Story Archives 2021

California Surfing: Deecolonize Academy Final Essay 2020

09/23/2021 - 13:50 by Anonymous (not verified)
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By Akil Carrillo


Living in sf was never easy. It was very different from life in Guatemala. Guatemala is the place where the sun hugs you, where the sky rains honey. The first thing I noticed when I arrived in San Francisco was that the sun has its back turned, the superficial sunlight. I still learned to love SF as I slithered in its culture. Here in SF I was able to have a family, I knew the streets and the streets knew me. 


There was only one thing that brought uncertainty in SF and that was housing. I began to get accustomed to moving. It practically became our tradition. I would get excited to see our new house and get bored of houses that lasted longer than 2 years. I was young and oblivious to the situation we were in. While I was living in someone's basement with my dad I was too busy trying to catch flies to realize we were on food stamps. 


My dad was born in Guatemala in 1979. In this year Guatemala was in a civil war/genocide. Because of this he fled and grew up in places like Nicaragua and Cuba. Finally around the age of 16 he returned back to Guatemala, where he began to fight against imperialism. 


I grew up there for 5 years until my parents got divorced. When that happened my mom moved us to the US while my dad stayed behind. It took my dad a whole year until he came. It wasn't easy for him to get here, there are lots of laws and paperwork one has to go through to just get a chance to come here. “The United States has been my enemy all my life, I’ve always fought against imperialism” said my dad, he had to deal with the fact that he was gonna go live and become a gear in this imperialist, capitalist system. He always had blamed the US for his fathers death and for the deaths of hundreds of Guatemalans during the Guatemalan war. He realized that he never grew up with his father and didn't want his son to grow up the same way.


My mom has a complete opposite story. She was born into a family of money. She grew up in New Jersey and had both parents. She lived a movie life, and was raised in the suburbs. Everyone has their struggles and most of hers came from the fact that she was a woman in a patriarchal system. The older she got the inequalities of the world became more obvious to her, so she chose to go to Guatemala to learn spanish and how to be a revolutionary. There she met my father and became conscious of the issues of the world. 


I said I was born in SF but had my first birthday in Guatemala. I moved to SF permanently at age 5. Growing up as a mixed kid with no family was difficult, but there were lots of mixed people in the mission which helped me get through most stuff. The older I got, I began dealing with falling into patriarchal habits. Since I'm a male I'm privileged in that sense. Every day I have to make sure I don't fall back into those habits. Dealing with my confusing race and with anger isn't easy. I had a lot of confusion growing up.


When I joined Deecolonize Academy I began to learn more about what it means to be mixed race. A class taught by Junebug really helped bring up questions and answers. Lots of things were put to perspective. I always struggled when people asked me “What are you?” I never knew what to say, I also struggled with what race to identify as. But in that class I learned to accept both races and identify as both. In Deecolonize Academy there was also an anger management class. We all have different stories and struggles and in this class we have the space to open up and receive and give advice or experiences. It helps to learn other people’s stories and gives lots of perspective.


All these experiences have made me who I am today. I wouldn't change a thing.


Rags To Rooms: Deecolonize Academy Final Essay 2020

09/23/2021 - 13:50 by Anonymous (not verified)
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By Kimo Umo

In my life I've been asked to remember my experience of being formally homeless. To be honest there have been times I've forgotten about this fact, a truth I struggle to cope with. With a society like the United states we americans tend to glamorize certain aspects like being rich over being poor. 


In the earlier years of living in the bay area I was at the age of 6 homeless on the streets of san francisco. My mom Linda who was in her mid 30’s had been going through what she describes as ‘’the hardest time of her life.’’ She had just herself and I enrolled into a homeless shelter, called the hamilton. 


My mother had lived in actual shelters for 6 months, which were dangerous for the distribution of narcotics and actions more devious than the devil, while I lived with my grandpa in stockton. After the six months were up my mom got a house in oakland, and i moved back in, as well she had a new boyfriend named carlos who helped financially but still wasn't enough to stop us from getting evicted from oakland. 


Since I was a toddler at the time, my day consisted of waking up at 6’clock, getting my bag ready empty of any school supplies, and a golden peanut butter sandwich which was better than the ham sandwich which is the opposite of sweet, as well as being cold as a rock. Even though I didn't like the sandwiches all the time, it was still better than starving.


My life would be like this for the next year from 2007 to 2009, my mom would struggle to find housing but eventually struck gold and was able to get into a program that helps families in homeless shelters to get them access to public housing, for example me and my mother ended up getting a house in one of san francisco’s ghettos known as Hunters point.


On january 29, 2008 while at the shelter, my mom and I were waiting for one of the staff, we had been accepted into the public housing projects in the southeast end of the city. It seemed like my mom and I were preparing as if we were preparing for a covert mission, preparing gear in the night with wool blankets and clothes.


