Disturbing New Report Shows Dire Conditions For Grocery Workers

An alarming new survey of thousands of grocery workers across three western U.S. states reveals that they suffer from shockingly high rates of poverty. More than three-quarters of the workers meet the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s definition of ​“food insecure,” and 14% say they have been homeless within the past year. 

The survey, which was funded by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) and performed by the nonprofit research group the Economic Roundtable, drew responses from more than 10,000 workers at Kroger, the largest all-grocery chain in the United States. (Kroger also owns other grocery brands including Fred Meyer, Harris Teeter, and City Market.) The workers surveyed live in Southern California, Washington state, and Colorado, and all of them are UFCW members…

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More Than Ever, Food Not Bombs Needs To Become A Reality

Food Not Bombs was founded in 1980 to provide direct aid to people while educating about the perversion of spending so much on the Military-Industrial Complex (MIC) while tens of millions of people do not have the basic necessities. It has turned into a global movement to build food sovereignty and organize systems outside the establishment. Clearing the FOG speaks with Keith McHenry, the co-founder of Food Not Bombs, about the criminalization of homelessness, their recent legal victory in Florida and why we must be concerned about increasing homelessness in the United States and the overall direction the country is going. McHenry speaks about his family ties to the founding of the military and the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as the violence he and others have experienced because of their activism.

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A New Campaign Fights To Stop The Criminalization Of Poverty

Anew campaign, Housing Not Handcuffs, is attempting to stop the criminalization of homelessness and poverty in the United States. Led by the National Homelessness Law Center, the effort builds on research the Law Center has been conducting since 2006. The Law Center’s latest report, issued in late November, tracks laws in all fifty states—plus Washington, D.C.—that make it a criminal offense to sleep, lie down, ask for money, loiter, erect a tent, put down a bedroll, “loaf,” or feed unhoused people in public.

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Denver Refuses To Negotiate, Sweeps Indigenous Encampment

Denver, CO – Under the hardline stance of Mayor Michael Hancock, Denver continues to sweep unhoused encampments—more than 80 this year alone—ignoring countless requests from unhoused residents and their advocates to stop, and refusing to negotiate any alternatives. Outside the Four Winds American Indian Council building in the Baker neighborhood, that cycle continued when, despite multiple attempts by Four Winds and other advocates to find some common ground and a different solution, the city swept a predominantly Indigenous encampment on August 31.

“It’s kind of unfortunate that the Mayor decided that he’s going to say that [the encampment] is unsafe and unclean without even being here, without even visiting and seeing it first-hand and being willing to sit down with our relatives and hear their stories and even break bread with them or anything like that.”

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The Pandemic Has Made Homelessness And Eviction Even More Deadly

According to the Associated Press, a one-night tally in 2020 counted 580,000 people experiencing homelessness in the United States. Advocates say that total is almost certainly a severe undercount, with a more accurate total being upwards of 2 million people.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has acknowledged both the difficulty of helping unhoused folks get vaccinated—most don’t have access to transit options—and the reality that they’re more likely to be at risk of severe illness because of compounding health issues. But how we actually help our unhoused neighbors get vaccinated varies from city to city, and often relies on NGOs like Southern Solidarity.

In Texas, the pandemic brought a swift pivot to healthcare support for Austin’s Ending Community Homelessness Coalition (ECHO), a nonprofit that plans and implements strategies to end homelessness in Travis County.

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Denver’s Housing First Initiative A ‘Remarkable Success’

Colorado – A five-year evaluation of Denver’s Social Impact Bond (SIB) program by The Urban Institute found the housing first initiative is a “remarkable success” at reducing chronic homelessness.

In all, the study found that 79 percent of people who received treatment under the program were engaged in stable housing. Those referred to SIB spent an average of 560 more days in housing than people who received other community assistance.

Overall, the study analyzed the cases of 724 program participants. After one year, 86 percent of people remained in stable housing. After two years, the number stood at 81 percent. And, after three years, over 77 percent of participants remained housed.

The program—one of the first in the country—also reduced shelter visits and police contacts for participants.

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A Watershed Ruling On Homelessness

California -On Tuesday, April 20, U.S. District Court Judge David Carter of the Central District of California issued a ruling that is likely to become a watershed moment in the United States’ response to homelessness.

In March of last year, the LA Alliance for Human Rights and several individuals sued the City and County of Los Angeles, alleging that they had not only fundamentally failed to address the homeless emergency in Los Angeles but had in fact contributed to creating it over the course of several decades. The complaint they filed reads more like what we might imagine the authors of the “Seattle is Dying” video would have written about Los Angeles: public health hazards, accumulating trash, rising crime, blocked sidewalks, local government leaders unwilling or unable to rise to the challenge of dealing with it.

