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Standing in Solidarity with the Homeless and the Poor People’s Campaign

Written by admin on . Posted in Blog

Dear Friends,

Megan and Annie at May 14 Poor People's Campaign Rally by @Fightfor15

Megan and Annie at May 14 Poor People’s Campaign Rally by @Fightfor15

Today, Monday June 11, 2018, NCH Director Megan Hustings and Public Education Coordinator Steve Thomas will participate in nonviolent direct action with the Poor People’s Campaign. We plan to risk arrest in solidarity with the thousands of our homeless neighbors who are arrested and fined every day for carrying out life-sustaining activities in public spaces.

We can no longer accept the false narratives that allow for systemic racism to cause such deep inequality and economic injustice in our communities. Co-chairs Rev. Dr. William J. Barber and the Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, of the Poor People’s Campaign tell us that to change the narrative, we must change the narrator. NCH has, since its inception, stood to raise the voices of, and take our direction from, the community of people who experience homelessness – those who are most affected by economic injustice.

We envision a world where everyone has a safe, decent, accessible and affordable home. NCH affirms that we can and must end and prevent homelessness. We believe in the dignity of all people; and in housing, healthy food, quality health care, education and livable incomes as basic human rights. We believe that it is morally, ethically, and legally wrong to discriminate against and criminalize people struggling to meet their basic needs. We affirm that public policy makers and elected officials at all levels must be held accountable to end the systemic and structural causes of homelessness, and that structural racism and discrimination are root causes of homelessness and violates human dignity.

This is the 5th week of 40 Days of nonviolent resistance through the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for a Moral Revival, focusing on the theme that Everybody’s Got the Right To Live: Education, Living Wages, Jobs, Income, Housing. We call on you, our supporters and partners, to stand with us in challenging the evils of systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, ecological devastation and the nation’s distorted morality.

Over the past two years, the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival has reached out to communities in more than 30 states across this nation. We have met with tens of thousands of people, witnessing the strength of their moral courage in trying times. We have gathered testimonies from hundreds of poor people and we have chronicled their demands for a better society. The following moral agenda is drawn from this deep engagement and commitment to these struggles of the poor and dispossessed. It is also grounded in an empirical assessment of how we have come to this point today. The Souls of Poor Folk: Auditing America report reveals how the evils of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, and the war economy and militarism are persistent, pervasive, and perpetuated by a distorted moral narrative that must be challenged.

We must stop the attention violence that refuses to see these injustices and acknowledge the human and economic costs of inequality. We believe that when decent people see the faces and facts that the Souls of Poor Folk Audit presents, they will be moved deeply in their conscience to change things. When confronted with the undeniable truth of unconscionable cruelty to our fellow human beings, we must join the ranks of those who are determined not to rest until justice and equality are a reality for all.”

Please visit https://www.poorpeoplescampaign.org to read the full The Souls of Poor Folk report: Auditing America 50 Years After the Poor People’s Campaign Challenged Racism, Poverty, the War Economy/Militarism and Our National Morality, as well as the campaign’s principles, and demands.

#TBT – History of Homelessness 1929-1980

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Throughout our country’s history, there have been people who suffered from homelessness – but there has not always been the same chronic and extensive homelessness we now face. Over the years homeless individuals have been referred to by a variety of different names. During the Revolutionary War homeless individuals were referred to the “itinerate poor,” a result of a society in need of transient agricultural workers, while around the Great Depression words like “tramp” or “bum” came into use.
Timeline of events 1929-1945Timeline of events 1945-1970

Prior to the 1970s homelessness rose and fell with the economic state of the country. Starting in the 1970s policy’s shifted and a sharp and permeant rise in homelessness occurred. Previously, when there was a downturn in the economy the number of the homeless would increase, but this would be fixed when the economy returned to normal. The largest number of homeless up until that point occurred during the Great Depression, but with the help of the New Deal policies homelessness returned to its previous level.

1970s housing policyStarted in the 1970s, however, a trend of chronic homelessness began to present itself as well as different types of individuals suffering from homelessness—women, families, blue

“Anti-poverty” efforts lead to homeless site dismantlement plans and the destruction of single-room occupancy facilities in urban downtowns. Churches begin to take on the burden of creating shelters, and local coalitions develop. Bank deregulation and the start of the farm crisis widen the gap between rich and poor.

Additionally, mental health consumers began to be deinstitutionalized without providing adequate housing and health care resources for community reintegration. As a result, many people with mental illnesses started to end up homeless or in jail.

Fast forward nearly 40 years and policy has continued to ensure economic inequality at staggering levels. Keep a look out next week for a closer look at the history of homelessness in the U.S. after 1980.

#TBT – National Union of the Homeless

Written by admin on . Posted in Advocacy, Awareness, Blog, History

Art thanks to WRAP and artist Art Hazelwood

Art thanks to WRAP and artist Art Hazelwood

Modern homelessness, as we know it today, began in the 1970’s. During the Reagan Administration, affordable housing dollars were cut but almost 75%, leading directly to poor working families experiencing homelessness at alarming rates. Folks began to organize in the 1980’s, this was when our organization was formed. At the same time, a group called the National Union of the Homeless (NUH) developed out of the first resident-run shelter in Philadelphia.

Read more about the NUH:

“In the late 1970s and early 1980s the United States economy underwent a series of changes that led to a sharp rise in homelessness. Homelessness was no longer characterized by down and out individuals living on skid rows. For the first time in US history, families were increasingly becoming homeless, and the shelter system was created to house them.

Out of this common experience of dislocation and dispossession grew a national organization of homeless people that mobilized thousands throughout the US in the 1980s and 1990s. At its height, the National Union of the Homeless (NUH) had over 20 local chapters and 15,000 members in cities across the US.

Most importantly, it implemented a model of organizing involving the poor and homeless thinking for themselves, speaking for themselves, fighting for themselves and producing from their ranks capable and creative leaders. This was contrary to the prevailing stereotypes and misconceptions about homelessness. Almost twenty years after the decline of the NUH, its history offers important lessons for building a movement to end poverty today, in the midst of continuing concentration of wealth among a few and expanding poverty for many.”
(Copied from The National Union of the Homeless: A Brief History, Published July 2011, https://homelessunion.wdfiles.com/local–files/curriculum/BriefHistoryPamphlet.pdf)

The NUH was active between 1985 and 1993. During this time, NUH mounted several campaigns, first aimed at overcoming stereotypes of who was homeless, then later focused on appropriating housing for its members. Their actions used slogans like “Homes and Jobs: Not Death in the Streets” and “Homeless Not Helpless.” They mounted civil disobedience like the Tompkins Square Tent City (detailed in Tent City Blues, an article in the Sept-Oct 1990 issue of Mother Jones), a national series of housing takeovers (watch in the documentary, The Takeover, from 1990), and the Union organized and participated in the Housing Now March along with the National Coalition for the Homeless and several others.

We encourage anyone reading this to learn more about where our collective work has come from by checking out the above links, and also visiting the Homeless Union History Project and the National Union of the Homeless Wikipideia page.

 

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