We all gathered our thing’s together and proceeded into the van, we were accompanied by multiple families who were just as traumatized as the other people. Like midnight riders and the rubber hit the road people were getting dropped off to their own luxury project neighborhoods and projects.


Oddly enough all these people were just like Mom and I. They didn't have a place to go until now, maybe they were somewhat abandoned by someone too, it’s hard to believe their were so many people who had the same predicament as me, and yet I was off to my own home, as my mom put it ‘’We had just won the lottery ticket.” The struggling had paid off finally. 


When the van arrived to its destination, mom and I were out of the van swiftly. We were off our voyage and it felt refreshing as if we were unloading into a country like Cuba, a big container ship disembarking from a long time at sea, when sailors are adrift for long periods of time, one may begin to miss the land back home.


The house was a two story building, it was conjoined with another house as if a row stacked on top of each other, as if they were stairs . My mom couldn't be any happier, we arrived at the house and were hastily able to get some sleep. The shelter did not provide any beds, so we just slept on the blankets. It was the safest i felt in awhile, and I bet it was for my mom too.


I slept so soundly at night not even the bang of a stick of dynamite could wake me. It was the next morning and I awakened to a bright warm yellow morning of english muffins and peanut butter, my first bite of the food was gooey but delicious. I even met some of my first friends at a bus stop nearby. A little white boy with his mom just like me said hello and turned out to be my neighbor.


The next 11 years I still feel the effects of my past and how I survived because of my mother’s determination to not be raised in her hometown of Stockton, she says boys my age die of common causes like being entangled with gangs or drugs. Those aspects are still around me in my hunter's point, but it’s more tame.


Life for now is about trying to better myself and those around me. It starts usually with yourself, remembering being homeless makes me humble. Not that i like being homeless, but i do understand it’s hard and for any it can be a death sentence. 


Story of my mom: Deecolonize Academy Final Essay 2020

09/23/2021 - 13:50 by Anonymous (not verified)
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By Ziair Hughes

I never got to really know my dad but that's another story. Me and my mom struggled through everything, lose our house and car together. We didn't sacrifice anything. It was taken from us. My mom taught me what it was to be strong because if she wasn't strong we wouldn't have made it this far. She is also my father figure because my dad was never around, I thank my mom greatly for taking a possession that she was not expecting to take. When there was no food mama cooked warm plates for me and amir, my mom is one of the best people on this earth. I know that's cliche but she is like an ultra rare pokemon card you've been waiting so long to get and it's one of a kind, if I wasn't carrying my moms blood I wouldn't be the best young man I can be.  


My mom started on the pavement and it's still hard. We are just in phase two, my mom didn't have the best education but she has Enough to live and she’s street smart. My mom was born in 1981, she was the first born and came from a poor family. Her mother and her father were struggling, they didn't have it all and she certainly didn't have it either. My mom had to raise her siblings. She has eight so it's like she already had kids. My mom was always moving like an adult when she was a kid. The main reason why my mom is so good at cooking because she had to start young. She had me and my brothers young, Torian at 18, Amir at 23 and me at 28, so it was really hard. She lost her first son Torian 5 years ago. She was dejected for years, it was like she lost her soul and still she's saddened but her joy is slowly recharging. When my mom yells at me I know it's because she's scared for me and Amir's life that's why she does it.


She is one of the best cooks, she makes homemade meals that make you want to think that she's a professional cook. Me and amir always tell her to Go Pro but she just laughs. It's like my momma can cook anything. For mom it's hard to love for people to love her even tho people love my mom, but her scars are too big and sometimes I Wish her scars were thinner. Normally she's in a good mood but when mom's mad it's talking like with albert einstein. You could never be right but i don't mind because when shes happy shes the sweetest person.


“My name is Audrey Lovell Hughes and life for me growing up in oakland aint been no crystal stair, in fact I ain't never had a crystal nothing, not in my childhood. I've never even seen one up close and personal” said my mom Audrey Lovell Hughes 


“until your brother Torian Hughes passed away, January 11th 2015. I Received my first crystal and the poem life ain't been no crystal stair by langston hughes resonate in my heart. In 4th grade at the oratorical Fest I recited this poem. It resonated with me then it resonates with me now. So son I encourage you when life gets hard and the pressures of the world are on your shoulders don't you give up don't you sit down on them steps cuz ‘life for your mama Audrey lovell Hughes ain't been no crystal stair yet still like dust i rise’, a quote by Maya angelou. You’re cut from fine sturdy cloth.”


In conclusion: I love my mom. She's the perfect light skinned green eyed earth angel for a mom. She may not give Me everything I want but she gives her love and that's all I live on and need. I hope my mom lives long because she deserves it, and thanks to my mom I'm striving to be the best young man I can be. I love you mom and appreciate you for doing all you can do for me and my brothers.


