STRUGGLING TO END POVERTY fwd

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Wed, 10 Dec 1997 11:21:52 -0800 (PST)


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###               STRUGGLING TO END POVERTY:              ###
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###  The Update of the Kensington Welfare Rights Union -  ###
###   A citywide and statewide organization of the poor   ###
###                                                       ###
###    PO Box 50678                                       ###
###    Philadelphia, PA  19133                            ###
###    215/763-4584                                       ###
###    215/763-7575 FAX                                   ###
###    http://www.libertynet.org/~kwru                    ###
###    kwru@libertynet.org                                ###
###                                                       ###
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Reply-To: kwru-announce


November 7, 1997

   1. Human Rights House Opens in Kensington
   2. Childcare Update
   3. The Weekly Human Rights Report
   4. Human Rights House Open House
   5. Needs List


1. HUMAN RIGHTS HOUSE OPENS IN KENSINGTON

In 1948 the United States signed the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights guaranteeing everyone the right to decent jobs, housing,
childcare, healthcare, food and education.  Do we have these things?  Of
course, not.  In the richest country in the world, people still go
hungry and homeless everyday.  The Kensington Welfare Rights Union has
opened the Human Rights House to guarantee that our rights our
protected.  In this house, we will work with our community to make sure
that everyone has housing, food, clothing, and healthcare.

In the Human Rights House, as the poor, working poor and homeless, we
will educate each other about our human rights.  How can a politician or
caseworker, who's never been homeless, who's never been poor, decide
whether we will eat today or where we can live?  We will educate each
other about the politics and people of this city, state, and country
that make decisions about our lives everyday.  Are your utilities going
to be cut-off?  Are you being forced to do an eight-week job training?
We will set-up committees so that as poor peoples struggling with the
same problems we can educate each other about how the system works and
how together we can demand the things we need to survive.  Not enough
food to feed your kids?  Do you have enough clothes for the winter?  We
will distribute free food and clothing to the community to meet our
immediate needs of survival and show that there are people in the land
of plenty that are without.  Not getting adequate childcare?  Are you
afraid about your kids if you join the fight to end poverty?  We will
provide a safe drug-free environment for our children with a free
cooperative childcare program.

We will document our stories of human rights violations to build our
case against a government that allows poverty to grow in the United
States.  In the Human Rights House, we will be joined by social workers,
students, doctors, lawyers, the religious community and working people
that understand that all our human rights our being violated and that
will support us in our efforts.  And in this house, we will commit
ourselves in the struggle to end poverty, and fight for a world that is
free from unemployment, hunger, and homelessness.

If you need help and are ready to help, come by the Human Rights House
located at 3315 North Ella Street, Philadelphia, PA 19133.  Or call KWRU
at 763-4584.


2. CHILDCARE UPDATE

The Department of Public Welfare (DPW) has a proposed childcare plan.
It's in the "policy formation phase," which means new rules and
regulations are right around the corner for the poor and homeless.  This
plan is good for DPW, which mean bad news for us.  By making childcare
more expensive for poor folks, they're going to keep demand down,
meaning DPW spends less and makes more money.

DPW wants welfare recipients with children to understand how  expensive
childcare really is... as if we don't know already.  The co-payments
(how much money we pay) will be doubled for low-income people, and
possibly even larger for welfare recipients.  Paying $400, maybe $500
dollars a month in childcare for each of your kids?  ...that's $200-$250
a month right out of your pocket.  So it will be more expensive and
harder for us to get quality childcare or center-based care for our
children.

 KWRU believes that we all have the right to keep our kids where we feel
they are safe.  Even if we wanted a close friend or family member to
take care of our children, DPW will give us less money because it's not
the center-based care that we can't afford anyway.  There's even a
possible "low wage worker penalty."  If you're a welfare recipient that
needs childcare and in a low-paying job, you may get sanctioned or even
denied childcare because your wages aren't enough to compensate DPW's
costs of your childcare fees.  "Any job is a good job," my ass.  Worried
about the safety of your kids in home-based childcare?  Well, DPW
doesn't seem to care.  In their proposal, there is no option for parents
with kids in home-based care to get a criminal background check.  "Too
expensive, too much red tape," and too bad for poor folks.

Even now while people are being forced into an eight-week job training
program, they wait weeks for their childcare subsidy.  There are long
waiting lists at the childcare centers we can afford.  If a friend or
family member can't take care of your kids, you can't leave them home.
So what do we do?  ...join a committee where we can talk and educate
each other about our rights under the new welfare laws, or maybe start a
free cooperative childcare program.  Whatever the solutions, together we
can demand affordable childcare.  Come by the Human Rights House at 3315
North Ella Street or call KWRU at 763-4584.


