Petition to Eugene E. Jones Jr., Mary C. Howard
Expand Public Housing Eligibility for Newly Released Prisoners in Chicago
Fellow Citizens, We would like to start off by asking a question: Once someone serves their prison sentence, they should be done, right? Their punishments should be over, right? They did their time, and now they should be able to move with their life. Well unfortunately, this is not the case. Once released from prison, many prisoners are homeless. So, many of them apply for public housing assistance. However, many people are not eligible for this public housing or are denied it due to their criminal records, thus rendering them homeless. So, does someone's punishment really end once they are released from prison? Not really. Their punishment seems to go on for the rest of their life since they have a criminal record and are not eligible for many programs and assistances that they need. This is not fair, especially for people who are imprisoned for petty crimes and misdemeanors and are then plagued and labeled with a criminal record for the rest of their lives. This issue really stuck out to us because homelessness is a huge problem around the world, and in Chicago especially. And, past felons with criminal records being denied access to public housing is contributing to this problem of homelessness. So, we decided to do something about it. We are educating the students of Saint Ignatius on this issue by posting infographics around the school to raise awareness for this issue. Also, we are making a petition, and we will have a goal of a certain number of signatures. Once, this goal is reached, we will send this petition to the Chicago Housing Authority, as well as other departments of public housing. Hopefully, this will change their minds and cause them to revise their policies about who is eligible for public housing.
Petition to Bill de Blasio, Andrew Cuomo, New York State Senate
The Crisis of Homelessness Must End
For this year's Junior year Advocacy we are trying to spread awareness to the increase in homelessness in New York City. This year has been the largest crisis of homelessness since the Great Depression, according to Coalition for the Homeless, about 62,000 men, woman, and children are sleeping in a shelter every night. One of the causes for homelessness in New York is the increasing gap of affordable housing. We are petitioning for long-term housing with supportive assistance in order to accommodate people with medical needs and serious health issues. New York must find solutions to prevent homelessness and this would be possible if we have more government involvement so they can create and invest in programs to help the issue of poverty. This petition will help encourage City and State leaders for more funding for homeless shelters. Shelter funding has been cut by $192 million from 2016 for family and adult shelters even though Governor Cuomo said he would help the homeless in New York when elected. To help the reduce the crisis of homelessness the strengthening of rent regulation laws is necessary. The previously homeless and tenants struggling from paying of rent can be protected from their landlords and the opportunity from losing their homes. Shelters were previously a safe haven for the homeless, however, now shelters' clients are leaving shelters due to the danger inside. Clients have admitted that they rather sleep on the streets than stay in a shelter. A 19% increase in clients with mental illness can account for the increase of violence. In order to solve this problem and welcome more clients into shelters, the government must increase funding. The investment can be used for medical equipment and new programs that will aid in helping those specific clients. By signing this petition, you can be apart of the solution for homelessness in New York City! Help make officials aware of this crisis and encourage them to support and become involved in the solution for homelessness. FOLLOW OUR INSTAGRAM TO SEE MORE: @everypennycounts_jaxpo http://www.coalitionforthehomeless.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/NYCHomelessShelterPopulationCharts3-2017_new.pdf
Petition to Passion of the Pinebelt
Repeal Vagrancy Laws in Mississippi
Vagrancy codes in Mississippi date back to the Reconstruction era and while the laws have been amended to remove the racist language, many individuals (black and white, men and women) are still arrested for homelessness to this day. We insist that current public safety and property laws are enforced and vagrancy laws are repealed. Trespassing, loitering, and other illegal activity can be enforced without arresting individuals simply for the lack of a home. In Hattiesburg, MS alone, over 120 vagrancy arrests have been made in the last two years. Tax dollars are spent enforcing antiquated laws that are counter-productive to the reintroduction of the homeless as independent citizens. We aim to repeal these codes to allow cities and counties to develop their own ordinances and work with their local nonprofits and churches to address the needs in their communities. Show your support in repealing these laws by signing the petition and visit passionofthepinebelt.org for more information.
