A Room for a Home Part 1

Image description: Andrew Dertien sits with his two children by the window, and appears to be reading aloud from a kids book. Each child holds a book as well.

I work seven days a week. I barely get by. I have no health insurance. I didn’t bother paying income taxes last year. For many of us, life inside America’s broken economic system is slavery. If that term seems exaggerated to you I’d venture to guess you haven’t been where I’ve been.

My two young children live with me three nights a week in a residential hotel in a high crime area in San Francisco.


Sweeps: Unnecessary response to poverty

Last Month, Mayor Mark Farrell announced a new crackdown on unhoused people seeking shelter. Mayor Farrell declared, “The tents are a public safety hazard for the people living in them, and for the residents of San Francisco”.

Absent from this crackdown are any sensible solutions to the issues afflicting our city’s poorest residents. These crackdowns are nothing new; mayor after mayor has felt the need to push this false “tough love” doctrine and Farrell is no different.


Santa Rosa Homeless Shut Down City Hall on May Day, “Workers Struggle Has No Borders”

International Workers Day kicked off in Santa Rosa behind the Dollar Tree store which had been home to 140 homeless campers until a massive eviction hit two weeks prior. The camp had originally been a sanctioned campsite, but had swelled since horrific fires forced many from their homes and former camps.

Several hundred demonstrators gathered to show their solidarity with homeless campers before marching to the Hilton Hotel where the unionized hotel workers were demonstrating.


Mothers Take Action

Many of us honored our mothers this past mother’s day by acknowledging the sacrifices they made raising us, how much work they put in to ensure that their children had the best lives possible. Mothers of homeless children feel a special pain worrying that their children will not flourish. In the daily struggle to survive, motherhood requires strength and bravery that those who live inside cannot begin to imagine.

In light of an astonishing upswing in the number of homeless children experiencing homelessness,


Homeless Women Say #MeToo

In the age of such movements as “MeToo” and “Times Up,” we have seen a shift in the national discourse around sexual violence.  However, even with the forward progress of these movements there is still one population that has been largely ignored and distanced from the mainstream narrative.  Homeless individuals, particularly homeless women, are one of the most vulnerable populations when it comes to sexual harm, yet their stories are largely ignored. It is important that as a society we start to center these stories and take a look at the prevalence of violence experienced by individuals who are homeless.


Harmful Ethics

There are two harmful ethics afoot in the United States, the greed ethic and the elitist ethic. The greed ethic goes by the idea that there are not enough necessities to go around for everyone, so some people will have to go without basic necessities, such as food, shelter, clothes, transportation, etc. The elitist ethic declares that some people are more deserving of those necessities than others. People who are often seen as deserving less of them tend to be old people,


Vending Street Sheet

Hi my name is Mary.

The best part of my morning is jumping up at 7AM go to the Street Sheet program to make coffee, listen in at meetings, learn the power of good speech, manners, and choice of words to influence people and have an effect to get a message across and hopefully best convey the point. They might just seem to be poor but in many ways are wealthy and prosperous with hopes for the future and a team,


Trump Work Requirements Don’t Work

In an attack on essential government services that provide much needed aid to millions of Americans, President Donald Trump signed an executive order earlier this month laying the groundwork for a fundamental change in welfare administration that would require certain recipients of welfare to work in order to access government services like health-care and public housing.

The order, titled “Reducing Poverty in America by Promoting Opportunity and Economic Mobility”,


The Gorilla Outside of a Room

The night I found myself sleeping in the rain outside of a Subway sandwich shop in San Francisco any pretense I’d built my life on up until that point instantly vanished.

Outside of Subway that night I asked myself how I had gotten to that point.  I asked myself was there any hope or was where I lay the next phase of my life, again to occupy such a lowly state?  The question itself so overwhelmed me I could find no satisfying answer.


Moments in Tenderloin Food Justice History

San Francisco Food not Bombs

Food not Bombs is an international network that uses otherwise wasted food to cook and publically serve food, to whoever is hungry. The group considers its work to be a form of protest against the military-industrial complex and in support of universal access to food, regardless of ability to pay.

In August of 1988, San Francisco Police arrested 9 Food not Bombs activists for serving food without a permit at the Stanyan Street entrance of Golden Gate Park.