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The SFPO and Homelessness

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The San Francisco Peoples’ Organization is a coalition of community based organizations, labor, advocacy groups, and individuals committed to building a progressive vision for San Francisco. We are creating a long-term strategic alliance of people of color, women, labor, working poor, lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons, seniors, persons with disabilities, faith-based communities, youth, and any group or individual that will fight for economic and social justice. We believe that through grassroots, constituency-based, multi-issue organizing efforts we can transform San Francisco into a progressive city that places human needs and the common good above everything else.


How about homeless people? It’s a pretty long list already; one more word-representing one more community consisting of people very much in need of, and pretty much automatically on the front line of the fight for “economic and social justice”-wouldn’t throw off the balance.

In fact, although “homelessness” was conspicuously absent from the SFPO’s initial language concerning housing (which spoke of “affordable housing” and “tenants’ rights,” the inaugural convention’s second set of “Issues Workshops” included a session titled “Affordable Housing/Homelessness.” Co-chaired by James Tracy (Community Housing Partnership) and Barbara Blong (Senior Action Network), this well-attended and productive workshop did much to ensure that the issue of homelessness will be assuming its proper place in the SFPO agenda and its proper context in the overall progressive movement-which was precisely the topic of COH director Juan Prada ‘s remarks during a brief presentation at the outset of the session:

According to Prada: “We need to move from compassion to justice. Compassion can mean pity and distance… The City’s current policy of “Care” is based on pity for the “chronically homeless,” who make up only 20 percent of the total homeless population. Homeless people need housing-all of them. We need to move away from negative individual stereotypes-homeless individuals as mentally ill and drug addicts-and focus on housing as a right shared by everyone. The issue isn’t compassion and pity for individuals, it’s social justice for all.”

¡Viva la revolucion!

Author: Street Sheet Editor

The STREET SHEET is the oldest continuously published street news paper in the United States. Organizationally, it is the public education and outreach tool of the Coalition on Homelessness. Every month, the STREET SHEET reaches 32,000 readers through over 200 homeless or low-income vendors. Our vendors are charged nothing for the papers they receive, and keep all money they earn through STREET SHEET distribution.

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