WRAP and WRAP members are using this moment to push for an end to criminalization and housing for all. In the near-absence of charity and government support during Covid-19, our members have shifted to more of a mutual-aid-for-survival model than before. Providing mutual aid also serves as a crucial organizing tool, allowing our groups to keep a close pulse on the streets, share up-to-date information, utilize artwork in communications, and organize more and more people into our movement. Here is a summary of what is happening with WRAP member groups:
· San Francisco – Coalition on Homelessness (COH): Providing tents and pushing for hotels. Over the last three weeks, COH has distributed more than 1,000 tents to unhoused people, and led a campaign calling for hotel rooms for all unhoused people who need and want one—including through a raucous ‘car blockade’ protest. COH also runs a street newspaper called Street Sheet. When those staying in a shelter first tested positive for Covid-19 last week, Street Sheet broke a key story revealing the city’s plans to move hundreds of homeless people onto floor mats in a congregate setting in the Moscone Convention Center; the story prompted Mayor Breed to backtrack and re-consider other options, including hotel rooms. Officials will vote Tuesday on next steps.
· Portland – Right 2 Survive (R2S): Leading mutual aid efforts on the streets to provide lifesaving provisions. R2S has a network of people creating and distributing handwashing stations, food, “Surviving Covid” information pamphlets, hand sanitizer, and more, including in East Portland where there are nearly no government or non-profit services. There is an urgent need for toilet facilities; the group is currently fundraising and working to get toilets up and running for those who need them. R2S is also actively tracking city sweeps policies and advocating for a complete end to sweeps, in accordance with CDC guidelines.
· Portland – Sisters of the Road: Steering rapid creation of organized encampments for people to safely shelter in place in inner SE and downtown Portland; providing food for those on the streets with dignity and love.
· Portland: The Portland crew would like to thank all the volunteers making hand-washing station tables, Dr. Bronner’s, Alberta Cooperative Grocer and Hankins Hardware for their donations and support! Support these small businesses who help our community.
· Sacramento – Sacramento Homeless Organizing Committee (SHOC): California Statewide Campaign A statewide campaign called #NoVacancy launched in California with a press conference with participation from WRAP member organizations and allies such as LA CAN, East Oakland Collective, The Village In Oakland, Love And Justice In The Streets, Sacramento Homeless Organizing Committee, and Coalition on Homelessness. Testimonials from the press conference include the lack of hygiene options with the closure of businesses; difficulties being placed in a hotel room; the bidding process, high bar for entering, and the overemphasis on service programs slowing the process of getting a hotel room; and FEMA trailers placed outside of hotels that have been sitting empty since January.
· Oakland – The Village in Oakland #feedthepeople, East Oakland Collective continues their tireless survival work to distribute food and supplies to unhoused and poor residents. They have also been privately sheltering an elder in a hotel room. Poor Magazine and Youth Poverty Skolaz are distributing masks, gloves, TP, and healthy, hot food every Tues, Thurs, and Fri to no-income, indigenous housed and houseless residents.
· Berkeley – Where Do We Go?: (WDWG) In Berkeley, Where Do We Go? has been doing a huge amount of trash cleanup around the Gilman Street overpass. Berkeley City Council failed to pass an emergency resolution banning sweeps and tows at the Tuesday city council meeting.