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I'm on the brink of homelessness and I feel TERROR

I'm glad GW Bush and everybody in DC is dedicated to waging the war on terror! Let's expand it, because...
...I'm on the brink of homelessness and I feel TERROR. I was laid off in 2003 from a good paying job. I looked for another until my benefits ran out, then I had to get a near minimum wage job. I don't have health insurance and my savings are almost gone, so it's getting harder and harder to pay the rent. What I feel when I think about what might happen if my kid had some serious illness I couldn't pay for to keep him alive is TERROR. What I feel when i think about having depleted all of my life savings and ending up in shelters is TERROR. When I think about the neighborhood my kid plays in and all the meth addicts around here I feel TERROR. The thought that I might be homeless and scratch my unbathed nuts on the street one day, to be tazered or shot by a cop who claims I'm reaching for a weapon makes me experience TERROR.

...I'm glad we have a pious Christian president like GW Bush and a government full of people devoted to supporting this war on TERROR, because millions of Americans live with the same kind of TERROR I am feeling. I'm sure if his daughters were very sick and without health insurance, and he'd lost all the money he made from insider trading on Harken Energy, the Texas Rangers scandal, and his Nazi war fortune trust fund, he would feel TERROR, too.

...Please President Bush, address the nation on the war on TERROR and tell us how you intend to defeat TERROR caused by poverty, inadequate health care in the world's richest country, and corruption in the police state you're creating.

a lot more people may have to find how to live without money 08.Jul.2005 15:18

Peak Oil

As the petroleum runs out and the petroleum-based economy crashes, we might all have to find a way to meet needs without money. Fairly pitiful, isn't it, that we don't know any longer how to heal ourselves, or how to feed ourselves unless someone else brings the food to us? HAY! Maybe you can actually grow food yourself, or learn from others how to heal yourself without doctors?! SWEET!

Some resources (websites coming soon hopefully):

- Oregon Oil Awareness

- Portland Freeskool

Also, Food Not Bombs serves dinner at 5:30P, five days a week. Vegan, healthy food, and it is easy to volunteer if you just show up at a dinner and ask about it. Tue and Fri at Colonel Summers Park (SE 17th & Taylor by the pavilion or "Gimme Shelter"), and Wed Thu Sat at the NW Park & Couch by the elephant.

changes 08.Jul.2005 15:44


changes are inevitable. you are strong enough to withstand because you have the truth.

i too have been on the edge for a long time - for many reasons- and all good ones.

we adapt well- and will have plenty of company soon enough.


Anarchy-nonymous 08.Jul.2005 15:50

George Bender

I know the feeling. A few years ago I was getting very nervous about where next month's rent was coming from. And I didn't have a dependent. Below are some website addresses that might help. Also check the resources guide in the latest "street roots."




I wish there were more people using Portland Indymedia who were interested in economic issues. Seems like all that most people care about is the latest conspiracy theory. If they ever find themselves in danger of homelessness or without access to medical care, their attitude will change in a hurry.

I agree 08.Jul.2005 17:02

One step away

I agree it is alot tougher surviving under Bush. He has succeeded in propping up the upper classes and allowing an insane real estate market which has benefited persons having resources to speculate on propertys. The result is sky high rental prices and the poor are having a difficult time-I know I am, I cannot afford a decent place to live. We all know the middle class is rapidly dissapearing. Nothings getting cheaper but wages are stagnant. The numbers of people having multiple propertys(excess wealth) are high, real estate speculation is driving poverty as a result, the poor can't afford housing.

And I agree learing to live with little money is a valuable skill which will be needed sooner or later, likely sooner. The collapse is coming, no doubt about it. In many places it is already here. The statistics on the amount of people using the food banks in Oregon is evidence of real economic problems in this state.

brink's robbery 09.Jul.2005 00:57


I went to court on Wednesday for an eviction hearing; I had some legal counsel provided by a wonderful, witty man, Harry Ainsworth. I/we were opposed by a subcontractor who appears and handles a large number of cases for the Corporate Property Management Plaintiffs. In my case he was representing Princeton Property Management Inc. He looked like Elmer Fudd, this subcontractor who serves the corporate interests. Small, mean, aggressive and not very truthful.