Some quotes my Mom has said to me: Decolonize Academy Final Essay 2020

09/23/2021 - 13:50 by Anonymous (not verified)
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By Favian Gonzales


My mom Jasmine Harvey was born on a cool spring morning of April 15th, 1987 in San Jose. She was born into a pretty abusive house, mainly my mom’s dad putting his hands on my grandma. So with them fighting throughout most of her life she felt she had to grow up very fast and really just be there for her mom and pretty much be her therapist throughout her life.


Then she moved to San Francisco when she was about 8 years old with her mom. When she came down here she was focused on getting to some money even at such a young age. She would walk dogs, baby sit, wash cars. When she got older she started Myeep, a program that helped her get a job in a senior center when she was about 15.


Around 18 is when she had me and it was a struggle at first for her to raise me from being homeless for a bit when I was a baby to family just not getting along. As she got older she liked taking care and helping people so she became an EMT and a phlebotomist and a medical assistant. When I was about 7 years old I got sucked into CPS for about 2 years and my mom never gave up on getting me back into her house and I'm very happy about that.  


Some quotes she has said to me and I like are, 

“What you give is what you get” 

“Health is wealth” 

“Don't start nothing won't be nothing” 

“Always love yourself” and

“Believe it and you’ll achieve it.”


My Dad's Life: Decolonize Academy Final Essay 2020

09/23/2021 - 13:50 by Anonymous (not verified)
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Hello my name is Amun-Ra. I'm writing to you a little story about my dad. My dad was born in the 1980’s. The city he was born in is Oakland, CA, the same city my grandmother and my grandad met. My granddad was an investor and my grandmother was a college student at the time my dad was born. He was the fourth of five children, the last boy. 

         My dad grew up in Oakland playing every sport possible. He played sports such as basketball, baseball and football. He tried to skateboard but he still can’t ride till this day. I try to help him, he’s getting better but he is still a little shaky. He is better at basketball. A great thing that I will never forget that my dad told me is “life is like sports; if you work hard you will score.”


Light Skin Privilege: Deecolonize Academy Final Essay 2020

09/23/2021 - 13:50 by Anonymous (not verified)
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By Tiburcio Garcia

