‘Housing is a human right’: Berkeley community rallies for unhoused individuals

Photo of a Berkeley housing rally
Samantha Lim/Senior Staff
Organizations, such as POOR Magazine, participate in protests advocating for change and better treatment for unhoused residents in Berkeley.

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Organized by Berkeley Copwatch, protestors arrived at the “Housing is a Human Right” march Aug. 12 to speak out against the treatment of unhoused residents in the city of Berkeley.

Located at Downtown Berkeley BART station, the demonstration was scheduled for 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., according to the Occupy Oakland website.

The organizers listed five demands: a stop to the sweeps of unhoused communities, an eviction moratorium that will last through the COVID-19 pandemic, an end to the 3-by-3 sidewalk encampment ordinance, the legalization of RV dwelling and an “unhoused bill of rights,” according to a Facebook post by Berkeley Copwatch.

“There’s a disparate impact on communities of color,” said Daniel Homer, managing attorney at Homeless Action Center. “Homeless communities are way over-policed.”

Organizers demanded action from Berkeley City Council and Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín, the Berkeley Copwatch Facebook post noted.

Sponsored by community organizations including East Bay Community Law Center, Homeless Action Center and POOR Magazine, the march advocates for the end of evictions of both unhoused and housed city of Berkeley residents, according to the Berkeley Copwatch Facebook post.

“Housing is a human right,” Homer said. “Our defense budget is trillions of dollars. A very small percentage of that could be used to literally house everybody and provide a basic lure level of housing for everybody in the United States.”

According to Homer, part of the motivation behind the protest might be to encourage policymakers and politicians while starting a conversation about homelessness.

Homer noted that there should be a focus on ending the “criminalization” of unhoused residents while providing options for alternative housing.

“Why are Black people disproportionately represented in terms of unhoused folks?” Homer said. “There are a number of different structural and systemic impacts on specifically Black folks that have caused that.”

Homer believes that this disparity is due to African Americans being kept from property wealth.

As a result of Black families being unable to accrue “legacy wealth,” according to Homer, their children and grandchildren will also be unable to access that form of wealth in the future.

Homer added that wildfires this season also have a detrimental impact on unhoused individuals.

Housing the unhoused, Homer noted, is important and will serve as a means of improving inequalities.

Contact Nadia Farjami at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @Nadiafarjami.