The April 2006 Edition of Street Spirit

A publication of the American Friends Service Committee


National AFSC AFSC Economic Justice BOSS Website



In this issue:

US Government Created Housing Shortages

Hate Crimes in S.F. and Boston

Urban Removal in S.F. Bayview

Stop Bulldozers of Gentrification

The Death of Two Eloquent Homeless Voices

Grandmother Is Left Homeless by Car Wreck

Building Strong Unions on U.S./ Mexico Border

Transit Justice Is Derailed

Poor People Use the Internet to Organize

Just Wage for All

Ruling Class Runs Economy into the Ground

Art & Altruism: The Paintings of Elizabeth King

Poor Leonard's Almanack: On Writers

April Poetry of the Streets


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.

How the U.S. Government Created the Rise in Homelessness

When the federal government abandoned affordable housing, it abandoned millions to homelessness.

by the Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP)

Artist Art Hazelwood created this chart for WRAP to illustrate how steep cutbacks in federal funding for affordable housing resulted in a massive rise in homelessness.

If we have learned anything about homelessness over the past 25 years, it is that public policy based on assumptions, fear, and paranoia about people forced to live on the streets will never create a plan that can work.

All the recent federal plans on homelessness -- FEMA emergency shelter plans, HUD Continuum of Care plans, and the 10-year plans of the Bush administration's Interagency Council on Homelessness -- are based on the assumption that in the early 1980s, homelessness re-emerged in America because something was wrong with the people who were becoming homeless.

The federal government required local communities to submit competitive applications for federal largesse, and to show that they could effectively address the "problems of homelessness in America" within the grant amounts allocated. So local governments did just that: they formed committees, created task forces, hired tons of consultants, and they wrote grant after grant and plan after plan stating how they were going to address the problem if only the feds would give them the lion's share of the money.

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Hate Crimes in the Nation's Most Liberal Cities

Editorial by Terry Messman

(Flowers). Painting by Jonathan Burstein. In San Francisco, a homeless man was brutally assaulted outside a flower shop in the middle of the night.

Assaults and murders of homeless people often occur in the dead of night. This is the dark night of the soul. It falls every night, in every city, from sea to shining sea.

San Francisco and Boston are two of the most liberal cities in the nation. Yet last month, two of the most progressive and affluent cities in America became home to two of the most vicious hate crimes imaginable.

As if to graphically reveal the geographic extent of this coast-to-coast outbreak of hate crimes, a homeless man was beaten savagely at about 4:30 a.m. on Sunday, March 5, in San Francisco, while another homeless man was set on fire about 3,000 miles away in Boston, just before 2 a.m. on March 5.

Homeless father set on fire

A 30-year-old homeless father of three was set on fire by two assailants in Boston's North End. The homeless man, Scott, was kicked awake in the middle of the night by two men who called him "a homeless bum," and then was pinned down, drenched with gasoline, and set ablaze. A passerby may have saved his life by calling the police. The Boston Herald reported that "flames from his body shot 5 feet into the air."

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