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actions & protests | homelessness

Homeless Encampment in Olympia

On February 1st at 12 PM, the Olympia Poor People's Union (PPU) set up a tent encampment on city property.
On February 1st at 12 PM, the Olympia Poor People's Union (PPU) set up a tent encampment on city property. The date of the action intentionally corresponds with the city's implementation of an amended pedestrian interference code already in effect. The addition of Ordinance No. 6456n to the existing law criminalizes sidewalk sitting with a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. This act of civil disobedience, the encampment, was carried out in response to growing discontentment amongst Olympia's poor people over the slow, systematic attempt at the dispossession of our city's homeless, orchestrated and supported by some city officials and business owners.
In addition, significant portions of the population of Olympia have taken on a generally dismissive and apathetic attitude towards the plight of those in need. This is the inception of an ongoing effort on the part of the PPU to find a sustainable, dignified way to address the issue of homelessness in this area, rather than to ignore it or to punish its victims.
The PPU believes the rights to shelter, dignity; mental and physical health to be basic human entitlements; and that a community where all individual members are valued and their contributions recognized must be realized. The PPU believes that all people are entitled to these basic rights, and if these rights are not provided, we believe it is essential for us to take what is necessary for survival by the means available. The State thus far has proved inadequate in addressing our needs as human beings, and the situation has grown too urgent for us to wait for either institutionalized charity or bureaucratically hampered government aid. We thus are attempting to take matters into our own hands.
To be treated as human beings is our goal. As there is a stigma attached to being homeless, we will create homes of our own and show ourselves to be responsible, caring members of the community, as capable of taking care of ourselves as any other group of people. In our encampment, we will keep order, prohibiting drugs, alcohol, violence or theft. These are our only regulations. We will work towards creating sustainable, permanent housing for all who are in need and to create a space for those who are looked down upon to be integrated into the community, not out of charity or pity but out of acceptance, solidarity and mutual appreciation.

All Power to the People, -Olympia Poor People's Union
HOUSING FIRST! 04.Feb.2007 23:31

kirsten anderberg kirstena@resist.ca

Thank you very much for this show of solidarity with homeless folks. This is very important work, on several levels. THere is a growing nationwide movement called "Housing First" which is working to give homeless people permanent shelter without ANY strings attached. They believe that many people who are homeless are dealing with mental health and drug issues, and often it is not clear which came first, the housing issues or the mental health issues, as homelessness can make you "crazy" and being mentally ill, or even just being different than societal norms, such as being poor, can make one homeless, but housing first advocates are rightly stating that homelessness is not the same issue as mental illness or drug addiction. One should not have to cure their drug addiction or mental illness TO GET HOUSING. Homelessness is a separate issue.

Homelessness is cured by HOUSING. Many agencies demand homeless folks get "stable" BEFORE given housing, instead of vice versa. It is SICK to HOLD HOMELESS PEOPLE HOSTAGE IN HOMELESSNESS until they conquer their drug and mental illness problems. While homeless, the issues of mental illness and drug addiction actually take a back seat to SURVIVAL ISSUES...it is only once the immediate housing/safety issues are dealt with, that people can find the energy to begin to deal with OTHER problems they have. Giving housing to people to cure homelessness is the only real solution. We do not need more jails, hospitals, institutions, or programs with strings attached...we need more AFFORDALBLE HOUSING! ANd who creates this problem? GREEDY LANDLORDS, plain and simple. Which is why this artificial concept of land ownership is so sickening. Some grab a land that is not theirs, then sell it back to people at such high prices that these gluttons would prefer EMPTY housing to housing that is REASONABLY PRICED! I hear CEO's make 400 times the workers they use. In one day, CEO's make more than what a worker for their company makes IN A YEAR. Greed and class inequity is what causes homelessness, far more than mental health issues, unless you consider GREED a mental health issue! And who benefits most from low income housing programs like Section 8? WHy the LAND OWNERS, of course. ALL Section 8 is is a subsidy for LANDOWNERS and LANDLORDS in all reality. THat money goes straight from the government to the landlords...the poor folks are merely vehicles for said transactions...it is so sad what this rich country is doing around housing.

THere is no excuse for rambling houses full of rooms no one even sits in and then people cold and homeless on the streets...it is shameful. HOUSING FIRST makes a lot of sense. ONLY HOUSING CURES HOMELESSNESS. And only housing WITHOUT STRINGS has dignity.

Pathways to Housing is a HOUSING FIRST organization that is on the right track, in my opinion. Check them out at  http://www.pathwaystohousing.org/