[Hpn] Chance Martin making a difference

Harmony Kieding worldhome@thesociety.net
Fri, 14 Feb 2003 08:44:06 -0800

Alright, Chance! You go, guy!



Stop Hate Crimes Against Homeless

> The Street Sheet screams
>Special to The Examiner
> WHAT IS THE homeless activists' problem? 
>Better to ask,what isn't?
>     The Coalition on Homelessness, along with many
> nonprofit organizations that provide services to the
> down-and-outers, want more permanent housing, more
> substance abuse programs, more care for the mentally ill,
> more public toilets, more healthcare and more bang for the
> buck in existing services.
>     The activists claim that arresting people for sleeping
> on Market Street, pissing on a parking meter or waving an
> empty cup at the top of a BART escalator is pointless.
>     Those suffering will only suffer more, they say.
>     November's passage of Proposition N cuts monthly
> General Assistance allowances, currently in the $320-$395
> range, to $59 for about 3,000 down-and-outers.
>     Chance Martin, arguably a top gun among the homeless
> advocates, says the street dwellers are America's "social
> class of untouchables, the scapegoats of a corrupt system."
>     As the editor of Street Sheet, the monthly newspaper
> sold by homeless vendors, his voice echoes from the
> encampment in front of the Mission Creek pump station to
> the corridors of power in City Hall.
>     Martin, once homeless himself, grew up in Gary, Ind. He
> dropped out of high school in 1972 and shortly thereafter
> got busted on a drug charge.
>     He avoided jail by joining the Air Force, and after his
> discharge spent many years gainfully employed. In the
> mid-'80s things fell apart -- divorce, drugs, unemployment,
> becoming suicidal and, eventually, homeless by the Bay.
>     "I was winged out. They gave me Prozac. It did not
> work," he said pointing to a packet of "bad reminder" pills
> tacked on his office wall beneath a Salvador Dali poster.
>     Even in the worst of times Martin found writing
> therapeutic.
>     His stories in Street Sheet, the agit-prop arm of the
> Coalition on Homelessness, are laced with a controlled
> fury. "Homelessness has become an industry filled with
> unresponsive bureaucrats pulling down $100,000-a-year
> salaries." The police "divide, conquer and disperse the
> homeless, criminalize them with 'quality of life' laws and
> toss them in jail."
>     Martin's attacks are directed with equal scorn all
> around, but his favorite target is the San Francisco
> Chronicle. "It's the newspaper of lies portraying the face
> of all homeless people as drug addicts," he said while
> puffing away on an American Spirit cigarette.
>     Martin won't be the guest of honor at any of Gavin
> Newsom's campaign events, but like Newsom he won't be going
> away anytime soon.
>     Comment: letters@examiner.com
>     Bob Armstrong is a freelance journalist who lives in
> The City. This is part one of two; part two will appear in
> Thursday's Examiner.
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