H A&S 350A

Street Newspapers, Poverty and Homelessness

Fridays 9:30-11:20, Mary Gates Hall 211B

(2 Credits. Non Graded)

Street newspapers such as Seattle’s Real Change build for a more just society while helping to meet the immediate needs of those most affected by poverty. More than 100 such papers now exist in at least 27 countries, offering opportunity for self-help and political action by homeless people and their allies. This focus group will examine the issues through the lens of the street newspaper movement, and provide tools to develop a critical perspective on efforts to “end homelessness.” Students will visit the Seattle newspaper, explore local controversies on homelessness in the context of regional and national trends, and engage as activists to become part of the solution. The focus group is led by Timothy Harris, who is the founding Director of Real Change and a leader in the international streetpaper movement. Internship opportunities are available with street newspapers, both locally and abroad. Students attending all class sessions and completing all assigned work will receive credit.

Week One: April 2

Introductions. A brief history of homelessness. How do individual and systemic causes intersect? Can homelessness be solved? "Ending Homelessness as Zen koan." What is Real Change and how are street newspapers a solution to homelessness and poverty? Overview of goals and expectations of Focus Group.

Week Two: April 9

The Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness, considered in context. What does it do? Can it succeed? What are the contradictions, blind spots, and limitations to the approach? Who are the institutions?

Week Three: April 16

Homelessness: who benefits? The political economy of homelessness, wages, and housing affordability. Globalization, development, and "strategies of reassurance." Is there a "dark side" to the Ten Year Plan?

Week Four: April 23

Continuation of April 17 readings and discussion.

Week Five: April 30

Class in America. The invisible issue. A discussion of homelessness, economic vulnerability, and the mythologies that confuse the issues. Class time for planning of activist project.

Week Six: May 1

Poverty, race, incarceration, and homelessness. Understanding the links. Special guest lecturer: Stephanie Knight.

Week Seven, May 7

Field trip to Real Change to meet vendors and staff and hear more about how Real Change works. Meet at 9:30 at the UW Van in the University Bookstore parking lot. We will leave at 9:35 sharp.

Week Eight, May 14

The images in our heads versus the reality. Where do the stereotypes come from? How do policymakers view homelessness, and what do homeless people say?

Week Nine, May 21

The Wes and Anitra Show. Wes Browning and Anitra Freeman are long-time editorial committee members of Real Change. Wes has a PhD in Mathematics and once taught at UW. He has been homeless four times. Anitra was a computer programmer for Boeing before her undiagnosed mental illness landed her in a women's shelter. She is now a leader in multiple organizations that address homelessness and poverty. They both live in the Union Hotel and are very happy together.
Review of tasks for event (date, time and place of event TBD).

Week Ten, May 28

Presentation of class papers. Evaluations.