FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
World-renowned economic justice activist Cheri Honkala joins area homelessness advocates to call for a new downtown shelter and a Homeless Bill of Rights.
What: Since October 20 about 30 homeless individuals and advocates for the homeless have settled in “Sanctuary Village” a community space near the Frederick Douglas-Susan B. Anthony Bridge. About 25 tents are set up just south of downtown Rochester, under the bridge and an adjacent exit ramp to Interstate 490 east. The encampment was the result of a two-night occupation of Washington Square Park after demonstrators reached a compromise with Rochester’s mayor. Many of the 25 or so people who have taken up residence here used to seek refuge in the Civic Center Garage. They were evicted from there in August and since that time, have had advocates for the homeless looking for a permanent shelter. The goal is to find a permanent shelter before winter.
In addition to securing a new shelter, advocates are calling for a Homeless Bill of Rights that will guarantee basic civil liberties to those without shelter. A Homeless Bill of Rights has been passed in Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Illinois. At issue in homeless bills of rights are local codes that outlaw loistering, vagrancy, sitting or lying on the sidewalk, begging, eating in public, and other behaviors. These codes disproportionately affect homeless people.
Who: Cheri Lynn Honkala is an American anti-poverty advocate, co-founder of the Kensington Welfare Rights Union (KWRU) and co-founder and National Coordinator of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign. She has been a noted advocate for human rights in the United States and internationally. Her interests have led her into politics; she is possibly best known for being the Green Party’s nominee for Vice President in the 2012 U.S. presidential election. In 2011, Honkala was the Green Party candidate for Sherrif of Philadelphia, running on the promise of refusing to evict families from their homes. She was featured prominently in the 1997 book Myth of the Welfare Queen by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Zucchino.
Other speakers include Sister Grace with The House of Mercyt, a member of Concerned Residents of Rochester and Monroe County, and a resident from Sanctuary Village.
When: Wednesday, November 19, 2014 @ 3:00 pm
Where: At Sancuary Village (under the Frederick Douglas-Susan B. Anthony Bridge and an adjacent exit ramp to Interstate 490 east)
Why: We have a duty as a society to provide shelter to every citizen. There is currently a housing crisis in Monroe County that is forcing a large number of people to sleep outside. Furthermore, laws that criminalize visible homelessness are immoral and offend our basic human instincts. They are contrary to the fundamental religious and political principals from which the American people seek guidance, and their existence demonstrates that we have fallen vastly short of our religious and foundational aspirations.
Contact: Ryan Acuff at 585-455-0961 / e-mail: email@example.com
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