Housing Now! 2020

Episode 1: Look at It Til It Hurts

March 02, 2020 Jeff Olivet Season 1 Episode 1
Housing Now! 2020
Episode 1: Look at It Til It Hurts
Housing Now! 2020
Episode 1: Look at It Til It Hurts
Mar 02, 2020 Season 1 Episode 1
Jeff Olivet

In this inaugural episode, Paul Boden from the Western Regional Advocacy Project and Savina Martin from the Committee to Reestablish the National Union of the Homeless ground the work of ending homelessness in the experience of those most impacted. With their powerful advocacy voices, Paul and Savina challenge us to understand the structural causes of homelessness and the importance of elevating the voice of those with lived experience. 

Show Notes Transcript

In this inaugural episode, Paul Boden from the Western Regional Advocacy Project and Savina Martin from the Committee to Reestablish the National Union of the Homeless ground the work of ending homelessness in the experience of those most impacted. With their powerful advocacy voices, Paul and Savina challenge us to understand the structural causes of homelessness and the importance of elevating the voice of those with lived experience. 

spk_0:   0:02
Welcome Housing, now 2020. A podcast dedicated to ending homelessness thistles. Jeff Olivetti Today is the first episode in a series of conversations with people from across the United States engaged in the fight against homelessness. They have a lot to say about what works and what it will take to end homelessness for our people today. Focus on past, present Future What it will take, what we have learned, where we go from here. Thistles. Jeff

spk_1:   0:31
all of it with housing, now 2020 and I'm sitting here in San Francisco with Paul Boat in, the executive director of the Western Regional Advocacy project, Homelessness in San Francisco is entrenched and overwhelming. It is everywhere. I mean, it's it's more visible here. Maybe it's what I hear quite a bit, but I think when you look in Skid Row, it's pretty visible there. When you look in, you know, other cities, you see homelessness like it's not like you can hide it. One of the things I've noticed with Portland in Denver, where they have like an L. A. In San Francisco. These cities have amazing front line on the streets, in your face, organized people doing good and it makes it harder for local governments and cops and DPW and the business improvement districts to make all the homeless people disappear. Like because there's active critical resistance that's going on while those activities are taking place. And there's fighting back in these lawsuits and there's organizing and there's demos and and that's it's because for these groups, this is human rights. This is people's right to exist when you're being told by local police department, private security, government officials, You're not wanted here. Get out. You can't sleep. You can't stick. You can't stand still. You can't eat. Get out of our town. The on leeway to mitigate minimize the amount of brutality and violence people face. One in that process is active. Direct engagement in fighting back in opposition toe

spk_0:   2:19
national conversation about homelessness has increasingly focused on the importance of the voice of people with lived, experience or lived expertise of homelessness that is, people who have been homeless themselves. It is often said that these voices have not been a table is decisions were made, policies are set on, budgets are prioritized well, it is true that the voices of people experiencing homelessness and poverty have often been marginalized, were ignored. It has not been because they're silent. In fact, groups like Paul's Western regional advocacy project has been leading community organizing efforts for decades. In the 19 eighties, the National Union of the Home has served as an organizing force. At its height, the union had 35,000 members in 25 cities. One of its leaders was Savina. Mark was also a member of the committee to re establish. I came into

spk_2:   3:16
the Union of the Homeless as an outgrowth of experiencing homelessness as a young veteran leaving the military. And as I got back into the community, I realized that it was just a lot of poverty and things looked like a war zone. The community looked like a boy. I attended a meeting, uh, one particular day, and I met up with Chris Brough, who at the time was one of the lead organizer's and founder of the National Union of the Homeless. And they were preparing Thio hit the different urban centres across the U. S. On start establishing union, you know, national unions of the homeless, and so that's pretty much how I came into the ER you know, early embryonic stages of the National Union of the Homeless. And we just began observing, investigating and examining and looking at in protest ng and rallying is setting up campaigns, um, around the atrocities and the lack of dignity and fairness of folks who were experiencing homelessness across this country. And, you know, we came into the national discourse of this country. I remember. We, uh we coordinated a national march on Washington a few times. Here we are again, right, Both circle. It's just time to, um, you know, look at this critical point in history, you know, and come together in and do the work that we need to do around organizing.

spk_0:   4:58
Savina goes on to describe the major achievements of the National Union.

