By Steven Maxwell for Activist Post – Every activist has read the increasing number of stories where homelessness is being criminalized, as if simply being homeless isn’t punishment enough. However, there is a rising tide among all walks of life that is beginning to view homelessness in a very different light. As a sinking economy and the criminal actions of the banking elite are leading many middle class, stable families into abject poverty, it is becoming much easier to identify with the less fortunate the closer their plight appears to be.
By Eleanor Goldberg for The Huffington Post – One of the poorest cities in the nation is on track to end chronic homelessness. It just needs a few landlords to step in to finish up the job. Four years ago, Buffalo, New York, had 400 homeless people living on the streets and streaming in and out of shelters. Today, it has knocked that figure down to 25 people, thanks to its collaborative housing efforts, the Homeless Alliance of Western New York said in a press release. The city’s success is due to its employment of the “housing first” strategy. The approach supports giving housing to people in need, and then dealing with their employment and health issues afterward.
By Lexi Finnigan for The Telegraph – A group of 20 anti-capitalist squatters have taken over the former Royal Mint Building in protest over Britain’s homelessness problem. The squatters, wearing V for Vendetta masks and hanging out of windows, have set up camp in the grade II-listed Johnson Smirke building, in the City of London, and are refusing to leave. They claim they will only be removed when the owners of the building arrive with a High Court order. Some of the protesters have taken to the roof of the building while others have hung banners with messages such as ‘anticapitalista’, as well as adorning the walls with ‘End World Debt’ posters.
By Tom Cahil for Global Research – Christmas is normally known as the time of year when Americans try to be a little more giving, more compassionate, and more altruistic than during the other 11 1/2 months of the year. But in cities across the US, many are simply fighting for the right to exist in hastily-constructed homeless camps. The National Alliance to End Homelessness reports that on any given night, there are over 578,000 Americans sleeping on the streets. At the same time, there are at least 10 million vacant homes across America that are lying empty. Here are 19 cities that are going above and beyond to push the most vulnerable Americans out of the public eye during the most compassionate time of the year.
By Mike Zint for Occupy SF. Berkeley, CA – November 20, Day 5: It has been a busy day. The occupation is growing. We have had a lot of food support. Tents are still needed. Blankets are still needed. We have had channel 2, channel 7, the Dailycal, and KGO come by. We thank them for paying attention. And finally, many old friends are showing up. People I have not seen protesting for awhile. My hope is on 12/1, all our old Occupy friends reunite here to hang out, and stand in solidarity with the occupiers. 1 day, 1 Bay Area convergence here at city hall. Spread the word on our “peasant uprising.”
By Anne Meador of DC Media Group. Washington, DC – Just as a cold front blew into town, a tent encampment was razed on Friday in a multi-agency effort to clear out the homeless from many areas around the District. Many people without other shelter have long occupied the space among the chaotic roadways and overpasses between Rock Creek Parkway, the Whitehurst Freeway, and K Street. A few days ago, the occupants were given notice to vacate the area, but few have anywhere to go. Many of the tents were disassembled without protest, while some camp residents vowed to defend their makeshift homes. A few advocates for the homeless arrived to witness the camp’s destruction, but they did not interfere.
By Staff of Voqal – When families with students enrolled at Central Pennsylvania Digital Learning Foundation can’t afford Internet access, the cyber school provides affordable solutions through Mobile Citizen. According to Technology Coordinator Micheal Tambellini, the number of families requiring connectivity assistance is growing. “We have a small percentage of homeless students enrolled today, and unfortunately that number seems to be increasing,” he said. “To keep up with the curriculum, they need the same Internet access as all of our other cyber students.”
By Keagan Harsha for Fox 31 DENVER — Denver’s housing market might be booming, but some say it’s happening at the expense of many residents who are being forced out of their homes and onto the streets. The city’s homeless population is now estimated at around 15,000 people. Richard Sasser is one of them. He and his wife have been homeless for 15 years. He said most people pass by him on the street without ever learning his story, but Monday his voice was magnified by several hundred people across the street. “These are our citizens and they deserve respect, dignity and a place to stay,” said Jason Janz, who helped lead a march from Coors Field to the Denver Rescue Mission in support of the city’s homeless.
