If we want to change the sinking direction our country is heading down where more than 46 million of us live in what Martin Luther King termed "the cage of poverty," we need to organize ourselves across issues; we need to connect our individual community-based organizing efforts to each other.
In order to help this effort, the Western Regional Advocacy Project has created an Organizing Toolkit based on the 2006 Without Housing report that was published by WRAP and updated in 2010. It is being offered to any community-based organizing effort, be it rural or urban. It can be downloaded here and is available in English and Spanish.
If the past 30 years has taught us anything, it has taught us that America's "approach" to ending homelessness has been miserably ineffective. Both WRAP's Report and this Toolkit show us why and what we can do about it. It is focused broadly enough on the federal government so that any group in the country can use it to do inclusive social justice community organizing.
The Toolkit puts into one place, accessible to everyone, the indisputable facts that have gotten us to where we are today. With a core focus on our communities' housing and civil rights issues, it includes fact sheets on housing and criminalization, funding trends on affordable housing (both rural and urban), a historical timeline on mass homelessness in the United States going back to 1929, and a fact-based analysis on how these housing and criminalization issues impact all segments of our society. All the information will get live-time updating on the website as policies and funding changes.
Also included is a PowerPoint presentation that can be particularly useful in public forums. There is a great deal of information but organized into different sections so that users can easily find what is specifically useful to them.
Our rising national poverty with its most extreme manifestation, homelessness, makes visible the impacts of the racism, classism, criminalization of poverty, and commodification of the basic necessities that everyone needs to survive. The Toolkit identifies the causes: extreme legislative and funding policy shifts that affect education, health care, housing, immigrant rights, and income support. They all connect with each other.
WRAP's member organizations created this Organizing Toolkit because we know it is time to connect individual community-based organizing efforts. We offer the work we have developed over seven years in the hope that people will use it as a public education, training, and organizing tool.
Only by joining our issues and our efforts can we become strong enough to counterweigh the money and influence that is currently corrupting our country.
Follow Paul Boden on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@withouthousing