Street Spirit is a publication of Youth Spirit Artworks (YSA)  that reports extensively on homelessness, poverty, economic inequality, welfare issues, human rights issues and the struggle for social justice. For over two decades, Street Spirit has been dedicated to empowering poor and homeless people and giving a voice to the voiceless, at a time when the voices of the poor are virtually locked out of the mainstream media. From 1995-2016 Street Spirit was a publication of the American Friends Service Committee.

Street Spirit provides more than 100 homeless vendors a positive alternative to panhandling, and to give our readers a progressive alternative to the corporate-controlled mainstream media. Help us remain an independent voice for justice! Please donate or subscribe to Street Spirit.

Street Spirit features investigative reporting about the alarming, nationwide wave of civil rights abuses and police repression targeted at homeless people. Our articles document the struggle for dignity and human rights by low-income psychiatric inmates, street youth, homeless women, welfare recipients, and poor seniors facing eviction. Street Spirit reports with a truly populist perspective from the shelters, back alleys, soup kitchen lines and slum hotels where mainstream reporters rarely or never visit – speaking truth to power and breaking the corporate media’s “vow of silence” about the growing disgrace of ever-widening poverty in the richest nation on earth.

Street Spirit’s reporting was responsible for alerting the public to widespread violations of low-income psychiatric patients at East Bay Hospital in Richmond, a hospital used as a dumping ground for homeless, poor and severely disabled people by nine Bay Area counties. As a testament to the power of the press, our reporting was instrumental in shutting down that notoriously abusive facility, the largest psychiatric hospital (until its closure) in Contra Costa County.

Street Spirit provides homeless people with a voice which cannot be found in the mainstream media. In our news coverage, commentary, art, and poetry, we focus on the crucial areas of concern which affect the daily lives and survival of the homeless poor. Just as importantly, the newspaper is distributed on the streets by homeless vendors, enabling them to earn a living to make it through these hard economic times.

All works copyrighted by the authors.
The views expressed in Street Spirit articles are those of the individual authors, not necessarily those of the YSA.

Street Spirit welcomes submissions of articles, artwork, poems and photos.

Contact: Terry Messman
Street Spirit, YSA
1740 Alcatraz Avenue, near Adeline
Berkeley, CA 94703
tmessman@afsc.org
or
streetspiritnews@gmail.com

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.