Petition to Allan Fung, Michael J. Farina, Michael W. Favicchio, Paul H. Archetto, John E. Lanni Jr., Steven A. Stycos, Kenneth J. Hopkins, Trent M. Colford, Sr., Paul J. McAuley
Reject Cranston's Ordinance to Prohibit Solicitations on Roadways
The City of Cranston is once again considering an ordinance that seeks to criminalize panhandling. The proposal is a replacement for a previous ordinance that was ruled unconstitutional after a successful RI ACLU challenge. The RI ACLU said in a letter to Mayor Fung and the City Council, that this proposal has “many -- if not more -- of the First Amendment problems” of the original ordinance. If passed, the RI ACLU will likely challenge it in court. Such a challenge would cost the city thousands of dollars. Please sign this petition to tell the Cranston City Council to reject this proposal and to tell Mayor Allan Fung to withdraw his support, or veto the ordinance should it pass. The proposed ordinance (titled “Prohibition Against Distribution to and Receiving from Occupants of Vehicles”) is a bad idea. It is a waste of taxpayer money, it lacks compassion, and it fails to address the root causes of panhandling. We strongly reject this ordinance for the following reasons: The ordinance as written likely violates First Amendment rights and will almost certainly be challenged in court at Cranston taxpayers’ expense. Similar anti-panhandling laws, including those in Lowell, MA, Worcester, MA, and Portland, ME, were found unconstitutional in federal court. Pursuing a similar ordinance -- for a second time -- risks another lawsuit and additional unnecessary costs to Cranston taxpayers. The ordinance is presented under the guise of “public safety,” and cites traffic accident statistics at a list of Cranston intersections as evidence. Yet it provides no evidence that any of those accidents were caused by the behavior it seeks to criminalize. It would restrict protesting (e.g., leafleting) and charity drives (e.g., the MDA’s “Fill the Boot” campaign), in addition to panhandling, in clear violation of the First Amendment. Restricting solicitations might push those in need to greater despair. The proposed ordinance is inefficient and redundant since it attempts to prohibit behavior (such as obstruction of traffic in the roadway) already prohibited under existing laws. The proposal offers no remedy for the underlying causes of behaviors it is meant to restrict. The proposed ordinance would be enforced via the issuance of “civil citations,” which almost certainly come with a fine. Imposing fines on people unable to pay (e.g., homeless, unemployed) places an undue burden on the taxpayer-funded criminal justice system, and is furthermore tantamount to criminalizing poverty and therefore unjust. The proposed ordinance is doomed to face a costly and protracted legal battle. The Mayor refuses to learn from past mistakes. Passing this ordinance will waste taxpayer money, while unjustly and unfairly targeting some of the city’s most vulnerable residents. Please join us in urging Cranston’s elected leaders to reject this ill-advised, unconstitutional, and discriminatory legislation. Sincerely, Cranston Action Network
Petition to Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, Lisa Herbold, Bruce Harrell, Kshama Sawant, Rob Johnson, Debora Juarez, Mike O'Brien, Sally Bagshaw, Tim Burgess, Lorena Gonzalez
Justice now for police-slain Korean adoptee, Michael Layton Taylor
This petition is a call for an expedited independent investigation into the slaying of Michael Layton Taylor. Michael was shot by police on October 11, 2016 during a "sweep" of the Seattle homeless encampment known as the Jungle. He was someone who had experienced periodic homelessness, a person of color, an adoptee, and a victim of a highly questionable use of lethal force. His family and friends, who dearly loved him, deserve to know why he was killed, and the explanations offered so far have defied common sense and believability. The circumstances of Michael's death is also of grave concern to a public that has grown tired of seeing the city continuously fail in dealing with the intersecting issues of homelessness and biased policing. This petition calls upon Mayor Ed Murray and the Seattle City Council to impel the Seattle Police Department to publicly disclose all details surrounding the incident, including the accounts of all eyewitnesses — including outreach workers, both police officers at the scene, and the former Jungle resident who Michael was reportedly arguing with before Michael was shot multiple times by Sergeant Heidi Tuttle. An explanation should be provided as to why there has been no body camera footage of the incident that has been shared with the public. And an unbiased, independent agency — rather than the SPD's Force Investigation Team — should be utilized to investigate and make a formal determination into whether an inappropriate use of lethal force was used and, if so, to ensure Sgt. Tuttle is held fully accountable for her actions. This petition also calls upon the mayor and city councilmembers to speak out against the pattern of rhetoric and media reporting that continues to perpetuate dehumanizing stereotypes about the homeless community. Such rhetoric feeds and validates a bias held by some community members who, for whatever reason, remain unmoved by the psychological and mortal fallout of encampment sweeps and by the conditions of homeless citizens in general. In the case of Michael L. Taylor, this manifested in local news coverage of his death that engaged in a tacit character assassination of Michael and