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"Luxury" Alley

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"But oh, how well this policy works for politicians whose larger agenda is to simply eliminate poverty by eliminating poor people from the community entirely."

-Carol Denney (Writer/Human Rights Activist)

http://www.thestreetspirit.org/

"December 16 marked this winter's first snow storm here in Washington.  It was also the final meeting in 2010 of the US Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH).  The blustery conditions outside provided a stark reminder of the dire circumstances confronting the homeless this time of year and the importance of the task at hand for the Council in leading the Federal government's efforts to eradicate homelessness."

-Ben Seigel (Associate Director at the Department of Labor Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships)

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There has been a lot of talk about "luxury" lately.  Everywhere I look, it seems corporations and land developers alike employ this wording, as though our nation's economy rises to unprecedented financial heights.  One has to question the motivation of such wording during a time of great financial strife and lack of many good-paying jobs.

Selling luxury anything during a time of economic collapse is like grilling steaks in a barbecue, on the sidewalk, in front of hungry people, then handing those still sizzling prime-A cuts (unless you're a dirt-munching, tree-hugging hippie) to the "affluent" who had to step over and on those still-starving folks below them. 

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And moralizing the reason people can't afford to live in these "Brand New Luxury Studio, 1- and 2-Bedroom Condos" also proves to be misplaced and ignorant, as people who actually work most service jobs in the downtown Berkeley area simply cannot afford to live here, because there is a separation between good pay and those hard-working people who clean up after those with means.  Most people I have befriended in Berkeley, those who work in the downtown area, live elsewhere

They can't afford to live here. 

The other day I read where a (most likely an Ayn Rand Republican) citizen of Berkeley blamed those very same Wage Slaves who are caught in that never-ending cycle of work or die, intimating they need to pay rent here so there won't be so many empty buildings downtown... what?  Those with means never do seem to grasp the concept of cash, because they never seem to run out of it, or their daddy doesn't, anyway.  Being a Candy Ass has its privileges, sure... but the handicap appears to be a huge blind spot. 

"'A person earning California's minimum wage of $8.00 must work approximately 130 hours a week to feasibly afford a two-bedroom rental.'"
-Kim Tran, East Bay Express, March 20, 2013

That is the opening quote from the latest article in Street Spirit.  The article was (beautifully) written by veteran of the streets, Carol Denney.  In this article, Carol "was upsetting to Berkeley Central apartment staff."   And they allegedly "threatened her and the photographer," according to the statement under a photo of Denney, in front of the condo office, with a sign that reads, 'I Can't Afford To Live Here.'  But that's what bullies do; they use intimidation tactics.

Economic times are worse now than they were two years ago, and seemingly, that gap grows larger and larger, daily.

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"'Berkeley ... has the widest gap between rich and poor in the Bay Area, according to recently released data from the Census Bureau,' reported Aaron Glantz in the New York Times on Nov. 19, 2011."

Why would anyone push "luxury" during times such as these?  For one, greed.  Making tons of money off rich folks, selling them this bullshit about what Berkeley is, and that same time pushing to transform her into something she's not.  I write "she" and "her" to describe Berkeley because, until recently, she was a Matriarchal  town.  Since my birth, in 1969, this place has transformed into that philosophy of tolerance and was the standard bearer for the civil-rights movement, and still is, apparently.

Even still, they had to go through all sorts of Patriarchal nonsense from then-Governor of California Ronald Reagan and C.I.A. director J. Edgar Hoover, as they spied, illegally and unconstitutionally, on UC professors, students, activists, you name it.  Even killing someone (James Rector) and then blaming that person for his own death in the wake of that heinous incident?

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I'm a homeless student, writer, and activist... currently panhandling my way through school (and life.).

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