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Hunger and Work Strike Launched at Tacoma Detention Center

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The post Hunger and Work Strike Launched at Tacoma Detention Center appeared first on It's Going Down.

Between 120-150 people detained at the Northwest Immigrant Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington, have launched a hunger strike and work stoppage. The facility has been the site of ongoing strikes, encampments, and protests.

Supporting the strikers is the group Northwest Detention Center Resistance (NWDC Resistance), which includes Maru Mora, a longtime anti-deportation organizer who spoke with IGD on our podcast back in May of 2017. Currently, Maru also faces the threat of deportation herself, after being targeted by ICE for her long time organizing. 

According to the Northwest Detention Center Resistance Facebook page:

Tacoma, WA – At least 120 detained migrants in four units at the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) have begun a hunger strike to protest the abuses they face inside the facility, which is owned and operated by GEO Group, a private prison company, for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The strike comes at the heels of a work stoppage on Wednesday February 7th by detained people who work in the kitchen and just days after NWDC Resistance held a People’s Tribunal in front of the NWDC.

Leaders of the strike report continued inhumane conditions and abuse at NWDC. Strikers are demanding GEO Group provide edible, nutritious food and emphasized the egregiousness of GEO’s practices by saying “food has gotten so bad it makes people sick. Food served in the hole [solitary confinement] is hardly enough, as we received smaller portions than people in general population.” The use of isolation, particularly as a form of retaliation, is a prevalent issue at NWDC. Strikers have also reported that GEO guards constantly search the beds and units of detained people without reason nor explanation and demand an end to these searches.

In addition, strikers demand ICE provide fair hearings and lower bonds, particularly in light of recent bond amounts as high as $35,000. This contributes to ICE’s practices of indefinite and prolonged detention, as do excessively long delays in carrying out deportation orders. Together, these have the effect of keeping people incarcerated and growing GEO’s profits.

Lastly, strikers delivered a message of resistance and called on others to join their efforts, “We are used to retaliation and intimidation, we are placed in the hole constantly, but no more! We need everyone to join us and stop working!”

NWDC Resistance activists and allies will mobilize to support strikers at the Northwest Detention Center. For live updates on the strike, visit https://www.facebook.com/NWDCResistance/

&

Love from NWDC update on hunger strike

Posted by NWDC Resistance/Resistencia al NWDC on Friday, February 9, 2018

On February 9th in the afternoon, a video update was published by NWDC Resistance on their Facebook page, documenting that another unit of detainees has joined the hunger strike and work stoppage. NWDC Resistance organizers say that strikers have already faced repercussions for engaging in the strike, and report that two people have been beaten up by GEO Group guards.

NWDC Resistance organizers also report that more units are set to join the strike in the coming days. NWDC Resistance is calling on supporters to rally outside of the Tacoma Immigrant Detention Facility on Sunday, February 11th. More info can be found here.

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An Interview with Christopher Schwarz, Part 2: The Anarchist Toolmaker

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It's 1996, it's nighttime and Christopher Schwarz is underneath an office desk in Frankfort, Kentucky, sleeping. With both a Bachelors and a Masters in journalism and a few years of work experience, Schwarz is struggling to get his local newspaper startup off of the ground, and the workload demands overnight stays at the office.

Fast-forward to 2017 and Schwarz is underneath a Roman workbench, wide awake, inside the Saalburg, a reconstructed Roman fort outside of Frankfurt, Germany. "I spent a lot of time under that bench with a flashlight," Schwarz recounts. He was studying the workbench's construction for an upcoming book. The Frankfort paper hadn't worked out, but Schwarz had achieved his goal of becoming a publisher with the formation of Lost Art Press.

Launching Lost Art Press and a tool manufacturing company, which we'll get to in a moment, required more than finding the right piece of furniture to lie down under; in the gap between Frankfort and Frankfurt, Schwarz generated 21 years' worth of content for Popular Woodworking, wrote nine books, taught classes at sixteen schools in five countries and appeared in countless videos produced by himself, PW, Lie-Nielsen Toolworks, ShopWoodworking.com and others.

Schwarz has not only wielded a lot of tools in that time but, partly inspired by the "frustration at the bench" he described in Part 1 of this interview, also applied his journalistic training to learn about how tools are made. He put this knowledge into practice in 2015, when he and a couple of friends launched their manufacturing venture, Crucible Tool, whose mission is "To make good tools that we honestly need."

