Thursday, August 9, 2012
"Most Serious Attack on Poor People In 25 Years"
Forty voices filled with frustration. From all areas of our community. A vicious attack on us by the state government was underway. The guidelines for determining homelessness were revised. Under these new revisions , you could even sleep in a car and NOT be considered homeless The legislation crossed our governors desk, and HE SIGNED IT.
We showed up on Thursday July 26th at 12:00 noon. The employees that worked in the Mass State building located on Dwight st in Springfield were forewarned as they arrived for work that morning. They knew we were coming. We arrived carrying sings and organizing chants. Mad, worried and determined, we stood on the walk in front of the building. Cars honked, folks yelled out windows in support. Michaelann Bewsee E.D of Arise, said that it was the worst attack on poor people she had seen in 25 years. This statement got allot of attention. Arise for Social Justice has been a advocate of the poor folks in our city for decades. Michaelann has seen it all. Alone we are easy targets for the oppressors. That is why we have to come out and stand together on attacks like these. We have strength in numbers. They cant ignore us. And anyone who knows Michaelann, knows it is close to impossible to ignore her.
We entered the State building and marched up three flights of Stairs to Governor Devall Patricks office. We carried a protest sign with the signatures of all that were there that day.Outside of the Governors office door, we were meant by Elizabeth a staffer in the Devall Patrick administration.
She told us that she wanted to hear what we all had to say. She also told us that she has been a fan of Arise for a long time. She was cordial and invited all of us (30 +) into a large board meeting room. She introduced herself and her colleague's and stated that she felt this new legislation was a sensitive issue. Michaelann explained in clear and concise language that we wanted the revision changed and not left to the discretion of the agency or government officials whimsical or literal interpretations. Plainly she stated "That if you were living in a bus station on Friday you were considered homeless, and therefore eligible for shelter. However on Saturday when the revision was instituted, under the same bus station roof as Friday, you would no longer be considered homeless and thus, NOT ELIGIBLE FOR SHELTER."
This is the ATTACK Michaelann was referring to. Cuts in exactly the wrong place. On the most indefensible population of the state .And not just the state, but our country. You have to wonder who is responsible for this unforgivable, heartless piece of legislation? Well folks,I hate to think that the Governor fully realized the potential impact that this change would have on us. Did someone explain the "Bus Station Example" to him? Did he get it? Elizabeth, the staffer could not offer any relief beyond promising that Devall Patrick would be made aware of our protest and our visit. Oh, and our Protest sign with all of our signatures.
We ended our 30 minute visit with Elizabeth and staff abruptly, Michaelann making it clear we were not happy or satisfied in any way. So what do we do now? Did you call your state rep? Senator? Congressmen? Are you as mad as we are? This is just wrong on so many levels.
Please get involved. A phone call to your elected officials office in a presidential election year carries a little more weight than non election years. We must all at least do that. Call Arise, ask what you can do .Better yet, visit us at 467 State street in Springfield Massachusetts. We love visitors. We need you to help support our campaigns. If you want to help, but cant come down,please contribute. Drop a check in the mail. Your financial support helps insure the grassroots work that we mobilize on. It cost us money and we are poor folks also. Collectively we do make a difference. We need your help. Times are tough. We are experiencing extreme hardship. Please insure the integrity of our work.