Cheri Honkala addresses homelessness at UN/Kensington Welfare

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Wed, 4 Nov 1998 15:48:25 -0400


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=46WD  CC Replies To: Kensington Welfare Rights Union <kwru@libertynet.org>


United Nations, Tuesday, November 3, 1998

Kensington Welfare Rights Union & the
Economic Human Rights Campaign

Comments Presented by Cheri Honkala


I bring you greetings from poor and homeless families from around the United
States of America the ranks from which I come. We appreciate the opportunity
to be allowed to address all of you today.

My name is Cheri Honkala and I am the director of the Kensington Welfare
Rights Union and the National spokesperson for the Economic Human Rights
Campaign. The Kensington Welfare Rights Union is a multi-racial organization
of poor and homeless families based in Philadelphia that has been developing
leaders from among the ranks of the poor and fighting to secure basic human
needs for poor men, women and children in the United States.

In August of 1996, welfare reform was signed into law in the United States.
The dismantling of the social welfare system is happening all over the world
as a result of economic and legislative policies and the globalization of ou=
r
world=92s economy. The dismantling of this social welfare system and the eff=
ects
of other economic policies and changes throughout the globe are causing seve=
re
violations of economic human rights to occur to the world=92s citizens. We a=
re
watching a growing polarization of the rich and the poor on a global level
making it difficult for much of the worlds population to secure housing,
employment, food or healthcare or any kind of education. Recent figures from
the United Nations showed that more than half of humanity exists on less tha=
n
$2.00 a day, that 1.3 billion people are so poor that they live in shanty
towns and garbage dumps, and that 40,000 die everyday from preventable
diseases and malnutrition.

These garbage dumps, shanty towns and preventable diseases exist in my count=
ry
too. As a matter of fact after the dismantling of the welfare system began w=
e
began to see things we never dreamed of seeing in our country. And this is w=
hy
in June of this year we... poor and homeless people, began our Economic Huma=
n
Rights Campaign. We toured the country in a new freedom bus going to over 34
cities and towns calling for Freedom From Unemployment, Hunger and
Homelessness. We turned ourselves into human rights monitors and began to
document our hidden stories of economic human rights violations. We began to
understand that =93welfare reform=94 the new law passed in our country was i=
n
itself a violation of our human rights. As we traveled this country we
demanded a right to a job at a living wage. All people wanted was an ability
to provide for their families.

That ability is decreasing daily. Those of us who have slept on the sidewalk=
s
can see the numbers growing. The fastest growing segment of the homeless in
the United States is families with children. Families who must go daily and
wait in line from early morning until 6pm at night, praying and hoping that
the shelter provider calls out their name. That they and their children have
been chosen for the few remaining beds for the night. Gloria, a homeless
mother of three young girls in Philadelphia wasn=92t chosen and I watched=
 her as
she drowned in tears of desperation, trying to make a bed out of the sidewal=
k.
=46eeling the cold, hard pavement pierce her spine, she laid beneath the bri=
ght
lights of the Marriott Hotel in center city and watched the rats as they
traveled back and forth along the curb.

My friends, we see this growing poverty as a direct violation of Articles 23=
,
25 and 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Section 1,
Paragraph 30 of the Vienna Declaration and Program of Action (VDPA) regardin=
g
=93poverty, hunger and other denials of economic, social and cultural rights=
=94.

In 1993, the Vienna World Conference expressed its, and I quote, =93dismay a=
nd
condemnation that gross and systematic violations and situations that
constitute serious obstacles to the full enjoyment of all human rights to
continue to occur in different parts of the world. Such violations include..=
=2E
poverty, hunger and other denials of economic and social and cultural human
rights.=94 Today, these gross and systematic violations persist. In light of
this fact and as follow up to the Vienna Plus Five, we recommend that the UN
set up a special system to monitor the performance of governments in living =
up
to their obligation of economic human rights.

May Gloria=92s tears of humanity turn into a river of justice, keeping our e=
yes
on the rats, while ensuring a movement is built to put an end to the inhuman=
e
existence of living in poverty.

---

CONTACT INFO:

Kensington Welfare Rights Union
NUHHCE, AFSCME, AFL-CIO
PO Box 50678
Philadelphia, PA 19132-9720
215/203-1945
215/203-1950 FAX
email: kwru@libertynet.org
web: http://www.libertynet.org/kwru

---
Economic Human Rights Campaign updates are distributed via the "kwru-announc=
e"
email list. You can subscribe to kwru-announce by sending email to
"majordomo@libertynet.org" with the following in the BODY of the email:
"subscribe kwru-announce".