As I walk through the double glass doors, hearing the familiar chime go off, a burst of AC caresses my nose, and I shake my head. I continue up the small incline heading deeper into Alshuja Grocery, saying hi to the dude behind the counter as I go to the refrigerated section to get vitamin water. I'm thinking of how much longer it would take for my clothes to be finished washing, and suddenly a short black guy storms in, every muscle tense and looking around furiously, exclaiming out “Where's that white boy who was messin wit my sh**!?”
I kept walking to the counter, thinking to myself he's talking about someone else, another white boy. Then reality caught up to me, and within seconds I responded, “hey man I wasn't messing with your clothes, let's check the security cams”.
He was a fair dude, just confused and angry because he thought he saw me rummaging through his things. This encounter, in many different shapes and forms, has happened, like a broken record skipping since I have been old enough to understand what “white boy” or “guero” meant.
“You were light skinned, and hating themselves for being moreno “brown” they loved you for because of your light skin,”said my mother, Tiny.
One of my earliest childhood memories was my aunty Ingrid teaching me how to wash my hands. She said that after I finished scrubbing, I needed to shake them out into the sink, in order to not waste the paper towels needed for drying hands. I remember one time when I did it without being reminded she smiled and It felt like the sun was rising in my chest. She raised me as if I was her son, and took care of me along with her own son, Alex. She has never known English, nor to my knowledge has tried to learn much of it, so she taught me Spanish.
Every day, in our conversations (mostly her explaining things to me and Alex) she presented words that I didn't understand. I asked her questions, like ‘que significa esa palabra’, and she would explain it to me the best she could, leading me to more questions. This is how it went for years, until I could hold a small conversation with Ingrid, and understand almost everything she said. All of this took place in the Mission District of San Francisco, the city and neighborhood I grew up in, and with a strong latinx community the Mission was a perfect place for me to learn about my language and culture, or so I thought.
As I grew older, straying further away from the kid who jumped up and down when Thomas the Train came on the T.V, I began to notice things about my surroundings. I had always walked around the neighborhood with Ingrid, talking to people and saying hi to them in Spanish, in fact sometimes to help me practice she would have me order food or ask for meat at the Butcher. However, as I started to look less like a younger child and more like a young man, the eyes on me began to turn cold like a winter morning. Before, I was the light-skinned charge of a well-respected member of the community, now I'm “one of them”. With age, I started to look like the people who were slowly kicking the people of this neighborhood out of their homes. White, and entitled.
 For a while, this fact escaped me, because I let it. I convinced myself that they saw me the same, and everything was alright. For three years, I told myself nothing had changed. I finally came to terms with it, but by then the neighborhood that was my home for 7 years was no longer. I had been kicked out by the same people I looked like, the white and entitled ones. My mother and I bounced around from place to place for a while, sometimes homeless, sometimes housed, but never secure. We found a place after a while, living with my former step-father Tony in the Sunset District of San Francisco, and for years and years, I was able to not have to deal with the color of my skin. 
Then, my birthplace, my home, was taken from me officially, mold poisoning in the last house kicking us out of my city for good. With nowhere to go, we were forced to move to Oakland, and fast track the Homefulness Project, which at the time was still mostly a dream, so the first family could move in. That family was me and my mother, and once we moved in, and for years after, I wasn't looked at differently due to the color of my skin. I had a school called Deecolonize Academy that supported me and taught me unique and valuable lessons, and friends who judged me by my character, not my race. All of this changed when I decided I wanted to go to Coliseum College Prep Academy (CCPA), a public high school.
In the beginning, when I first started going to CCPA, people came up to me, interested in what I had to say and who I was, finding it fascinating that I knew Spanish, and for the first time in a long while, I felt a hint of what I thought was that sun rising in my chest, and I wanted more. I let the curious questions and immediate friends I made ride over me like a wave, soaking it up as if I was a sponge, completely open and recieving. I was a sensation, a white kid who knew spanish, and was nice. Then, it all turned dark. 
Wiping my blurry eyes as I walked in the chilly classroom, everyone staring at me as I walked by all of the desks to get to mine, the sound of my crutches hitting the floor ringing out, seeming to get louder with every step. A couple of months in, less and less people came up to me, and the public eye drifted away from the “new guy” into the next big thing. After an achilles injury that left me using crutches, my mobility issues prevented people from getting to class due to needing to walk around me, and everything that drew the crowd to me in the beginning now made them despise me. They began to hate on my light skin, which brought back the insecurity I hadn’t felt since I lived in the mission, and the sun now felt like the end of a cigarette being stomped out with a shoe.
 “ became withdrawn, weirdly sad and quiet, and dark. You became more pessimistic, and sort of stopped caring about the stuff that you normally cared about, adapting to the no-caring mannerism of the rest of the world” my mother told me after I asked her about that time, “...before you went, you were constantly dismissive of the blessings you had here, and the people who loved you, of the knowledge you already had, and all the work that we all did. “You were dreaming constantly of what was waiting for you in the ‘mans-school’, and the funny thing was, you didn't see the man's-school aspect of going to college, no, you were only fixated on high-school,” she finished. 
That “sun rising in my chest” I felt again after so long was a ghost of what once was, being accepted into a community, and I thought I found that again by going to CCPA. That community had no idea who I was, and when they thought they found out they didn't like who I was. What I failed to realize was the sun rising in my chest, warming me up, was a community that protected me, and after going to CCPA for a semester, I dropped out, because what I had failed to realize is the community who accepted me no matter what I looked like, no matter what language I spoke, was here, at Homefulness.  

Homeless: Deecolonize Academy Final Essay 2020

09/23/2021 - 13:50 by Anonymous (not verified)
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By Amir Cornish

I am Amir Cornish that lives in West Oakland called the bottoms and you can see all black and brown people living down here, you can see we have a couple curses living down here with the territory. 
I lived in West Oakland for my whole life so i know to struggle on the streets wondering where my next meal was coming from, when you don’t have a home to go it like losing yourself to the world that don’t even care about you and the bottom eats you up like a little mouse when you disappear nobody notice you until you see a poster of you on the wall of a store.  
My alarm clock is when I hear gunshots go out in the middle of the night. It's like hearing fireworks going into the sky and all of a sudden you hear a big boom, when you are homeless you could feel the cold air rushing through your shoulder piercing like some sharp needles never releasing it from your skin. 
‘’I thought that i was going to be homeless forever because nobody care about me, but only my Momma and brothers and i felt like nothing could get any better,’’ said Ziair Hughes 
‘’I don't really remember a lot of being homeless, but my Mom and Brothers and me didn't really have a family,’’  said Ziair Hughes 
We had a little mobile home and we used to ride on the streets of Alameda California. Even though we had a place to stay we were still struggling to get a piece of food in our belly rumbling like a lion roofing for its next meal to eat, my Mother always found a way to feed us.
The area i live in it’s not safe to walk in the middle of the night because the shadows of the night consume you, The darkness is going over your shoulder lurking back of you but is nothing, and it's always danger lurking into the darkness like a Black Panther ready to attack its prey at night waiting for the right time to attack its prey. 
A home is a safe place that you could come to release all of your stress at home and don't have to worry about being on the streets worried about where to go.
Finding a home is like a needle in a haystack that you could never find, homeless trying their best to get home for them and the family so they could thrive for their next generation, sometime long days we will sleep in the car and see the light bright full moon in the sky in the middle of the dark black sky covered with naughtiness.  
Having a home is safer than being on the streets carrying bottles on your back trying to sell bottles to the Recycle Center, and I remember a time when my Grandma Peaches took me and  my brothers to the Recycle Center to get a little cash from that place. 
I have always lived in the projects for my whole life, seeing other people on the streets trying to thrive until the next day and making my heart  break into two pieces shattering all over the place like a broken mirror trying to put it back together once again. 