spk_2:   5:02
We stopped in the soil. I believe that because we, um, organized around our slogan homeless, not helpless and no woman at the end, and we only organized to take back what is ours. Um, we were able to soften the soil and lift up, uh, and shine light on our flight fight and insight around homelessness. Where folk? Because this country is so stigmatized around the core and blames the poverty for their poor. We were able to raise our assistance, say Hey, we have the people that are affected by this, so I mean, that was a major victory was raising the level of consciousness across this country that the poor can organize among themselves and unite amount. Now,

spk_0:   5:58
according to Paul Boden, organizing people experiencing homelessness is only part of the solution. Ending homelessness for all requires a commitment of all members.

spk_1:   6:09
It only concomitant from the community and not just by the community. I don't mean just the homeless people themselves. I mean community members that believe in social justice and human rights for all people. And, you know, it wasn't and it isn't the responsibility of African Americans to say shooting black people is bad. It's everybody. Now it's everybody's. And racism isn't a one context issue. Racism is whether it's immigrant rights, whether it's civil rights laws, whether it's it's vagrancy laws, whether it's sitting on counters, all of these social issues come to me, Oh, require all of us when you can just put it on those being oppressed. The transgender in the rate of homelessness and the transgender community, wasn't created by transgender people and it isn't transgenders people's responsibility that it exists. So we shouldn't just hang it on them in order to deal with all the violence and danger that comes with being transgender and homeless.

spk_0:   7:08
I asked Savina Martin what it would take to end homelessness.

spk_2:   7:13
We're up again. A state of a folks that are very greedy, right? Very bitch. You can't talk about, uh, homelessness ending homelessness without talking about house care. You can't talk about health care without talking about a livable wage, right? A sustainable wage to help lift people out of poverty. And you can't talk about that. All of those interlocking injustices are connected together. We're up against systemic poverty. Systemic racism, uh, health care that, uh, you know, loses people every day from poverty, right and help. So all of these interlocking system into sex and must be intact and talked about firstly to in order to end poverty. I mean, you know, it's gonna be a fight, you know, and I don't mean that in a violent way. I mean, fight in terms of us coming together in advocating and raising office. Ah, in applying pressure, you know, to help end, um, homelessness and build from the ground up. No one. Affordable housing, Um, and decent wages and and better health care. Um, and looking at insurance as a way to sustain people toe live, you know, to live a quality life in this country. So we have to look at the entire system. Ah, and ruled out what has not been working for decades and decades, Um, in the u. S. I think that that's the 1% of this country that controls, you know, all the wealth, um, needs to redistribute that wealth to the people you know across this country that are poor, dispossessed in homeless. I mean, this is a huge job, and again, it's going to take some time. But, you know, it's not without a struggle. The late, great Frederick Douglass said Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did, and it never will. And without no struggles, there'll be no progress. So I mean, you know, we have to look at this critically. We have to look at it openly and honestly, and we have to look at it until it hurts. Um, you know, um, in order to, ah come to some resolve in some change in this country that has not been fair. So the least of these,

spk_0:   10:08
we have to look at it openly and honestly, we have to look at it till it hurts.

spk_1:   10:13
Like, Why wouldn't government want its population to be healthy, educated? Well, house and income that that supports them? Why wouldn't that be a good thing? Instead, we want 10 more freaking battleships or whatever or a wall along the border, Um, as opposed to focusing on the human aspect, Uh, what's government's role and supporting the people that live under that government? You know, an injury to one is an injury to all. And it's not just a tag line, and, you know, the people don't live single issue lives, so we can't do single issue organizing like that. That was is true when she said it, as it is today.

spk_0:   11:02
Those were the words of the great Audrey Lorde. Savina Martin brings us back around to the importance of lived experience and raising up the voices of people who have experienced homelessness themselves and no, from the inside what works to end homelessness.

spk_2:   11:19
I would offer that folks begin to educate and listen to the people that our experience in this, I mean really actively listen and gather the true and pure information. Um, and I would also offer that, um, folks that are pulling the strings begin to look at their own mindset. If that's at all possible in terms of how they view the poor, you know, and dispossessed in this country, everybody needs to begin to educate themselves around homelessness and and and greed and the future of this country in terms of ending, ending this for good. So, I mean, if you know, in order for me to answer it, I would just say education. People need to educate themselves by listening to us, you know, to the folks that counts.

spk_0:   12:31
His podcast is part of housing now 2020 a national campaign to reenergize grassroots organizing to end homelessness and provide housing for all. The National Coalition for the Homeless spearheads the initiative, which is supported by the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, Los Angeles Providers Alliance and Homelessness, Metropolitan Interfaith Council are Affordable Housing, National Health Care for the Homeless Council, National Low Income Housing Coalition, Sacramento Coalition homelessness and a growing list of partners to learn more visit housing. Now 2020