Emergency Housing for PR Evacuees

Puerto Rican evacuees who arrived in Philadelphia after losing everything due to Hurricane Maria are facing continued uncertainty about their continued housing. While emergency housing vouchers for evacuees have been extended until June, several families have fallen through the cracks and are facing homelessness.

The Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign is looking to raise $2,000 in order to house some of these families by April 1st. These families, who have already been through a great ordeal, are now confronting shelter services that do not have Spanish language services and housing assistance requirements that cause delays and do not meet the immediate housing needs of their families.

Please help today by contributing to PPEHRC’s GoFundMe Campaign and spread the word!

Don’t tell me how to punch if you are not in the boxing ring!

Dear Poor Folks and Friends,

The Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign (PPEHRC) comes with decades of organizing experience in the anti-poverty movement. Much has been learned from international peasant movements, the National Welfare Rights Union, and other leaders throughout history that we will talk about in other articles.

We are writing these lessons in an attempt to assist our brothers and sisters who are out there trying to survive and build the movement to end poverty, hunger and homelessness, who while organizing are struggling to feed and house their very own families at the same time. Most of you are unpaid, poorly paid and overworked organizers – especially if you are trying to stay away from the non-profit industrial complex, or as Pastor Collins says, the ‘faith-based nonprofit industrial complex.’

These articles will be short/accessible and to the point. Two important lessons for today!

  1. Don’t tell me how to punch if you are not in the boxing ring!
  2. Follow the Money! Philanthropy is a scam!

Don’t tell me how to punch if you’re not in the boxing ring!

I’m writing this to you today as a woman who has spent over 30 years in the anti-poverty movement as a poor single mother. We have spent most of our life being told we ain’t shit. We have had to endure all the stereotypes of all the “progressives” and well meaning people along the way. Everyone has always had a better way of doing things. We have always deferred to people in suits or in collars or at the university. We have rarely listened to ourselves or each other. Now, I don’t believe in collective ignorance, but if you have been able to stay alive and have been busy reading and active in this movement for years, YOU (yes, you) have something to not only say, but TEACH! You see, most of our history folks have used us for photos and testimony and to put stamps of approval on their work, but rarely have asked us to talk strategy, power and direction. Well sisters and brothers, it’s our children on the front lines – it’s time for us to get serious and no longer demand a seat at the table, but to teach another path that leads to the ending of poverty. Ending poverty isn’t even on that table being discussed to begin with. The fight to stay alive is not a 9-5 and it doesn’t come with a salary and a foundation grant.

Philanthropy is a Scam. Stop being a pawn, all of humanity depends on it. The most important thing we have is each other.

Okay, so I know I’m not supposed to talk about this topic. It is taboo in the anti-poverty nonprofit world. Okay, get ready – I’m gonna say it: Fuck the corporations that are funding and running your anti-poverty/faith nonprofit organization. Alright, so that means you’re going to call me an extremist and not fund my work. Oh yeah, I forgot – you stopped giving us money years ago when we began to understand why you were giving us money in the first place.

This quote from Joanne Barkan explains the problem in a simple way: Private foundations “intervene in public life but aren’t accountable to the public; they are privately governed but publicly subsidized […]. [T]hey reinforce the problem of plutocracy, the exercise of power derived from the wealthy.”

Many nonprofit, social justice, and anti-poverty organizations make it seem like they are the answer, and that capitalism is the solution. They can’t say this out loud because the progressive foundations (the corporations/banks on their progressive foundation boards) would end their funding, never allow them to be a scholar, or never publish their book. These entities might never help them pay their staff salaries, never pay for their office rent or massive social media outreach that enable them to stay on top of collecting resources from the public and diverting the attention away from your work and mine.

Or worse, if you are really out there challenging power, you will not only have to deal with living on the front lines, but you will have to deal with the nonprofit social media machine vilifying you and making you disappear by raiding your shops, chapters, and supporters. It should be easy because if you are a team player with your oppressor there is a great deal of money in social control and little to no money in organizing not tied to plutocracy.