pre-emptive justification of the police in their use of deadly force. The only major news outlet to provide a counterpoint to this bias was KUOW, which reported that Michael, indeed, was well-regarded among residents of the Jungle, who insisted that he was not prone to violence. As illustration, on October 12, the Seattle Times ran a story entitled, "Man Fatally Shot by Seattle Police ‘Had a Good Heart,’ Father Says". While it granted space for Michael's father, Larry Taylor, to express his disbelief and shock at his son's death, the article also alluded to Michael's past criminal activities (including intimidating another with a weapon,) making an implicit connection between those past offenses and the likelihood he could act in a manner that would justify his being killed by police. Those who work directly with the homeless will often attest that there are very complex reasons people of lower socioeconomic status tend to have more negative encounters with the law. So, it was especially unreasonable here to draw any conclusions from a list of crimes without their full context. Nonetheless, the article implied they were pertinent to properly framing the shooting incident. The same article also included a crime scene photo of Michael's knife, which was presumably being brandished before his death. The entire Seattle Times story comes across as an ostensible attempt to be evenhanded by featuring Michael's father, but ultimately, through insinuation it portrays him as someone who is actually out of touch with Michael's "true" violent nature. It reads as a calculated attempt to discredit Michael's integrity before an investigation has even taken place. Furthermore, as Michael was not actually a resident of the Jungle at the time, the characterizations play upon the controversial notion that the Jungle attracts dangerous, outside criminal elements, even while the majority of its actual residents have managed to foster a sense of community and organization.* Considering the information available thus far, many things do not add up. The Jungle resident that Michael was supposedly arguing with had sustained a hand injury by Michael's blade according to reports. However, the crime scene photo shows a perfectly clean knife with no apparent traces of blood. So far, there has been no clarification as to what they were actually arguing about, which seems highly odd, considering the police would have certainly questioned the hand injury victim on the matter, if not at the scene, then at Harborview Medical Center where his injury was treated. The KUOW article that covered Michael's shooting underscored that his friends in the Jungle categorically do not believe the police account of what happened. His friends feel that his death was completely senseless and the idea that Michael was violent incomprehensible. Furthermore, a write-up on the South Seattle Emerald news blog describes how Michael's father has not been provided with any more details on the shooting since the initial reports in the press and has little confidence that more illuminating information will be forthcoming. Larry emphatically insists that Michael, while mentally and emotionally challenged, was not the thug the media and the police would have us believe he was and that his being killed was irrefutably unjustified. He wants and deserves answers, something which would at least give him the hope of finding closure to this tragic loss. Apart from the ongoing controversy over biased policing happening nationally, the citizens of Seattle have their own reasons to doubt the SPD's account of the shooting. Michael's death is eerily evocative of another incident that occurred in Seattle in 2010, that is, the shooting of homeless Native John T. Williams by SPD Officer Ian Birk. Like Sgt. Tuttle, Birk resorted to an escalated use of force largely based on Williams' possession of a knife, a knife that turned out to be used by Williams solely for woodcarving and was never brandished. Following the uproar over this incident, Officer Birk delivered what many would argue was a highly coached testimony in an attempt to convince an inquest jury he had believed Williams posed an imminent threat, something the inquest jury ultimately refuted. Still, criminal charges were never brought against Birk, an outcome this country has grown all too familiar with in other similar cases since that time. A lack of police accountability fosters distrust and unresolved tensions between the police and the general public, especially for those communities of color that are disproportionately victimized by police. Michael L. Taylor's death cannot be swept under the rug. His life mattered**, and we as a community cannot go on acting as if it did not. It is imperative that every police-related death be investigated fully, expeditiously, and with complete transparency. Our city government and our police department should not count on public apathy and dizzying news cycles to allow potentially grave injustices such as these to fade from memory. We, the petitioners, implore you to take action now. *Biased stories about the homeless community such as these have become all too common in our local news, and by all appearances — to those of us who are following the homelessness issue closely — they come across as veiled efforts to justify the more brazen, stringent approach this city has adopted thus far in dealing with homelessness. **Read the full South Seattle Emerald write-up to learn more about Michael's life as related by his father. It is a portrait of a life made up of trauma, struggle, perseverance, and ultimately tragedy.