A System Not Meant to Survive

09/23/2021 - 13:50 by Anonymous (not verified)
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CR Queennandi Xsheba, PNN KEXU 2021

With the deadly COVID-19 spreading quicker than an ignited gasoline race claiming many lives, there is one element that remains consistent and uninterrupted which is the other pandemic and that is systematic failure. Businesses are closing by the masses, folks are living in tents because the almighty paper dollar is worth more than lives and mental well being- with the results ending in walking past blank faces whose spirits have completely given up on life and turned to self-medication trying to escape this “earthly hell” and the stench of fecal matter that resides on almost every street corner. It has taken this nation’s rulers damn near a year to decide if they wanted to render any emergency assistance to the people to avoid famine of this magnitude and the “stimulus band-aid” is doing very little to cover basic needs such as food and housing.


This so-called “Sssystem” consists of loopholes and hamster wheels that would make a person sell their soul to the devil for the whole loaf of bread instead of settling for just crumbs. The “just us” cesspool is still a joke and speaking “100” on a personal note I was criminalized because a family member robbed me blind and then tried to attack me after bringing two officers to my house that disregarded every crime she committed and opted to yell at me and a minor over the family member’s “tenant’s rights” and when I brought up “constructive eviction” I really got yelled at!


The other kick to the face is the fact that Bank of America refused to reimburse me for what so-called “family” had stolen from me (even Wells Fargo didn’t diss me like that!) I have also been residing at a place with half a ceiling in the living room for almost a year with a decades- old moldy carpet and with our lives in serious danger we are yet to receive adequate assistance because my trauma won’t allow for me to relocate to areas where other family members of mine were murdered. Paying some “real bro-bros” to watch our backs with my limited income is an option because now there’s a newborn home with us but the “catch 22” is the baby needs up-front money to be seen by a pediatrician thanks to the “hellthcare” shuffle. I share all of this to say that “a system not meant to survive” is not some “cutesie” catch-phrase to sugarcoat the hell myself and my family have endured in 2020, right along with an exodus of other folks- all while surrounded by COVID. I’m a real “Poverty Skola” I don’t just write about it and judge the less fortunate, I live it and see it everyday- Empty storefronts, tents and tarps and a “zombie apocalypse” of lost souls both young and old and I struggle daily with a body that quits but a spirit that shouts “Quit?!?! Bulls#&%!” and I am not the only one going through the motion of trying to save a nickel a month towards the solution of safety and interdependence. 


Instead of wasting resources and time equivalent to another presidential term focusing on impeaching one of the worst dressed, openly hateful, confused and “covidly careless” presidents in “his-story”, immediate attention should be paid to the “hell on earth” steadily creeping up us with repeated examples like evicting folks out into the streets to be at a more higher risk of exposure to a “dis ease” that can potentially be fatal. It is a crying shame that lives are lost due to the inability to pay nose-bleed high rent for a roof made of drywall and plumbing that does not work properly. In my sarcastic opinion I guess the way the “Sssystem” sees us common folks is that we should be “satisfied” with a half of a ceiling and other uninhabitable conditions because it is “better” than sleeping in a tent or a tarp. The way us “common folks” see it is that this type of attitude and treatment from the “powers that be” is inhumane either way and it is sending this nation to its doom quicker than BART traveling from San Francisco to Oakland. So how is this system “survivable” you ask???


Houseless amidst a deadly dis-ease

09/23/2021 - 13:50 by Anonymous (not verified)
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By Queennandi Xsheba, PNN KEXU


It is not easy living day to day while in poverty- The long wait in lines to receive some kind of assistance, the frustration of keeping warm in a ten, praying that the police don’t have your possessions confiscated and the constant battle to keep your head up, refusing to give up on life altogether. Folks in deep struggle anxiously wait for politicians to make up their minds on whether or not any aid is on the way to make sure families have food on the table and a roof over their heads. It is safe to say that it is a real earth crisis going on, and on top of all of that being said landlords without a human conscience are still throwing people out on the cold streets because of the exodus of unemployment. Many in crisis are biting their nails to the core hoping that newly-elected president Joe Biden doesn't leave us for dead by feeding folks stale bread crumbs through stimulus checks that don't so much as cover the rent for a month- like Trump did. Joe Biden recently signed off on more aid for those in struggle, including a 15% increase in public aid such as CalWorks and CalFresh and a proposition to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. But what really needs to be done right along with the aid increases is to halt evictions during this COVID pandemic. Families and elders are being thrown out on the streets in masses as usual, even my grandson’s 83 year old great-grandmother has to be out of her home by the end of January, health issues and all. As I took to the streets I noted that young adults who are “maxed out” of the system are going through the motions also because of the lack of job placement and housing and more than half of the youth that are “maxed out” have turned to drugs and crime feeling that is the only option to survive- or simply just give up.


