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#TBT – Street Newspapers

Written by admin on . Posted in Uncategorized

If you live in, or have ever been to, a city like Chicago, or Washington, DC, San Francisco, Nashville or Seattle, you have probably seen a vendor selling a paper that reports on issues of poverty and homelessness. This is a “Street Newspaper,” and there are over 40 of these in print in North America, and over 100 published in 34 countries around the world.

photo credit Do Haeng Michael Kitchen

We’ve shared before about the activism of the 1980’s and 90’s, when our current era of homelessness was just starting to rear its ugly head. People who were becoming homeless were intimately involved in advocacy and services to help folks who were unhoused. By the late 1980’s, homeless advocates realized there was a need for educating the larger public about the issues surrounding homelessness. Street News, first published in NYC in 1989, is credited with being the first street newspaper focused on homeless issues, followed closely by Street Sheet, still published by the Coalition on Homelessness in San Francisco.

Inspired by Street News, the Big Issue was launched as a “social business” in 1991 in the UK, inspiring a further wave of street newspapers across Europe. The International Network of Street Papers (INSP) was created in 1994 and our own beloved Michael Stoops helped to start the North American Street Newspaper Association (NASNA) in 1996. The two networks worked collaboratively until 2013, when INSP became the single global network for street papers on all six continents.

Recent numbers from the INSP Network

Street papers in the US have, for the most part, intended to act as both an advocacy tool and a primary way for people who have been homeless to be active leaders in that advocacy. Today, most papers are run, written, and sold by homeless folks. Many papers offer case management assistance, training and networking opportunities to homeless folks in their communities.

The National Coalition for the Homeless has long supported the advocacy and empowerment outlet that street newspapers have provided. Street papers across the world continue to break down barriers between housed and unhoused people, creating employment opportunities to poor people worldwide.

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California Considers Homeless Voter Registration Act

Written by Annie Leomporra on . Posted in Uncategorized

As we inch closer toward the general election this November, it’s urgent that we focus on making it as easy as possible for the voices of people experiencing homelessness to be acknowledged through their vote. While the National Coalition for the Homeless has made great strides over the last two and a half decades in helping to secure the rights of individuals without secure housing to register and vote, there are still plenty of areas for improvement.

California State Senator Carol Liu

In February of this year California State Senator Carol Liu introduced SB 928, the Homeless Voter Registration Act, for consideration. Over the past two decades states as diverse as Illinois, Arizona, and West Virginia have adopted similar acts, which are based upon NCH’s own model legislation. The Homeless Voter Registration Act would amend California’s elections and motor vehicles codes in order to allow people experiencing homelessness to use their shelter address, post office, or the cross streets closest to where they reside when applying for a state ID.

This kind of change is more important than ever with new voter identification requirements popping up across the country, though the inability to get a government-issued photo ID can be a barrier to even registering to vote. However, it’s by no means the only barrier that people experiencing homelessness can face when trying to exercise their constitutional right  to vote. Many people lack the documentation necessary to apply for photo ID’s, and retrieving it can be a difficult and relatively expensive process. Depending on the locations of polling places, the lack of transportation can also pose a serious problem.

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways that you can help. Contact your local service providers and churches to see which ones provide assistance in obtaining legal documents, and connect your homeless neighbors to those services. Start your own voter registration drive using materials available on our website’s “You Don’t Need a Home to Vote” campaign page. When voting starts, coordinate with shelters and other providers to help transport registered voters to their polling locations. Together we can make sure that everyone who wants to vote in 2016 has the opportunity to do so.

Black Friday Day of Action

Written by Je'Lissa on . Posted in Uncategorized

While shoppers camp outside their favorite retailers to score Black Friday deals, homeless communities across the country will face fines, harassment, and jail time for camping in an attempt to get a good night’s rest. To combat this stark inequality, the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) is calling for cities to stop the criminalization of life sustaining activities and instead promote “safe sleep.”

We know that ordinances and restrictions that seek to punish people experiencing homelessness for engaging in survival activities are counterproductive to ending homelessness. Instead, imposing fines and generating criminal records for “quality of life” offenses create a greater barriers for many to becoming re-housed. As chair of NCH’s Civil Rights Committee, Brian Davis, asserts, “it makes no sense to complicate a person’s ability to get into housing or find a job because they are engaged in purely innocent behavior of eating, sleeping, or resting in the public space especially when there are not enough shelter beds”.

So, we ask you to stand with us during this year’s Black Friday to call on your community leaders to look at successful alternatives to criminalization efforts and the benefits of universal access to shelter.
  • Challenge your elected officials to open discussions about the lack of adequate shelter, the high cost of rental housing, and the shredding of the safety net in your communities.
  • Call upon your local religious leaders to develop plans for how to better serve families and young people requesting help other than law enforcement.
  • Educate your friends, loved ones, and shoppers camping for Black Friday deals by downloading and distributing the postcard below.

Speak up, take action!

General Postcard Front   General Postcard Back

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