Tonight, Friday March 9th, a group of homeless and housed occupiers met in a cold, slowly flooding park, to kick off our campaign for women’s shelter in Austin, TX. Due to cold, cold, rain and soggy shoes, those of of that made it set up camp in front of the Austin Convention Center. With South By South West Interactive camping inside we demonstrated to “South By Shelter Women”, with an example of the city’s current solution to the housing crisis, an illegal tent in the rain.

Currently, the shortage of shelter beds hits women hard, with only a handful set aside for women without kids who are not escaping domestic violence. The rumor is that existing shelters started keeping track of the numbers of women they turn away only since our working group formed.

In our first meetings as a working group it became obvious to us that this was a deeply felt need as women in our group told their stories of the violence they had experienced while living on the streets. One told a story of being cut across her face with a knife while looking for a place to bed down overnight. She said she had never been afraid of being attacked when she had housing. Another told of the violence of being forced to sleep outside in bushes and parking garages. The demand for women’s shelter clearly is a life and death issue for people forced into the streets.

When there are 24 vacant houses for every homeless American, it is a crime to force people out in the cold.

We had planned a silent march through downtown, to set up camp and rally at some of the many institutions that manage the lives of the poor. We plan to march again! We plan to amplify voices of women and others experiencing life on the streets of Austin.

We demand women’s shelter, an end to the ordinances which police the poor, and an end to homelessness.

-Peter

 

3 Responses

  1. Well said Peter!
    It turned out to be a silent protest rather than a march, but lots of conventioneers got the message!

  2. jillscherb7April 5th, 2012

    This is an action suggestion for the homelessness group. With stories like the above, have someone write each story in brief on one sheet of paper. With their permission, take a photo of the person holding it up as in 99% photo displays on national. Post on Occupy Austin along with photos of school children who’ve lost their schools and their parents. Start a catalogue of different people from Austin’s 99%. If the story/paper mostly covers faces, that’s good. eyes only. Unlessn they want to reveal their faces.

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