Homeless People's Congress - hold one in your town, state, nation?

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Fri, 29 Oct 1999 12:19:46 -0700 (PDT)


CC To: "Coalition on Homelessness, SF" <coh@sfo.com>

Hi, CoHers!

In decades of related work, I've never seen such a comprehensive plan for
addressing homelessness, so in tune with the "facts on the street" from
homeless people's perspective.  Keep up your great work, with homeless
people at the lead in setting your aims and means.

You even got a corporate media outlet to cover "your" points rather than
those of our adversaries!  How'd ya do it?

I think we need to hold Homeless People's Congresses locally, statewide,
nationally and golbally.  Who's ready to plan the next Congress?

Respects! -- Tom Boland, Homeless People's Network listworker
<wgcp@earthlink.net>

PS: I'm replying above to the post below:

FWD

Date: Thu, 28 Oct 1999 14:42:35 -0800
From: "Coalition on Homelessness, SF" <coh@sfo.com>
Subject: Homeless devise plan to help S.F. aid them
To: HPN@aspin.asu.edu

***********************************************************
HOMELESS PEOPLE'S VIEWS, News, Alerts, Actions & Research
6,000+ ONLINE POSTS by or via homeless & ex-homeless people
HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn
***********************************************************
Hey Folks-
This is to whet your appetite a little for the later posting we'll
provide of the actual action plan document.  I'll try to get it
posted tonight, or tomorrow for certain.

Peace,

chance martin
Coalition on Homelessness, San Francisco
########################################################

Homeless devise plan to help S.F. aid them
By Emily Gurnon OF THE EXAMINER STAFF
Thursday, October 28, 1999
1999 San Francisco Examiner

URL:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/examiner/hotnews/stori
es/28/homeless.dtl

Key requirements: Housing, economic justice, health care, civil, human
rights

Cynthia Christcole wants the mayoral candidates to do something
completely different when it comes to homelessness.

"Spend one week with us," she said.

When she can't stay with friends, Christcole, 42, lives with her
7-year-old son, Theo, in a tent -- "hopefully in a non-urinated spot,"
she said.

A former truck driver and day care operator from northern Minnesota, she
was raped years ago by a stranger who broke into her apartment.
Recurring nightmares, in which she relives the rape, keep her from
sleeping. Lack of sleep keeps her from functioning during the day, she
says.

But there are ways The City can help, Christcole said.

Christcole was one of about 100 homeless people who gathered in San
Francisco on Wednesday for a first-ever Homeless People's Congress. The
Coalition on Homelessness, which organized the event, surveyed homeless
people and drew up a plan to ease the problems they face.

The plan, ratified by the homeless who attended the congress, focuses on
four main requirements: housing, economic justice, health care, civil
and human rights.

The detailed, seven-page document advocates such innovations as a city
trust fund dedicated to the creation of low-income housing, access for
homeless people to the latest medications and therapies, and the
establishment of places where homeless people can keep their pets and
their belongings while they are at work.

"Homeless people know exactly what the solutions are -- and have not
only outlined those solutions, but are demanding an end to the violation
of their civil and human rights," said Paul Boden of the coalition, in a
written statement.

The coalition selected this week as the best time for their congress
because of the lack of focus by the best-known mayoral candidates on
permanent solutions to homelessness, Boden said.

Christcole said the mayoral candidates had the wrong idea about homeless
people -- assuming they

were all "lazy, ignorant, basically good-for-nothing, crazy people," she
said.

"Spend one week knowing what it's like to be me, and what it's like for
my son," she suggested. Solutions devised by homeless

Believing that solutions will come only with the involvement of homeless
people themselves, the coalition spent years talking with hundreds of
them to devise the "action plan," said Adam Arms of the coalition.

Then, they invited homeless people to the daylong congress, held at the
ILWU Local 6 office on Ninth Street, during which the homeless discussed
each section of the plan and gave feedback. During the ratification
ceremony, the participants lined up on the dais and wrote their names
with a red quill pen, as Michael Jackson's "Don't Stop Till You Get
Enough" played on an aging boombox.

"Everyone who showed up came ready to talk and ready to think, and it
was really successful," Arms said. "We were really excited about that."

For real solutions to work, The City has to stop spending money on
temporary Band-Aid fixes, the plan states. It must stop criminalizing
homeless people for quality-of-life violations. All services must be
provided with dignity, respect and equality.

The plan lists 55 steps The City should take, including:

-- Create a "housing trust fund" out of The City's general fund that is
dedicated to the creation of low-income housing.

-- Require that all new low-income housing be developed, maintained and
operated by homeless people paid a living wage.

-- Expand funding for citywide eviction prevention that combines legal
services with grants for back payment of rent.

-- Require that 20 percent of all surplus public lands be dedicated to
housing the homeless.

-- Force hotels to stop moving residents out before the 28 days it takes
for them to gain full rights as tenants.

-- Support a living-wage bill in

San Francisco.

-- Give "workfare" workers the rights of union members.

-- Provide quality, affordable child care to working parents and those
seeking work.

-- Increase the availability of mobile medical vans.

-- Fully fund "treatment-on-demand" for substance abusers.

-- Provide 24-hour accessible bathrooms.

For Manny Morales, 49, the day was a success.

"We needed to put our ideas together and start at one point -- this is
the starting point," he said. "Once we organize, we got some power. We
have to come together."

Asked what he would need to get back on his feet, Morales said he lacked
two things: a job and a roof over his head. You can't get one if you
don't have the other, he said. "But those are the hardest things to get
right now."

The economy is booming "for the guys on top," he added. "It is great for
them, but it is not great for the guys on the bottom."

Christcole, who now makes ends meet by selling a lifetime of possessions
at weekend flea markets, said she felt good after the congress.

"This was a great process," she said. "It gives me hope. It makes me
feel like, yeah, we'll make it."

1999 San Francisco Examiner

END FORWARD

**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material
is distributed without charge or profit to those who have
expressed a prior interest in receiving this type of information
for non-profit research and educational purposes only.**

*******************************************************
HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK <http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn>
6,000+ POSTS by or via homeless & ex-homeless people
Nothing About Us Without Us - Democratize Public Policy
*******************************************************

chance martin
Coalition on Homelessness, San Francisco
468 Turk St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
vox: (415) 346.3740
Fax: (415) 775.5639
coh@sfo.com
http://www.sfo.com/~coh

END FORWARD