"We don't make precious things for collectors," the Crucible Tool mission statement explains. "There are no serial numbers or limited edition this or that. And we don't make tools that someone else already makes really well.

"Instead, we make tools that have been overlooked or desperately need to be improved or refined."

Here in Part 2 of our interview with Schwarz, we discuss using tools, making tools, furniture design, anarchy, accountability, photography, and what he hopes folks in the future will do when they look back on our work.

Core77: For the uninitiated, can you talk about what the allure is of using hand tools?

Christopher Schwarz: Oh, I hated hand tools when I was a kid. My family had a farm in Arkansas, and we built our first house [there] with hand tools. I went to college [and thought] "I'm never doing that again." And of course, as soon as I got out of college, I started taking classes, and it was in handwork.

What I've found about handwork is that it is the expression of skill. The machines that we have are great, and I love machines too, but a lot of times [the machine is there] so that somebody unskilled can do an operation. And that's great, there's no problem with that. The problem is when designs start to be made around the limits of the machine, which is I'm sure something that the Core77 readers run up against all the time, like "Well, our CNC won't handle this or that."

Well, the answer has always been handwork. If you can use handwork, and you have machines at your disposal, and you don't let the machines dictate your designs, then you're pretty much free to design whatever you can think of. That's the beauty, the [freedom conferred by] handwork.

It's also great if you can…figure out how to make a machine help. I've got no problem with [the situation where] you [possess] hand skills, and [are] not limiting your designs to something that a machine can spit out. I really think you need both, if you want to be a really good designer for furniture.

Case in point: Here Schwarz experiments to see if he can make saddling out a seat faster by starting with a drill and a Forstner bit… 
…then hitting it with a scorp…
…and finishing up with a travisher.

Let's talk about Crucible Tool. It's not an easy thing to bring a new tool into production, what inspired you to take that leap?

Well, I've been writing about toolmaking since I started writing about woodworking, and took a very deep interest in learning about steel, and casting and everything, so that I could be an informed journalist.

And what I found is that there were some tools that just needed to be made. A lot of toolmakers are fantastic toolmakers, but they're not woodworkers. I teamed up with some other friends of mine, who are toolmakers and also woodworkers, and we're slowly, gradually bringing tools into the world that are what we want to have at our bench.

The patterns for Crucible Tool's Iron Holdfasts.
In the drag and ready for sand.
The pour.
The magic moment.
The magicker moment.

We're not trying to take over the world; it's more like, "I want this damn mallet, but no one will make it for me in the way I want it made, to this hardness, with this length of handle," et cetera. So we make it, and hopefully other people will think it's good too.

For people who might mistake your focus on historical objects as just slavishly looking backwards, Crucible produces a pair of pattern dividers for which you designed a new hinge, no? A new hinge mechanism.

Oh yeah, absolutely. And it was informed by past designs, but is a move forward. I'm not a puffy sleeve guy, and I don't wear weird underwear. Historical reproduction is not what I'm into at all. I try to be very…I don't want to use the word contemporary, but I'm always trying to push forward, and not just trying to reproduce the past.

Crucible Tool's Improved Pattern Dividers.
You can sharpen the tips to your liking, and the hinge allows you to dial in your preferred level of friction. In two generations, when the steel has worn a bit, all your descendant needs to do is tighten it and it'll be good as new.
Five easy pieces. 

That's the same way we are with the tools. We have modern materials. We can use them, but we don't want to abuse them. We want to make sure that they're used appropriately so that these tools will last forever, instead of the crap that we find at the home centers now, where design is a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy, made by somebody who just really doesn't know what a screwdriver or a chisel does.

In addition to the pattern dividers, Crucible currently makes a set of design curves and iron holdfasts. What else is in the pipeline?

We're working on a mallet right now. We're just waiting to get the handle prototype back from a factory. This is a classic example of what we'll normally do: So in England, they would use a two-and-a-half pound metal mallet head with a short handle for everything. For mortising, for dovetailing, for setting holdfasts, for putting assemblies together and taking them apart. But it never [caught on in America]. They called it a lump hammer over there. I fell into using one of those several years ago, after working in England, and fell in love with it. So we're designing one, a modern one. I think people will love it; everybody who uses it in the shop goes gaga for it.

We also want to do some more measuring tools. We've found that as people's eyes get older, it becomes harder to read those six- or 12-inch rules, which have black numbers on a silver background. Machinists have a great solution, which is to make the numbers white on a black chrome background--but their rulers are measured in hundredths of inches, so that doesn't help us. So it's making woodworking rulers that are easier to read, but use [standard 4R marking] instead of silly hundredths.