How does creating more famine help the economy? The aid to folks should not be in the form of a stimulus check that comes in the mail every now and then. What about the months in between- do we pay bills for a month and go without until the end of the year? Then one wonders why the crime rate goes up hand in hand with the COVID cases. Helping the people does help the economy, businesses stay afloat and keeps folks employed.


One the other hand, corporations and drug dealers are the only ones not losing money whatsoever. Banks like Wells Fargo and Bank of America are taking, taking, taking! Wells Fargo for instance are calling po’ folks like me saying they want to sue for unpaid due balances on accounts that have been settled and closed for years, while Bank of America refuses to reimburse funds stolen from vulnerable, disabled folks because it was a family member, not a stranger so therefore the money taken must have been authorized. Just taking from the people as usual, COVID or not.


Going back to the houseless issues at hand, if the government can supplement landlords through programs such as section 8, then why can there be an emergency rental assistance protocol put into place that helps folks to obtain and maintain their homes other than the temporary fixes of placing people into hotels and shelters with the uncertainty of being protected from COVID? Everyone knows that a “band-aid” fix is only a temporary “hold over” until the next fiscal quarter and that tactic has been proven over and over again to fail those who are most in need. It is understood that many landlords argue that they are in the business for the almighty dollar but what about the quality of life? Folks young and old are actually dying in the streets due to not only chronic illnesses, but chronic houselessness as well and that is against “the laws of the lord” as a whole. But until “man” decides to do “like right”, “Capitalist annihilation” will continue to happen as we are forced to wait in a long line- just to only suffer and perish.


JAILS2STREETS – From Housed to Houseless Post-Incarceration: Notes from the Inside WeSearch

09/23/2021 - 13:50 by Anonymous (not verified)
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FRIDAY, FEB 26th 12noon PST- Join us on Zoom to Release these powerFULL findings


As part of a Poverty Skola-led WeSearch© ,  POOR Magazine's Notes From the Inside which publishes the work of incarcerated poverty skolaz- collaborated with Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC)  to distribute WeSearch Questionaires to 25 prisoners  behind the razor wire kages, while simultaneously,148 post-incarcerated, currently houseless reporters for POOR Magazine's RoofLESS radio, currently residing on the streets in San Francisco, Sacramento and Oakland reported on their current state of houselessness and/or houselessness prior to their incarceration as well as their anticipated status of housing upon their release for currently incarcerated participants. 

We, as Poverty Skolaz, houseless, formerly houseless, incarcerated, disabled, criminalized, indigenous, Black, Brown and poor wite peoples, understand and overstand the direct link (or “revolving door”) between houselessness, race and class based profiling, anti-Blackness and incarceration and the criminalization of the poor. This WeSearch, a word and concept informed by Tiny from the Theory of Poverty Scholarship which is poor people-led research, not academic/othering research, outlines that direct link as politricksters and anti-poor people hate continue to wonder, “How do we get rid of the homeless problem?” while continuing to sweep, profile and criminallize houseless folks like we are trash.

The WeSearch conducted inside the Kages was done n collaboration with IWOC, other collaborators include Prison focus, AztlanPress, KAGE Universal, No Justice Under Capitalism and the San Francisco Bayview 

This JAILS2 STREETS WeSearch is another crucial aspect of POOR Magazine's LandBack demand making the direct connection to land liberation, self-determination for poor, Indigenous Black Brown and DIsabled residents of these colonial -run towns and cities that continue to incarcerate, sweep,  and profile poor people and people of color everyday.

Below is a summary of the WeSearch findings that teases out the patterns in our data as well as the replies from various respondents of the survey:    


Data Summary


  • A majority of the respondents stated that they were not houseless when they went to jail (60% to 40%)
  • Of those who were houseless at the time of arrest however, the average timespan of their houselessness ranged from 3-10 years
  • A majority of the respondents were housing insecure at the time of arrest (56% to 36% with 8% leaving the question blank)
  • 28% of respondents said they would be housing insecure at the time of their release with an additional44% responding “unknown/unsure''
  • 48% of respondents said they would be going into transitional housing upon release with an additional 16% answering “no” and another 36% answering “unsure”
  • 24% of respondents said they had been arrested, cited or swept for being houseless prior to being incarcerated
  • 24% of respondents said their incarceration was directly related to their state of homelessness
  • 52% of respondents said they had lost important belongings in a Po’Lice, sheriff, Caltrans or DPW sweep
  • 100% of post-incarcerated respondents are currently houseless now
  • 92% of respondents claimed their "arrests were related to anti-poor, and/or anti-Black profiling and arrests.

