Coalition on Homelessness, SF (coh@sfo.com)
Sun, 3 Oct 1999 17:41:59 -0800

Howdy Folks,

What a weekend!  We booked the NCH in a hotel on a crack-dealing street
right in the middle of the Tenderloin mix, and then we booked all the
meetings for their board of director's meeting within a 10 minute walk.

Barbara Anderson from Jeffersonville, Indiana remarked to me as I walked
her to the local taquira, "It's the same everywhere, you just have more of
it."  And I thought, yes, EXACTLY!

The action and the march were awesome.

Our local Hearst-dominated media traditionally undercount participants in
social justice rallies.  An unbiased local source did a head count to
satisfy her own curiousity, and reported 230 people before the program

Lucretia Burmudez and Jim Reid, local contenders for the Mayoral race, were
there.  Lucretia marched, Jim strategically placed a sign on the march
route to advertise that he had "solutions" for homelessness.  Need I make a
finer point?

I hope we can ALL show up for a rally... real soon.


Chance Martin
Coalition on Homelessness, San Francisco


Homeless advocates protest The City's treatment
Erin McCormick
1999 San Francisco Examiner


National conference held to highlight civil rights abuses

In Milwaukee, homeless people can be arrested for sleeping on heating
grates. In Atlanta, more than 60 people died on the streets last year.
In the farmland city of Jeffersonville, Ind., a homeless mother, father
and their infant were murdered last month when their shelter was

Yet, when organizers of a national conference on homelessness wanted a
city to illustrate how "mean-spirited" the nation's treatment of those
without housing has become, they picked San Francisco, they said.

On Saturday, about 100 housing advocates from around the country joined
more than 100 San Francisco activists at the United Nations Plaza to
protest what they call a growing problem of civil rights abuses against
those living on the streets.

They called for an end to aggressive police policies which, they say,
allow the harassment of homeless people or simply push them from
neighborhood to neighborhood.

"There is a growing intolerance of the homeless around the nation," said
Bill Faith, board president of the National Coalition for the Homeless,
which held its annual meeting in The City this weekend.

"Part of the reason the coalition wanted to come to San Francisco is
because we have heard for years about the civil rights abuses that go on
here that are more egregious than most cities' (abuses) in the country."

In January, San Francisco was one of five cities named as being
especially tough on the homeless, relying on police to harass the
homeless rather than employing social service programs to find them
health care, jobs and homes, said the report by the National Law Center
on Homelessness and Poverty in Washington.

The center also criticized Atlanta, Chicago, New York and Tucson for
"criminalizing" rather than treating homelessness. It is the group's
fifth report since 1991 on homelessness in the country.

Protesters at Saturday's demonstration used skits, chants and banners to
call on leaders around the nation to focus on long-term solutions to
homelessness: affordable housing and better access to drug treatment and
mental health care.

"Homelessness is being treated like . . . an animal control problem,"
Max Biddel, a homeless advocate from Sacramento, told the crowd of 200
protesters that gathered in U.N. Plaza. He stood in front of a row of
shopping carts, decorated with banners reading, "Warning: push this cart
and risk arrest."

"All people have the right to exist in this country, even if it means
sleeping in tents or sleeping bags," he told the crowd.

In San Francisco, advocates for the homeless have been angered by
numerous police sweeps clearing the homeless out of public parks and
plazas, and a series of proposals aimed at controlling panhandling and
the use of shopping carts.

Mayor Willie Brown has defended homeless sweeps as an improvement of
quality of life in The City.

"The homeless aren't the only ones to have a right to public space,"
Brown responded, when his homeless policies came under attack in

Advocates said the homeless are facing similar problems around the
nation - from New York City with its massive homeless problem, to
Jeffersonville, a town of only 29,000 in which aid agencies served 1,300
homeless people last year.

"Local governments around the country are implementing the same kind of
repressive programs," said Paul Boden, executive director of San
Francisco's Coalition on Homelessness.

"They're sweeping their streets (of people), closing their parks,
confiscating shopping carts. Basically towns are doing everything they
can to put signs up around their borders saying, "No poor people
allowed." '

Instead of cracking down on the homeless, coalition members called for a
federal effort to deal with the problem by creating jobs, building
affordable housing and making health care accessible.

"We want to stop the harassment of homeless people on the streets," said
board President Faith, who runs a homeless program in Columbus, Ohio,
where homeless programs serve up to 15,000 a year.

"We're not saying that cities should just tolerate homeless parks. There
needs to be more than than. People want real options for improving their
lives" he said.

1999 San Francisco Examiner   Page C 1

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