I estimate there were close to 200 preliminary eviction hearing cases called that sunny day, July 6. Most were dismissed because: the defendent (renter) didn't appear, the defendent had reached an agreement with the landlord prior to the hearing (pay rent/vacate); the defendent had already 'jumped out'--the parlance that Harry used for the tenant leaving prior to the hearing.

Approximately 75 cases remained. We, the tenants, were packed like sardines into the undersized courtroom. Apparently, the county now needs a larger courtroom, like the room used for traffic court, to hear eviction cases. At least twenty people were standing, spilling out into the hallway. When your case is called, the judge has instructed you to go out into the hall and attempt to reach an agreement with the agent of the property owner. Elmer Fudd, of Action Services, was handling a variety of cases before he got to mine. I got to watch him work. In all cases he demanded all the money owed for back and current rent, plus late fees and the cost of court filing immediately, or, you must vacate in seven days. The judge had instructed us that we can go to arbitration if we can't reach an agreement. Well, that is not really the case. Both sides must agree to arbitration and Mr. Fudd don't do no arbitration. So, your third option is to go to trial. Prior to addressing my case, out in the hall, I observed him closing deals with other frightened tenants. He coerced them into signing deals that it is unlikely the tenant will be able to keep. The judge has already frightened the tenant by telling them that any deal made in the hall is legal and binding. If you miss the deadline for a payment by one minute, you are subject to immediate eviction. Nonetheless, tenants were being railroaded into payment plans that they probably won't be able to adhere to, unless they win the lottery.

Prior to my case, I watched him work with a young black women. Little Elmer Fudd was quite condescending towards her. She stood up for herself when the matter of making all payments by money order was being written into a contract, with payments I doubt she could keep up with. She told him she had never bounced a check with the landlord and she thought his demand was excessive; she would not agree to it. He would not listen to her. He got up and walked away, his face beet-red with anger. Arbitration my ass.

Next it was my turn. I knew I would be bound to any agreement I signed and if I was late by one minute, I would be out of my abode and have an eviction on my record. So, I offered a plan to get caught up that I could work with. He practically laughed at my offer of 500 dollars in two weeks.. Next month's rent on time. And I would make up the balance of June, plus court cost and late fees at the rate of one hundred dollars a month. He shook his head, barely letting me finish. No, this is what you are going to do: he wanted June's rent, July's rent court costs and late fees immediately, for a total of 1,168 dollars due today, or I could move out in one week. I asked for arbitration. He said that his client would not allow for any room on this. I said I will go to trial, even though I knew from talking to Harry that I didn't have a leg to stand on. There was a slim possibility that they had given me a 'bad serve.' But that just bought me some more time. They would simply serve again.

While Elmer Fudd waited inside the courtroom for our case to come up, I stood out in the hall and talked with Harry. We spent about a minute on my case; the rest of the time we were just joking around. Being evicted, a forced move, is akin to dying--forced out of your body--and Harry has a gallows humor that I found to be refreshing. I knew by talking with Harry out in the hall, that made it look like I had some strategy. Afterall, Action Sevices was handling so many cases, he couldn't possibly know the particulars of mine. I re-entered the courtroom with Harry standing at my back, wearing his bad tie, hippy shoes and toothy grin. Elmer and I reached the bench and I informed the judge that Elmer had refused arbitration, so I had to go to trial. Mr. Fudd got very defensive, stating the strict instructions from his client, Princeton. At the last second, as the judge was about to schedule a trail, I looked at Mr. Fudd and asked if he would give me an extra week to move out. He blinked. And we were out in the hall siging the agreement. Like I was playing Texas Hold 'em, I got him to fold when I was holding rags.

Still, all this maneuvering and bluffing only bought me an extra week in my home...that I have lived in for four years. And, as of this writing, I have nowhere to go for me or my possessions, which include an old computer with four unpublished final manuscripts on it: two novels and two books of poems.

And the only reason I was able to maneuver at all was because I had talked with an attorney the day before, the attorney was present and I kept my head on with one hour sleep in a very stressed-out situation, and an adversary that does this for a living. My agreement, binding to Princton as well, states that I owe them no money; I agree to move out by the 20th and I will not have any record of eviction. I was advised, however, that because record keeping in Multco county moves so slow, the court filing could take up to a year to disappear. And that scares away potential landlords doing a background check. It is illegal to deny housing to a person who has been filed on but not evicted in Oregon. But try to prove that.

