Poverty within Prosperity: Homelessness and Poverty in the Prosperous Bay (Bay Area)
As an intellectual, technological, and “forward-thinking" fulcrum of our nation, one might wonder how homelessness and poverty still persist in the Bay Area. In the emergence of the prosperous Bay, whose lives have been undercounted, undervalued, unheard, and unacknowledged by the power structures to which we belong?
In this DeCal, we will be exploring the political and social constructions and institutions that have, over time, precipitated rather than mitigated homelessness and poverty in the Bay Area. In recognizing the structures and circumstances that have constructed this reality, we may better understand the aims and approaches of the organizations fighting the good fight. Policies, stigmas, effective and ineffective solutions, progress, implications on wellbeing, power, privilege, and "where we fit in” are all issues of focus in this course.
During our spring break service learning immersion, we will continue to learn alongside our dedicated community partners, who have been persistent in valuing, magnifying, and empowering the voices, livelihoods, and stories of our fellow community members experiencing homelessness and poverty.
Break Leader BiosLorraine Meriner
Heya! I’m Lorraine, and I’m a sophomore majoring in Molecular Environmental Biology and (intended) Public Health, and minoring in Global Poverty and Practice. I was born in Kerala, India and grew up in lovely state of Iowa. I’m obsessed with my home state, and have accumulated a large collection of Iowa knickknacks in my time at Cal. I love walking, hiking, exploring new places, trying new vegetables, watching TED talks, listening to music and podcasts, and learning. My favorite mode of learning is listening to others’ stories, reflections, and thoughts. I also love writing and receiving letters/ cards in the post, and have several pen pals!
My Alt Breaks journey began last spring, when I was a participant on the Homelessness and Poverty trip. The Alt Breaks community is marked by its commitment to long-term partnerships, sustainability, humility, respect, and solidarity. Inspired by these values, and in hopes of sharing and further internalizing them, I will be leading/ teaching the decal for the Homelessness and Poverty trip this coming spring. I cannot wait to learn from and with my participants, and from our dedicated community partners.
Moving to the Bay, I was shocked by the persistence of poverty in a region that, especially to an outsider, is known for its prosperity/ economic success. In considering how this “reality” was constructed over time, I looked to the historical, political, and social roots of homelessness. Through my participation in the H&P decal last semester, as well as through joining Suitcase Clinic, I have become much more aware of the consistent political undervaluing and social othering of people who face homelessness. To this I take issue, and dedicatedly, against this do many Bay Area organizations fight. From them we can learn, and with them, we can stand in solidarity.