DCSR advocates for housing as a human right, with a focus on how racial inequity are fundamental aspects driving health, housing, and climate change related disparities. We advocate for Housing First policies that have been proven to significantly reduce poverty and center human dignity better than continuum of care and criminalization models (Padgett et. al., 2016). We acknowledge the expert insights impacted people hold on oppressive institutions due to their experiences, and how their analysis and action holds the key to building an equitable future. As such, we challenge charity models that individualize social problems, divide people into deserving and disposable categories through eligibility requirements, and impose reforms that perpetuate oppression instead of addressing the social determinants of health. Instead we embrace a solidarity and mutual aid model which equips us with a political analysis of the structural roots of crises which breaks the stigma, isolation, and dehumanization of survivors.
We want to change material conditions not just make empty declarations by using a three-pronged mutual aid structure that balances:
a) work to dismantle existing harmful systems and beat back their expansion;
b) work to directly provide for people targeted by such systems and institutions;
c) work to build alternative infrastructure through which people can get their needs met (Spade, 2020).
We are dedicated to empowerment where we learn from each other to build broad analysis, mobilize, and resource actions guided by disenfranchised communities for ongoing struggle. We emphasize collective action accountable to those exploited. Rather than blame social problems on individual deficits, we recognize how systems and histories of capitalism, white supremacy, colonialism, prison industrial complex, and borders create maldistribution, domination, extraction, and violence which most of us suffer from and therefore hold stakes in dismantling.
We seek to raise awareness of the devastating effects of criminalization, use unhoused voices as a guide for action, and mobilize to transform oppressive conditions through collective care. We challenge damage centered theories of change that seek to establish harm in order to achieve reparations, and instead point towards desire or survivance frameworks that focus on the complexity, contradiction, self-determination, wisdom, hopes, voice, visions, resilience, radical reimaginings, and resistance of dispossessed communities (Tuck, 2009). We employ participatory action research methods that involve those who are directly impacted by structural inequity to be co-researchers that participate in and influence the research process (Torre, 2012). We also seek to establish collaborative ethical guidelines and create mutually beneficial roles for community and academic researchers through collaboration and compensation for time.
We partner with community organizations such as Dream Defenders, Black Men Build, Smile Trust, and MCAREs to do advocacy work. The need to advocate for patients is vital in order to ensure that we are not only serving people’s immediate needs, but working towards ending oppression of unhoused individuals, and their criminalization entirely. Some examples of our advocacy practices include opinion piece articles, city hall statements, community led actions, press releases and media interaction, social media campaigns, and rapid response street documentation to push back against city sweeps.