The May 2005 Edition of Street Spirit

A publication of the American Friends Service Committee


National AFSC AFSC Economic Justice BOSS Website



In this issue:

Someone's Sister: Homeless in the East Bay

A Young Mother Dreams of a Brighter Future

Legal Rights of Homeless People

Exposing Wal-Mart Empire

HUD Pulls a Disappearing Act

Devastating Cuts to Section 8

Civil Rights Gets on the Bus

UC Students Brutalized by Police

Activism for Economic Justice

Night of Humanity and Courage

Nonviolent Vigil for San Diego's Poorest

The Faithful Fools

Medical Pot in Santa Cruz

Poor Leonard's Almanack

Poetry of the Streets


February 2005






Street Spirit is published by American Friends Service Committee.

All works are copyrighted by the authors.

The views expressed in Street Spirit are those of the individual authors alone, and not necessarily that of the American Friends Service Committee.

Activism in the East Bay for Economic Justice

by Michael Diehl

Important Hearings on AC Transit

There are two very important public hearings this month on AC Bus Transit in the East Bay. These will be held on May 18 at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. at the Scottish Rite Center at 1547 Lakeside Drive, Oakland. What is being discussed is the raising of bus fares from $1.50 up to $1.75 or even $2, or lowering the fare to $1 but eliminating transfers.

Earlier talk of increasing the price of disabled bus passes up from $20 monthly is not being discussed; but the price of individual trips for the disabled may increase up to $1 a ride or decrease to 50 cents, depending on which proposal is implemented.

The BOSS Community Organizing Team is actively involved in getting people out for these public hearings as part of a Transportation Justice alliance. [See Janny Castillo's articles this issue and in the April issue of Street Spirit for background.] For more information on the proposals, go to and for more update on our campaign go to

Mental Health Consumer Forum

Building Opportunities for Self Sufficiency (BOSS) helped sponsor a well-attended forum at the First Unitarian Church in Oakland in which 300 people participated (250 were mental health clients). Many members of the Alameda Behavioral Health Care Commission and staff were present to hear and collect testimony, as well as representatives of Berkeley Mental Health. Major issues for clients were lack of (safe) housing, lack of transportation to get to services, the inadequacy of board and care homes, and the desire to stay out of John George Psychiatric Pavilion, jail and off the streets.

Berkeley to Propose Cuts to BOSS

The Berkeley city manager is soon to release plans to cut a number of homeless services and other programs, including 20 percent-plus cuts in funding to the Multi-Agency Services Center (M.A.S.C.) and 20 percent cuts to BOSS's Harrison Street Shelter. These cuts would imperil the ability to fund the continuance of the Sankofa House and other services there. [See Janny Castillo's article entitled "Sankofa House" in the April issue of Street Spirit.]

BOSS is working with an alliance of nonprofit groups called the Berkeley Community Coalition to fight the proposed budget cuts. Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates told me he considers homeless services to be life-or-death services as much as police/public safety, but he is facing a severe budget picture that has been greatly aggravated by the cuts by the Bush adminstration and on the state and county level.

Opposing Bush Cuts to Section 8 and Disabled Housing

I have been working on getting letters opposing cuts to Section 8 and disabled and AIDS housing sent to Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Barbara Lee (who has vigorously opposed these cuts). I am helping out with a campaign by Lynda Carson (regular Street Spirit writer). The Bush administration is talking about cutting $226 million in Section 8 funding, $120 million from Section 811 housing for the disabled and $13 million for housing for people with AIDS (HOPWA).

Write to oppose these cuts that will result in greater homelessness and shortened lives, particularly for the most vulnerable people, the disabled and elderly.

Send letters to: Sen. Feinstein at 331 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510-0504; President George W. Bush, The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C. 20500; Alfonso Jackson, Secretary of HUD, U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, 451 7th St. SW, Washington, D.C. 20410; and Senator Barbara Boxer, 112 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510-0505.

1515 Webster St,#303
Oakland, CA 94612Phone: (510) 238-8080, ext. 303

E-mail: Spirit

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Editor : Terry Messman

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