Lee: north-america

Housing for the People: “Dear President Biden…”

Interweaving her own personal story with evidence of the current homelessness issue in Oregon, columnist Mandee Seeley drafts a heartfelt epistle to the US President about how to properly address the housing crisis. The letter is the latest instalment in INSP’s Housing for the People series.

KC Tenants – an activist group experiencing the harms of the affordable housing and eviction crisis first-hand offer – offers a model of possibility for fed up tenants worldwide

Kansas City, smack dab in the US Midwest in a Republican-led state, is often overlooked in the national conversation about the country’s housing crisis. KC Tenants – an organisation made up of members of Kansas City’s communities of renters – fights for cooperative housing, social housing, and a dignified response to the city’s housing, eviction, and homelessness crises. Ever since its formation in 2019, it’s made its demands for a better world known through carefully-researched policy proposals as well as direct actions matching the urgency of the issues they’re addressing. Its work offers a model of possibility for fed up tenants worldwide. INSP North America spoke to KC Tenants co-founder Diane Charity.

A holiday message from L’Itinéraire’s Daniel Grady

Having sold the street paper for 15 years, L’Itinéraire’s Daniel Grady explains the reasons why he’s thankful for it as we reach the end of another year.

Megaphone vendors on the food they cook and eat over the holidays

Put on the elastic pants and serve up a Megaphone meal using vendor recipes sourced from their food memories.

The Housing Narrative Lab is helping tell the story of housing insecurity and homelessness in America

The Housing Narrative Lab is a new communications and narrative research hub dedicated to sharing the stories of people facing housing insecurity and the systems that drive people into homelessness. Here, its director Marisol Bello writes about what’s wrong with American policies and how they negatively impact women who remain the vast majority of single parents in the US, some of whom have to choose- during a pandemic – between leaving young children at home alone or risking their jobs.

Housing for the People: “Like the air we breathe, housing is a basic human need”

Mandee Seeley spent three of her five years in Oregon without a home, living in the national forest with her husband and two children. For the latest instalment of INSP’s ‘Housing for the People’ column, she writes from her personal perspective about the basic requirement of all humans to have a home, and how the system should reflect that.

Housing for the People: Housing justice as a central voting issue

Janiah Miller – an advocate experienced in providing support to political campaigns and offices, assisting in legislative and constituent support, and building intersectional coalitions within the community – writes for INSP’s ‘Housing for the People’ column about how the affordable housing crisis remains at a historic nadir and how local organizations must continuously elevate affordable housing and homeownership as top priorities in their communities and bringing them to the attention of those with the power to affect change.

Housing for the People: “We got into our new apartment right before Christmas – it was the best gift!”

Mindy Woods and her son were forced to leave their dilapidated and mold infested home when it began to affect their health. Their experience thereafter is a story of lows – navigating the Kafkaesque public housing and benefits rigmarole, facing up to the “embarrassment” of having to tell her son’s teachers they were homeless – but also the high of finally getting a place to call home. A tireless housing and social justice advocate, Mindy shares her story here – as part of INSP’s new ‘Housing for the People’ column – to affect public perception and create policy change.

Poster campaign emphasises the importance of getting vaccinated against COVID-19

Social art and design lab Amplifier has made available to street papers posters which emphasise the importance of getting vaccinated against COVID-19 and encourage those who have yet to be immunised to do so. Coinciding with street papers reporting on the attitudes and experiences of marginalised communities when it comes to the vaccine, the posters aim to spread the message of community protection.

Real Change’s Debbie Nichols: “I am the oddball because I am out there!”

In 1999, Debbie Nichols held a prominent job and was an active member in her community, but an abusive relationship and a drug addiction set her down a troubling path. Luckily, Nichols found street paper Real Change, which she said made a positive impact in helping her find her way back to her normal routines.

Street Roots vendor Chris Drake: “Treat me like any other man”

Portland street paper vendor Chris Drake discusses misconceptions about trans people and what visibility means to him.

“Better for vendors, as well as for customers”: Washington DC’s Street Sense goes weekly

Despite the uncertainty caused by pandemic lockdowns, Street Sense has made progress and is now going weekly. Located in the US capital, Street Sense Media will start publishing street papers every week starting today (14 April). This increase in frequency is also predicted to attract more vendors and increase their weekly earnings. Testimonials from vendors and INSP show excitement and anticipation for this growth in the street paper.

“Nobody should go without the shot”: Dispatches from vaccinated street paper vendors

With Covid vaccines being rolled out differently across the world, that means marginalised and vulnerable communities in different parts of the world are receiving immunisation at different rates. But it does mean some good news: street paper vendors are beginning to receive the jab, and with the world opening up again, that’s more than welcome.

“Housing is a basic human need”: The US Government needs to address the housing crisis

Brook Fadley discusses the lack of safe and accessible housing infrastructure in her op-ed, the last in a series in collaboration with housing advocacy group Community Change. She writes that many people are vulnerable to homelessness due to the pandemic and the government needs to step up to solve it, urging the Biden Administration to pass the New Deal for Housing Justice.