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<paraindent><param>right,left</param>United Nations, Tuesday, November
3, 1998


Kensington Welfare Rights Union & the

Economic Human Rights Campaign


Comments Presented by Cheri Honkala

</paraindent>


I bring you greetings from poor and homeless families from around the
United

States of America the ranks from which I come. We appreciate the
opportunity

to be allowed to address all of you today.


My name is Cheri Honkala and I am the director of the Kensington
Welfare

Rights Union and the National spokesperson for the Economic Human
Rights

Campaign. The Kensington Welfare Rights Union is a multi-racial
organization

of poor and homeless families based in Philadelphia that has been
developing

leaders from among the ranks of the poor and fighting to secure basic
human

needs for poor men, women and children in the United States.


In August of 1996, welfare reform was signed into law in the United
States.

The dismantling of the social welfare system is happening all over the
world

as a result of economic and legislative policies and the globalization
of our

world=92s economy. The dismantling of this social welfare system and the
effects

of other economic policies and changes throughout the globe are causing
severe

violations of economic human rights to occur to the world=92s citizens.
We are

watching a growing polarization of the rich and the poor on a global
level

making it difficult for much of the worlds population to secure
housing,

employment, food or healthcare or any kind of education. Recent figures
from

the United Nations showed that more than half of humanity exists on
less than

$2.00 a day, that 1.3 billion people are so poor that they live in
shanty

towns and garbage dumps, and that 40,000 die everyday from preventable

diseases and malnutrition.


These garbage dumps, shanty towns and preventable diseases exist in my
country

too. As a matter of fact after the dismantling of the welfare system
began we

began to see things we never dreamed of seeing in our country. And this
is why

in June of this year we... poor and homeless people, began our Economic
Human

Rights Campaign. We toured the country in a new freedom bus going to
over 34

cities and towns calling for Freedom From Unemployment, Hunger and

Homelessness. We turned ourselves into human rights monitors and began
to

document our hidden stories of economic human rights violations. We
began to

understand that =93welfare reform=94 the new law passed in our country was
in

itself a violation of our human rights. As we traveled this country we

demanded a right to a job at a living wage. All people wanted was an
ability

to provide for their families.


That ability is decreasing daily. Those of us who have slept on the
sidewalks

can see the numbers growing. The fastest growing segment of the
homeless in

the United States is families with children. Families who must go daily
and

wait in line from early morning until 6pm at night, praying and hoping
that

the shelter provider calls out their name. That they and their children
have

been chosen for the few remaining beds for the night. Gloria, a
homeless

mother of three young girls in Philadelphia wasn=92t chosen and I watched
her as

she drowned in tears of desperation, trying to make a bed out of the
sidewalk.

=46eeling the cold, hard pavement pierce her spine, she laid beneath the
bright

lights of the Marriott Hotel in center city and watched the rats as
they

traveled back and forth along the curb.


My friends, we see this growing poverty as a direct violation of
Articles 23,

25 and 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Section 1,

Paragraph 30 of the Vienna Declaration and Program of Action (VDPA)
regarding

=93poverty, hunger and other denials of economic, social and cultural
rights=94.


In 1993, the Vienna World Conference expressed its, and I quote,
=93dismay and

condemnation that gross and systematic violations and situations that

constitute serious obstacles to the full enjoyment of all human rights
to

continue to occur in different parts of the world. Such violations
include...

poverty, hunger and other denials of economic and social and cultural
human

rights.=94 Today, these gross and systematic violations persist. In light
of

this fact and as follow up to the Vienna Plus Five, we recommend that
the UN

set up a special system to monitor the performance of governments in
living up

to their obligation of economic human rights.


May Gloria=92s tears of humanity turn into a river of justice, keeping
our eyes

on the rats, while ensuring a movement is built to put an end to the
inhumane

existence of living in poverty.


---


CONTACT INFO:


Kensington Welfare Rights Union

NUHHCE, AFSCME, AFL-CIO

PO Box 50678

Philadelphia, PA 19132-9720

215/203-1945

215/203-1950 FAX

email: kwru@libertynet.org

web: http://www.libertynet.org/kwru


---

Economic Human Rights Campaign updates are distributed via the
"kwru-announce"

email list. You can subscribe to kwru-announce by sending email to

"majordomo@libertynet.org" with the following in the BODY of the
email:

"subscribe kwru-announce".


END FORWARD

HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/>  Home Page

ARCHIVES  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/archives.html>  read posts to HPN

TO JOIN  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/join.html> or email Tom <<wgcp@earthlink=
=2Enet>

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