Our Work Is Changing

In Washington, DC homeless advocates tend to align their activities with the annual budgetary cycle. They know that the mayor began to formulate the budget for Fiscal Year 2011 in January 2010 and that there will be budget hearings from February to May. For these several months, advocates for the poor and homeless will do their best to have a sufficient amount of tax revenue put into the budget for the specific populations that they serve. As budgets are cut in the middle of the present fiscal year, many of the same people will return to City Hall to demand that those budget cuts be restored and that the social safety net be preserved. This has been the method to the madness for quite some time. However, that is beginning to change.

The safety net is becoming a thing of the past. As indicated in a previous article of mine, DC Government tried to cut the budget for homeless services by 30% a few months ago. But, when Catholic Charities threatened to cease its shelter operations in Washington, DC altogether, the mayor scrambled to restore $11 million of the $16 million budget cut and avert a tragedy right before hypothermia season, as the city Could've been sued for failing to shelter the homeless during hypothermia. However, this is only a reprieve, as the fight is expected to heat up in the spring.

There is a lingering fear that the city will spend more than 5-months worth of its homeless services budget during the 5 months of hypothermia and then decrease the number of homeless services in the spring, due to budget shortfalls. This will result in a large number of homeless people losing their shelter beds. People are already preparing psychologically for a different kind of fight -- a fight against the all-out, unfettered elimination of social services.

A January 19th Washington Post article explained that "Service centers that process welfare and other aid applications in the District are understaffed and overwhelmed with needy residents, forcing some to essentially camp out for days to try to get assistance". Mayor Adrian Fenty closed 2 Income Maintenance Administration service centers last year, in an effort to save just under $1 million. This has resulted in as many as 350 people per day showing up at one of the remaining service centers which only has the capacity to serve 150 people per day. As many as 100 people get turned away at the end of the work day without being served, after waiting in line for as many as 8 hours. This is taking place in the capital of the wealthiest nation in the world.

While these and other situations are worsening, right-to-housing advocates are planning housing takeovers in our nation's capital. Those who have led successful housing takeovers in other cities are preparing to come to DC to teach their tactics to the locals. Still others are circulating a petition to "recall" (oust, get rid of) Mayor Fenty who has broken his campaign promises to most segments of the city's population -- including the promise to create affordable housing. (While that won't effectively change the system, it will empower the residents by proving that they can actually pull it off. There has never been a successful recall of a DC mayor.)

Finally, an ever-increasing number of people are getting involved in social justice initiatives. Highschools and colleges in the DC Metro Area are requiring students to learn about homelessness and other social justice issues. My fellow homeless advocates and I regularly speak to student groups and have begun to organize students around the issue of homelessness and housing, thus increasing our support base.

While it is not yet clear as to when and how all of these concerns and efforts will gel together, they inevitably will. It's just a matter of time. But this much is certain, that our work is changing. The homeless and the poor are seeing the rug pulled out from under them and are on the verge of going into "survival mode". Those who are involved in the national movement are preparing to descend on the city. And the number of young, local activists is increasing.

There seems to be a general malaise across the city. It would seem that all of the ingredients for a revolution are there and are just waiting to be stirred. We, as a city, have begun to shift away from begging for social service funding and toward realizing that our government is not going to save us and that we must organize and demand change. There is a general movement from being reactive to being proactive. therein our work is changing.

Eric Jonathan Sheptock
425 2nd St., NW
Washington, DC 20001-2003
(240) 305-5255

Comments

Hi Eric:
I posted here a note a while ago, regarding alleged fraud in your case at the US District Court, Washington DC.
Please notice news regarding large scale false imprisonments in Los Angeles County, California:

1)
False Imprisonments in Los Angeles County, California
By jz12345 |
367 Views |
Location: Los Angeles, California, United States |
Leaked: 9 days ago
January 18, 2010 False Imprisonments in Los Angeles County, California By Joseph Zernik Initial interest in the case management system (CMS) of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department arose f...

2) Richard Isaac Fine - 70 yo former US Prosecutor - falsely hospitalized in Los Angeles California
By jz12345 | 3 Comments
81 Views |
Leaked: 1 day ago
Richard Isaac Fine (1940- ) is an American taxpayers' advocate, anti-trust attorney, and former U.S. prosecutor. Fine investigated the Los Angeles, California City government under the Anti-Trust Divi...

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