Tag Archives: WRAP

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

‘Hobos to Street People’ chronicles art of the oppressed

Brother can you spare a dime” 1933/36 by Albert Potter

From the Western Regional Advocacy Project

Vagrants, transients, hobos, tramps, and street people — whatever names we have used to describe their particular circumstances, homeless people have been a part of American society throughout the nation’s history.

In the Great Depression of the 1930s many artists for the first time in US history began to address issues of human rights. The large number of poor, displaced and homeless people was one important focus. Artists were not only observers, but they actively found ways to influence society through exhibition and distribution of their work.

During the decades following World War II, artists shifted their energies elsewhere, but by the late 1970s with the rise of the modern era of mass homelessness many artists again began to focus on what was happening to poor people in our society. Structural changes in the American economy and a return to fiscally conservative ideology began a period of increased poverty and economic inequality. Over the following decades, the problems contributing to homelessness increased. By 2008, an estimated 3.5 million Americans lived without housing and homeless children in school exceeded 900,000 according to the U.S. Department of Education.

“Lockout” c. 1938 by Herman Volz

The book, “Hobos to Street People” presents a social, cultural and political history of homelessness from the Great Depression to the present as seen through the work of artists from Dorothea Lange, Rockwell Kent and Fritz Eichenberg to contemporary artists Kiki Smith, Eric Drooker, Jos Sances and David Bacon.

“The Jungle” c. 1940 by Charles Surndorf

The book is based on the traveling exhibition of the same name that is currently showing at the de Saisset Museum, University of Santa Clara, 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95053. The exhibition is also available online at WRAP’s Web site.

You can order a copy today and support WRAP. For each $30 donation, you will receive 1 complimentary book, donate $60, 2 copies, $90, 3 copies.

The books will make for a great gift.

Send your donation today to: WRAP, 2940 16th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103, For further questions call (415) 632 ­2533.

The time doesn’t fit the crime on the streets

By Paul Boden, Contributing Writer

The Western Regional Advocacy Project has been documenting the increases of mentally ill people in local jails as a result of diminished funding for mental health treatment and housing, escalation of “nuisance crime” enforcement by police and private security, and expansion of mental health courts.

The scale of this issue is enormous: it is reported that the LA county jail alone houses 3,000 mentally ill people a night. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, as many as 64% of people in jails nationwide have mental health problems. In the 1980s and early 1990s, people with severe mental illness made up 6-7% of the jail population. In the last 5 years, this percentage has climbed to 16-30%. Nationwide, there are three times as many people with mental illness in prisons as there are in hospitals; 40% of people with severe mental illness have been imprisoned at some point in their lives. Continue reading

Extra! Extra!

Shake off that turkey stupor Friday morning with a brisk walk to your local neighborhood Street Roots vendor and pick up a copy of the city’s best independent newspaper. Here’s what’s on the press right now:

Case unclosed: Amanda Waldroupe reports on the quest by one Portland Police Bureau detective to track down the killer of a homeless man who was stabbed to death nearly three years ago.

In their shoes: A look inside the weekly service and ceremony of foot care at the Downtown Chapel. Cassandra Koslen reports.

Every time we say goodbye, or “What I learned about Relocation”: Low-income housing relocation expert Martha Gies writes about the complexities and complications that arise when housing projects undergo renovation or destruction, with a historical perspective on how much we have lost.

The quality of whose life?: The first in a four-part series on the country’s modern anti-poor movement, this edition covers the rise in so-called quality-of-life initiatives that often discriminate against the poor.

Street Blues: Robert Pickett writes about the limbo police and mental health workers have to operate within when working with people experiencing homelessness.

And much, much more! So grab a buck or two and pick up your copy first thing Friday. It may just be the most important thing you read this weekend. And from our vendors, staff and volunteers – thank you and happy holidays!


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

Together, we forge a movement

By Israel Bayer
Street Roots Executive Director

Street Roots, along with allies at Sisters Of The Road and Community Alliance of Tenants, took a monumental road trip to San Francisco for the Western Regional Advocacy Project’s protest where we asked the federal government to adequately fund local communities to tackle the issues of affordable housing and to ensure that city governments uphold the civil rights of individuals on the streets.