Nonprofits and capitalism are not only ‘not the solution’ … they are the problem – placing leaders and mis-leaders (conscious or unconscious) in servitude to the foundations. It also encourages us to look the other way instead of looking at what is happening to our brothers and sisters internationally. A system that allowed capitalists to become so rich is not going to end poverty. Our challenge is to globalize from below – to really figure out how to do our work independent of the corporations that are killing our sisters and brothers, not just here, but around the world. That’s what REAL unity of the poor means! It means giving a damn about where the anti-poverty or social justice organization you are working with is getting its money and how its used! I know this is hard, but we must create a cooperative economy and a new independent way of funding each other’s work. Lastly, these organizations are also linked to the two corporate controlled political parties. Many of these corporations give money to both Democrats and Republicans – it does not matter to them. As long as the poor continue to have faith in these two corporate controlled political parties we will never end poverty. Yes – the way forward is political power for the poor, not pity, not charity, not more nonprofits but political power and independence!!

So now it’s up to you. These are difficult times and we are dealing with new things. I’m watching the permanently unemployed being created right before my eyes due to electronics and technology. It’s now up to us to decide which road we will walk. Our road is ugly and hard, but it’s a true cry for unity of the poor, political power, and independence. It’s a road that future generations will thank us for walking.

Join us in the March for Our Lives June 2 to June 14 as we walk this ugly road. Click here to register today and donate.

I look forward to not just talking the talk, but walking the walk with you.

Warm Regards,

Cheri Honkala

An open letter to the Welfare Queens and Deadbeat Dads: an invitation to walk the ugly road together

Dear Welfare Queens,

I’m a Queen myself so it’s easy for me to identify other Queens.

I live in a little apartment on the second floor of a house with my son who is 15 and has two disabilities. I work doing deliveries during the day for Postmates when I can and the night shift at UPS. I can barely pay my bills and have been on and off welfare for most of my life. No, I don’t enjoy this life or wish it on anyone.

We Queens have always been hated, distrusted, and told that we will never amount to anything because we have poor work ethics, and choose not to go anywhere in life.

The fathers of our children have been called ‘deadbeat dads’ at best, sometimes ‘sperm donors.’ In order to get the little welfare or food stamps we have, we’ve had to cut our children’s fathers out of their lives and applaud when fathers are rounded up and sent to jail for not paying child support. This is a common thing that they do on Valentine’s Day here. It’s called the prison industrial complex.

Welfare Queens: listen up things are about to get even harder for you now!

People already don’t see you and they don’t know your life. Yes, sometimes they might be able to spot you when you pull out your Access Card and look down on you if you are buying ice cream for your kids but, by and large, you are ashamed and hiding it, or you have already experienced the consequences of being tracked by your Access Card and the state has already smacked you down for being politically active. Yes, we can pray for the poor but God knows you better not get involved in politics or speak out for yourself.

Yes, others might even say, I was poor once or on welfare but the goal really is to dismiss the inhumane conditions and life you are living right now, at this very moment. There’s a lot of money to be made in the anti-poverty world, but your life of misery they can’t be bothered with.

Poverty and hunger are not sexy issues to look at or work on in the social justice world. Hearing about how she gets up each day trying to figure out how she’s going to feed her daughter – they just don’t want to hear it or see it. It’s not sexy and this might cause them sleepless nights thinking about their comfortable world and their inability to share what they have. It’s just too disturbing. So it’s easier to create charts, hold demonstrations, use social media, and talk about it – but they must cut off your voice. It’s like fingernails to a chalkboard. They will parade you around when necessary but they don’t really believe that their plight is intertwined with yours.

Sometimes I know she just wants to give up. She works her two jobs and feels the guilt of never seeing her daughter. Each day it gets harder to get up and now she learns of the new work requirements in order to get affordable housing. She tries hard to stay away from the sedation offered everywhere in her neighborhood. Drugs and alcohol are everywhere. She sits in her kitchen and swats roaches and prays that the mice don’t go up on the bed. She longs to just escape, to disappear from all of this misery. But she continues on the ugly road knowing that at any moment they can lock her up or take away her child for being a poor single mom on welfare. She is the woman the nation and politicians have been groomed to hate. Better yet, she better not say anything or she will be known as a belligerent, angry woman with an attitude problem, a non-deserving poor Welfare Queen. Someone who, for some reason, thinks she should only have what you have, a full set of teeth, food when you’re hungry, the ability to wash clothes, heat in the winter, and, yes, a life of dignity and without fear. Because to be poor is to be criminalized. But she doesn’t have it and neither do the millions of other Welfare Queens.

