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.
The 2019 one-night homeless count found 201 families (612 people), a count similar to the 2017 one-night count of 190 families (601 persons). That means 8 percent of the total counted homeless population is made up of families. The Coalition on Homelessness says the count is actually much higher, pointing out that the school district—using its own definition of homelessness—lists more than 2,000 students as being homeless.
As the homelessness crisis worsens, cities all over the U.S. are desperately trying to come up with solutions. California, for example, is in a frenzy to build new homeless shelters that will fit thousands of new shelter beds.
After spending 30 days in jail, a 52-year-old homeless man was sentenced to three years probation for illegal lodging, or sleeping outdoors. “A tired homeless man faced up to three years in prison for dozing off on a milk crate,” said Elisa Della-Piana. “Prison! For sleeping while sitting up…”
Reporting from “the shelters, back alleys, soup kitchen lines and slum hotels where mainstream reporters rarely or never visit,” Street Spirit runs stories on economic inequality and the daily grind of human rights violations that poor people face. It also chronicles the movement that is dramatically working for human rights.
In my nice neighborhood, I see many destitute people standing by the side of the road with cardboard signs, begging so they can buy something to eat. When we understand our common humanity, we are obliged to be grateful for what we have, and to not scoff at those who have less.
Whether you’re in prison in New York/ or a detention camp in the fields of Nebraska/ I am you/ Whether you’re sleeping on a square
of cardboard in Oakland/ or under a grid in Philadelphia/ I am you/ I am in every living pulsating cell/ that hungers for justice
“What an honor it was to accompany J. Fernandez to the United Nations and listen to him read his poem on a really big screen, and to see in front of the General Assembly the pictures of St. Mary’s Center and all of you. It was really inspiring and tear-provoking,” Carol Johnson said.