Monday, June 11, 2007

Shelter numbers still high, Worker Center opens

I talked to the Open Pantry director, Kevin Noonan, today, and talked to a Warming Place staff member last night-- 101 people stayed at the Warming Place Sunday night, 92 in beds and 9 sitting up in the common area because there were no beds left.

So far, none of the necessary pieces have come together to make sure no one goes unsheltered after June 30-- the city is still working to get the voucher program in place, the state Department of Transitional Assistance hasn'r decided who will get the contract to shelter 85 people (it's between the Open Pantry and the Friends of the Homeless) and the churches haven't made up their minds about whether the Warming Place can stay in the churches after the wrecking ball hits the old York St. jail, where the Warming Place is currently housed.
Today I went to the grand opening of Casa Obrera/Worker Center at 130 Union St. This is a project begun by the Anti-Displacement Project, ADP, whose new name is now the Alliance to Develop Power, and which is now in partnership with the Pioneer Valley AFL-CIO-- the first workers center in the country to be dues-paying members of a Central Labor Council.

One of the many people from organized labor who spoke-- sorry, I forget who-- said that at one point, he was very anti-immigrant, especially against the undocumented, but he has educated by other members to remember the old labor adage: An injury to one is an injury to all. The villain is not the low-wage worker but the exploitative business willing to take advantage of a worker's uncertain citizen status.

Sometimes it seems like there are two kind of people in this world: those who think you can protect some people's rights by taking away the rights of others, and those who know the best way to protect our rights is to fight for the rights of all. More on this later.

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