Give Gifts Top Banner

Sections
Home » Issues » Making It Home » Street Credibility: Homeless Protesters Fight For Recognition

Get a FREE Issue. Yes! I want to try YES! Magazine

Nonprofit. Independent. Subscriber-supported. DONATE. How you can support our work.

YES! by Email
Join over 78,000 others already signed up for FREE YES! news.
[SAMPLE]

The YES! ChicoBag(R). Full-size tote that fits in your pocket!

 

Street Credibility: Homeless Protesters Fight For Recognition

Do corporations have an obligation to help the poor in their communities? These unconventional occupiers think so.
Document Actions

Gates Foundation photo by Stuart Isett

Sleeping at the Gates Foundation headquarters.

Photo by Stuart Isett / Isett.com

It’s one thing to see a homeless woman rummaging through the trash for food, or  a man standing alone on a street corner begging for change. But quite another to watch dozens of homeless sleeping in front of a billion-dollar corporation to make a political statement. 

Such grassroots-style organizing is typical for members of SHARE (Seattle Housing and Resource Effort), a group of Seattle homeless who eschew handouts in favor of camps, shelters—and political protests—that they organize themselves. Last fall, they slept outside the Gates Foundation for 11 nights to illustrate their belief that successful corporations have an obligation to aid the poor in their communities. As the number of homeless rises in many cities, SHARE’s tactics may be gaining traction.

“I don’t completely empathize with Occupy Wall Street,” said Lantz Rowland, 56, a member of SHARE who describes himself as a laid-off tech geek, homeless since 1996. “But in terms of what’s happening with living-wage jobs, affordable housing, and record corporate profits, yeah, these are true things.”

People Need Homes photo by Jeff Dunnicliff
Dear Bank of America,
We're Not Leaving

The fight against unjust evictions just got fiercer as the national Occupy movement joins forces with community anti-foreclosure groups.

Last month, 100 residents of Seattle’s homeless encampments rallied to demand policy changes from the local Committee to End Homelessness, a coalition of government, faith, and business leaders. “Creation of an economic justice agenda” was among SHARE’s top demands.

Hardly language of the meek.

SHARE has also sent letters to the heads of Amazon, Boeing, Microsoft and other high-flying Seattle corporations, demanding recognition of the relationship between corporate profits, tax breaks, and cuts to social services. 

“Five years ago, things like that were seen as radical,” observed Scott Morrow, a consultant for the group. “But not now. People get it—at least homeless people get it. They weren’t even talking about the economic system five years ago.”

While some of SHARE’s strategies—say, camping in front of city council members’ homes to protest funding cuts—are controversial, they could spread. Self-managed communities of the homeless have cropped up from Sacramento to Portland, and often they ask SHARE for advice.


Claudia Rowe wrote this article for Making it Home, the Summer 2012 issue of YES! Magazine. 

Interested?

Email Signup
Making It Home
Comment on this article

How to add a commentCommenting Policy

comments powered by Disqus


You won’t see any commercial ads in YES!, in print or on this website.
That means, we rely on support from our readers.

||   SUBSCRIBE    ||   GIVE A GIFT   ||   DONATE   ||
Independent. Nonprofit. Subscriber-supported.




Issue Footer

Personal tools