After signing my agreement with Mr. Fudd, me and Harry and my adversary stood around in the hall and cracked jokes. Harry even got the little man to smile. A miracle in itself. Harry and I went outside on a fine sunny morning and joked around for another twenty minutes or so, before he returned to his smallish, sort-of-run-down office in the building across from the library. Basically, he is fighting for the little guy, which, unfortunately, usually turns out to be meth addicts. He was only half kidding. He gets paid all his fees, by court order, any time he wins a case against the landlord. He doesn't really expect a client who is being evicted to pay him when he loses, unless they are renting a luxury condo. His whole business is speculative. If I had decided to go to trial, he would get paid if he found a way to defeat Princeton Property Inc. He received nothing from me for his consultation time and moral support, except a copy of my last poetry chapbook.

And I still need a place for me and my stuff, not necessarily the same place, by a week from next Wednesday.

And yes, I am afraid, too. I turn 53 next month and I'm not as adaptable as I once was. I have never gone homeless without a job, car and some money in my pocket...not since I was twenty, and just wanted to bum around for awhile. Strange thing is, last summer I didn't have a care in the world, finishing the first draft of my second novel and living off a small inheritance. Ironically, my book is currently in the hands of a publisher, who is considering it, but he is so busy getting out three books right now, that he can't give it the attention "it deserves." Meanwhile, how do I tell him all the contact information that he has for me will no longer work in a week and a half. I don't know where I will be. Or, how often I will be able to check my email at the library. Do I tell him the truth? Even more ironically, I just finished printing out the final manuscript about five days ago, knowing my life was about to get turned upside down. It sits in a box on the floor of my soon-to-be-vacant apartment mocking me. All 373 pages. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, so you wanted to be a writer.

My life is getting almost kafkaesque.

It comes down to pride, really. I had a more difficult time telling my mother, who suffers from parkinson's and resides in a nursing home in chicago, that I was losing my home. What a thing to have to tell her. But I did. So, I can swallow my pride and tell this publisher exactly what is going on, as far as I know, which isn't that much, except I won't be here in this apartment with this phone on July, 21st.

200 cases a day in Multnomah County. Eviction, it's not just for meth addicts anymore. It's happening for everybody. And the courtroom is bursting at the seams with our fears and sorrows. Mine is just one of those stories.

Frank H. Wall is Elmer Fudd 09.Jul.2005 05:37

another victim evicted

I paid my rent, and was still evicted, because "Elmer Fudd" lied to the Judge.
That's exactly what he looks liked! And how he acts!



FRANK H WALL [home address and phone one of below unless he just moved]
(503) 287-8183
(503) 335-3612

Wall and Colby
812 SW Washington Suite 910
Portland, OR 97205
(503) 223-6066 [Phone]
(503) 223-0903 [Fax]

The new repression is economic 09.Jul.2005 09:00

Jody Paulson

... it seems so much more refined, and *acceptable* than the old approach, which was blatant violence. But it's every bit as horrible.

Frank Morales did a good job describing how banks and the city colluded to destroy neighborhoods with a potential for active dissent, displacing their occupants into state-dependancy and the shelter system in his Dec. 22 '04 interview on Guns and Butter.
You can read more about it here:

Moving away from the obvious threat of the a concentrated ghetto, think about who has really been hit lately, economically. Tech workers. Computer nerds. The '90's held great promise towards the idea of freedom of information, free intellectual property, the free flow of ideas -- all inimical to the kind of power structure the neocons thrive on. Now all their jobs are in India, and the creative promise and playfulness of the early Internet has all but dried up and blown away. That's because this sort of an attitude constitutes a direct threat to the fear-and-limitation-powered heirarchical order.

