Tag Archives: Sisters Of The Road

Criminalizing the homeless costs us all

By Paul Boden, Contributing Writer

The Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP) and the USA-Canada Alliance of Inhabitants (USACAI) are calling on our members and allies throughout the United States and Canada to join us on April 1 for a bi-national day of action against the ongoing criminalization of poor and homeless people in our communities. Stay tuned for information on Portland’s action led by Sisters Of The Road, Right 2 Survive, and Street Roots.

We are building a movement to reclaim our communities for all members, not just those who set the rents. In order to build this movement and assert our human rights, we must make clear the myriad ways in which our community members are treated as though they are less than human. We must connect the dots.

Over the past 30 years, neo-liberal policy-makers have substituted private gain for public good; they have abandoned economic and social policies that supported housing, education, healthcare, labor, and immigration programs. WRAP and USACAI are at work identifying and tracking such policy, legal, and funding trends in order to publicize their spread and their effects. This is not a matter of theoretical analysis, this is an investigation of the policies and tools by which more and more people have been made to suffer. Continue reading

Reflections from the frontlines, armed with empowerment

The Great American TARP Tour was a session of workshops and demonstrations organized by the Western Regional Advocacy Project. Volunteers and staff from Street Roots and Sisters of the Road participated, including Julie McCurdy (right), in the weekend full of events in San Francisco.

By Julie McCurdy, Contributing Writer

It occurred to me in the middle of the Great American TARP Tour in San Francisco last month that this was one of those moments. You know, one of those moments that, years from now, I’ll look back and say, “this was the moment.” This was the moment that the real possibilities of a nationwide movement could actually happen. And it sure did scare the shit right out of me because with possibility comes a whole lot of work and responsibility. Continue reading

Sisters launches Empowered Media Voices Project

Sisters of the Road has launched the Empowered Media Voices Project, a project working with people experiencing homelessness using media and technology.

Vendor Leo Rhodes, and Street Roots columnist Julie McCurdy both have created video projects through the program. Check out the video below about the project and visit the groups You Tube page here.

Homelessness, by the book

Understanding three decades of homeless-creating policy and what we can all do to change it

By Israel Bayer
and Monica Beemer

It’s hard to cut through the never-ending news cycles that bombard us daily to deliver a message. If your organization lacks resources and political clout, it becomes even harder to be heard. If the message has anything to do with human rights and homelessness, forget about it.

In a time when many Americans find themselves on the brink of economic collapse, individuals and families are looking at a horizon dotted with issues that affect their way of life but feel absolutely powerless to do anything about it.

The media, in all its forms, delivers headlines by the second about natural disasters, the global economy and soldiers who die fighting for a war we barely understand. Meanwhile, in households from Peoria to Portland, the realities of daily life set in; loss of jobs, massive foreclosures, and the loss of unemployment benefits — ultimately, for hundreds of thousands of Americans, the loss of any safety net whatsoever. Homelessness.

In 1979, the Department of Housing and Urban Development spent $77.3 billion in today’s dollars developing and maintaining housing to ensure all people could afford a place to live. Yet since 1995, the federal government has done nothing while more than 500,000 of these units have been lost, and an additional 335,000 could disappear this year.

In 2009, roughly 3.4 million families experienced foreclosures — 60 percent caused by unemployment. This year, as many as 3.5 million people will experience homelessness in the United States — a number that has been increasing since the Wall Street collapse and government bailout of the banks, and in the midst of the Bush administration’s 10-year plan to end homelessness. To put this into perspective, the federal government’s discretionary military spending is at $663.8 billion dollars.

The Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP), a group of grassroots homeless organizations based in California and Oregon is releasing an in-depth updated version of “Without Housing: Decades of Federal Housing Cutbacks, Massive Homelessness and Policy Failures.”

The popular report was first released in 2006, and has been a become a staple for politicians, scholars, think-tanks, poverty organizations and the general public to track the rise of modern-day homelessness. From the Ronald Reagan era in the 1980s, when the federal government dismantled the social safety net, to the present day, the report outlines the past three decades of policy failures that have led us to this point.

Continue reading

Sisters to march against sidewalk ordinance

Via Sisters Of The Road…
Sisters Of The Road has been involved in the struggle to keep laws like “Sit-Lie” and the new “Sidewalk Management Ordinance” off the books. Unfortunately, these laws, while often well intentioned, are typically used to target people experiencing homelessness and extreme poverty who have no where else to go. The new Sidewalk Management Ordinance will separate sidewalks downtown and in the Lloyd District into zones. The area closest to walls and shelter will be limited to movement and business activities. If someone needs to sit or lie on the sidewalk, they will be forced to do so in the area of the sidewalk closest to traffic, which is potentially very dangerous because of cars and pollution.  If people do not sit in this area of the sidewalk, they will face being cited and fined.