Check out the interview with SR vendor George Mayes and Julie McCurdy’s powerful column in this issue of the paper. Both pieces offer a street level perspective of their experience on the road trip and their time in San Francisco.

SR would like to thank Sisters Of The Road for organizing the trip. They funded and coordinated more than 50 individuals to take part in the protest, mostly folks sleeping on the streets. Our groups met up with more than 1,000 people, again, mostly from the streets (which is amazing!) from across the West Coast. We would also like to thank the many organizations that endorsed the action in Portland, covering a broad range of affordable housing, labor and social justice groups.

So you say, what’s in a protest? It does nothing, right? And yes, you are correct. Protesting alone is a waste of time and energy, in my mind. But if you couple this with your own media (a growing street newspaper movement), and well researched and published data, and work to engage the very people whose lives are effected to build a movement, we might be on to something. Continue reading

Cries of solidarity leave this marcher speechless

By Julie McCurdy
Contributing Writer

I was asked the other day by a very well-intentioned woman about the “face” of homelessness. She asked if I could describe a “typical” homeless person. I looked at her and said there’s no such thing, but if I must, then look in the mirror. With her slightly offended look, I touched her hand and smiled, saying, “I wasn’t trying to be unkind, But I am the face of homelessness. That man to your left, sleeping in the doorway, and potentially you, me, we are all the face of homelessness.”

After the conversation, we were both a bit more at ease with each other, relaxed. Which was a good thing, since I didn’t want to be a bitch about it.

The reason I bring this up is because I just finished, not three hours ago, marching in San Francisco for homelessness and housing rights as part of the Western Regional Advocacy Project. You know those experiences in your life that are so powerful and moving, that they render you speechless? This was the WRAP protest for me. It’s certainly a turning point in my life, because now I know that we are the only ones that are going to bring about real change. I know this because I got to see this up close and personal. At one point in the march I was just standing there, tears running down my face, thinking to myself that this is what the people in the Civil Rights movement might have felt during their long march to equality. This very moment, as I write this in a church in Oakland, Calif., with my friends who just marched right alongside me, I am overcome with emotion. What can I say? The majesty of this moment. Continue reading

Extra! Extra!

If you don’t think 2010 holds in store anything special for you, then you’re forgetting that the new edition of Street Roots hits the pavement tomorrow, warmed by the personalized delivery of a friendly neighborhood vendor!  Here’s a preview of the goods inside this issue:

The persistence of memory: Poet Kaia Sand helps keep Portland’s troubled history from fading into invisibility. Reporter Carmel Bentley files this comprehensive piece about Sand, Vanport and the Japanese American internment during World War II.

Homelessness, housing lures marchers to San Francisco’s streets for rally: A package of photos, discussions and perspectives on the human rights demonstration in San Francisco Jan. 20, including an inspiring account by Julie McCurdy and an interview with vendor George Mayes.

Addiction Compassion: An interview with author and physician Gabor Mate on how the U.S. could create a new paradigm in dealing with addiction. And you can bet it’s a little nicer than the one we’ve got.

Oregon bill adds to chorus against human trafficking: Amanda Waldroupe reports on the legislature’s latest efforts to thwart the U.S.’s dirty little secret.

Sticker Shock: Another reporter from our sister paper Megaphone in Vancouver, B.C., about the side of the Olympics that more brass than bronze.

Plus, cool commentaries, awesome art, and a little less alliteration — all in the Jan. 22 edition of Street Roots. Let us know what you think. You can join the discussion here, and on Facebook. See you there!

Groups converge on San Francisco— and dance

Bus from L.A. full of folks from the streets.

Folks from L.A.

Dance party with individuals from around the West Coast in the Mission District.

Grammy nominee Ritmo y Armonía rocks the house down.

Organizers meet to go over logistics.

A group of from Street Spirit, Street Roots sister paper from Sacramento.

Bob Offer-Westort, Managing Editor with Street Sheet from San Francisco.

Members from the Portland group are staying at the Union Temple in San Francisco.

Good night and good luck.

Posted by Israel Bayer

We made it through the pass and are rolling strong

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