Only 4 short years ago, I thought my economic future was secured. I was working on a promising thesis, programming and designing computer applications, and presenting a paper at a convention in Buffalo, NY with peers from places like MIT and Duke University. I'm now living in a homeless shelter, and have been off and on since the beginning of 2002. The only jobs I've been able to get have been ones where I was hired on the spot. My mail has been purloined. I didn't used to get certain phone messages. I'm inclined to think this was part of a concerted effort to keep me down because I've been outspoken about certain sensitive issues. Why threaten violence when you can neutralize your political oppenents by destroying their finances, and simultaneously (according to this country's value system) their credibility? I'm not the only outspoken person to suddenly face economic catastrophy. I agree with George Bender that it'd be nice to focus more on these issues, and develop some kind of economic solidary. Though I'll admit I'm a conspiracy junkie ... but what if economic repression is, in itself, a nefarious plan to stifle dissent?

Related links:
Jody's guide to homelessness

What They Don't Tell You: Gary Webb and COINTELPRO

Directed energy harassment -- a personal account

Terror is the whole point! 09.Jul.2005 09:59

Anger problem

Terror is the whole point of both property law and the employment system. People who are terrified of being homeless follow orders, kiss ass and don't challenge the bosses. All the "Libertarian" crap about opportunity and liberty is a lie because the rich creeps and their henchmen like Elmer Fudd (and YOUR boss!) know perfectly well that insecurity is terrifying, and they are willing to do anything to anyone to avoid facing that themselves. They know that their claim to superiority is so phony that advertising and religion can't quite guarantee enough people's obedience, so they have to use fear just to make sure.

Portland and every other town is run by people who make money selling land they never created but stole by force from the Indians. Deposing them is the only way to end homelessness.

There are alternatives if we are all willing to work to create them 09.Jul.2005 11:54

Working Class Mama

Thank you so much for writing this extremely important piece. I too have been through a lot of hell with landlords. Even ones that are supposed to be nonprofit. But I have some ideas. There are a lot of things we can do to eliminate them all together. We just have to come together, tighten our belts tighter for just a little bit, and pool our funds/credit.

If we form enough collectives that are accountable by design to the community then we can literally run these land barons out of business. Creating a system where rent is no higher than mortgage and/or property tax payments. Community land trusts are the anti-gentrification and anti-landlord. It could be like Reach low income housing only accountable to the community/renters instead. Like they did in Spain in the 30s (before the communists took over by force and the fascists invaded).

By forming collectives we could take over all of the industries involved in gentrification. Force it to an accountable and beneficial model. Take over and attack the exploiters every step of the process from construction to real estate to rental. Choke them off til they have no hold on our communities. All of this is perfectly legal and yet very revolutionary. Plus if it's supported by sustained underground direct action seperate from the legal actions. We have a force for revolutionary change that can't be stopped without extreme measures (which we could be prepared, like the Panthers, for anyway).

This is our time to rise. While the troops are busy oversees. The government is preoccupied with terrorism and international issues. Like legal urban guerrillas we creep up through the cracks and when it's too late for them we pull their luxurious rug of support right out from under them. We'll see how the snakes at Princeton and Elmer Fudd like being booted out on their asses. I'll save my best loogies for them...

Libertarian Crap and "Anger Problems" (above post)... 09.Jul.2005 12:52

xyster xysterxxavier@comcast.net

Since when is "Liberty" and "Opportunity" crap?
Do we renters have either -- NO!
Is it "crap" to want the same things those who came here to escape the oppression of King George and his Corporations, like the East India Company, centuries ago?
Is it wrong to continue the fight for the same ideals our ancestors fought and died for -- liberty and justice for all?

The fight for freedom, liberty, opportunity and justice is not over.

- an oppressed Libertarian tenant

Fighting The System Individually 09.Jul.2005 13:33

xyster xysterxxavier@comcast.net

It doesn't take communist collectives and money investment schemes to overthrow the system!
The court eviction mills will come to a grinding halt if even a small percentage of tenants evicted would actually show up to fight their evictions. If each tenant facing an unfair eviction would demand a jury trial, guaranteed by the 7th amendment to the US constitution, Tenant rights would be served by a jury of their peers, and the system would be further challenged, if not totally overthrown.