Survey Responses

(WeSearcher’s Note: To remain true to our surveys, responses were transcribed exactly as written in most cases, to include spelling and grammatical “errors”; each bullet represents an individual’s response to the survey question.)

Were you houseless/unhoused/homeless before you went to jail/prison/a cage?

  • No I had my own studio apt (that being said I was only one paycheck from being homeless)—hand to mouth.
  • I was unhoused (transitioning) from state to state (Calif, N.V. AZ). I was seeking employment once I was discharged from parole in 2004.
  • Not really. I always had a place to live up until just prior to my arrest on December 26, 2000. For a few weeks just before my arrest I was living out of my Semi-Truck which was better than being homeless.
  • ½ way house when I parole from solitary confinement. 
  • I was renting a room.
  • Yes, but it was partly my doing. Because of my addictions I left my drug program.
  • No not at all I had a home.
  • No. I was a homeowner. My home was burgled [sic] after my arrest. Later, once I saw how incompetent my assigned public defender was, I sold my home to pay a defense lawyer $50,000, but he was a bad choice, because he himself was in trouble with the law, and he did a very mild defense, and refused to hire an investigator. He failed to object in order to curry favor-judge.
  • No! Sweetly, living with old gal and did my own work and payed rent to her!
  • I had an apartment I could of went and rest, which was my moms place-but I chose to run the streets everyday with a backpack, my tool of protection, rounds and a set of clothes and cosmetics.
  • Yes, I was homeless, but I had a job and a vehicle, and a few financial obligations. I bought my own clothes, and mostly fed myself. My pay wasn’t quite enough to get into a place, and keep it, and keep what I already had, too. So I slept at a shelter, and showered and had dinner there while I[illegible] getting my pay built up enough to get into a place to live, and have a real address.
  • Yes! I was in and out of motels hustling before I came to prison this time, due to me losing my apartment before I was locked up this time.
  • Yes I was couchsurfing.
  • Yes, I was homeless on parole and married to my wife with 2 step daughters.
  • Yes I was.
  • No I wasn’t homeless, but my home life was far from stable, so there was no guarantee that I would be living there for long.

If so, how long?

  • I was transitioning for 3 yrs. (2004-2007) I was captured in 2007, March 20, ....
  • Only periodically by choice.
  • 4 or 5 weeks.
  • I kept renting rooms for about a year.
  • 3 years
  • One year
  • 1 year
  • Age 9-15
  • I was chronically homeless for about ten years. I was on parole when I got my last job, as a painter/welder/utility guy, at a welding shio[sic], I had that job for 6 years, exactly; from 05/02/2000 to 05/01/2006. My pay started at $9.00 hr. By the time I was arrested, it was $18.50 hr.
  • My whole life (I came to prison when I was 18), my home life was unstable, most of the time I’ve had to live with relatives.
  • A year prior to my incarceration. 
  • 2008 till now
  • Months
  • I was homeless 4 months.

Were you housing insecure (couch-surfing, subletting, staying with family who you didn’t feel safe or who didn’t want you there)?

  • All of the above
  • I couched-surfed for along while, I was doing what I can to keep a roof over my head and clothes on my back, and food in my stomach...
  • Staying with family off/on
  • I did stay with family sometimes and I would move on whenever I felt unwelcome.
  • Yes!
  • Yes, after leaving the “program” I went to my sisters. Once there her “boyfriend” felt intimidated by my presence.
  • Still a couch-surfing and parole hearing May 5th, 2020! Forced, innocent in prisons by crooked courts and all!
  • SRO
  • Couch-surfing and just sleeping on the stairs of laundry rooms of apartments of friends that lived in the complexes.
  • I had family I could go to if need be, but I like being on my own.
  • Couch-surfing with wife and kids
  • All of the above!! Plus me and my fiance were denied housing due to our past crimes: drug sales and buglary.
  • Yes, this was my whole living situation.

Are you going into a program when you get out that includes housing but then after that you don’t have housing?

  • Yes. Currently seeking options do you have any?
  • Maybe. I’m not sure.
  • I am planning on the Delaney Street Foundation as an alternative housing situation if needed...
  • I don’t know. Perhaps
  • Yes and no respectively to each part of that question.
  • I will look for before parole hearing transitional housing After that I will get my own place to live.
  • Yes=I was set up and frame on a non-violent case return back to solitary confinement.
  • I will go to a program that includes housing until I can get a job and my own place.
  • I don’t know what I’m going to be doing
  • I will search for such a program.
  • Unknown
  • Yes!
  • Possibly
  • I honestly don’t know--I have family but I don’t own property.
  • I do plan on entering a “transitional housing” program upon my release, mainly because I have been in prison well over half my life, and I believe that period of transition will better acclimate me back into society with the proper tools and acclimated mind state than I would if going straight into society without this particular structured program.
  • I’d like to go into a program but housing [illegible] is no guarantee.
  • Yes! And I believe I’ll have enough money to get my own housing after I’ve been in transitional housing for awhile.
  • Yes. I have bad credit and [a] record.

