Those experiencing homelessness are viewed as squatters, occupying lands they don’t own. They collect the modern-day gold of the streets — recyclable materials including metals, glass, plastic and aluminum cans — hoping to earn an honest, independent living. Most are being pushed out by forces that are out of their control.
“I’ve been so impressed at how hard people work to get their recycling done,” said Joe Liesner. “The thing that impresses me most — and I don’t think I’ll ever get over it — is the older women that go out. You can just see the wear and tear that’s put on them.”
Street recyclers and the recycling businesses that work cooperatively with them are under pressure from skyrocketing land prices, city hurdles, and community perceptions which can make or break the razor-thin margins of even the strongest and oldest of Oakland’s traditional businesses. Community support is crucial.
Amir Soltani’s friendship with Miss Kay is the behind-the-scenes story of the film. He cared for her in many ways. As often happens when we give to others without judgment, he received much in return from the volatile, loving, emotionally broken, chronically homeless, but so full of hope woman, Miss Kay.
For decades, Santa Cruz has progressively sought to criminalize homelessness and the recent vote is little more than a sad confirmation of that well-established and deeply entrenched policy. Following the vote, one longtime observer commented that “now our community is officially homeless unfriendly.”
“Homeless people are the most creative, talented people I’ve ever met — we have to be. I’ve seen it through artwork, musicians, the places we design to sleep,” one woman commented about the lack of employment for homeless people. “We are wasting huge amounts of human potential and talent.”
The Right to Rest Campaign is defending the human rights of homeless people by supporting legislation in California, Colorado and Oregon to decriminalize homelessness. These Bills would protect the rights of homeless people to move freely, rest, eat, and perform religious observations in public space as well as protect their right to occupy a legally parked motor vehicle.
“Richmond’s rents, like rents all across the Bay Area, are rising sky high, causing much hardship and displacement. It’s very important to slow down this tide of rising rents. We don’t want outrageously high rent increases to continue, such that more and more struggling renters are forced out of our city.”
The Chronicle has temporarily won its media war on homeless people by portraying the mayor and the city government as the underdog, while poor people suffering the effects of the housing crisis are portrayed as stubbornly unwilling to be part of the one percent’s good fortune.
Many are interested in tiny houses for the homeless community. “I hope it’s the beginning of an upswell of community support to get this tiny homes program under way in Berkeley. It seems that there is a possibility we can do that.”
During the Black Lives Matter protests in Berkeley, people trying to nonviolently protest police misconduct were obstructed and injured. Press officers were injured. Religious leaders were injured. People trying to help the injured were injured. Yet the Police Review Commission report about police tactics has glaring omissions.