By Diane Taylor for The Guardian – When Manchester United footballers Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs got planning permission to turn the historic Manchester stock exchange into a boutique hotel replete with basement gym, spa and rooftop private members’ terrace, they envisaged opening it up to an exclusive and moneyed clientele. Instead, a group of homeless people with little or no money have moved in – with Neville’s blessing. The hotel, which is undergoing extensive renovations before opening its doors to paying guests, was occupied on Sunday by a group of squatters and housing activists called the Manchester Angels.
By Staff for the Manchester Evening News – Homeless activists have promised to set up a ‘community hub’ for rough sleepers after occupying an empty building in Manchester city centre. The homeless rights campaigners have vowed to remain in the vacant office block on Charlotte Street for ‘months’ after taking it over last night. They say they are occupying the building to set up a hub where homeless people can go to get food, shelter and help to find accommodation and work. Claiming the legal right to occupy the building under squatter’s rights, they say they have been forced to act as the council are not doing enough for the city’s homeless. They also claim that members of the fire service have been to the building to assess that it is safe for them to stay in.
By Perry Stein for The Washington Post, Mark Parker had long called McPherson Square home by the time the Occupy D.C. movement settled there in 2011. The homeless man with the unruly beard and squinty-eyed grin welcomed the activists as they created a makeshift settlement of low-slung, colorful tarp tents in the park. It became his community: He served on committees, ate meals with the occupiers and talked politics and solutions. But when the Occupy movement ended, the activists left McPherson Square and went back to their homes. Parker remained, living in the park and begging for money. “He was a cranky man, but he had a lot of important views,” said John Zangas, a local resident active in Occupy D.C. “When Occupy died, a lot of his spirit and energy died in him because that was a promise to him that things would change.”
By Eleanor Goldberg for The Huffington Post – Mayor Charlie Hales is so disconcerted by the growing housing crisis in Portland, Oregon, that he sees no choice but to declare a homelessness “state of emergency.” On a single night in January, 3,800 people slept on the streets, in shelters or in temporary housing, a figure that has remained relatively unchanged since 2011, according to city estimates. Hales tasked officials on Wednesday to vote on declaring a state of emergency, which — if passed next month — would allow the city to waive zoning codes when developing shelters for homeless people. Hales said one of his priorities is to house all homeless women by the end of the year.
By ZH in IndyBay – Another sleepout protest at Santa Cruz city hall occurred this past Tuesday evening. Protesters have now spent 11 nights sleeping out in the open at city hall, in order to protest and draw attention to the Santa Cruz law which makes camping out in public or in one’s vehicle a citable offense. The law – which has been on the books in Santa Cruz since 1978 – has been criticized by protesters as unfairly targeting houseless people in the city who have no choice other than to sleep outdoors. The last Point in Time count – a nationally used method of surveying unhoused people – in the county registered 1964 individuals, far more than the 1172 shelter beds available to them. The sleepouts have regularly been visited by officers of the Santa Cruz police department, who arrived this past Tuesday evening around 11:00 pm. This week the police only wrote one citation, for a houseless protester found asleep beneath the city hall flagpole.
By Peter Jamison, David Zahniser and Matt Hamilton in LA Times – Acknowledging their failure to stem a surge in homelessness, Los Angeles’ elected leaders on Tuesday said they would declare a “state of emergency” and devote up to $100 million to the problem. But they offered few details about where the money would come from or how it would be spent, leaving some to question the effort’s chances of success. The announcement by seven City Council members and Mayor Eric Garcetti was a powerful signal of growing alarm at City Hall over L.A.’s homeless population, which has risen 12% since 2013, the year Garcetti took office. It coincided with a directive from the mayor Monday evening that the city free up an additional $13 million in the coming months to help house people living on the streets.
By Alex Darocy in IndyBay – Community members protesting local laws that criminalize homelessness returned to Santa Cruz City Hall on September 1 for their eighth all-night sleepout. In response, the Santa Cruz Police Department rented large lighting units in an attempt to illuminate the entire City Hall courtyard, and security guards were hired to patrol the premises all night. By the end of the evening, fifteen demonstrators were issued citations for being at City Hall after 10pm, and two individuals were arrested. A large group remained and slept until morning, however, and were served breakfast by volunteers. They have planned the next sleepout for September 8. Santa Cruz City Hall is closed to the public from 10pm to 6am. The group of protesters, some homeless and some not, faced increased pressure from police, who have been raiding all of the protests and ticketing individuals for trespassing. The SCPD conducted their first raid on the campers on September 1 in the courtyard at about 11:30pm. They were led by Lt. Christian LeMoss, who wore a long billy-club all evening as he supervised the citation process.