Tag Archives: Western Regional Advocacy Project

McKinney-Vento turns 25; homelessness still grows

By Paul Boden, Contributing Columnist

Passed in 1987, McKenny-Vento was intended to address the emergency needs of homeless people while the federal government worked to restore the funding which had been cut from HUD’s affordable housing programs.

But it didn’t work that way. McKinney-Vento has spawned an endless array of continuum-of-care plans, 5-year plans, 10-year plans — an endless system of writing, planning, and researching which “best practices” should be used to end homelessness. At the same time, the federal government has continued to defund, dismantle, and sell-off affordable housing units, thus ensuring that more and more people become homeless. 360,000 Section 8 and 210,000 Public Housing units have been lost since 1995.

It is a shameful trade that robs Peter to pay Paul. Continue reading

Fed up with housing policy

By Paul Boden, Contributing Columnist

More than 1.46 million households are currently living on less than $2 a day per person in the wealthiest country in the world, more than double what it was in 1996. This shameful fact has had an especially harmful effect on children, whose numbers in these households ballooned from 1.4 million to 2.8 million. Two dollars a day is the figure the World Bank uses to measure global poverty. Continue reading

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

We dare you to look inside HUD’s budget cuts!

While the Obama Administration continues to tout ending homelessness, the realities speak for themselves. Our partners at the Western Regional Advocacy Project based in San Fransisco have come up with a U.S. Department Housing and Urban Development (HUD) fact sheet that outlines more devastating cuts on housing and homeless services at the national level.

This comes on the heels of conflicting reports by the U.S. Conference of Mayors outlining an increase in family homelessness, and the National Alliance to End Homelessness based Washington D.C. who claims homelessness declined in 2010-2011.

In Portland/Multnomah County and in Oregon homelessness increased during that same time period.

This year, the City of Portland is expecting millions of dollars in Federal cuts from HUD in the 2012-13 up and coming budget cycle.

If you’re still with us after all of that, check out the fact sheet that outlines more devastating cuts on housing and homeless services at the national level.

Posted by Israel Bayer

The Occupy Homeless Movement

From the artist, Ronnie Goodman: “The print I call The Occupy Homeless Movement is about the persecution of being homeless. It’s also about my life having to deal with rats and bedbugs that you may encounter being homeless. But also, I believe that the musicians that I put in give hope. They represent the rhythm of life.

The Occupy movement was always there in the print even though I started the print before the movement. In it you see the struggle of the people — the rich people against the little people and the little people are tired of getting stepped on. But I was working on this and the Occupy movement came and it gave a voice and a name to what I was doing. Occupy speaks not only to homeless people but it gives voice to everyone whatever they’re going through, foreclosure, job loss, et cetera. It’s the voice of the people.

The bridges in the print are ironic because people say, ‘at least I’m not sleeping under a bridge.’ And I thought I’ll never be there, too. But, here I am, sleeping under a bridge. So I’m using this image of a homeless guy being crucified on a bridge. It’s like he is both dying because of the difficulties he faces but he is also condemned by society. And the UPS truck, that is just there because those are the guys that wake me up every morning when they come to work.”

Artwork made possible by the Western Regional Advocacy Project.

Read Street Roots editorial about homelessness and the Occupy movement.

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

The quality of whose life? The zero-sum game. Part II

The second in a four-part series on the country’s modern anti-poor movement

By Paul Boden, Contributing Writer

What images do the words “quality of life” bring to mind? A peaceful beach? A beautiful park? A farmers market full of healthy produce? In the realm of policing, the phrase “quality of life” carries different connotations. It means a veteran getting hauled in for sleeping on the sidewalk, a homeless woman being prohibited from resting on a park bench, or even brutal scenes like these from San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Fresno. 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

Join us in S.F. to demand affordable housing and civil rights!

Sisters Of The Road and Street Roots are founding members of the Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP).  Our mission is to build a movement that is based in the experience of people with experience with homelessness to expose the root causes of homelessness; challenge unjust housing and economic development policies; and fight the criminalization of poverty.

On January 20, 2010 the Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP) will be gathering at the San Francisco Federal Builidng to demand the following from the Obama  Administration:

•    Immediately restore the Federal Government’s affordable housing funding to comparable 1978 levels. (In 1978, the budget was over $83 billion – in 2009 it is a meager $38.5 billion.)
•    Restore USDA new unit construction levels in rural communities to the 31,000 annually averaged between 1976 and 1985.
•    Enact a moratorium on the demolition, conversion or destruction of ANY publicly funded units until federal law guarantees one for one replacement at existing affordability rates.
•    Ensure adequate funding for operations of public housing to prevent unit loss, high vacancy rates, and substandard living conditions.

•    Stop “nuisance crimes” or “quality of life crimes.” These programs criminalize and remove homeless, poor, people of color, and disabled members of our communities.
•    Call for DOJ to respond to LA community request for investigation of discriminatory police enforcement under the Safer Cities Initiative that targets homeless, poor, people of color and disabled community residents.
•    Ensure that the more than 914,000 homeless children in our public schools are able to stay at their “home school” are fully integrated with their housed peers, and are provided the support they need to learn and thrive.
•    Stop any and all questions regarding a person’s immigration status when they are requesting housing, health care, emergency shelter or services.

Read more and sign the petition!

Artwork by Claude Moller