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An Improbable Vanguard Of Poor People Is ‘Reclaiming’ Vacant Homes

On the night before Thanksgiving last year, Sasha Atkins, a 31-year-old hair stylist and single mom, hauled a few carefully chosen belongings – her phone, blankets, pillows and a laptop – into a vacant duplex on Shelley Street in Los Angeles’ El Sereno neighborhood and held her breath. Busting into an empty house was a last resort, but the pandemic has turned her precarious housing situation into an emergency. For three years, she and her son couch surfed or occasionally landed a motel room. But work had become scarce, and friends and family feared COVID-19 if they let new people into their homes. So, even though she was afraid, she moved forward.

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Every New Yorker Has A Right To A Roof

Well before the beginning of the pandemic that has turned life upside down, New Yorkers already faced a devastating affordable housing and homelessness crisis. Even without the dramatic wave of unemployment brought about by a global pandemic, low-income tenants and homeless people across the city faced a grave lack of truly affordable housing and the absence of an effective citywide plan to fix it. Now, of course, the crisis has deepened, with tenants who have long lived paycheck to paycheck unable to scrape together even a modest living to pay their rent, and the danger of living on the street or in a congregate shelter multiplied by a deadly virus.

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Nearly 1,000 Homeless People Died In LA In 2020 As 93,000 Homes Sit Vacant

In many major metropolitan areas across the United States, there are far more vacant homes than people experiencing homelessness.

This is true in New York City, it’s true in the Bay Area, and as our new report shows, it’s true in Los Angeles. Here, there are 93,000 vacant homes compared to just over 41,000 unhoused people.

Our report, the product of a collaboration between UCLA School of Law and the community-based nonprofits Strategic Actions for a Just Economy and Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, is perhaps the most detailed look yet at the characteristics of residential vacancies situated in the broader speculative housing market in any city in the United States.

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Sanctuary Camp Residents Pressured To Move

Minneapolis, MN – Houseless Twin Cities residents have recently endured arrests, the trashing of their belongings, and violent actions at the hands of Park Police, whose participation in these sweeps has been documented by local photographers.

Several hundred people living in dozens of camps across the Twin Cities wonder every day whether their only means of shelter against the elements will be destroyed by police officers.

Last week Friday, the remaining sanctuary encampment at Minneapolis’ Powderhorn Park was cleared by armed police.

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28 Million Evictions Loom As Houses Sit Empty

Congress’s inability to actually represent the real-live human beings of America, combined with an economic system that rewards lack of empathy and an excess of greed, has brought us to a dark time when an oncoming tsunami of financial ruin, destitution and evictions towers over our heads, blocking out the sunlight.

The impending evictions may soon kick 28 million people/families out of their homes. To put that in perspective, only ten million people lost their homes during the 2008 economic crisis, and that was considered by anyone paying attention to be the craziest thing to ever happen.

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Homelessness In The COVID-19 Era

The novel SARS-CoV-2 has roared through the American landscape leaving physical, emotional, and economic devastation in its wake. By early July, known infections in this country exceeded three million, while deaths topped 135,000. Home to just over 4% of the global population, the United States accounts for more than a quarter of all fatalities from Covid-19, the disease produced by the coronavirus. Amid a recent surge of infections, especially across the Sun Belt, which Vice President Mike Pence typically denied was even occurring, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the daily total of infections had reached a record 60,000.

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Single Mothers And Children Take Over Abandoned Public Buildings

In Philadelphia, single mothers and their children have moved into abandoned, publicly owned buildings, in the most significant housing take over in the country—at a time when millions have lost their jobs and the country is on the brink of another housing crisis. Jennifer Bennetch has helped place unhoused people into vacant homes owned by the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA), as the founder of Occupy PHA and a member of the Philadelphia Housing Action coalition. She’s doing what she says is “the government’s job to make sure people who need it have housing.”

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Without Immediate Action, Millions Of People Will Be Evicted In The Coming Months

From the beginning, we have seen that if the federal government didn’t intervene in a really significant and sustained way, that we would see a wave of evictions and a spike in homelessness. And so these limited federal eviction moratoriums, and these state and local moratoriums that have been put in place, have provided some protections for low-income renters, and have helped prevent that wave from happening.

But those moratoriums are rapidly expiring. As of today, there are 29 governors that have allowed their state eviction moratoriums to expire, and the limited federal eviction moratoriums expire next week.

We have been tracking emergency rental assistance programs that have been created in response to Covid-19. As of now, there are about 151 emergency rental assistance programs around the country. Their main challenge is lack of resources: The demand for those emergency rental assistance programs far outstripped the resources that are available.

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