You just reminded me of something, that's to do with what we call "universal design." I follow a hand tool woodworking group on Facebook, and have read updates from older woodworkers suffering from arthritis and reduced vision. So I'm really interested in the potential for tools designed for people whose physical abilities are declining due to aging. Because it's heartbreaking that by the time they reach the age where they have all the experience to produce great work, now their body is starting to give out. So I do think there is a market for that kind of stuff.

Oh, absolutely. We're all getting older, none of us are getting younger. I'm 49, and I'm just starting to deal with some of those issues. So something else that we're developing is a mechanical pencil lead that you can use when marking out dovetails, tenons, whatever. But what's interesting about this pencil lead, is that it fluoresces under UV. So that if you have a UV light [or even] a cheap little UV flashlight, all of a sudden you can see a 0.5 millimeter line like it's on fire. So I'm totally into that stuff, and that's a good example of how technology can make it better for all of us in the long run.

Whoa. Should I not mention that pencil lead idea, because that's pretty brilliant [and someone is bound to steal it].

Thanks. No, mention it, that's fine. We've got the formula, we're just trying to find a factory that will do it for us. No, like I said, I'm open source. We're not going to patent it, so if somebody else beats us to the market, that's great too, because it's great to have it out there.

Both Lost Art Press' books and the tools from Crucible are manufactured in the U.S.A. Have you run into any manufacturing challenges?

Well, we've got some other stuff that we're still trying to find [capable manafacturers for]. There's some hollow casting techniques that were really common in the 19th century, but it's very difficult to find foundries to do that sort of work today. That's a problem we run into all the time: "Yeah, we used to be able to do that, but we've forgotten."

[We've designed] a multi-tool handle, and it's this open casting and you can put a variety of tools in there. You can put everything from a nail in there to use the tool as a scratch awl, to a knife blade, to a file. It has a million little uses for turning simple objects into very useful tools, but we've got to find somebody who can make hollow castings.

Like much of Core77's readership, my background is in industrial design. And the preface that you wrote for "The Anarchist's Design Book" really resounded with me, as I think it would with many of our readers. I won't paraphrase and butcher it here, but it drove home the point that we can build durable objects for ourselves rather than buying mass-produced disposable junk, specifically in a furniture context. Can you talk a little bit about that preface, and what inspired it?

Yeah, the idea of that book, and the idea that runs through my personal furniture work, is that it's silly for us as designers and builders to imitate gross, ornate, crap furniture designs that were driven entirely by status and money. You look at the history of furniture, or of any basic object that we use, and the designs started out very simple. You can go back and look at 11th century furniture, and you'd think that Hans Wegner designed it. The lines are clean. It's very spare. It's about angles, comfort, simplicity to build, and robustness.

But when money first enters the equation, then you have makers who have patrons, are being patronized by rich people. So they start making their pieces more ornate, so that it looks better [than the patron's neighbor's] highboy. So that becomes the standard. Then technology comes along, and they find a way to make the ornate stuff for the more common people, [so another maker has to top that for the rich patrons]. And now you have this cycle that just [repeats] over and over, where the rich people determine our design cues, and have in furniture forever.

Whereas throughout human history, we've had a silo of furniture that nobody writes about, that is pretty unchanged from Egyptian times up until now. It was the furniture that normal people like you and me use, not the ultra rich. And like I said, it was this very spare aesthetic, I wouldn't say spartan, but it's not this ornate crap.

Discovering that sort of furniture and seeing that lineage of 2,000 years of really basic design, and its vernacular--that's not a great word, but it is the right word--is what inspired that book. It lays out the principles that these pieces were built on, which are much simpler than the really complex ways we build furniture now. And taking those designs from the 11th century, whether it's Italian, Spanish, Moorish, and building them, bringing them into the modern time, and they're shockingly modern. I've got a 14th century Italian table in our showroom [photo below], and when people see it they think it was something that came out of tomorrow, and it's not.

The idea behind the book is that there were these construction principles that all of us can use. And the democratic part about it is that you don't have to have a crapload of tools or a crapload of experience. You don't have to have seven years under a master in a European system to build this stuff. You don't have to be good at math. You don't have to be good at much, you just have to want to build furniture.