I know the welfare office is the least of your problems these days. Now you have to deal with the social control from the non-profit industrial complex. You mention a problem and they will refer you to an agency that won’t solve the problem and then criticize you for not utilizing city services. But, my dear Queen, you know that our country has been perfecting the non-profit industrial complex. They must pretend that they have the situation under control, so they must buy their alliances.

Because they know there are millions of welfare queens who are working on becoming generals. Conscious Queen Generals. So, my sisters, you must educate yourselves. They are coming for us and we need you to become educated. We need you to follow the money of every organization and person that you meet. We cannot afford to listen to the fancy speeches and rhetoric. “Progressive Foundations” are funding the disunity of our class. These foundations are linking government and corporations in order to create the social control necessary to prevent us from building a movement led by the poor, independent of the two corporate-controlled political parties.

They are trying to cut off your voice and mine. We must stand strong in the tradition of Fannie Lou Hammer, Annie Smart, Dottie Stevens, Rev. Harris, Rev. Annie Chambers, Rosa Clemente, and many other sisters who dared to speak truth to power.

Women who were and are brave enough to speak out against the Democratic and Republican parties and who understood that the poor need more than pity. They need political power!

They will continue to turn us Welfare Queens and Deadbeat dads (the organized poor) into villains because we dare to be educated, organized, political, ethical, and ready to fight.

We will not participate in the isolation and the marginalization of other Queens. If someone tries to throw one of our sisters or brothers in the dirt we will say something about it and, no, we will not take the dirty money from the politicians, labor unions, and so-called “progressive foundations” that are aligned with corporations. We know that corporations are giving money to the “progressive” foundations right now to fund our demise. Let us learn from the history of the Ford Foundation and how it played a key role in the urban renewal program that assisted in moving tens of thousands of low-income families out of their homes between 1955 and 1974, to make way for buildings and convention centers. It’s everywhere now. Puerto Ricans are being thrown from their land. Going without water and electricity only to be called a Welfare Queen in my neighborhood after forced relocation. We see it everywhere. Who is really in charge of the road we are on if at the same time the very people you are up against are funding it? This is what is happening now in the anti-poverty world and you will not be funded if you talk about it or dare to build an independent, cooperative way of living, surviving, and organizing. But you will have something far greater… each other and the strength of our ancestors to stand on.

My dear Welfare Queens, you do have a choice. You can choose which road you want to take. Our road might be hard, ugly, and downright terrifying at times, but it’s a road that leads to political independence, freedom, dignity, and self-respect.

We need you on this road and we hope that you will join your fellow Welfare Queens and America’s hated poor on the March for Our Lives on June 2nd in Philadelphia when we will march to Washington D.C. to reconstruct Resurrection City. You can choose to not have the cat fund your mousehole. You can begin to join with other mice and Queens and build a cooperative economy and society. You can help us build the movement to end poverty, hunger, and homelessness, once and for all in this country and around the world. Another World is Possible! Another U.S. is Necessary and she’s on her way!

Sign up now to walk this road together and support our efforts by donating just $10 today!

Warm Regards,

Cheri Honkala

Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign

Build Our House Project

The Project: The Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign is working to acquire vacant single-family rowhomes and twins in Philadelphia, in order to rehabilitate them and then rent them to homeless individuals and families at subsidized, affordable rates.

Community volunteer labor and sweat equity will accomplish a great deal of the construction work, using green building principles and practices. PPEHRC will establish a Community Land Trust (CLT) to ensure the perpetual affordability of the houses.

In addition to providing affordable housing, these Human Rights Houses will provide job-training programs and support services like mental health care and substance abuse treatment. We will offer this support alongside and interwoven with our work of supporting the leadership of poor and homeless people to organize for human rights and economic justice.

