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shai

Homes Not Jails/Intentional Communities/Squatting

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homes_Not_Jails

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intentional_community

 

These are some projects I've been involved with for some time now.

 

I've been squatting Oakland off and on for a while, partly out of necessity and partly because there's tons of houses just sitting vacant here that are owned by banks or under lien due to back taxes. The cops aren't really an issue, it's mostly smoothed out when we go to the neighbors and explain what we're trying to do and encourage them to get involved. More often than not it works out, but whenever we encounter resistance we generally just move on to the next spot.

 

There's a bunch of stuff online about the squat that I'm currently staying at but I don't really feel like posting it here...but if you're interested PM me, and I'll give you the name of the house and you can read up on it.

 

What I do feel at liberty to share here is that we've been around for about 20 years and are an integral part of the community, we get a lot of support from the neighbors and do shows and make the space available as needed for events and meetings within the radical community. It's basically a contradiction in terms in that we're an anarchist collective...we have house meetings, and run the space cooperatively in terms of working together on the house and getting what we need to maintain the project. We have all the amenities of home, the water, power, gas, and internet are all hooked up here and paid for out of the house fund. We let travelers stay here on a no questions asked basis for three days, and after that we ask them to get on the chore wheel and make a case for any long term commitments on their behalf at the next house meeting. We get the occasional wingnut now and then, and we try to deal with them as humanely as we can but it's definitely one of the downsides to running an open space like this. Eventually I'll post some photos I've taken here over the summer if there's any interest.

 

And to the shit talkers, consider this- the spirit of what I'm doing stems from the same spirit that motivates people to start writing graffiti, and you and most everyone you know are probably not that far from being in a situation where knowing about resources like these could possibly benefit you or even save your life...I won't lie, I've been hard up at several points over the past few years and if it weren't for places like this and the skills I've acquired there's no telling where I'd be right now. You can talk about it or be about it, and I'm doing both....so, tell me what are you doing to empower yourself and the people around you and I'll give you a chance.

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shit like this is excellent... anything for free, pirated, stolen etc is for me

with that said, i usually can not stand the people involved in this type of life that i have come across. crusty punks and hippie types. i really cant stand them at all. i never knock the hustle but it seems you have to fit into some sort of "look" or type to do this sort of thing. thats the only part of this squatting subculture that i can not fuck with...

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Keep up the good fight shai...

 

 

I totally agree with what you are doing. If a a government, commercial, or even a private building is just sitting in foreclosure or seizure, why not use it for the homeless?

Fuck just letting it rot...

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It's sad, there's so many beautiful houses here that are falling apart because no one is living in them or maintaining them.

 

There's two vacant inhabitable units for every homeless person in SF right now. So who's the criminal, the person who breaks into a place to get out of the cold or the property management company that keeps the place off the market because no one can pay 1200 dollars a month for a two room studio?

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shit like this is excellent... anything for free, pirated, stolen etc is for me

with that said, i usually can not stand the people involved in this type of life that i have come across. crusty punks and hippie types. i really cant stand them at all. i never knock the hustle but it seems you have to fit into some sort of "look" or type to do this sort of thing. thats the only part of this squatting subculture that i can not fuck with...

 

I'm dirty most of the time but that's because I'm working on the house. I don't really fit into a category/subculture in the sense that you're talking about, though.

 

We get all kinds here, hippies and anarchists, punks, wingnuts, trainhoppers...as long as you pull your weight and can handle your booze it's all good.

 

Keep up the good fight shai...

 

 

I totally agree with what you are doing. If a a government, commercial, or even a private building is just sitting in foreclosure or seizure, why not use it for the homeless?

Fuck just letting it rot...

 

There's such a pronounced need here that I think sitting idly by and letting people freeze and live in dangerous situations is morally reprehensible.

 

Anyone who wants to get involved can PM me and I'll gladly give you information on where the Homes Not Jails meetings are held. Don't be fooled, though...this is illegal, and it's hard work under potentially sketchy circumstances.

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Sounds awsome, do you happen to know Shai if theres any similiar programs that are like national? Im on the opposite coast as you homie, but this sounds like something that actually helps people and im all about action instead of words.

 

PM if you have any helpful info on the matter

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A good starting point would be to get involved with Food Not Bombs, they're sort of affiliated with Homes Not Jails.

 

And there's nothing preventing you from starting your own chapter, though it does take some planning and research into tax and property law to make it work.

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Here's a couple articles about what's going on in SF right now...