Portland is a beautiful city that is worth celebrating no matter our socioeconomic status! Sisters and our community will continue working to make Portland a place where all of our basic needs are met. We think it is important to celebrate and struggle at the same time, in order to sustain our movements! Continue reading

We want our 30% set aside, already!

Sisters Of The Road, Street Roots, Downtown Chapel, Community Alliance of Tenants, and the Western Regional Advocacy Project hosted a vigil late this afternoon on the site of the North Macadam development, block 33, to mourn the loss of the 400 units of housing that were slated to be built for low to middle income families. Read more about the loss of the 400 units.

Father Bob Loughery from the Downtown Chapel gave a reading of the last rites to commemorate the loss of these units in South Waterfront.

The Portland Aerial Tram with a cost $57 million dollars hovers over six newly built high-rise condominiums coming at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars. Not one affordable housing unit has been built in the high-end neighborhood. This comes at a time when downtown inventory for affordable housing continues to decline. And when 211 Info is reporting the highest call volume for foreclosure assistance in its history.

Street Roots and others have not just been sitting on the sidelines whining , but instead have been offering in-depth reporting on a myriad of ways to create alternative revenue streams.

Housing levy

SR explores affordable housing options

Why aren’t we paying better attention to homeless deaths? Dignity, and revenue streams potentially await.

Read more about the 30 percent set aside.

Posted by Israel Bayer

Community Gathers to mourn the loss of 400 units of housing.

Building a movement to ensure everyone can afford a home in Portland!

Sisters Of The Road, Street Roots, and Community Alliance of Tenants will host a vigil on the site of the North Macadam development, block 33, to mourn the loss of the 400 units of housing that were slated to be built there for low to middle income families. Father Bob Loughery from the Downtown Chapel will preside over a reading of the last rites to commemorate the loss of these units and community members and organizations will gather to say enough is enough: Fund and Build housing that is affordable NOW!

When: March 31st, 4:45pm-5:30pm

Where: The vigil will be held on the sidewalk in front of the Elizabeth Caruthers Park located at 3508 SW Moody, one block south of the OSHU Health and Healing Center. The Park is bordered by SW Curry and SW Gaines and is across the street from Block 33 where the 400 units were to be located.

Why: The purpose of this action is to call attention to the need for housing that is affordable in inner Portland. 788 units of housing for low and middle income earners where slated to be built on the south waterfront, 400 at the block 33 site alone. To date NO UNITS of housing that are affordable have been built in the south water front development. Meanwhile, affordable housing inventory in Portland continues to decline. The PHB has made efforts to curb the decline but the city is still 1800 units behind the established goal of over 5000 units of housing that is affordable in Inner Portland. The loss of these 400 units represents another setback for housing that is affordable in Portland. We must work together to ensure this does not happen again.

Sisters Of The Road, Street Roots, the Community Alliance of Tenants, along with long-time community activists are asking city officials to join with us to ensure housing that is affordable becomes a top priority. We are asking city commissioners to:

* Prioritize the Building of housing that is affordable for 0-60% Median Family Income (MFI)

-In a time of recession, hard working families are the hardest hit. Let’s prioritize housing dollars targeted at housing for these families.

* Ensure the Building of housing that is affordable in inner Portland.

-Clean and safe housing units that are affordable must be near the vital services, hospitals, and public institutions that make a difference in people’s everyday lives.

* Restore funding for the housing inspections program.

-Protect existing housing from falling into disrepair, creating un-safe and un-sanitary conditions for residents by fully funding inspection programs.

* Let’s look to the future! Portland needs “housing heroes” who will step up and say “never again on my watch!” and prioritize housing for 0-60% MFI.

Read more from Street Roots here.

Sisters, police reach agreement on chronic nuisance

Test will come as all involved expect a tough summer ahead

Sisters Of The Road and representatives of the Portland Police Bureau reached an agreement this afternoon on how to alleviate the chronic nuisance property status hanging over the 30-year-old café’s head.

Sounds simple enough, but what’s at stake is Sisters’ survival as a service provider to the city’s poor and homeless in their neighborhood. And while the agreement addresses Sisters’ current chronic nuisance status, it does not address the larger problems facing the streets that are out of Sisters’ hands and expected to elevate as the summer months approach.