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FLESH AND BLOOD FILM — Starring Cheri Honkala




A Film By Mark Webber


Starring Cheri Honkala

Founder, Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign

2012 Green Party nominee for Vice President



Join us for screenings this weekend and contribute to the conversation afterward! This is a terrific opportunity to discuss the film’s themes of social and economic justice as it relates to the work of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign (PPEHRC) with moviegoers who are enthusiastic about working to better their community, but not necessarily knowing where to start. 

Jill Stein will moderate post-show discussions with Cheri and her sons Mark and Guillermo at the Prince Theater in Philly on 11/3 @ 6:40pm and 11/4 @ 1:30pm! Black Thought from The Roots will host the discussions on 11/5 @ 2:30pm. Click here to buy your tickets!


Based on a real family, FLESH AND BLOOD blurs the line between narrative and documentary, with characters played by their real life counterparts. Writer and director Mark Webber (GREEN ROOM, SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD) stars as a man who has just been released from prison and returns home to his impoverished neighborhood in Philadelphia. Mark attempts to rebuild his life and reintegrate into the community, but he struggles with staying sober, forging a bond with his half-brother Guillermo, and mending a strained relationship with his mother, who is played by Cheri Honkala, Webber’s real life mother and the Green Party’s nominee for Vice President in the 2012 U.S. election. Hoping to move beyond the mistakes of his past, Mark seeks out his estranged, real-life father, who he meets for the first time in over 30 years. Will Mark’s life remain defined by his own flesh and blood?


About Cheri HonkalaFor almost 30 years, Cheri Honkala has been a committed activist and co-founder of multiple poverty-rights organizations. Her experiences as a homeless single mother caring for her son, writer/director/actor Mark Webber, served as a lightning rod that ignited a 30-year crusade as an anti-poverty activist. In the 2012 U.S. presidential election, Honkala was the Green Party?”s vice presidential candidate alongside Dr. Jill Stein. In November 2016, Honkala ran in a special election to be the Pennsylvania State Representative for the 197th District.  Cheri Honkala resides in Philadelphia, PA and works with the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign (PPEHRC) to end homelessness through justice and compassion. To find out more about PPEHRC, visit economichumanrights.org.

Send Human Rights Observers to Puerto Rico

On Monday, October 2 at 1:00 pm, the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign (PPEHRC) will be visiting the offices of the Organization of American States in Washington, D.C. to ask that international human rights observers are sent to Puerto Rico to witness the extent of the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria and whether the recovery efforts are putting poor people before profits or are further contributing to Puerto Rico’s economic crisis. We, the poor, are calling on the international community to witness the U.S. government’s treatment of Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, and ensure that our families, friends, and loved ones receive the resources and justice they require.


For Immediate Release
September 29, 2017

Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign
Website: http://economichumanrights.org

Cheri Honkala, cherihonkalappehrc@gmail.com, 215-869-4753
Edgardo Gonzalez, egonzalezclemente@gmail.com


Even before Hurricane Maria, due to centuries of colonial dispossession, Puerto Rico was facing an economic crisis with high unemployment rates and the highest migration to the mainland in the history of the island. Our Puerto Rican friends and family are now facing the fiscal devastation and physical destruction of Hurricane Maria. They do not have drinking water and their homes, shelters, and hospitals are still without power. There is intense flooding in neighborhoods that do not normally experience floods.

Our loved ones are not receiving the necessary food, water, clothing, medicine, and fuel that they desperately need to survive. Those of us on the mainland of the United States are increasingly worried and frustrated because the resources we are collecting are not getting to those that need them most on the island. The bureaucracy created by the U.S. government is preventing the transport of assistance to Puerto Rico. Eliminating the Jones Act for ten days is not good enough.

The U.S. government needs to bail out Puerto Rico the way they bailed out U.S. banks. We call on the U.S. Congress to sufficiently fund emergency relief efforts, allow for the transport of resources, and stop putting profits over our people and abolish Puerto Rico’s debt immediately. Recovery efforts should also be placed directly in the hands of the Puerto Rican people and Puerto Rican-owned businesses, so that they can rebuild their communities themselves. Failing to provide necessary resources or issuing the contracts to rebuild to companies outside Puerto Rico is setting up our Puerto Rican people for continued economic crisis and displacement from their homes.


