Starting July 1, people experiencing homelessness who sleep on state-owned land could face prison time and heavy fines. The controversial law has many people concerned about the unhoused community in the area. That’s why several people gathered at Legislative Plaza for a rally and march to Commerce Street Park. Some advocates are planning on sleeping overnight at the park to send a message to lawmakers that homelessness should not be a crime. The group Open Table Nashville organized the protest. The new law makes it a felony to camp on public property and could lead to up to six years in prison and thousands in fine. It also makes it a misdemeanor to camp under state bridges and overpasses.
Oakland, California - On Saturday, several local organizations kicked off their plan to end the growing housing and homelessness crisis in Oakland. Gathering in Oscar Grant Plaza, in front of the new art installation that calls out police murders of Black people, the groups sought to mobilize the crowd around another kind of racialized violence: displacement. “The stress of worrying about being evicted creates health problems that are killing people. It’s not just gentrification. It’s genocide,” said Sharena Thomas. She is one of six organizers, now known as Moms 4 Housing, who sparked an international call to make housing a human right with their occupation of a home in West Oakland in 2019. Speakers painted a devastating picture of the housing crisis in Oakland.
The ninth Summit of the Americas is taking place in Los Angeles from June 6 to 10, organized by the US-influenced Organization of American States. The White House, in announcing the US as the host of the Summit back in January, stated: “Working with the city of Los Angeles, Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti, and Governor of California Gavin Newsom, the United States looks forward to convening leaders and stakeholders across the hemisphere to advance our shared commitment to economic prosperity, security, human rights, and dignity.” The People’s Summit is being organized concurrently in Los Angeles as a working class call to action against the US government interests that have historically underwritten the Summit of the Americas.
At a fundraiser on Friday, Adams told The New York Times that city agencies would identify the encampments, offer residents homeless outreach services, and then “dismantle” their makeshift shelters — all within a two-week period. On Saturday, a spokesperson for the mayor said the initial sweep has already begun, led by the New York Police Department, as well as the sanitation, social services and parks departments. The task force aims to clear 150 or more makeshift shelters on its first pass, which began on March 18th. “We are breaking down siloes and working together across government to keep New Yorkers safe and our streets clean,” Adams told Gothamist in a written statement.
San Francisco, California - On a Friday evening in the fall of 2019, Maria Flores stood waiting with her “crazy heavy” duffel bag and her teenage son outside the office of a man whose home she cleans. A friend of hers had told him that Flores had been evicted from the apartment she had lived in for 16 years. There, the single mom had paid $700 a month in rent ever since she’d moved in eight-months pregnant. Now, one night at a motel cost as much as $250. “Every single day I was looking for a place to live,” Flores said. He’d offered two air mattresses, keys to his office, and permission to sleep there on weekends. For the better part of a year, Flores, who asked to use only one of her two surnames, lived that way: Back and forth, spend and scrimp.
The number of Americans dying while homeless has surged dramatically in the past five years, an exclusive analysis by the Guardian in conjunction with an academic expert at the University of Washington has shown. An examination of 20 US urban areas found the number of deaths among people living without housing shot up by 77% in the five years ending in 2020. The rise from 2016 through 2020 was driven by many factors, including ever-rising numbers of people living on the street and the growing dangers they face, such as violence, untreated disease and increasingly deadly illicit drug supplies. From 65-year-old Randy Ferris, killed when a car veered into a California sidewalk encampment, Justine Belovoskey, 60, who died alone in a tent during a Texas cold snap, and Anthony Denico Williams, stabbed to death at age 20 in Washington DC, to scores of young people succumbing to overdoses on the streets, their stories reflect the harrowing tragedy of an epidemic of homelessness.
An alarming new survey of thousands of grocery workers across three western U.S. states reveals that they suffer from shockingly high rates of poverty. More than three-quarters of the workers meet the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s definition of “food insecure,” and 14% say they have been homeless within the past year. The survey, which was funded by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) and performed by the nonprofit research group the Economic Roundtable, drew responses from more than 10,000 workers at Kroger, the largest all-grocery chain in the United States. (Kroger also owns other grocery brands including Fred Meyer, Harris Teeter, and City Market.) The workers surveyed live in Southern California, Washington state, and Colorado, and all of them are UFCW members...