 

-----------------------------

 

Housing Takeover in San Francisco, Part 2

by Michael Steinberg ( blackrainpress [at] hotmail.com )

Monday Apr 5th, 2010 10:43 PM

 

On Monday Homes Not Jails' occupation of a vacant Mission District house in San Francisco continued. And then the SFPD came battering at the door.

 

The house was formerly the home of 80-something old Jose Morales for 43 years. Morales fought off eviction attempts for 14 years before being illegally kicked out of his home under the auspices of the Ellis Act, a state law that unscrupulous property owners have used to evict thousands of San Franciscans.

 

What follows is a continuing report about Homes Not Jails' occupation of a Mission District house on San Jose Avenue in San Francisco. The information about Monday's events is from testimony of the occupiers themselves.

 

On Sunday, after rallying at 24th and Mission, a spirited crowd marched to the site where squatters had taken over the former home of octogenarian Jose Morales, who lived there for 43 years, and beat back eviction attempts for 14 years before being forced out by misuse of the Ellis Act by his landlord. According to a speech by Morales at his former home yesterday, the Ellis Act, a state law, has resulted in 3000 familes in San Francisco and 11,000 families in Los Angeles being forced out of their homes.

 

After Morales' ejection from his home, the building sat empty for over two years. Until yesterday.

 

A heavy police presence accompanied the march Sunday and massed in the area of the occupation. But the SFPD did not attempt to remove the squatters. Their efforts were confined to, late in the day, asking the people inside the house when they were leaving. The new residents told the cops they had no plans to give up their new home, according to occupiers. They did inform the SFPD that they were committed to nonviolent actions only.

 

The rest of the night was peaceful. Monday morning was peaceful as well. Early in the afternoon, however, increasing numbers of police arrived, as well as two men recognized as the owners of the chronically vacant building and evictors of Jose Morales.

 

After awhile occupiers saw one of the landlords signing a document, which evidently declared the squatters as trespassers, thus authorizing the cops to kick them out.

 

Following this poison pen ceremony, the SFPD came to the front door, which was barricaded from the inside, and began trying to knock it in. The occupiers informed the cops that they could stop this nonsense, as they were taking down the barricade before anyone got hurt.

 

The squatters let the police in, and one of the landlords snuck in with them. He immediately began insulting the occupants and making wild claims of damage to the property purportedly done by the residents. He also tried to get the cops to bring charges of breaking and entering against the occupiers, which would have resulted in them being arrested and locked up, facing felonies.

 

In the words of one occupier, "He acted like a dick."

 

The police disregarded the landlord's malarky. Instead they asked the squatters to sit down, so they formed a circle on the kitchen floor. Then the cops brought the landlord before each of them and asked him if he recognized them, and if they had permission to be in the house.

 

The landlord's answers were all negative. The SFPD, which included officers as high as captain, then cited the occupiers for misdemeanor trespassing, read them their Miranda rights, and subsequently released them one by one.

 

The squatters declared victory and left, for now. And the building was left empty, one more.

 

One of the occupiers contested one of the landlord's claims in the Chronicle today that "It's not actually vacant. I use it for my own personal uses." According to this occupier, who has been monitoring the house for the better part of a year, "I haven't seen any changes to the place in all that time, and I certainly haven't seen him there."

 

It's not clear what the landlord's "personal uses" to Jose Morales' former home have been since he kicked Morales' out over two years ago, other than purposely keeping it empty. The Chronicle identified him as "Ara Tehlirian of Daly City," not San Francisco.

 

An occupier also charged that Tehrlihan's lawyer, Andrew Zacks, also quoted in the Chronicle, specializes in cooking up ways to evict tenants for landlords.

 

"The San Francisco Tenants Union once picketed Zacks' home" to protest all the complaints they had received about him from tenants who had suffered at Zacks' hands, the occupier said.

 

Tonight there is one less place to live in San Francisco for people who are forced to live on its mean streets. But through the efforts of Homes Not Jails, a lot more people have seen how easily that situation can be changed for the better.

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sfhoteloccupation-2-july20-2010.jpg?w=450&h=337

 

sfhoteloccupation-july20-2010.jpg?w=259&h=334

 

SF Sierra Hotel Occupied!

 

SAN FRANCISCO, California – On Monday, July 20, San Francisco community members, outraged by the lack of housing in the city took over the empty Sierra Hotel in San Francisco’s Mission District.

