Sunday, October 23, 2005


UP FRONT News September 29, 2005
Published by Tom Weiss
Editorial Advisor: Willard Whittingham
“The paper that can’t be bought and can’t be sold.”


While the Blinton (Bush/Clinton) Administration, now in its fourth term, throws away many hundreds of billions of dollars in Iraq, and plenty more in the form of insider contracts to Halliburton, ET. Al. to repair that the Blintons have destroyed the south, there is an almost complete blackout on the existence of a major piece of legislation – that will cost some money, but nothing like “IraqGulfCoast” – that could bring homelessness in this country to an end. The Bringing America Home Act (BAHA) was introduced in July, 2003 by U.S. Representative Julia Carson (D. - Indiana) and bears H.R. # 2879. It is a large bill the enactment of which would establish housing as a “basic human right.” Its provisions include substantial and continuing funding for the Section 8 program through which low income people receive rent subsidies, an essential to survive in heavily gentrified cities like New York, where the word “affordable” takes on surreal interpretations.

The bill also establishes a National Affordable Housing Trust Fund, to preserve and increase the supply of housing for the non-rich. It provides meaningful funding for in particular populations e.g. veterans and AIDS victims, who have high rates of homelessness. (The Blinton Administration, for all its pseudo-patriotism, treats our soldiers like dirt.) The bill, which has a slowly increasing list of co-sponsors now numbering 55, the co-sponsors include, as a recent addition, U.S. Congressman Anthony D. Weiner, who some months ago during his mayoral campaign, told me that he was unfamiliar with the bill.

I suggested that he check it out and, hopefully, endorse it. Thank you Mr. Weiner, the very strong second place finisher in the recent Democratic primary for Mayor. In what may well be perceived as ominous legislation in homeless-cleansed locations like Chappaqua N.Y. and Crawford, Texas, the Bringing America Home Act would deter local communities from criminalizing homelessness. It mandates quality health care for the poor.The Bill, no doubt not in spit, but rather because, of its considerable merit, remains essentially media uncovered, except, of course, for UP FRONT News. The reality it that, despite the trickle of U.S. Congress people signing on as co-sponsors, the legislation has, at this point Ground zero chance passage.

Two of the people to blame are the central characters in the Blinton Administration, Acting president George W. Bush and acting U.S. senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. Bush is of course in bed with primarily the oil magnates and arms profiteers, all of whom understand that more money for the homeless means less money for them. Hillary “The Pillory” Clinton, while hardly immune to the seductive charms of the petroleum for profit crowd, become more profoundly aroused by the likes of Donald Trump and the Corcoran Group, two institutions whose lust for real estate profits constitutes the #1 cause of homelessness in New York City.And that presumably explains why, according to a very knowledgeable congressional source, Senator Clinton rejected a request that she co-sponsor the Bringing America Home Act in the Senate. At this time the Bringing America Home Act has no Republican sponsors and no Senate sponsor of any party.

This article, along with accompanying calls, e-mails, etc. will go to, among others, U.S. Senators Olympia Snowe (sp?) and Susan Collins, both Republicans from Maine, a state which, like the borough of Staten Island, where I live, has a history of generating some Republicans who actually make up their own minds. Former Senator Margaret Chase Smith from Maine was a case in point, U.S. Congressman Peter King (R.-L.I.), Chris Smith (R.-N.J., a “conservative” with a strong human rights outlook, at least based on his interest in Tibet), and Christopher Shays (R.-Conn., who has been critical of his president on housing in the past.) All of the Bringing America Home Act’s considerable arrays of enemies, however, are not from without. (I believe that anyone who perceives either George Bush or Hillary Clinton as an ally of homeless and ill-housed is, at least on that issue, delusional.) There is in fact the equivalent of a “Fifth Column” in the affordable housing/homeless advocacy community. (The Fifth Column” was a tactic involving the use of Marxist rhetoric by fascists during the Spanish Civil War to infiltrate the left and help Francisco Franco murder democracy in Spain and become dictator of that land.)

A contemporary “Fifth Column” consists of a number of people who endear themselves to housing activists and clients by the use of militant tenant’s rights/poor people’s/populist rhetoric.One of the most duplicitous and skillful at using this right-wing stratagem has, over the years, been Mike (The Knife”) McKee. Mckee, through his New York State Tenants and Neighbors Coalition, created a major split some decades ago in the tenant movement, which only abetted him in his efforts to murder the recurrently-introduced –into-the N.Y.S.-legislature Flynn-Dearie Rent Protection Act. That bill was anathema to the real estate lobby because its central provision would have required landlords to “open their books” to justify rent increase demands. He used landlords’ crock claim that the “open the books” requirement was “too cumbersome.”McKee is, in fact, a cause of “rent-flation”, no matter how militant he sounds. He is among those responsible for, the wave of gentrification that swept through, for example, the once working class neighborhood of Tribeca.

Another “Fifth Column” McKee-type is Lynn Lewis, the self-appointed tribune for the homeless who, some years ago, literally hijacked a somewhat troubled homeless self help group known as Picture the Homeless, sweet-talked a foundation into paying the salaries of herself and a few of her flunkies (Sam “The Serpent” Miller, and Tyletha “The Mouth” Samuels), and set up shop in an office in East Harlem.I spent several months with the group that would be more properly named “Fracture the Homeless” and watched Lynn Lewis, using the vocabulary of democracy, run meetings like Lenora Fulani. I also watched - and via e-mail confirmed – how Lynn Lewis now only participated in a cover-up of staff abuse against the homeless in drop-in centers but also attempted to sabotage the Bringing America Home Act. I’m not much of a fan of clichés, but Lynn Lewis adds fresh meaning to the idea that “With friends like these, we don’t need enemies.”

George Bush, Hillary Clinton, Lenora Fulani and Lynn Lewis notwithstanding, the Bringing America Home Act, has, in a rather under-the-radar way, been endorsed by numerous organizations and people, including this newspaper. It deserves to become law.I’ve spoken directly with two of its congressional sponsors, Congressman Weiner and his House colleague the very pro-tenant Jerrold Nadler (D.-Manhattan/Brooklyn.) and with democratic Mayoral candidate Fernando Ferrer about making the Bringing America Home Act a campaign issue. After all, they have nothing to lose- except Mile Bloomberg.

Visit: to learn more about the Bringing America Home Act, and to find out how you can help.

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