Petition to Social Security Administration, Nathan Deal
Stop Homelessness for Medically Complex Kids
I’m the single parent of a medically fragile child. The experiences and struggles of families like mine go unseen. We often spend countless hours alone in hospital rooms watching our child suffer. We manage medications, load and administer feeding tubes, attend countless medical appointments, therapy sessions, manage hundreds of hours of paperwork, attend IEP meetings, tend to nightly alarms, assist the comfort level of our children with nebulizers, suction machines, and more. Our jobs do not end. We do not have nights or weekends off... Ever. Some parents try to get by with Supplemental Security Income (SSI) assistance, but any additional income you earn from regular work is deducted from your SSI check -- making it impossible to earn enough to support your family with a maximum benefit of $733 per month. Then you are faced with a reality that there is nowhere to go. *Shelters do not accept medically fragile children. *All medically fragile day cares in Georgia have closed down. *Organizations require a work program of 30+ hours per week in order to obtain housing. *In Home Nursing is being cut, and you are lucky to get 8 hours per week *Qualified caregivers cost $20-30 an hour out of pocket *Family/friends can not help due to their own jobs and families. What do you do when you can't work, or if you find a way, a massive percentage of your money is taken away by the government? You are faced with homelessness. All earned and unearned income must be reported to Social Security, and a very large percentage is taken away. This includes everything from child support, to the $100 someone deposited to help you out. Our children deserve a chance and that can’t happen without the needed presence and support of parents like us. Please sign this petition today and tell Congress that it’s time to get rid of frauds, provide more SSI support to these forgotten children, and give us the ability to keep additional income. These children deserve a home. These children need additional support. Period.
Petition to AshevilleNCCouncil@ashevillenc.gov
A Million Dollars for the People
Dear Asheville City Council, We are writing as concerned residents of Asheville to ask you to give A Million Dollars to the People. We are aware that Chief Hooper has asked for a $1 million dollar increase in the Asheville Police Department budget to double the downtown police unit. We believe that community is what keeps us safe, not more police. We believe that this expansion will have disparate outcomes for people of color, people without homes, and people living on a low income. Chief Hooper, herself, said at a Community Police Advisory Committee meeting that increased crime comes from poverty and she cannot do anything about that. There has only been a 1% increase in crime downtown and that very slight increase does not justify the need for $1 million dollars in an already tight City budget. We know that increased policing leads to higher jail and prison populations which consequently weakens the community and strains budgets for years to come. Increased policing means that our city becomes even less safe for those of us without papers threatening the safety and sanctity of families. We call on our Council to be forward thinking and community minded by investing a million dollars in the people. We ask that this $1 million dollars be dedicated to long term solutions that make the community stronger. These solutions will lift up our fellow community members living in poverty. These solutions will positively change the State of Black Asheville by investing directly in the black community for black owned business creation and resources for jobs and housing that the community itself controls. These solutions will support our Latinx community in creating a sanctuary city. If we invested $1 million dollars into our public transit budget, for example, we would be creating access to jobs, healthcare, education, childcare, groceries, recreation, and other resources that are life-changing. We believe that Asheville deserves something better than over-policing. We believe that the community wants a deeper investment in the people. We recognize that budgets are moral documents and say much about where our priorities as a community stand. We ask that you will vote to prioritize the needs of the residents of this city: the need for opportunity, access, and resources. We ask you to respond by making a choice to invest in our future. Give a Million Dollars to the People! Thank you for hearing us!
Petition to Department of Veterans Affairs
Stop Veteran Homelessness!
Every veteran was and still is a hero that deserves a comfortable life. Right now an injured veteran can only get up to $3,300 a month if injured, and that is for someone who can't work and is supporting multiple others. My plan is that if a veteran is injured so much that they cannot work and they are supporting others they should be given at least $44,000 a year with extra benefits such as discounts and housing.