Food Not Bombs was founded in 1980 to provide direct aid to people while educating about the perversion of spending so much on the Military-Industrial Complex (MIC) while tens of millions of people do not have the basic necessities. It has turned into a global movement to build food sovereignty and organize systems outside the establishment. Clearing the FOG speaks with Keith McHenry, the co-founder of Food Not Bombs, about the criminalization of homelessness, their recent legal victory in Florida and why we must be concerned about increasing homelessness in the United States and the overall direction the country is going. McHenry speaks about his family ties to the founding of the military and the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as the violence he and others have experienced because of their activism.
Anew campaign, Housing Not Handcuffs, is attempting to stop the criminalization of homelessness and poverty in the United States. Led by the National Homelessness Law Center, the effort builds on research the Law Center has been conducting since 2006. The Law Center’s latest report, issued in late November, tracks laws in all fifty states—plus Washington, D.C.—that make it a criminal offense to sleep, lie down, ask for money, loiter, erect a tent, put down a bedroll, “loaf,” or feed unhoused people in public.
Denver, CO – Under the hardline stance of Mayor Michael Hancock, Denver continues to sweep unhoused encampments—more than 80 this year alone—ignoring countless requests from unhoused residents and their advocates to stop, and refusing to negotiate any alternatives. Outside the Four Winds American Indian Council building in the Baker neighborhood, that cycle continued when, despite multiple attempts by Four Winds and other advocates to find some common ground and a different solution, the city swept a predominantly Indigenous encampment on August 31. “It’s kind of unfortunate that the Mayor decided that he’s going to say that [the encampment] is unsafe and unclean without even being here, without even visiting and seeing it first-hand and being willing to sit down with our relatives and hear their stories and even break bread with them or anything like that.”
According to the Associated Press, a one-night tally in 2020 counted 580,000 people experiencing homelessness in the United States. Advocates say that total is almost certainly a severe undercount, with a more accurate total being upwards of 2 million people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has acknowledged both the difficulty of helping unhoused folks get vaccinated—most don't have access to transit options—and the reality that they're more likely to be at risk of severe illness because of compounding health issues. But how we actually help our unhoused neighbors get vaccinated varies from city to city, and often relies on NGOs like Southern Solidarity. In Texas, the pandemic brought a swift pivot to healthcare support for Austin's Ending Community Homelessness Coalition (ECHO), a nonprofit that plans and implements strategies to end homelessness in Travis County.
Colorado - A five-year evaluation of Denver’s Social Impact Bond (SIB) program by The Urban Institute found the housing first initiative is a “remarkable success” at reducing chronic homelessness. In all, the study found that 79 percent of people who received treatment under the program were engaged in stable housing. Those referred to SIB spent an average of 560 more days in housing than people who received other community assistance. Overall, the study analyzed the cases of 724 program participants. After one year, 86 percent of people remained in stable housing. After two years, the number stood at 81 percent. And, after three years, over 77 percent of participants remained housed. The program—one of the first in the country—also reduced shelter visits and police contacts for participants.
California -On Tuesday, April 20, U.S. District Court Judge David Carter of the Central District of California issued a ruling that is likely to become a watershed moment in the United States’ response to homelessness. In March of last year, the LA Alliance for Human Rights and several individuals sued the City and County of Los Angeles, alleging that they had not only fundamentally failed to address the homeless emergency in Los Angeles but had in fact contributed to creating it over the course of several decades. The complaint they filed reads more like what we might imagine the authors of the “Seattle is Dying” video would have written about Los Angeles: public health hazards, accumulating trash, rising crime, blocked sidewalks, local government leaders unwilling or unable to rise to the challenge of dealing with it.
On the night before Thanksgiving last year, Sasha Atkins, a 31-year-old hair stylist and single mom, hauled a few carefully chosen belongings – her phone, blankets, pillows and a laptop – into a vacant duplex on Shelley Street in Los Angeles’ El Sereno neighborhood and held her breath. Busting into an empty house was a last resort, but the pandemic has turned her precarious housing situation into an emergency. For three years, she and her son couch surfed or occasionally landed a motel room. But work had become scarce, and friends and family feared COVID-19 if they let new people into their homes. So, even though she was afraid, she moved forward.
Well before the beginning of the pandemic that has turned life upside down, New Yorkers already faced a devastating affordable housing and homelessness crisis. Even without the dramatic wave of unemployment brought about by a global pandemic, low-income tenants and homeless people across the city faced a grave lack of truly affordable housing and the absence of an effective citywide plan to fix it. Now, of course, the crisis has deepened, with tenants who have long lived paycheck to paycheck unable to scrape together even a modest living to pay their rent, and the danger of living on the street or in a congregate shelter multiplied by a deadly virus.