3. THE WEEKLY HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT

After being in the shelter system for several months, Alice and her four
kids were able to move into low income rental housing in Kensington
operated by the Philadelphia Community Development Corporation (PCDC).
She was told that she could use her Section 8 certificate to stay in the
house permanently.  Well, the house needed some repairs.  Alice was able
to fix the few things she could, and PCDC told her that a work order was
sent in for the rest of the repairs.  PCDC didn't do the work, and her
house failed the Section 8 inspection.  For over a year, neither the
Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) nor PCDC told Alice that her house
didn't pass the inspection or that her Section 8 wasn't being used.
When Alice finally received an eviction notice, she was both stunned and
horrified.  Most of Alice's family had moved out of the city, and her
father was very ill.  With very little hope left, Alice was introduced
to Cheri Honkala, Executive Director of the Kensington Welfare Rights
Union.  KWRU discovered that Alice had one day left to use her Section 8
certificate.  KWRU was able to stop the clock on her Section 8 until the
situation was resolved.  Alice went back to PCDC, but they told her that
they were no longer taking Section 8's on the property.  Alice reapplied
and got her Section 8, and is now expecting the paperwork to come within
30 to 40 days.  She is still being evicted with about 45 days to vacate
the premises.  Alice checks the mail everyday, hoping that her Section 8
papers will come before her eviction.

Alice is a survivor.  She had some good jobs, government jobs, and
worked under the table to make ends meat.  She's been out of the job
market for several years, having her four kids in five years.  Before
she found out about her housing situation, things were going allright.
Alice and her neighbors have been helping each other out, a survival
network of sorts:  passing along clothes to each other that don't fit,
sharing a kerosene heater and hot plate among the block, and giving toys
to each other's kids.  These past couple months she had it all planned
out.  Her youngest was about to start kindergarten, and Alice felt ready
to go back to school herself.  After taking a test, she was accepted to
a computer programming school through the welfare office.  It was a full
time course for nine months, giving her the skills she needed to get a
good paying job.  A day before her class was set to begin, Alice was
told by her caseworker that she couldn't get any money for computer
class.  Due to the new welfare laws, Alice was told that she immediately
had to go through an eight-week job training program.  Her caseworker
didn't inform her of the option of an independent job search.

So Alice started the training, knowing that she would have to wait an
entire year to reapply for the computer class.  Four weeks into the
training, she still hasn't received money for childcare.  She comes home
to a baby-sitter that wants to know where his money is, so Alice pays
him out of her cash assistance.  When Alice talked to her caseworker
about the situation, her caseworker told her that she had to call back
on Wednesday or Thursday, that "she doesn't do childcare on other
days."  The eight-week job training hasn't been that bad so far.  She's
listened to motivational speakers, and been told that with hard work
there's a "career waiting for you."  And Alice believes them, with a
grain of salt.  As she starts her search, low-wage jobs seem to be the
only thing available.  No benefits, no childcare, and not enough money
to support her family.

All of us our survivors.  If you're poor, working poor or homeless in
this country and still making a living for you and your family, you're a
survivor.  Alice is just one of the countless stories of human beings
suffering and dying as a result of human rights violations being
committed against the poor and the homeless in the U.S.  No one should
be homeless, hungry, without medical care, unemployed or forced to live
in unsafe conditions.  Call for a Human Rights Documentation packet or
if you're interested in being interviewed.  Your stories are important
in building a case against the United States as this world's biggest
human rights violator.  Please send any stories, articles, photographs,
and other materials to KWRU.  Stop by the Human Rights House at 3315
North Ella Street or call KWRU at 763-4584.


4. HUMAN RIGHTS HOUSE OPEN HOUSE

Join us for the Human Rights House Open House

Sunday, December 7th
4:30 pm, 3315 N. Ella Street
Free Food, Free Fun!
Bring Some Food and Some Friends!


5. NEEDS LIST

As an organization of poor people, the contributions and donations that
we receive are an essential ingredient in making the activities of the
organization possible and meeting the needs of our members.  Please call
the KWRU office if you have anything to donate or bring it to our next
event!

NEEDS LIST:
diapers
clothes
blankets
non-perishable food
furniture
toys
computers
vehicles and transportation
photo copier
Money
...And anything else you may have

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