On Monday, July 11 8:30 am 150 N First Ave Hillsboro [ join us if interested - we'll be the bug-eyed, scared, shaky couple in their early 30s :-) ], my girlfriend and I will stand in front of a Washington County Judge (Washington Co District Court), and with the very same eviction-master Elmer Fudd to one side, say the following (also written in our "Affirmative Defense and Counterclaim" - a legal document we wrote ourselves because our attorney's was worthless bunk:

1. Defendants deny all allegations not specifically admitted herein
2. Defendants are entitled to all reasonable fees, costs and disbursements pursuant to ORS 90.255
3. Defendants are entitled to a trial by jury, guaranteed by the Seventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, upheld for ejectment actions by the U.S. Supreme Court in rulings including Whitehead v. Shattuck, 138 U.S. 146, 151 (1891); Ross v. Bernhard, 396 U.S. 531 (1970); Pernell v. Southall Realty, 416 U.S. 363 (1974):

"MR. JUSTICE MARSHALL delivered the opinion of the Court...In May 1971, petitioner, Dave Pernell, entered into a lease agreement with respondent, Southall Realty, for the rental of a house in the District of Columbia....In his answer, Pernell also requested a trial by jury. The trial judge, however, struck the jury demand, tried the case himself, and entered judgment for Southall... .This Court has long assumed that actions to recover land, like actions for damages to a person or property, are actions at law triable to a jury. In Whitehead v. Shattuck, 138 U.S. 146, 151 (1891), for example, we recognized that '[i]t would be difficult, and perhaps impossible, to state any general rule which would determine, in all cases, what should be deemed a suit in equity as distinguished from an action at law . . .; but this may be said, that, where an action is simply for the recovery and possession of specific real or personal property, or for the recovery of a money judgment, the action is one at law.' "
it goes on, I won't bore you with the rest. The salient part other tenants might consider when battling the system, and the Landlord, is the part demanding the jury trial.

work smarter, not harder 09.Jul.2005 14:31

Working Class Mama

I did not suggest communist collectives. In fact I disapprove of communism as it is inherently oppressive just as capitalism.

I was suggesting something different. Community land trusts. Not government owned property. Community owned property. With no profit incentive the dollar value of the land gradually becomes meaningless as it is never sold. Renting such land becomes very affordable as the community only pays mortgage and/or property tax every month. Bureaucratically speaking, it is not as difficult as it sounds. Also renters then have much, much more rights as equal owners of the land.

I'm not saying you shouldn't exploit loopholes in the court system when you live under the thumb of a landlord. I am saying it would be a breath of fresh air to eliminate them all together. They have no business being in this equation at all. Why should they ever deserve to have our money when there is another way of doing things? I mean we're talking relatively little effort if everyone pitches in.

The problem that does exist with the courts is that it is expensive, time consuming, landlords are far more wealthy, and no matter how many loopholes you find the court does not function in a legal vacuum. Judges and juries rule on whatever THEIR common sense tells them loosely based on laws and previous precedents. Unfortunately we live in a very classist system and often the people who can afford to do jury duty are not, in reality, OUR peers. Judges are almost always from a wealthy background. More often than not we lose and then have to pay the opposition's court fees as well.

I would prefer to create a way where we can all circumvent that trap.

More than one way, as they say... 09.Jul.2005 15:57

xyster xysterxxavier@comcast.net

There's more than one way to, well ... I have a cat on my lap, so I won't say it :-)
Synergy is a good thing. 2 x 3 = 12, sometimes.
Although an "individualist" at heart, I always felt like a truly free society couldn't stay truly free, without a mix of individual islands, afloat in a sea of voluntary collective systems. Perhaps it will take the same mix of approaches to get us there.

Fight back 09.Jul.2005 17:09

George Bender

I would support anything that might help, although I'll have to do it from a safe distance, as I'm now living in Eugene. I had to leave Portland after I retired, on a very low Social Security income, and couldn't afford Portland housing. Rents have just gotten too high for poor people in Portland. In Eugene I have a quad (four apartments share a kitchen) for $300 a month, including utilities, although it took me a while to find it. So one alternative is to leave Portland.

Another would be to put pressure on your city council members to create more low-cost housing. See the Community Alliance of Tenants (CAT) website at  http://www.aracnet.com/~cat/

As for a "conspiracy" to keep poor people down, I wouldn't call it that, because it has been right out in the open since the early 1970s, although few people pay any attention. According to what I've read, what happened is that U.S. corporations started to feel the pressure of foreign competition in the 1970s. They responded by being "lean and mean," laying off people, outsourcing jobs to other countries where people have a lower standard of living and work cheaper, closing factories, lowering wages, busting unions and employing legal and illegal immigrants.

