Poverty in US is “stunning and cruel” Says U.N. Rapporteur on Adequate Housing

Mike Zint and others of ‘First they came for the homeless’ meets with UN Special Rapporteur on housing and homelessness on the steps of Berkeley Old City Hall, the site of the Poor Tour tent community.
Photo/Sarah Menefee


In clear view of some of the most expensive property in the world, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, Leilani Farha remarked while walking San Francisco streets: “I have traveled all over the world seeing slums and people living in poverty, but what I have heard and seen here in the US is stunning to me. There is so much hatred towards poor people here.” She was referring to the anti-homeless laws against activities like sitting and sleeping or sharing food when there is no housing or shelter. “It’s just so… cruel,” she said. She said the slums in Mexico were the slums, but there was community living in poverty working together to support each other. Here the US government does sweeps to break up communities and tells them to “move along.” (This information was reported in the dailykos.com.) “Homelessness is an “egregious violation of human rights […] requiring urgent and immediate human rights responses. […] Homelessness is caused by states’ failure to respond,” said Leilani Farha at a UN meeting in Europe recently.

Only the American people can solve this. As automation eliminates more and more human labor from the workplace, the crisis can only grow. We have to act. As stated in the People’s Tribune editorial on page 2, “The government should take foreclosed-on homes back from the banks that fraudulently stole them, and give them to those without shelter.” This is a step toward a whole new society where everyone life has meaning.


“Momma” Crystal of the Dare to Change tent community, part of “First they came for the homeless” at Berkeley Old City Hall, speaks to a fellow resident. She, with her son and two teenage daughters, helps provide recovery tents for people from the streets with substance abuse issues, as a sister part of the Poor Tour. The U.N. rapporteur expressed admiration for this community.


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