The silent yet deadly elder and child abuse of eviction
by Tiny, aka Lisa Gray-Garcia, daughter of Dee, mama of Tiburcio
“I am being evicted from the home I was evicted to. I don’t know where to go now. I want to come back to Oakland, but if I do I will end up homeless in Oakland,” Princess Beverly Williams, long-time Oakland resident, community organizer and elder, said, holding back tears as she spoke to Po Peoples Revolutionary Radio last week.
Since February of 2014 to 2016, when POOR Magazine made the case for elder and child abuse under penal codes 368 and 273(a) with over a dozen cases of elder and family evictions, including 100-year-old Black elder Iris Canada, Ron Likkers and Elaine Turner – who all died within days or weeks of being evicted from their longtime San Francisco homes – and presented them to District Attorney George Gascon, who refused to convict the abusers, continuing a long held practice of authorities protecting “private property ownership” over people, the crisis we already had just got so much worse. Because when elders and children are evicted, it means abuse, trauma, homelessness and often death for the victims.
RoofLESS radio unhoused reporters’ WeSearch report findings tells us that more than 88 percent of unhoused elders and families were evicted before they became unhoused.
In addition to the extreme rise in the silent killer of eviction, just in the last five years, there was a massive rise in the building of “market rate housing” with a cursory 1-3 percent of so-called “affordable housing, which was never intended for us, the very low-income and no-income poverty skolaz, as we call ourselves at POOR Magazine. Ever since the RAD program caused the selling of public housing projects mortgages on the commodities market, launched by Obama politrickster/cabinet member Julian Castro, an ongoing process of displacement for “renovation,” reduction in units and straight up destruction of truly poor people housing all across the US.
At the same time, there has been an extreme rise under politrickster Weiner of SB35, which permits corporate developers to pursue the unbridled building of more and more new buildings with little or no height restriction as long as they set aside a tiny portion as affordable units.
This housing horror story resulted in the intentionally disconnected and unlinked homeless “counts” from San Francisco and Alameda County, which have been pouring in with numbers like a 46 percent rise in Oakland alone, leaving people collectively shaking their heads.
Sadly Princess Beverly was literally the 46th elder in a long line of elders, families with young children and disabled adults who this poverty skola and jailhouse lawyer outside of jail has been speaking with and advocating for who are facing some kind of abuse, uninhabitable conditions in their low-income, Section 8 or market rate housing units or straight up illegal/unlawful evictions just in the last two months.
“I was poisoned in one home due to a broken sewer pipe leaking into the basement only to move to another apartment filled with mold. My family ended up in the hospital behind all of this. We are so tired,” said Vivi-T, formerly houseless, long-time POOR Magazine reporter, poverty skola, poet and advocate. In Viv’s case, she was paying inflated, so-called “market rate” rents for each of these life-threatening homes which caused her minor children and her to end up in the hospital with breathing problems and ultimately to become homeless.
“Less than a year after evicting me, they threw a coat of paint on the building and put it on the market for sale. This was after they lied in court and said they were ‘getting out of the rental property market’ and giving their daughter a fresh start to own her own home,” Aunti Frances, poverty skola with POOR magazine, co-founder of Homefulness and founder of the Self-Help Hunger Program, about her year-long battle to save her long-time home, only to lose it to the politrickster-created Ellis Act, which has caused the eviction of so many of the elders we and other advocates like Housing Rights Committee and Causa Justa/Just Cause have advocated for over the last several years.
“My family and I and this whole building almost burned to death and the landlords said I complain too much,” said Sharena Diamond Thomas, another low-income poverty skola, mama of four children, long-time Oakland resident and founder of Peoples Community Medics, as she re-counted her horrible struggle to stay in her Section 8 housing even when the landlords refused to fix the habitability issues at the building’s peril, resulting in her receiving a notice to move, after Section 8 refused to approve the buildings housing voucher, even though her family underwent so much stress and trauma.
All of these aunties, mamas and grandmamas have been made homeless or threatened with homelessness in the last year, due to the illegal, unlawful or just plain unethical moves of what I call scamlords (sometimes referred to as slumlords). But the reality is for every elder or family we hear about who muster up the strength to fight back, there are literally hundreds we don’t hear about who, like my mama used to say, walk softly on Mama Earth and just pick up and move into the cardboard motels (homelessness).
Families like me and my mama who before we became conscious would just take our hefty bags and sleep in our car or sleep outside if we had no car, even when there was no just cause to many of the evictions we survived. This all resulted in me having to drop out of school in the sixth grade and permanently entering the underground economies that kept us alive.
For our family, like so many others, eviction was trauma and violence rooted in the ongoing buying and selling of Mama Earth as a profit making strategy. In capitalism, this violent business is known as “income property” that in a 21st century, destroyed Mama Earth reality, where more and more of her land mass is shrinking, rent raising, illegal evictions and uninhabitable substandard housing, house-flipping, house selling and land hoarding means thousands more people are homeless.
The insane and rising greed inherent in making more and more money off of the housing and unhousing of people is causing the insane rise in evictions, displacement and ultimately extreme gentrification and homelessness. This business model is no longer a humane business, if it ever was.
1.1 million forest-dwellers in India ordered evicted
From the Amazon to Alameda, from Huchuin to Pakistan, corporate interests in Mama Earths’ resources continue to cause the eviction, removal and homelessness of poor, Black Brown, disabled and indigenous peoples. It’s no accident that so many indigenous refugees are desperately on the move, crossing these violent colonial borders all across Mama Earth, which wealth-hoarders and fascists like our current “president” build more and more profit making privately, corporately run jails, centers and concentration camps. Meanwhile unhoused peoples all across Mama Earth and specifically in Turtle Island, from St. Petersberg to Berkeley, face increasing violence and criminalization for the sole act of being homeless.
Our poverty, our global homelessness, our criminalization, is crafted by ongoing colonial destruction and scarcity models – and we are all connected.
It is why us youth and family poverty skolaz at POOR Magazine released the Hoarded Mama Earth report with a direct ask to un-sell Mama Earth so we could build/manifest more Homefulness projects – a homeless people’s self-determined movement to liberate Mama Earth and house homeless families happening right now in East Oakland with multi-nationed First Nations guidance, permission and homeless people’s leadership.
But we are also seeking a pro-bono civil rights law firm to help us re-file these criminal charges against these scam lords.
No matter how you try to wash it or dress it up as an “American dream” package, eviction is still elder and child abuse that causes massive homelessness, and Mama Earth and all of us earth peoples are in states of emergency.
Tiny – or Lisa Gray-Garcia – is the author of “Criminal of Poverty: Growing Up Homeless in America,” published by City Lights, and co-author of “Poverty Scholarship: Poor People-led Theory, Art, Words and Tears Across Mama Earth,” just released on poorpress.net. To reach Tiny, go to her website, www.lisatinygraygarcia.com or contact her via Twitter at @povertyskola.