 

from indybay:

 

Late [Monday] afternoon housing activists took over the long vacant 43-unit Sierra Hotel in San Francisco’s Mission District. The hotel has been empty for years and is in a state of disrepair though structurally sound. The takeover is “a collective act of homefulness” to protest government cuts of social services that will result in more people being out on the streets.

 

San Francisco, July 19-It was open house at the Hotel Sierra at 20th and Mission Streets today. Late this afternoon housing activists from Stop the Cuts Bay Area opened up the long vacant residential hotel.

 

Occupiers found their way into the hotel prior to a rally at 16th and Mission Streets followed by a march up Mission to the site, whose ground floor hosts a T Mobil store.

 

On the sidewalk below the Sierra, protesters chanted, danced, waved signs, spoke out and enjoyed free food from Food Not Bombs. Upstairs the new residents hung out banners, opened windows and made themselves known for all the world to see.

 

A single SFPD cruiser with 2 officers sitting in it stood guard over the proceedings across 20th Street.

 

After a while the downstairs entrance to the hotel on 20th opened up, and occupiers allowed people to come on in and take a look around. After mounting some long neglected steps, we were welcomed to tour the 43-unit hotel. Similar states of disrepair were evident throughout the place, but it appeared structurally sound and has running water and functional toilets.

 

Activists called the occupation “ a collective act of homefulness” to protest government cuts on all levels that will result in more homelessness, while places like the Sierra are allowed to sit and rot.

 

A statement about the action asserted, “In a city with so much conspicuous wealth, an estimated 6,000 to 15,000 individuals sleep without a roof over their head. 23,000 or more others are on the waiting list for public housing (a list that is often closed to new applicants), while some 30,000 housing units sit empty.

 

“The mayor’s vision of San Francisco? Million-dollar condos and ‘affordable housing’ that most residents can’t afford; schools and other publicly owned buildings laid to waste; jail bunks and early graves for those who have no place to rest but the sidewalks.”

 

The Sierra Hotel also has a storied history of its own. According to several people at today’s action, in 1910 it was The New World Hotel, hideout to radicals of the time and known at “The Last Stop Before Hell.”

 

Tonight it’s the home of today’s radicals, who’ve made it open to everyone who needs to get off the streets. They’re taking the first steps to put an end to the hell of living without a place to call home these days.

 

Update:

 

10am: Squatters are expecting a police siege soon.

 

10:30am: Squatters evicted and 5 arrested.

 

They have all been released.

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It's not a cause.

 

I don't know how to define how what I do relates to my life. I think it's the most Christian thing I can do with my time....people need help out there, and I have access to resources and knowledge that facilitates me and my friends to help them. In a lot of cases the kind of assistance folks on the street would get from some agency or from welfare won't do them much good if they can't get to appointments or they're disabled in some way that hinders them from getting that help.

 

In a way it's kind of hard for me to accept praise about something that I consider a duty. I think everyone should be doing whatever they can to help those less fortunate in their communities...it's great if you donate money to charity but it's a lot cheaper and more fulfilling to go out there and participate in some kind of direct action. Then you can see the results and gratitude for yourself.

 

As corny as it sounds, I really do feel blessed that I can do what I do and know that it makes a difference.

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I got a bunch of new pictures and some video I'm gonna upload ASAP, so if anyone wants to check it out feel free to PM me.

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I'm having some issues getting a couple hundred images uploaded....does anyone know of a site besides imgur that will do batch uploads without Flash?

 

The new photos are really good, definitely stuff I would like to share on a somewhat limited basis publicly (nothing incriminating, mostly art/set and scene shots) and fully by request.

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Okay, these photos are piling up and I need a host stat. Someone here knows something, jar loose with it.

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Thanks to Mercer I found a way to upload all the pics in one shot, so I'll post a few here and send a link to whoever requested one.

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thanks Shai for the share. Just so i'm clear about what you guys do and the background.

BayArea California is really expensive. Pursuant to what you were saying about 1200 for

a 2 room studio it stands to reason a lot of people may not be able to afford that and as

such they end up crashing couches, living in their cars, or on the street. Being that this is

the reality there are probably thousands of young to middle age adults that basically decided

to just band together, seek out empty homes, and share the space. So how many of these

situations exist. Are we talking 2 or 3 or 20 - 30? Can you legitimately get the water, gas,

and electric turned on at a house you are squatting? I mean by paying and not by turning

shit on yourself? Do you change the locks? Do people have rooms they claim as their own?

Do a lot of inhabitants have normal wage earning jobs?

I view all of this as very positive. Im sure there is plenty of squatting going on in Detroit.

If not there should be.

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