And so the book lays out the basic designs that I found, and how to make them using very simple tools. One of them is basically an oversized pencil sharpener, and a drill, and a knife. You can bring in some electric tools, but you don't need very many. And you can produce stuff that is really pretty good looking, I think. That's the basis of the book, and that's guided my work for a long time. And the book was the first time I had the guts to talk about it in public.

You referenced anarchy in the first part of the interview, and are of course known for having written "The Anarchist's Tool Chest" prior to "The Anarchist's Design Book." Anarchy is a word that can easily be misconstrued. Can you talk about your concept of it?

Sure. By the way I've found it's really difficult to sell, to people in Europe or on military bases, your books when they have "anarchy" in the title.

American anarchism is not the violent sort of anarchism that is associated with European movements. The father of American anarchism, Josiah Warren, is actually from Cincinnati here, very close to where I'm sitting. American anarchism is basically a distrust of large organizations. It's not seeking to overturn them. I think that American anarchists are very practical, in that you know you can't run a world without any sort of organization, but it's a tendency to avoid working with, associating with, or having contact with large governments, large corporations, large churches. That something bad happens when you get a certain number of people into a group. They stop acting like humans, and they start acting like something else.

The way that I work in my life, is I try to limit my contact with all these sorts of people. I pay my taxes, and I'm a good citizen, and all of that. I'm not a bomb throwing person and don't believe in violence at all, in fact most American anarchists are total peaceniks. It's more just trying not to get ground up by the corporate culture, and the consumerism, and that's what American anarchism is.

Of course, every American anarchist is different. I'm sure there's an American anarchist out there right now throwing things at this article and using it to wipe himself because he hates what I've just said, but that's the beauty of it.

This might be veering off topic a little bit, but it's a very interesting subject. What do you suppose it is about large groups of people that brings out the crazy?

I think because you can make decisions without accountability. If you're a car company, you can think "Should we have a recall, or is it cheaper to just pay the fees when people die?" [Without accountability] you can have those conversations, whereas as an individual, you can't even fathom that. "Is human life important?" Of course it is, and you can't put it in monetary terms.

You can justify going to war for things that are really amazing. The organization gives you the tools to kill people, and sure there are some individuals who may push you into it, but it's really having that huge organization that's like, "Yeah! Hey, we've got tanks." So this becomes a very easy decision, [whereas] I'm not declaring war on Newport, Kentucky. I can't do that. So I think it's [the being shielded] from accountability.

Circling back to tools, an underrated one: The camera. You recently launched a website of your own work, and in addition to the pieces themselves I was struck by the photography, which is stunning. Your background is in journalism, not photojournalism; what drove you to ensure the quality of the photography?

Photography has always been important to me. It's another part of the whole media equation, understanding how to run a publication company. I used to have a darkroom when I was a kid and my first real job was processing studio photos in a photo lab. So I do most of my own photography and have a friend that does some of it.

Being in media you know that images are gold. They're as important as the words, and sometimes more important. So we've taught all of our authors how to do it. And you don't have to be super talented to take good, basic photographs of your work; it's just understanding a few basic principles, how light works, what backlighting is, what a key light is, how diagonals work. [Get those down and] you can take really amazing photographs.

The rules are stupidly simple. A lot of times, it's using fewer light sources and simpler compositions. No need to make it more complicated than it needs to be.

We've touched on this topic a bit, but just to beat a dead horse: What is your take on trends, and how can we, as a society, fight fashion?

Dressing like me would be a good start.

[The delivery was so dry I didn't realize he was joking.] Oh, I don't mean fashion as in clothing. I mean--

No, no, I know what you mean. I think it's important to have an appreciation for the past. Not that you're going to dress up like them, or you're going to have furniture that is like them. But I think that if you have to build your own stuff, you're not going to do really crazy, outrageous, ornate stuff, but something far more practical. Whereas, if you have somebody who's like, "Look, I just want the best, I want to spend, I have a $100,000 budget for this project"--well, you're going to pull out all of the stops.

So having an appreciation for what other people had to build, and then building it yourself. That's how I inoculate myself from trends.

And this isn't new, this idea's not mine. If you look at Kaare Klint and a whole foundation of Danish modern furniture, which we think of as this radical change from what came before, it was actually very much looking back at English and Chinese furniture and saying, "How can we take the best of those, and produce something that reflects today?"

And that's the best for me: Taking the best of the past, and smoothing it out for what we need right now. And hopefully, if we do that, then maybe somebody will look back at what we do, do the same thing, improve upon it, and make something beautiful.