Campaña Económica de Los Pobres Sobre los Derechos Humanos
29 Septiembre 2017

Cheri Honkala, cherihonkalappehrc@gmail.com, 215-869-4753
Edgardo Gonzalez, egonzalezclemente@gmail.com

En Lunes, 2 de Octubre a la 1 pm miembros de la Campaña Económica de Los Pobres Sobre los Derechos Humanos (Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign) visitarán las oficinas de la Organización de los Estados Americanos en Washington, D.C. para pedirles que envíen los observadores internationals de derechos humanos a Puerto Rico para que mirar la devastación y los esfuerzos de ayuda. Nosotros, los pobres, estamos llamando a la comunidad internacional para que mirar el tratamiento del pueblo puertoriqueño por parte del gobierno de los Estados Unidos despues del huracán Maria, y asegurar que nuestros familias y amigos reciben los recursos y la justicia que requieren.

Antes del huracán Maria, debido a siglos de desposesión colonial, Puerto Rico ya estaba enfrentando una crisis económica, con altas tasas de desempleo y la mayor migración hacia el continente en la historia de la isla. Ahora, nuestros amigos y familias puertoriqueños están enfrentando la devastación economico y la destrucción física del huracán Maria. Ellos no tienen agua potable y sus hogares, refugios y hospitales están sin energía. Hay intence inundaciones en vesindarios que normalmente no undavan.

Ayuda no esta llegando a nuestros seres queridos y aquellos de nosotros, aquí en el continente de los Estados Unidos, se están haciendo más fustrados y preocupados porque no podemos obtener ayuda para mandar los recursos y el dinero que nos reunimos aquí para nuestros seres queridos en la isla. El gobierno de los Estados Unidos ha creado una burocracia tal que no podemos usar aviones o barcos dentro o fuera de puertorico para aser llegar a ellos. Eliminar la ley de jones act por diez días no es suficiente.

El gobierno de EE.UU. necesita ser presionado para rescatar a puerto rico de la misma manera que rescató a los bancos estadounidenses con recursos financieros inmediatos. Nosotros estamos llamando al congreso de EE.UU para que financiar los esfuerzos de ayuda, permitar el transporte de recursos, priorizar el pueblo, y eliminar la deuda de Puerto Rico. Recursos deben ser entregados directamente a los puertorriqueños y a los propietarios puertorriqueños para que ellos mismos sean capaces de reconstruir nuestra isla. Dar recursos a contratistas externos o no dar en absoluto, estableceria a nuestra gente para crisis económica continua y desplazamiento.


Please send us names, address/or towns of loved ones you are looking for at humanrightsforPR@gmail.com or comment below.

Please provide the following additional information as well:

  • Elderly
  • Low income
  • Disabled
  • Health concerns
  • Family relation


Housing Cuts


Posted by Cheri Honkala on Saturday, July 29, 2017


Statement of National Council on Independent Living and National ADAPT on the Senate’s Motion to Proceed Vote


As we celebrate the 27th Anniversary of the ADA, we fight alongside our many ADAPT & NCIL friends to preserve our healthcare and Medicaid services and supports.  Today, many of our friends continue the fight in DC where they have protested through the heat and rain since Sunday evening.  Please read the statement below by the National Council of Independent Living and National ADPT on the Senate’s Motion to Proceed Vote. PPEHRC sends power, prayers and support as we stand solidarity with our friends in Washington, D.C. and across the nation.

Statement of National Council on Independent Living and National ADAPT on the Senate’s Motion to Proceed Vote

Yesterday, at the exact same time that the Senate voted to proceed on a bill that will strip disabled people of lives and liberty, approximately 250 advocates from ADAPT and the National Council on Independent Living were protesting the vote in the atrium of the Hart Senate office building. Capitol Police arrested 64 of our people.

We are disgusted that this bill has not yet died. Despite massive outpourings of opposition from the disability community and from the American people, Senate Republicans continue to want to debate a settled question: that the lives, liberty, and equality of disabled Americans are promised in the Constitution and secured in law.

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