chance martin streetsheet@sf-homeless-coalition.org
Wed, 20 Dec 2000 21:03:15 -0700

For further information, contact Chance Martin, Jennifer Friedenbach or
Paul Boden -- (415) 346.3740

WHO:      Artist And Activist Communities Responding To San Francisco
               Policymakers' Continued Indifference To Thousands Of Homeless

WHY:        To Raise Public Awareness That Charity Cannot Solve Homelessness

WHEN:    12:00 PM Thursday, December 21, 2000

WHERE:    Housing Rights Committee Of San Francisco,
                427 South Van Ness Avenue (Between 15th & 16th  Sts.)

San Francisco, CA 12/21/2000 ­- At noon Thursday, December 21st, ARTISTS
AGAINST HOMELESS DEATHS, an affinity group of artists, housing and poverty
advocates, and other social justice and human rights activists ­- will hold
a press conference in front of the offices of the Housing Rights Committee
in SF's Mission District. Representatives of the group will be on hand to
talk to the media about their motives in undertaking the task of creating
and "wheatpasting" 183 life-sized numbered silhouette posters in various
locations throughout the city. Each of the 3' x 6.6¹ posters represents a
homeless person who died on San Francisco's streets during the year 2000.
This represents the highest number of these tragic and needless deaths
recorded to date.

ARTISTS AGAINST HOMELESS DEATHS is a collaborative effort aiming to raise
the people of San Francisco's awareness of the factors contributing to each
passing year's increasing total of homeless deaths. In the words of one
member, "50 weeks out of every year poor and homeless people are demonized
by business improvement interests and sensationalist media; and then
criminalized at the hands of politicians and law enforcement agencies.  The
holiday season provides these same individuals with a yearly opportunity for
public spectacles of hollow charity and false sentiment. We find this
charade to be cynical and offensive."

The group shares a common conviction that the tragic absurdity of 183 people
dying on the streets in 2000 of neglect -- in the most expensive housing
market during an unprecedented economic boom -- can no longer be ignored.
Fully recognizing the obvious moral, social and legal arguments to condemn
an indifferent, government for permitting this disgrace to continue in San
Francisco, as well as in other cities across the U.S., ARTISTS AGAINST
HOMELESS DEATHS have chosen to avoid the pitfalls of preaching or moralizing
by instead finding solidarity and expression through anonymous artistic
direct action.

"Budge," the anonymous artist/human rights activist who first envisioned the
demonstration art project, later organized production and execution of the
poster project. He says he "wanted the posters to be this stark, singular
image, this vacuum, a negative space where a person once stood but is now
vacantŠ to evoke a sense that they were among us and now they are gone."

The editor of the Coalition on Homelessness' STREET SHEET, Chance Martin,
co-authored 1999's annual San Francisco Homeless Deaths Report with
representatives from the Dept. of Public Health. "Documenting the growing
number of senseless and avoidable deaths among homeless people provides the
Coalition with a baseline to guide our continued advocacy. The circumstances
of homeless peoples' deaths teach us where critical gaps in our public
health system and homeless services wind up costing homeless men, women and
children their lives. Anything we can do to stop the number of these deaths
from rising ­- or, more hopefully, reduce them -- can only benefit the
quality of life for every poor and homeless person in San Francisco."

The Coalition on Homelessness, San Francisco (COH) was organized in 1987 to
garner the active participation of poor people on both the design and
critique of public policy and non-profit services that result in permanent
solutions to poverty. It is a unique organization in that the driving force
is low-income and homeless people, working in every aspect of the
organization, from the volunteers to the staff and leadership body.

Coalition on Homelessness, San Francisco
468 Turk St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
415/346.3740 - voice
415/7755639 - fax