Many people with disabilities are dependent on government benefits in order to survive. However, the process of acquiring these benefits is nowhere near easy. It can be deeply intimidating, making it feel inaccessible for those who already struggle with disabilities.
In April, the City of Berkeley voted to enforce a new law that limits the amount of space your personal be- longings can take up on the sidewalk. The new regulations state that if your personal property takes up more than 9 square feet, the city can take it away, and you could be subject to a citation.
I always get this weird flashback when I’m walking down Telegraph Avenue on Thanksgiving day. Back in the Good Old Days I used to always meet up with my pals Duncan and Vince at this Telegraph Avenue coffee shop every Thanksgiving. Joint called the Wall Berlin. The Wall Berlin was one of the few coffee shops that was open on Thanksgiving. So it became kind of an annual holiday tradition for the three of us. I can still picture us sitting there at our table outside the café, quietly sipping on our coffee and talking about our plans for the holiday.
Berkeley’s homeless residents staged a protest march on Wednesday, October 23rd, starting at the Seabreeze encampment on University Ave and West Frontage road and ending at Berkeley City Hall. The purpose of the march was to bring attention to the cruelty of what I will call the “homeless shuffle,” the process by which agencies such as CalTrans, the Berkeley Police Department, and Amtrak take turns forcing people to move from corner to corner, and disposing of all their personal property in the process.
Science has now proven that trauma can be passed down intergenerationally; that rats whose mothers were exposed to stressors like water can epigenetically inherit a special fear of water. Before we had this science, nearly every culture on Earth had ghost stories.
I must start off by saying I laughed when I heard that Alameda County agreed to lease the City of Oakland use of the Old North County Jail for $1.00 a year. Would the officials who had this idea stay in North County? Exactly how it is that this is an option just because someone else feels like, “well it’s better than where you are now so this is what I have to offer you, take it or leave it”?
All throughout my incarceration, I have never called my cell a home. Moreover, I consider the bars that cage me disrespectful, even to animals. So, I think Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf let down some very vulnerable people when she told the San Francisco Chronicle that a vacant jail is an “obvious” option for a homeless shelter.
When the problem of homelessness was in its infancy and jails were expanding to greet new “clients” each day, the issue concerning the growing number of unsheltered people on the street was practically invisible. Years later, two wars overseas, and a financial meltdown created The Great Recession.