." -- Laura Lane, East Bay Community Law Center

by Lynda Carson

Jorge Aguilar (at left), an attorney with the Eviction Defense Center, and Chanteel Holoman, a tenant facing eviction, celebrate a legal victory. Lydia Gans photo

On Thursday, September 21, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Winifred Y. Smith rebuffed the ongoing attempts by the Oakland Housing Authority (OHA) to evict about 20 low-income families from their public housing units at Lockwood Gardens in Oakland.

In a major setback to the OHA's attempt to demonize the poor families they are trying to evict from Lockwood Gardens, Judge Smith ruled that the OHA has not proven in their eviction notice that the families had engaged in fraud to move into their housing units. In addition, the judge stated in her ruling that the OHA has accepted rent payments from the families.

The Eviction Defense Center and Oakland attorney Bob Salinas have been defending nine families facing eviction, and the East Bay Community Law Center has been defending 11 more families facing eviction. The attorneys believe that many more families who did not have any legal representation were actually evicted from Lockwood Gardens.

More on this story

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