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Showing posts from 2011

Donating to the Homeless at Christmas

Reposted from Christmas season 2010.....

Well, it's that time of year again when many people choose to give to the homeless. Some of them are people who give year-round -- whether it's on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis. Others give a few times a year. Some only give during the holiday season. But a large percentage of what gets donated to the homeless gets donated at this time of year. Some give from the heart. Others may do it to appease their conscience. Or it might be a tax write-off. Regardless of the reason, we'll take 'em all -- and appreciate them all.

However, there are certain things that people should understand when giving. One is that, on occasion, there are too many people giving to the homeless at one time. The other is that some of the homeless horde the donations, while others get nothing. I often tell about this past Palm Sunday when I ate 2 plates of food at Martha's Table and then walked down to Franklin Park. In a 2-hour span, no less th…

THE FACADE OF CARING: Franklin School (Shelter) Takeover

Occupy DC: Franklin School (Shelter) Takeover

Well Washington, DC's Franklin School Shelter is in the headlines again. It's the issue that won't go away -- with good reason -- and may very well be the most read-about building in the nation. It is on the fast track toward becoming the centerpiece of the Occupy DC Movement.

On Saturday, November 19th, 2011 13 people re-entered the former homeless shelter which has sat vacant for over 3 years now -- closed by former DC Mayor Adrian Fenty after he claimed to care too much for the homeless to allow them to be warehoused in the "old building" (built in 1869) which was "unfit for human habitation". Ironically, several homeless people have frozen to death outside since the closure on September 26th, 2008. "Caring" was used as a pretext for closing the Franklin School Shelter and is now being used as a pretext for raiding the Occupy Movement's camps. That's not to speak of the fact that many oc…

Homeless Advocates' Investigation And Recommendations Concerning Frozen Veteran

NOTE: Please read the blog entry below this one, as this is a follow-up to the previous blog post.

The investigation into the death of a homeless veteran right outside of Washington, DC's New York Avenue Shelter continues. As if his wrongful death isn't sad enough, those who work for DC Government's Department of Human Services (DHS) and for the shelter have gone into "self-defense mode" and seem to be more intent on covering their tracks than they are on finding out the truth. Should we expect more? also of note is the fact that the homeless and homeless advocates are gathering facts about this case more quickly than the government. DHS is doing its own internal investigation. And we all know how those things go -- self-defense all the way.

On a more positive note, I was able to get the name of the deceased. The man's name was Luther "Sarge" Hill and he was ex-military. It's always good to be able to refer to a person by name, as the system has…

Man Freezes To Death In Homeless Shelter's Parking lot

Saturday, October 29th was a wet, cold miserable day in Washington, DC. There was a light rain throughout the day. It felt like the temperature was somewhere between 35 and 40 throughout the daylight hours, though I missed the forecast. We even got some snow that evening and had an even colder night.

DC Law defines "hypothermia season" in two ways -- by date and by temperature. DC Government's Department of Human Services (DHS) is required by law to provide enough shelter for all people who present as homeless between November 1st and march 31st. However, if it freezes before or after that time frame(including the windchill factor), they must be prepared to provide shelter to all who are in need of it and are within the city limits at that time (regardless of whether or not that person claims to be a resident of the city).

But on that fateful day in October, a homeless man in a wheelchair was denied shelter and died in the parking lot behind the shelter. I've yet to …

The (Housing) Movement Has Come To Washington, DC

It's been quite some time since my last blog post, as I've been pounding the pavement in my capacity as an organizer for Stop the Machine-Create a New World (www.october2011.org). I've also been spending a considerable amount of time at the other tent city located in McPherson Square on K street NW. The movement has come to Washington, DC and it's picking up steam.

And the movement has no shortage of reasons for which to be outraged and rise up. Tom Donohue, the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, recently stated that the government should stop bailing people out and helping them to maintain their housing. He literally said, in no uncertain terms, that" we need more foreclosures; because, government intervention is bad for the housing market". He evidently fails to realize that housing is made for people, not people for housing. He has lost his humanity and seeks only to do what is good for the market, irrespective of people's basic human needs. To…

Obama Fails To Address Homeless Crisis While at Kitchen

On Saturday, September 10, President Obama and his daughters paid a visit to DC Central Kitchen located in the basement of the Federal City Shelter which is right on the edge of Capitol Hill. The kitchen feeds 5,000 of the many impoverished, socio-economically disadvantaged people in our nation's capital every day. And it was a grand event indeed. While many were excited about the fact that our commander-in-chief would take time out of his busy schedule to visit those who are overlooked all too often in our society, others were a bit more analytical of the situation and less apt to praise him.