Proper housing means having a home for your family

Idalia Rios discusses the definition of homelessness in this op-ed, the latest in a series in collaboration with housing advocacy group Community Change. To this immigrant mother, you can be homeless even if you have a roof over your head. She writes how proper housing, a foundation for a family, is a home. She urges the community to take action and to step into someone else’s shoes to provide more people with real homes.

“The government should be the helping hand because we are just starting off on our own”: US college students battle basic needs insecurity

Three in five college students in the United States faced problems like housing insecurity or hunger in 2020. Despite their effort to receive a higher education, many students are neglected by their institutions and the government in terms of basic needs. Strides are being made across the US by students and nonprofits to combat these issues.

Songs we love: Curbside Chronicle vendors shout out the tunes they hold close alongside top-tier musicians

Who doesn’t have a song that’s made a special impact on their life? The Curbside Chronicle reached out to musicians from across the US, as well as a few of their own street paper vendors, to weigh in on the tracks that have changed the way they look at the world.

Why centering lived experience is vital for the future of housing policy-making in the US

In the second of a series of columns about the Housing Playbook initiative to influence policy direction in the US around housing and homelessness by advocacy group Community Change, Zella Knight, an LA County housing commissioner, writes about how those with experience of the system are integral to changing it.

Grow your own way: Inside The Curbside Chronicle’s flower shop

Recently, the long gestating flower shop project of Oklahoma City street paper The Curbside Chronicle finally opened. Here, we take an inside look at the opening day of Curbside Flowers, in downtown Oklahoma City, which provides people transitioning out of homelessness a workplace for their blossoming talents — one bouquet at a time.

Triple Grand Slam winning tennis star Naomi Osaka: “The way I see it, I’m not half anything – I feel both Japanese and Haitian fully”

Tennis player Naomi Osaka rose to the summit of her sport by the age of 23. The three-time Grand Slam winner, who is Japanese-Haitian-American, drew particular attention last year when she wore masks emblazoned with the names of Black victims of police violence during the US Open, all while winning the tournament. In this wide-ranging interview during her preparations for the ongoing Australian Open, she spoke to INSP about her heritage, activism and using her platform for good.

Housing for the future: Andreanecia M. Morris on how the Housing Playbook Project will shape government’s responsibility to provide a home to those who need it

In this Q&A, housing advocate and expert Andreanecia M. Morris talks with Community Change communications fellow Darryl Lorenzo Wellington about the US housing crisis and recommendations for the new administration and Congress as part of the Housing Playbook Project.

The woman behind StreetWise podcast Where I Stay

Chicago street paper StreetWise and digital storytelling organisation Rivet recently collaborated to produce Where I Stay, a serialised documentary exploring “invisible homelessness”, housing instability and economic injustice in the United States. It centres around Angelica, who was kicked out of her home at age 12 due to family dynamics, but never lived on the street. Prisons, Vegas condos, the living room of a drug queenpin and an inpatient facility for adolescents all followed. In this series of standalone articles to support the podcast, StreetWise meets Angelica and speaks with local experts on the subject of youth homelessness.

Washington DC street paper vendors on disruption caused by Trump loyalists at Capitol riot

Trump’s rallies and actions in general have caused havoc to those living on the streets of Washington DC, whether it’s setting police and national guard troops on peaceful protestors last summer, or inciting riots at a rally last week as the US Senate moved to validate the election of Joe Biden as the next President. Vendors reflect on the chaos caused.

Combatting social isolation during the pandemic

During the course of the last year, COVID-19 has grown from an invisible threat to a pervasive international health emergency. The virus has also impacted mental health and sparked instances of relapse. Oklahoma City street paper The Curbside Chronicle spoke with those who’ve struggled with feeling alone and those working the frontlines of mental health to shine a light on the dark side of social isolation and discover some hope.

“To those we hold in high esteem”: Street Roots vendor Rick Davis remembers those who have been lost on the street

Rick Davis, a longtime vendor of Portland’s Street Roots, this year set about creating a dedication wall to mark Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day and all those who have died on the streets.

“The system is failing all the families that really need it”: How the threat of eviction has perpetuated health inequity and racial injustice during the pandemic

Black and Hispanic communities have faced inequities and injustices based on race even before the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that stimulus packages and eviction moratoriums are running out or expiring, futures are even more uncertain for these communities, who have also been hit hardest with higher job or income loss than white communities, says health and housing law expert Emily A. Benfer.

“I see opportunities for solutions”: The connections between food waste, homelessness, and COVID-19

Food waste and homelessness are often seen as two separate issues. However, there are many organizations across the United States working on solutions to both problems at once. Even with the difficulties of COVID-19, organizations are finding ways to help support the larger numbers of people needing food support by recovering significant amounts of food that would be wasted through shutdowns.

Rep. Ayanna Pressley asks marginalized communities to remember “our greatness is older than our oppression”

The first black woman to represent the state of Massachusetts in the US Congress, Ayanna Pressley, talks to INSP about racism as a public health crisis, housing and homelessness, the intersection of racial and housing justice, and the hope people with marginalized identities can have, even as the November election approaches in a hurricane of violence, corruption and upheaval.