“At 15 years old, I was thrown from living barely above the poverty line to not having a home”: How the climate emergency exacerbates homelessness
In 2007, a flash flood ripped through Kathryn McKelvey’s home in a rural Oregon town, leaving it utterly destroyed and her family homeless. As fires now consume the western United States, McKelvey, a tireless homeless advocate, shows through her personal story how the climate crisis – and the increasing frequency and destructiveness of the natural disasters that come with it – is causing more and more people to fall into poverty and homelessness, with no safety net.
As Americans ready themselves for the November presidential election, housing may be more important than it has been in any recent election. In this op-ed for the INSP North America bureau, leaders from social action organisations – Community Change, Policy Link and Race Forward – lay out why this will be the case, and how housing is a pivot issue around a number of other key areas on voters’ minds, from racial justice to the economy.
Diane Yentel is the President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a membership organization dedicated solely to achieving socially just public policy that ensures people with the lowest incomes in the United States have affordable and decent homes. One of America’s leading voices on housing and homelessness, she spoke with INSP North America’s Israel Bayer about the housing crisis in America, what’s at stake in the upcoming Presidential election, the intersection of racial and climate justice with housing, and what readers can do about it.
King County, home to Seattle’s Real Change, was a key area in the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. Now, some normality is returning for its street paper vendors. Here are some of their stories.
In this article, The Contributor catches up with several of its street paper vendors to find out how their lives and sales have been affected since COVID-19 hit. Although The Contributor has been able to continue printing physical copies of the paper during the pandemic, its vendors have had to adapt in order to maintain both their sales and their relationships with customers in a way that is safe for everyone.
As near-constant Black Lives Matter protests have become a fixture near the White House, people experiencing homelessness in the area are finding themselves caught in the crossfire between demonstrators and law enforcement.
The discord of protests is “quite an ordeal” for people living outside, including those with PTSD who are troubled by loud noises. Street Roots reports on how Portland’s homeless community has reacted to the protests.
Struck by a rubber bullet: Street Roots staffer describes her experience as a Black woman at a Portland protest
“Surviving police brutality is a different type of trauma known to an endless number of Black people,” writes Street Roots staffer Sophie Maziraga.
Black lives matter: Protest movement against racism, oppression and police brutality sweeps across America
Since the death of George Floyd, a young black man killed by a white police officer as his colleagues stood idly by, protests have sprung up across the US and other parts of the world calling for an end to systemic racial injustices and police brutality. American street papers were present at many of those protests.
With lockdown restrictions being pulled back in some areas, and the new normal of social distancing takes form, street paper vendors are beginning to return to the pitches they have been absent from as the COVID-19 pandemic has spread. INSP spoke to some of the publications who have begun street selling again about how they prepared their vendors and how they have managed.
Throughout March and April, the world changed. COVID-19 turned something as simple as a trip to the park into a memory. Yes, it’s been a struggle. But when so much of the advice hinges on staying indoors and staying isolated, what does it mean if you’re experiencing homelessness? How do you shelter in place when you have no home? We have received dispatches from different parts of the world on this subject. Today: Oklahoma City, home of The Curbside Chronicle.
Now that the world has stopped spinning as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s a great time to take a moment to meet a few un-fur-gettable vendor pets and hear about their amazing impact. Pets are a huge part of Curbside Chronicle vendors’ lives and they actively brighten even their most difficult days. We hope you’re also finding comfort in your furry friends as you practice social distancing!
Thanks to coronavirus, says one Street Spirit writer who is homeless, the majority of the USA is getting an idea of day to day life for the homeless community.
We check in with vendors at Chicago-based street paper StreetWise as coronavirus has made it impossible for most of them to sell the magazine on the streets.
US street paper vendors on being denied voting rights as former felons when the democratic process is more important than ever
Coronavirus has even upended democracy. In a recent Wisconsin Democratic Primary vote, very little accommodation was made to ensure people could get out to vote, and do so safely. It’s a worry ahead of an important Presidential election set for later this year. If the current circumstances continue, the situation may end up actively stopping people from voting. But the US already has all sorts of different restrictions hampering the ability of its citizens to vote. Two Contributor vendors explain how their past felony charges bar them from exercising the franchise.
INSP North America director Israel Bayer: “The issue of homelessness and housing in America has been a tinderbox waiting to catch fire for generations. It’s time for change”
INSP North America director Israel Bayer calls for short-term relief and sweeping changes from the US federal government as the coronavirus pandemic ravages the homeless community and plunges those in uncertain housing predicaments into greater uncertainty. It is an opportunity, Bayer writes, “to create a national housing justice movement that addresses both systemic racism and the need to provide a safe place to call home for all our citizens.”
In this instalment of his weekly column, Tim Harris, founding director of Seattle street paper Real Change, wonders why it took the crisis initiated by the spread of coronavirus for city officials to realise that the measures had to be taken to help the homeless population into shelter. In Seattle, as in other parts of the world, the pandemic has shown that the way, if not the will, to help those in need was there all along.
Street papers provide global update on how the world’s homeless population is facing the coronavirus
The Big Issue took stock of how coronavirus is affecting the world’s homeless community, providing another update on just how severely the spread of the virus is impacting street papers and the people for which they provide an income.
Quiver Watts, editor of San Francisco’s Street Sheet, writes that the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak not only poses a greater risk to the city’s population living in poverty, but argues that they will be made “a convenient scapegoat to take attention off the real failures in the city’s emergency response”.
INSP North America director Israel Bayer: “For those on the front lines of homelessness, Covid-19 represents a reality that people already live with every single day”
Israel Bayer, director of INSP North America, provides context for why the official response to the coronavirus outbreak in the region is failing those who are homeless and living in poverty, and writes about why systemic injustices mean that, amidst this health crisis, that community is being left behind.
Street Roots executive director Kaia Sand sends a dispatch from Oregon after visiting a small homeless camp housing a handful of the Portland street paper’s vendors who have become proactive about safeguarding themselves and staying healthy as the coronavirus panic sweeps the Pacific Northwest United States.
With coronavirus cases across the world now at well over 100,000, Italy is in lockdown and the US west coast is bearing the brunt of Covid-19’s appearance in America. INSP spoke again with street paper staff about the effect it is having on their organisations and vendors, with particular attention given to how staff are assisting vendors to stay safe and healthy.
In history and in pop culture, the full moon continually sparks feelings of fear, curiosity, and excitement. In the latest addition to ‘Life on the Streets’, the Street Roots series that tackles issues people facing homelessness experience, vendors speak on their own encounters with the ever-mysterious full moon.