“There are huge systemic things, the root causes of which are not about Sisters,” said Monica Beemer, executive director of Sisters Of The Road. Among those dynamics, Beemer said, is the migration of people to Portland during the summer months, an expected warmer-than-usual summer, and the fact that the arrest of offenders, particularly drug users, means a three-hour turnaround through booking and back to the streets. “This all contributes to what’s really possible and what we can do.” Continue reading

Sisters, PPB rub philosophies on good neighbor agreement

After three hours of discussion, the public talks to reach a Good Neighbor Agreement between Sisters Of The Road Café and Portland police are still unresolved as the two parties work to address a chronic nuisance warning against the Old Town/Chinatown institution.

Last summer, after police reported an increase in nuisance calls related to Sisters’ corner at NW Sixth and Davis, the Portland Police Bureau issued a chronic nuisance warning against the 30-year-old organization, which serves hundreds of meals each day to people in poverty and homelessness. Sisters has been in talks with the police to develop an agreement to have the warning lifted and avoid further problems which could result in a citation and possible closure.

However at the beginning of the meeting today, with representatives from Sisters and the police seated around tables with other business owners and residents of the community, the underlying differences of philosophy set the stage for discussions to come. Sisters Of The Road Executive Director Monica Beemer prefaced the talks about the diverse population around the table, including among those representing Sisters, and the need for everyone involved to feel safe in light of activities by police that have targeted homeless people and peace activists. The PPB officers who have been working on negotiating an agreement include Capt. Mark Kruger, who was addressed in particular by Sisters staff person Richard Walden. Walden said he didn’t feel safe with Kruger at the table, referencing the captain’s “patterns of violence” and derogatory attitude against protesters dating back to 2002. Police actions in those protests resulted in major lawsuit settlements by the city.

Kruger responded by saying that he would not spend this time defending the “lawful” activities of a police officer, and that he has made a good faith effort in these negotiations. He then offered to remove himself from the meeting if that was requested.

“I don’t know what I can tell you that will make you feel any safer,” Kruger said.

“At Sisters, we believe in second chances,” Walden replied, and said it was OK if Kruger stayed.

Continue reading

Celebration and drive home

Community organizer, Brendan Phillips  celebrating at the Golden Gate bridge after the march.

Drive home.

Last stop in California.

We made it through the pass and are rolling strong

About  two-thirds of our  group  162 miles from San Francisco.

Driving through a blizzard for social justice and housing

Sign the petition. Our feet are wet, but our spirit is strong!

Crawling between Shasta and Weed, California

Chugging up the mountain w/the caravan


And then this happened.

Crawling to a stop


Chains time. Stephen from Community Alliance of Tenants knocks it out in nothing flat


Carlos from VOZ and Sisters Of The Road knocks out the other van

Individuals on the streets, labor allies protest U.S. Bank in Ashland

More than 60 individuals from Sisters Of The Road, Jobs With Justice,  and Tax Fairness Oregon delivered petitions to U.S. Bank in downtown Ashland this morning around 9 a.m. for their position against Measure’s 66 & 67.

Duke, a formerly homeless individual from Portland holds a Yes On 66 & 67 banner


North meets South (Oregon): Housing activists come together in Ashland

More than a 100 Ashland residents came out tonight to listen to a panel talk on homelessness and the WRAP report.

 The event was sponsored by WRAP, Sisters Of The Road, Street Roots, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, The League of Women Voters, Congregational United Church of Christ, Oregon Action, Jobs with Justice, Peace House, Justice and Social Action of the Unitarian Fellowship and Citizens for Peace and Justice.

SR, Sisters along with members from the Community Alliance of Tenants are traveling to San Francisco to ask the Feds for adequate funding for affordable housing and to insure local city governments maintain the civil rights of individuals on the streets.

Also in attendence was State Representive Peter Buckley along with two Ashland City Council members. The group listened to a panel made up of reps from WRAP,  Sisters Of The Road and Oregon Action.

Group listens to panel discussion

A Channel 12 reporter from Ashland covers the event

WRAP poster is displayed at the event

State Rep. Peter Buckley from Ashland signs a petition

 Sign the petition, dammit.  

Also see Saturday Night Party,  Caravan of housing activist leave for San Francisco,and  On the Road. SR will be posting updates about the adventures all week here at the SR blog and at Change.org.

Posted by Israel Bayer