Newscut Vol. 2 No. 1
Newscut Vol. 1 No. 10
Newscut Vol. 1 No. 9
Newscut Vol. 1 No. 85
Newscut Vol. 1 No. 8
Newscut Vol. 1 No. 7
Newscut Vol. 1 No. 5
Newscut Vol. 1 No. 4
Richmond Voice Newspaper
The Park Is Our!
And Downtown Plan
HISTORY OF ASWAN
In late July, 1995, something really dynamic happened. For the first time in Virginia history, homeless and formerly homeless people permanently banded together and proclaimed themselves.
Homeless people usually are very disorganized (due to anxiety, isolation, bewilderment, and feeling unwanted). The have been take advantage of, by a City government that turned its back as prejudiced provisions were being passed that would further cripple their already extreme condition.
We believe that we are our brothers' and sisters' keepers. Our goal is to end homelessness, and that there is the possibility that we may have to do it ourselves, since some funds that are supposed to be used to end homelessness, are being diverted into administrative costs and to research homelessness instead of providing shelters and services.
Some would like to say that a single individual founded ASWAN but that isn't true. A team of homeless and formerly homeless started the organization and it organically grew. During the next few months we worked out major obstacles such as a meeting place, the transitory nature of homeless people, and how to mobilize them. The need for us to stabilize and take on extra work even though our situations at that time were monumental task.
We were working from abandoned buildings, from river camps, park benches, picnic tables, out of back packs. Our primary transportation was by foot. We were told we would be thrown out of shelter because we were not working our programs, which wasn't true. Forced outside in the mosquito and snake infested areas, very vulnerable, tired, hungry, feet blistered. But, we overcame because we knew what we were doing was bigger than us individually and realized it was time to seize the opportunity to mobilize into grassroots efforts to approach issues that in the eyes of the homeless and service providers were wrong and pernicious to the disadvantaged.
Vol.1 No.6 ASWAN Newscut September 29, 1996
Friends of the Homeless
Here we go again, round 2: ASWAN needs a homeless Mike Tyson (figure of speech) and a English professor to do yet another problem solver. After ASWAN researched the new zoning proposals that will be presented to the Richmond planning Commission on Tuesday, October 1, 1996 by the City staff, we couldn't find any changes that would benefit the (disenfranchised) homeless community, but plenty of proposals that would hurt the homeless. Among the changes considered - to amend the language of current provisions for moving by right by homeless providers in the downtown B-4 zone for a more restrictive approach. We know this would put more power into the hands of the local government. Since the Daily Planet still hasn't a permanent home, it would not be grand fathered in. The Daily Planet could be forced by some of these proposals to apply for a special permit for its permanent site would we believe would only be granted on condition of a move to 17th and 0 Streets, next to the city jail, or to some other less site accessible to downtown. We need the disenfranchised [homeless] to defend their right to stay in the downtown area where the social services facilities and churches that feeds them.
FOR SPECIALIZED HOUSING
ASWAN NEWS CUT is published by ASWAN, a group of homeless and formerly homeless people. ASWAN does not accept financial contributions but does contributions in kind. In previous issues, the ASWAN NEWS CUT reported on this year's Round One, efforts to restrict downtown relocation and renovation rights of homeless providers.
8-13-96 - "Recently the zoning administrator of the City of Richmond held meetings on proposals to restructure the City's zoning laws for specialized housing. Among the changes considered - to take away moving by right in the B-4 zone for a more restrictive approach by special permit requirement for dormitory style configurations in shelters, and to limit occupancy, except by special permit.
9-11-96 - (statement by Deputy City Manager on 8-15-96)
(A few days after the 9-13-96 ASWAN NEWS CUT, Richmond Staff announced a special public hearing to be held on Tuesday October 1, at City Hall of the Richmond Planning Commission on staff proposals for more restrictions on downtown relocation or renovation by homeless providers.)
There has been an anonymous offer of two million dollars to the Daily Planet on condition it move to the 17th and O Streets location. To date the Daily Planet hasn't taken the offer. But we must remember the Daily Planet's promise to the homeless to use good faith efforts to 'find a suitable location in the downtown area.' It is our hope here at ASWAN that they don't forget this promise.
It is not so, that if the Daily Planet moves into the downtown B-4 zone it would do so BY RIGHT! Not because it needed the approval from any one person or group.
Its about time we speak up and tell the people that provide for us what we want. A way out of homelessness, to cars, permanent high paying jobs, houses, unbroken families with good values and growth. Not shelter, shelter barrel cloths, and left over restaurant french fries or moldy bread and salty hotdogs. With the millions of Federal Dollars flowing through Richmond to help the homeless, it seems our views can be heard. We do not wish to be enslaved to a system of Shelters, Labor Pool, Jail, Shelters, Labor Pool, Jail...
Just like the City Government, the Richmond Times Dispatch wants the Street Center to be moved to 17th O Streets across from the City Jail. Maybe the newspaper editor who wrote one or both of those editorials should take a ride to 17th and Broad Streets, get out of his car and walk back and forth several times up a dreadful 120 degree monster three block hill and maybe that would make a difference in his opinion.
Many homeless people may refuse to participate in organized efforts to help the homeless situation. Why? Anxiety, isolation, bewilderment, feeling unwanted. As they are wounded mentally, they pray their nightmare will soon be over. To help people in that type of predicament, bring them back to a road of recovery, takes a special kind of person.
This ASWAN Newscut prepared by John M. Felts
A Society Without A Name, For People Without A Home
For tons of free resources & just plain good reading, visit John Felts personal page that includes his latest web site, pages, published articles, and essays.
ASWAN's site and pages