Eric Ares is the Housing and Homelessness Director for Los Angeles Council Councilmember Eunisses Hernandez. For over 15 years he has worked alongside unhoused residents, low-income tenants, organizers/advocates, and service providers in Skid Row and South LA to build the community power necessary to create permanent solutions to homelessness and end the criminalization of poverty in LA and beyond.
What in your opinion is the role/expertise WRAP plays in this moment after 40 years of modern-day houselessness and growing criminalization – but also the growing movement of radical organizations and people’s movements fighting for the world we want?
WRAP has created a critical role in developing a national network of organizations that build power to resist policies that punish people for being poor and unhoused – all while centering the needs, skills, and voices of those most impacted by this form of state-sanctioned violence. WRAP does this through developing and disseminating best practices and tools – such as legal interventions like impact litigation and citation defense clinics, research, community organizing, strategic communications, agitprop, etc. Central to this – however – is partnership with the unhoused, local community-based organizations, and other allies. The ongoing War on the Poor is ongoing, and WRAP has help build the movement that envisions a world where we prioritize the housing and service needs of the most vulnerable in our communities – rather than systematically stripping these away from people and then turning around and punishing them for it.
Paul has also been doing this for 40 years – Want to send a love message to Paul – about his impact on your work – and/or about his impact overall?
Paul is the living embodiment of solidarity – with the poor, with the unhoused, and with all those fighting for human rights in our world. The truest, most brilliant leaders I know and respect are those who do not center themselves – but center the work and the leadership of others to do the work. This is Paul – one of the most selfless, charismatic, and passionate people I’ve ever met. Paul fights for a future that is possible – and that we will achieve – and does so with the unwavering commitment to justice and equity that winning it requires. Paul represents the world we can have – and the way we are going to get there. I fucking love him.