Homefulness: A Landless People’s Movement

“Freedom is what we do with what is done to us.” Jean-Paul Sartre

Guest blogger Soheil Rezayazdi reminded us several weeks ago that there are more New Yorkers without a home today than at any other moment in recorded history. Soheil and his coalition, United to End Homelessness, are focused on making homelessness a prominent issue in New York City’s 2013 mayoral election. United has developed a clear agenda to guide the conversation, and to make ending homelessness and expanding affordable housing a mayoral priority. All New Yorkers have an interest in the coalition’s important work.

Another powerful collective working to end homelessness is POOR Magazine, an Oakland, California based organization led by poor people and indigenous people. Through grassroots organizing, POOR creates space for silenced youth, adults and elders to tell their stores, to advocate for themselves, to share their art, and to develop their vision. Concerned that even city policies that strive for fairness are redirecting financial resources away from the community and into an ever-expanding shelter and subsidy bureaucracy, POOR members took things into their own hands. They turned homelessness into “homefulness,” a sweat equity, permanent co-housing, education, arts, micro-business, and social change project for landless/houseless and formerly houseless families and individuals.

Homefulness is a poor people-created vision of good housing, where home, garden, childcare, education, community, and art- and media-making are fluid and shared. It is housing that is permanent, that offers a balance of privacy and community, and that you can have access to regardless of how much money you have. Homefulness is worlds apart from shelter beds, or transitional housing for low-income people that comes with paternalistic strings attached.

You can learn more about POOR Magazine and the Homefulness Project.