__________


And that concludes our interview with Christopher Schwarz. By the way, here's something I didn't expect when I first contacted him requesting an interview. In this video explaining the design and manufacture of the Crucible Tool holdfast, listen carefully to the things he says and explains about materials, manufacturing techniques, design and, while he never says "UX," the clear priority on the user experience, even to the detriment of marketability:

If you didn't know who he was and I asked you to guess his profession, I'm willing to bet you'd say "Industrial designer." 

Guess I should've kept going with that alphabet thing in Part 1.

______________

Where you can follow Schwarz's work:

- The Chris Schwarz Blog on Popular Woodworking. "Your typical workaday blog, what I'm doing in the shop, shop tips, stuff like that."

- The Lost Art Press blog. "More about the hardcore research that I do, the books that we're publishing, and my personal work."

- The Crucible Tool blog. "Pretty straightforward, [whatever] we're doing at the foundry or at the machine shop, making tools."

- Lost Art Press' Instagram.

- His website of personal work.

- His YouTube channel.

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Calls Needed As Prisoner “Rashid” Johnson Asks for Support in the Face of Torture

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The post Calls Needed As Prisoner “Rashid” Johnson Asks for Support in the Face of Torture appeared first on It's Going Down.

Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, a prison journalist, has been thrown in the hole since the start of #OperationPUSH in Florida prisons simply for writing an article about the strike and economic boycott. Now, lawyers have released a new letter from Johnson which calls for help and support in the face of ongoing torture. 

The Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons has received this urgent update on Rashid’s condition and request for action, please help and spread the word!

DETAILS

Kevin “Rashid” Johnson wrote an article about the Florida prison strike, which was published online on January 9, 2018. The following day warden Barry Reddish retaliated against Kevin’s use of his First Amendment rights, ordering that he be given a disciplinary infraction for “inciting a riot”. Further, on January 19th Johnson was thrown in a cold cell, with a broken toilet, no heating, and with a window that will not fully close, allowing cold wind to blow into the cell. The cell has the same temperature as the outside, where temperatures have been repeatedly at or below freezing. We have not heard anything from Kevin since January 19th . Warden Barry Reddish must be held accountable for illegal retaliation and, now, the torture of Kevin “Rashid” Johnson.

We demand that Johnson is moved to a safe and clean cell, with normal indoor temperatures and with a toilet that works. We demand that Johnson be allowed to call his attorneys immediately. We demand that warden Reddish and all other Florida Department of Corrections officials stop retaliating against Kevin for his reporting on conditions in their prisons.

PLEASE CALL

Warden Barry Reddish
Florida State Prison
Raiford, FL 32083
904-368- 2500

DEMANDS

  • Move Johnson (#158039) to a properly climate controlled cell with working toilet
  • Immediately allow Mr. Johnson to make phone calls to his attorneys
  • Stop retaliating against him for reporting on conditions within your prisons

Please report back on the response to your call
Send reports back to: jaybeware@riseup.net

LETTER FROM RASHID

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Salary Negotiation Tactics for When You’re Just Cool With Whatever Your Boss Thinks

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You’ll see if your salary went up or down in your next paycheck probably!

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In Solidarity with Operation PUSH, Florida Incarcerated Workers Strike

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By BRRN Anti-Criminalization Committee

On January 15, 2018 prisoners across the state of Florida will refuse to work, as part of a protest against the inhumane environmental and labor conditions in the Florida Department of Corrections.  This protest, named Operation PUSH, will take place on Martin Luther King day.

On January 16, 2018, a broad coalition of community organizations, including the Gainesville Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC), Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons, Supporting Prisoners and Real Change (SPARC), and Florida State University’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) are staging a demonstration to bring light to the demands of operation PUSH:  

  1. Payment for our labor, rather than the current slave arrangement
  2. Ending outrageous canteen prices
  3. Reintroducing parole incentives to lifers and those with Buck Rogers dates

In addition to the three immediate demands of Operation PUSH, the incarated organizers want the Florida Department of Corrections to:

  • Stop the overcrowding and acts of brutality committed by officers throughout FDOC which have resulted in the highest death rates in prison history.
  • Expose the environmental conditions we face, including extreme temperatures, mold, contaminated water, and being placed next to toxic sites such as landfills, military bases and phosphate mines (including a proposed mine which would surround the Reception and Medical Center prison in Lake Butler).
  • Honor the moratorium on state executions, as a court-ordered the state to do, without the legal loophole now being used to kill prisoners on death row.
  • Restore voting rights as a basic human right to all, not a privilege, regardless of criminal convictions.