Did you ever get arrested, cited, swept for being houseless before you were incarcerated, arrested, caged? If so, how many citations/how “much” did you owe for these citations?

  • Most of my arrests were because I was houselss addicted immature and short sighted.
  • I was arrested (2) times with no citations...each time I was sent to prison. 2005-2006, 2007-present...
  • Yes, I received my first conviction age 13 for burglary when I escaped a “boys ranch” and foraged for food & necessities.
  • 2011 Parole. Re-incarceration under racism, draconian non-violent offense.
  • Yes I have, but it was more harassment than anything else.
  • Yeah...loitering...too many times as a youth got tooken and placed in a cage!
  • Once I was chased out of a house accused of being a squatter although I paid rent!

Did you ever lose important belongings in a PoLice, sheriff, Caltrans or DPW sweep?

  • Everything
  • Yes, I’ve lost my transportation, clothes, IO social soc. card, birth certificate, savings (money), jewelry.
  • Yes, several times.
  • Yes lost hand bag, ear rings, cars, money rings, personal loss of time & [illegible]
  • I lost one jacket cost $1,000 and much, much more upon my arrest! Period!
  • Yes, the L.A. sherrifs as is their custom arrested me for a bike I owned and recovered after reporting it stolen. I was shown as the reporter and produced a receipt for the bike while in jail, they then never returned my bike after released on my own recognizance.
  • Yes...I’ve lost $, address books, phones, contacts, birth certificates, medical stuff, car, weapons
  • Yes! I’ve had cars confiscated in the past.
  • Yes. My laptop, documents and social security card.
  • On a couple occasions. Due to being forced to move out or go to jail right then!
  • No, but my constantly unstable housing situation never really allowed me to accumulate personal possessions. So I had very little of anything when I came to prison.

What is your dream/vision for housing/land acquisition? 

  • Somewhere clean, with a community of liked minded citizens that care about each other.
  • I plan to work, go to school, seek employment and eventually become a homeowner like I was when arrested 23 ½ years ago. 
  • No one should be homeless in this country. Our leaders are an embarrassment. Their needs to be certain housing for homeless and low income. Period.
  • My vision now is to pursue a career in non-profit organization for youth homeless or single parents. Mentoring youth to follow they passions and help guide them to meet that goal/dream. 
  • I dream & envision housing as a basic human right, I want to “free the land” from private or state ownership, build community land trusts, build squatters rights for vacant house takeovers, etc.
  • One of those mini-homes. Or maybe a sailboat I can anchor in a bay someplace. Or just my own small apartment.
  • I want to buy my own home. I know its possible I just have to work hard and save as much as I can. 
  • I kinda...well did grow up in the system since the age of 12 yrs old. So beyond being/feeling institutionalized I had no knowledge or experience as to how to get on my feet to be able to get my own place. I feel revived and sure that I am ready to obtain some sort of employment to root myself into society. I’m done with making poor decisions that land me in prison. At some point us as men must accept accountability.
  • To own my property, land & shelter.
  • Realistically speaking there is no affordable housing in California; unless it’s a recreational vehicle, mobile home, or van. Outside of California the possibility of home ownership is more achievable for the proletarian masses. 
  • Maybe go to my sister or my son’s home when I get out of prison.
  • My dream is to find my cellie lover on C file & other importance in my parole & cell living money powers respect, work, update, personal space and respect errand in prison, my life what I become and who I am the person I love and BE FOREVER Thank you! 
  • Through the courts and prisons. America is a sick society these days. I am sad to say I didn’t realize what it actually is until late in my life.
  • I’m an ex-capitalist. At this point in life, the only thing I want is the greatest space I can get between me and Gog & Magog. The enchanted melting pot is long dead for me.
  • Get SSI, get help from available resources. Start out in a low rent place; move up, when I can. I could be fine in a one or two bedroom apartment. If two bedrooms: I sleep in one; the other is my art studio/office. With my SSI, a part time job, veterans comp, art sales, and an AARP card,I should do alright for myself. No delusions of living in a crystal palace on a mountain top that overlooks the sea.  
  • My dream vision is to own my own home within 2 years of my release through hard work and proper planning to achieve that goal. I would like a 4 bedroom with a pool, a big back yard, back deck and entertainment room, big kitchen, two car garage.
  • I’d love to become financially able to move into a modest home and invest in it once released.
  • Low income housing or section 8.
  • If I can stay out long enough, go back to my reservation in Round Valley, California. I have a roll number.
  • I believe all people oppressed in our 99% class should have housing, a car, and a job that pays enough to live on and raise a family.

(Question just for post-incarcerated reposndents:

What housing opportunities were you offerred when you were released

78%  - None

22%: Some - but were very limited  

3% housing that was unihabitable