To make us even more desperate for any job at any wage, state and federal legislators have continually cut government safety net programs like welfare, food stamps, Medicaid. This is still happening in Salem right now, and I don't see anyone with any power standing up to it. Democrats have the governorship and majority control of the state Senate, yet they are planning further cuts in an already decimated Oregon Health Plan.

I suggest you support your local Jobs with Justice group, since they seem to be the only ones fighting for the working class. Most people, including users of this website, seem not to know or care what is happening, which is that working-class people in this country are becoming obsolete.

Portland --  http://www.jwjpdx.org/
Eugene --  http://www.solidaritynetwork.org/

A comment on "fight back" by George Bender 10.Jul.2005 08:37

Kirk McCall kirkbmccall@yahoo.com

Hey George,

You stated that people should pressure city council members to provide low cost housing.

This is a guarantee of high cost housing. If you really want low cost housing to be built, may i suggest that the city council, and all housing laws be abolished.
Housebuilders like me will then be able to provide houses at very low cost.

I recently built a very nice two bedroom house in Portland for $9000.

Of course, if i had been opted to purchase a city permit with the required unending inspections taxes and fees, the cost of the house would have been far, far more. I rent the houses i build to friends for a nominal fee and everybody is happy, except the city government, which has missed the opportunity to collect their extortion fee.

Do not rely on government!

Build a house yourself. Portland dumpsters are overflowing with perfectly good used building materials, although housing laws require all material used in construction to be new. If you want to eliminate the cost of housing from your budget, you must be willing to buck the system and use creativity.


"Libertarian" crap clarification 11.Jul.2005 14:59

Anger problem

To Xysterxxavir, just to clarify, the reason i put "Libertarian" in quotes in my initial post was simply to attribute the label to those using it without necessarily accepting their self-definition myself. Sorry to be unclear, but the stress of eviction hanging over me after years of un- and underemployment doesn't aid the clarity of my thinking.
Regarding "crap," of course these principles, as abstractions, have long and sometimes noble histories. But that doesn't ennoble people who use them as bait fool people into working, voting or buying against their own true interests.
By the way, I skimmed your website. My great condolences for your & your girlfriend's troubles, and I wish you luck in your fight for justice. Your insight regarding jury trials rings true, and I hope there is not some Catch-22 loophole that ennables your opponents to skirt the Constitution via small claims court. My last bout of homelessness was, IMHO, partially caused by my landlord, Central City Concern, which is also entwined with the Business Alliance and the City of Portland. (I give the city about 25% credit, about the same to the City, partially because of their relationship with the Alliance, 25% myself and the rest to other local noble citizens.)

Where are the good Christians 28.Jul.2005 10:26

Michigan HoboFA Benequista@aol.com

I also agree, Anarchy-nonymous. My problem was that I applied for unemployment in May. I tried to keep on them so they would get the benefits to me before the July 1, 2005 rent deadline and I searched desparately for a job before my job project ended in May. (I can't believe I'm still unemployed. One fellow at the Ann Arbor Art Fair told me over the phone that he was looking for younger workers.) The unemployment agency didn't have to worry about being evicted, so it took its own sweet time. To be fair to them, I had to apply for unemployment from Ohio through Michigan but the process is a little more complicated than that and I know my problem could have been solved before now. I just received my unemployment checks on July 26, 2005 and that's too late to avoid court costs. Many landlords don't care if you don't have a job. In Michigan, my landlord charges me $35 late fee and $90 court costs before court is in session. (It goes up after the judgement) Thus, I'm about to be tossed out because I have the rent only. I have other bills to pay. I am glad Anarchy-nonymous spoke out because many people these days want to use yesterday's thoughts on todays troubles. Many of them (including those who call themselves Christians) still want to treat many of us like we're drug addicts, people-who-think-someone-owes-them-something; lazy or crazy people. What's worse for me is my own family thinks that way. They don't understand how hard it really is out here. So they think the worst of me and boy have their hearts turned cold and hard! I feel sorry for them because it can happen to them. I'm watching the American Dream go down the toilet.