Bloody Legislation Against the Poor

Bloody Legislation Against the Expropriated by Karl Marx clarifies the conditions and practices under which the peasantry of the 15th and 16th centuries were transformed into landless vagabonds. In our effort to trace the genealogical roots of the present day homeless population we find that Marx's text serves as an illuminating account of its genesis. We seek to inspire interpretive efforts on the part of the reader to draw what we see as glaring similarities between this historical account and modern practices.

Yolanda Ward's article Spatial Deconcentration explains the governmental and bureaucratic planning that motivated gentrification in many urban centers throughout the nation, and demonstrates that more than just free-market real estate madness was at the root of both 1970's urban decay and 80's and 90's "regeneration." The sinister and conspiratorial aspects of the governmental "Mobility Program" Ward describes demonstrates the antipathy the bureaucracy felt for the inner-city poor. Ms. Ward's mysterious murder in Washington D.C. added to the intrigue. This article introduced the phrases "mobility" and "spatial deconcentration" to the vocabulary of housing activists around the country.

In Deinstitutionalization and the Homeless Mentally Ill H. Richard Lamb discusses the mass exodus of homeless mentally ill individuals brought about by deinstitutionalization in the 70s. Lamb stresses that homelessness as a general phenomena is not a result of deinstituionalization, but also points out that three decades ago most of the chronically mentally ill had a home--the state hospital. The appearance of these individuals on our city streets demonstrates the reluctance of mental health professionals and society to accept the dependency of this vulnerable group.

The Adolescent Alone by Michael C. Clatts, Deborah J. Hillman, Aylin Atillasoy, and W. Rees David is a sociological, demographic profile of New York City street youth. Avoiding the detached form of pure analysis, the researchers include first person accounts of the violence and exploitation homeless youth experience through their dependence on the street economy. Their vulnerability and powerlessness is contextualized by the systemic conditions of poverty, lack of education, sexual abuse, homophobia, and limited employment opportunities.

In The Right to Shelter the Coalition for the Homeless reminds us that in the case of Callahan v. Carey the New York State Supreme Court ordered the City and the State to provide emergency shelter in New York City to homeless men, women and children. Mayor Giuliani's New Year's Resolution for the year 2000 was to eject homeless New Yorkers from the shelters if they fail to comply with workfare and other requirements. Children will be taken into foster care; their parents forced to sleep on city streets.

In Bedrooms Are For Sleeping Paul Grant spotlights the Nicole Barrett brick incident. This tragic event was seized by the City to amplify its continuing criminalization of and mobilization against the homeless and the mentally ill on the streets.

Housing Court No Help to Tenants and 5 Minute Justice describe how New York City Housing Court has been reformed to favor landlord lawyers and judges' convenience. Landlord attorneys outgun tenants without financial resources or legal representation. Housing Court moves fast and provides no real justice.

In Gutting Tenant Protections Dave Powell describes the emasculation of the Department of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) under the Pataki regime. The purpose: to weaken tenant protections. The result: evictions and class cleansing. DHCR attorney Ralph Carbone's Comments on the Rent Stabilization Code clarifies the purposefully murky amendments to rent stabilization. Not so murky is the agency's bias for landlords, and its zeal to weaken protections tenuously held by vulnerable tenants.

Invidious amendments to housing code, forced labour for shelter, arrests for sleeping on the streets: the homeless and other susceptible members of the city's population face an increasingly bleak end. Basic and elemental needs of our most unguarded citizens are sacrificed to the imperative of producing a pliable and subject workforce. Nina Ascoly's Trends in U.S. Incarceration reveals the actual priorities of the governing class.

The Kerner Commission... Anthony Downs... Spatial Deconcentration... The Manhattan Institute... New York City Mayor Rudolf Giuliani... In The War for Living Space Frank Morales connects the dots.

Finally, the Video Index includes three brief clips from an interview with homeless advocate Anthony Williams. In A Struggle Hidden, A Condition Unresolved, he answers the question, "Where have all the homeless gone?" In The Shelter System is a Cycle he discusses life in and at New York City shelters and drop-in centers. And in Picture the Homeless he discusses the "homeless industry" and his project to change the public's perception of the homeless.