The excitement began on the night of September 9th when the Secret Service came out to survey the building, making sure that it was safe, planning their route and choosing places to post their officers and snipers. The next morning, as the homeless left the building which sleeps up to 1,350 homeless people (one-fifth of DC's homeless population) in 3 separate shelters and also houses th…

The East Coast Earthquake and Other DC Disasters

On Tuesday, August 23rd at 1:51 PM much of the east coast of the United States experienced an earthquake. As a homeless advocate, I must say that I'm glad that there weren't any reports of serious damage to non-governmental buildings and, as far as I know, no one was made homeless by this earthquake. However, the wall near my bed at the CCNV Shelter now has a hirzontal crack and I'm wondering how much of this large building which holds 1,350 homeless people (one-fifth of DC's homeless population) has now been compromised.

At the time that the quake struck, I was walking down the sidewalk toward the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library where a lady friend and I were planning to feed and show the movie "Freedom Riders" to a large group of homeless people. As I passed by the construction site which is adjacent to the library, I noticed that many of the workers were standing idle and heard one of them say that he heard a rumble which he thought was a su…

The Movement Is Moving To Washington, DC

When will the national movement implement "stronger tactics" that effectively usher in the "revolutionary change" that we are working toward? Well, Gerald Celente of Trends Research Institute (a think tank on worldwide socio-economic trends) has predicted that this country will see food riots, tax rebellions and revolution by 2012. And his long track record for accuracy has some people worried.

But you don't need to be a well-paid academic to see that societal conditions are ripe for revolution. The news is chock full of reports of increasing unemployment, a worsening housing market and struggling families. The U.S. economy is so bad that Obama himself recently told people in a small town in Iowa that he doesn't believe that Washington knows best (and it doesn't). People have begun to polarize around Tea Party/Congressional demands on the one hand and the demand for the state to fund human need on the other, with there having been a strong und…

FOREVER HOMELESS -- Forward widely

I apologize for failing to post regularly, as I have been extremely busy lately. There is a lot happening in the way of homeless advocacy and activism as well as social justice. I am deeply involved in the planning of direct actions which are designed to speak truth to power and encourage the U.S. Government to fund human need here at home, not wars abroad and Wall Street. Even so, here is something I wrote yesterday and e-mailed to many people. It sums up the CONTINUING homeless crisis:

FOREVER HOMELESS -- Forward widely

Many poor people in what has been said to be the wealthiest, most powerful country in the world -- the United States of America -- are doomed to be HOMELESS FOREVER. Now there's no telling just how long this country will retain those titles and some people think we're losing ground rather quickly -- which is all the more reason (in the eyes of Congress and the president) to put our precious resources into imperialistic pursuits abroad rather than domestic huma…

Cheri Honkala for Sheriff of Philly and Politicizing Homelessness

In case you didn't already know, politics are about power. Politicians are always looking forward to the next election unless serving their last allowable term. (Lame ducks seem to be those most likely to follow their conscience[?], as they can't run again anyway.) politicians are most likely to address the concerns of those who help them to remain in power. They kowtow first and foremost to those who contribute the most to their campaigns -- corporations. Next in line are wealthy individuals. Eventually and at long last, there are the voters. If you don't fit into any of these categories, your discontentment becomes an issue of "mind over matter". As you voice your opinions, the politicians don't mind; because, you don't matter. (Being a taxpayer doesn't impress them all that much; because, the government will MAKE you do that anyway.)

Then there is the issue of "political will". Once a politician has taken the oath of office, they bec…

RIP Pam Stovall, Associate Director of MLK Library

On Tuesday, June 28th I went to DC's Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library to speak to a group of over 100 teenagers who are part of the Summer Youth Employment Program about homelessness -- to do a sensitivity training of the youth about the homeless issue. (This is the same program which former DC mayor Adrian Fenty pitted against the homeless last year when he shifted homeless funding into it.) This portion of the SYEP is one of the many steps that the MLK Library has taken in recent years to better serve its homeless patrons.

While there, I was saddened by the news that Pam Stovall, the associate director of the library had passed. She lost her battle with breast cancer on Sunday, June 26th. As Audrey Middleton broke the news to me, she said, "I just received an e-mail from Pam on Thursday. Everyone was saying, 'When Pam comes back, we're going to do this and tell her that.' Then, next thing you know, we get word that she passed".