Operation PUSH

According to the full text for Operation PUSH, which can be found on the website of The Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons, the price gouging at canteens and wage theft for prisoners’ labor that has largely motivated the upcoming strike have been taking a significant toll on prisoners and their families.  Prices at the canteen can cost anywhere from 2 to 4 times the amount of the same item outside of prison and may be a worse quality item.

Subhuman wages for incarcerated workers have been a topic of discussion in the news recently, especially with media coverage of the women’s prison laborers who were fighting the California wildfires for only about $2 a day. The PBS article detailing this particular case of wage theft also connected the practice of paying prisoners negligible wages to slave labor and the history that ties prisons and the prison industrial complex to the racist Reconstruction-era convict leasing system. With the further privatization of prisons, the stigmatization of incarcerated people as criminals becomes all the more profitable. Operation PUSH’s authors recognize the cycle of poverty as it is connected to criminalization and recidivism. They are laying down and refusing to work in protest of these conditions. Operation PUSH is asking for the support of all prisoners across Florida’s DOC in this action until the governor is forced to deal with the stoppage of work and the cost of hiring out contracted workers to maintain prison facilities. This could cost millions of dollars each day the strike continues, which the state of Florida relies on incarcerated workers to do for a fraction of that cost.

Reintroducing parole incentives as Operation PUSH’s last demand states, is aimed at combating the increased criminalization and state-sanctioned gatekeeping mechanisms which disproportionately affect people and communities of color, as well as individuals without much financial support from family.

The opportunity to build working class and incarcerated peoples’ solidarity is another strategic goal that the authors of Operation PUSH’s demands clearly intend to advance at full force. They call for unity and solidarity in the struggle for basic human rights.  Several demonstrations will be occurring throughout the state of Florida at various DOC facilities coinciding with the strike and MLK Day.


If you enjoyed this article we also recommend this piece on the September 9 National Prison Strike and the need to “Bring the Call of Abolition Home.

 

The post In Solidarity with Operation PUSH, Florida Incarcerated Workers Strike appeared first on Black Rose Anarchist Federation.

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Deep freeze puts thousands of homeless people in jeopardy

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As an arctic blast sends temperatures plunging across the country this week, advocates for the homeless are warning the frigid conditions could be deadly for the estimated half a million people who live on the streets.

Homeless shelters in cities across the Northeast and Midwest are reaching capacity, according to local news reports, and struggling to accommodate the increased demand as temperatures dip far below freezing.

“It’s life and death out there,” Stephen Welch, the director of development for a nonprofit organization that serves the homeless community in Boston, told a local CBS affiliate on Thursday. “I talked to a couple of guys who thought they were going to die today. They could barely move.”

In Cincinnati, a 55-year-old homeless man named Ken Martin was found dead at a bus stop this week. Advocates from nonprofit group Maslow’s Army, which has long pushed for a 24-hour shelter for homeless people to seek refuge, blamed Martin’s death on the city’s shortage of resources to assist homeless people.

“It’s 2017,” Cincinnati Councilmember P.G. Sittenfeld, who has suggested that local lawmakers will take up the issue of 24-hour shelters next year, told the Cincinnati Enquirer on Wednesday. “This is the United States. No one should freeze to death under any circumstance.”

Many people do freeze to death in the United States. Although there aren’t comprehensive national figures about how many people die on the street, advocates memorialize several thousand of these deaths each year.

Part of the issue, city officials and nonprofit leaders say, is uneven federal and state funding for shelters — as well a lack of adequate investment in the affordable housing units that can help low-income people move off the streets altogether. Housing and anti-homelessness services took a big hit in the 2014 sequester, which required steep automatic budget cuts, and haven’t fully recovered since.

There’s no sign of the situation improving under the Trump administration, which has shown little regard for strengthening safety net programs for people struggling to keep a roof over their head. President Trump’s proposed budget for FY 2018 would make huge cuts to public housing and homeless assistance grants — cuts that anti-homelessness advocates characterize as “devastating.” The White House has also proposed eliminating the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness altogether, despite evidence that getting rid of this council would hamper national efforts to end homelessness.

According to estimates from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the homeless population in the United States increased this year for the first time since 2010 — largely driven by the lack of affordable housing in increasingly expensive cities like Los Angeles.


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54 days ago
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confiscate airbnb properties and let people experiencing homelessness live in them 👏
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