Activist and former homeless mother promotes poverty awareness

Homelessness is a major national issue, as well as a local one in the city of Rochester. That is why the Social Work Department at the College at Brockport brought Cheri Honkala to campus to speak about her firsthand experience as both an activist and former homeless mother.

“I’ve lived a very surreal kind of life,” Honkala said. “I live in, like you guys do, one of the richest places in the entire world and I consider myself to be fairly educated and smart and resourceful and yet I found myself living in a car with my 9-year-old son driving around trying to figure out where I was going to sleep on any given night.”

To prevent herself and her son, Mark Webber, from freezing, she began taking over abandoned government properties, like vacant houses.

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The Fight for Education

On Monday, October 6th, the School Reform Commission (SRC) cancelled the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers’ (PFT) contract, costing teachers their health care benefits. This is yet another destructive act in a long line of attacks on Philadelphia’s public schools. The SRC and Governor Corbett have eliminated jobs, school programs, plus 24 schools. Yet, at the same time, Corbett is advocating for $1.7 billion in tax breaks for Shell Oil. The big business plans to build a plant in Beaver County that is expected to rank in the top ten air polluters. Philadelphia schools and our environment are breaking under the burden of these big business tax breaks. Teachers are being told it is their time to make sacrifices but they have been sacrificing all along with limited resources, over crowded classrooms and fulfilling extra roles such as counselor and nurse due to lack of funding for full time staff.

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We Are Women Rally

Pushing back against a wave of legislative and judicial action seen as targeting the rights of women, the grassroots organization “We Are Woman” will lead a Constitutional Day Rally in Washington on Saturday, September 13th, launching the return of a demand for the ERA to fully enfranchise women into the United States Constitution. The organizers have included a special tribute to military women and are expecting thousands of supporters from across the nation to attend the rally scheduled from 9:30am-4pm on the west lawn of the Capitol. The rally comes just weeks ahead of the fall elections in which women are projected to be the key voting demographic.

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65th Annual United Nations DPI/NGO Conference

Bringing Equitable Participation into Sustainable Development Decisions

Initiative for Equality is calling for more equitable participation in the discussions and decisions surrounding sustainable development. The United Nations is in the process of adopting new Sustainable Development Goals to supplant the Millennium Development Goals which expire in 2015.  Initiative for Equality, or IfE, is a global network of civil society groups and individuals advocating for greater social, economic and political equality. IfE’s global Field Hearings project will be presented at the UN’s DPI NGO conference at UN HQ in New York this week.

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Homeless Housing and Gay Rights

All,

Jerry Jones the director of the National Coalition for the Homeless has expressed a desire to learn from the LGBT community about how they started out as an obscure  minority and yet have won rights in various states and nations over the past 25 years. Jerry has drawn parallels between them and the homeless: Both make up about 1% of the U.S. population and both have been looked down on by the vast majority of people. So, Jerry wants to use the tactics and techniques of the LGBT community to gain similar victories for the homeless. At least that’s what David Pirtle told me. He’s often right. 

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DC’s Family Homelessness Crisis

It can be argued that our economic troubles began long before the crisis of 2008. But let’s use that as a starting point anyway as we consider the causes of the family homelessness crisis that has arisen in in Washington, DC. I’d read about the failure of Bear Stearns and how it was purchased by JP Morgan Chase in the spring of 2008. Over the next seven months, I would read about other investment banks whose names I’d either never heard or that just didn’t mean anything to me previously – names such as Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch (whose bull-silhouette commercials were etched into my memory during childhood) and Morgan Stanley. But the depth of the crisis didn’t “hit home” for me until mid-October when I read an e-mail announcing a special meeting at DC’s City Hall to address immediate cuts to the Dept. of Human Services budget for FY 2009 with us being two weeks into that fiscal year.

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