Pam Stovall was a pi…

Progress Being Made By The SHARC Homeless Advocacy Group -- SHARC Has Some Bite now

Well, it's been 2 months since several homeless people and their allies began to hold weekly meetings in the basement of Washington, DC's CCNV (Community for Creative Non-Violence) Homeless Shelter. As you may recall from a previous post, several others and myself were discussing the impending budget cuts to Human Services while at a COHHO (Coalition Of Housing and Homeless Organizations) meeting on April 14th when someone asked, "Who's going to tell the poor and the homeless about these budget cuts that are going to affect them?" As a result of that question, arrangements were made to meet weekly in the basement of the shelter and the first meeting took place on Tuesday, April 26th at 11 AM. At that meeting we decided to meet every Monday at 1 PM and that remains the same to this day. (Meetings are open to the public.)

On May 18th we held a march and about 75 people marched from the shelter to the Wilson Building (City Hall) to protest the threatened budget…

Come Join The SHARC Attack At Wilson Building On Monday, June 13th!!!!!

PLEASE FORWARD WIDELY

Come Join The SHARC Attack
At Wilson Building On Monday, June 13th!!!!!


Help ensure that much-needed Human Services funding is restored to the DC budget.

The group of mostly homeless homeless advocates who've been meeting at the CCNV (Community for Creative Non-Violence) Shelter every week since April 26th, 2011 (SHARC) will make a final push on Monday, June 13th to ensure that funds which Mayor Vincent Gray sought to take away from Human Services is restored by the DC Council.

We will impress upon the DC Council the need to go beyond simply funding shelters and to ensure the continual creation of AFFORDABLE HOUSING across the city as well as LIVING WAGE and other policies that will empower the poor community and enable them to become self-sufficient.

WE WILL NO LONGER SIMPLY ORGANIZE FOR SHORT-TERM GOALS LIKE SAVING SHELTERS AND RESTORING FUNDING FOR SERVICES THAT MAINTAIN HOMELESSNESS.

WE WILL DEMAND THE CONTINUAL CREATION OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING ACROSS THE…

We Need Another POOR PEOPLE'S MARCH ON WASHINGTON, DC

It's been more than 40 years since Martin Luther King, Jr. began his "POOR PEOPLE'S CAMPAIGN" which he never got to see through to its fruition, due to his assassination. It's been more than 20 years since the homeless marched to Washington, DC en masse. This might begin to explain why the powers that be seem to have forgotten about the poor, homeless and dispossessed. In some instances it seems more like they have waged an all-out "war on the poor". Let's face it: politicians often speak of helping the middle class, while neglecting those living in abject poverty. When they do acknowledge our existence, it is only to say that they are going to stop funding some much-needed social service. It's high time that we came out in large numbers and had a real show of force.

Coincidentally, as I sat down to write this blog post earlier today, I went to my Facebook fan page entitled "Homeless Homeless Advocate Eric Jonathan Sheptock" and r…

What More Are You Willing To Fight for????? Affordable Housing? The Human Right to Housing?

This will be the main topic of discussion at the next Homeless advocacy meeting at the CCNV Shelter. But it is a good question for all homeless/housing advocates to address:

Now that the DC Council has restored funding for homeless shelters and certain other Human Services, will you be satisfied or fight for even greater improvements like the creation of affordable housing and the realization of housing as a Human Right?

Come answer this question with us.

The homeless have begun to organize around the proposed budget cuts to Human Services. We have been meeting weekly at the CCNV (Community for Creative Non-Violence) Shelter since late April. Meetings are:

Mondays
1 PM to 3 PM

425 2nd street NW
Washington, DC 20001-2003
(2 blocks from Judiciary Square Metro and 3 blocks from Union station -- both on the Red Line; D6 or D3 buses.)

In the basement
(accessed from sidewalk on 2nd Street)

All concerned citizens who want to do something about homelessness (and other societal ills) are welco…

DC Homeless People march on City Hall

On April 14th, 2011, the Coalition of Housing and Homeless Organizations (COHHO) held its monthly meeting. We discussed the devastating impact that Mayor Vincent Gray's proposed budget cuts to Human Services for FY 2012 will have on DC's poor and homeless community. (There were about 30 people in the room of which about 5 were homeless or formerly homeless.) A formerly homeless man asked, "Who's going to tell the many poor and homeless people in DC about the cuts that are going to affect them?" In response to his question, several people said that they would remain after the meeting to plan an outreach strategy.

I secured a meeting room in the basement of the CCNV (Community for Creative Non-Violence) Shelter and we scheduled a meeting for April 26th.(There were about 30 people in the room of which about 25 were homeless or formerly homeless.) That Tuesday we decided to meet every Monday thereafter. At the May 2nd meeting we had about 50 people present. Then…