Homeless group uses collective bargaining to demand rights

Working people faced tough times during the COVID-19 pandemic. Millions of people lost their jobs and now face financial hardship. Others, have lived a life of financial hardship and want to fight back.

Nolan Huber Rhoades of the Atlanta Homeless Union joined the America’s Work Force Union Podcast to discuss how the group formed and their goals. He also explained the various reasons why people lose their homes and how they can escape homelessness.

America and Atlanta’s housing crisis

Rhoades said America is facing an unprecedented housing crisis. With so much wealth in the U.S. and the greater Atlanta area, he questions why so many are suffering.

He said the Atlanta Homeless Union formed out of a coalition of groups of social justice activists who seek to improve life for all Atlantans, including the homeless.

The groups took action as they purchased, built, operated and maintained warming stations when the temperature dropped below 35 degrees. Rhoades said they had to do this after the city decided to close public restrooms at 7 p.m. He said inhumane practices such as locking public restrooms make life harder for those who have fallen on hard times.

The Atlanta Homeless Union

While the Atlanta Homeless Union is not a labor union in the traditional sense, they do operate under collective action.

The city of Atlanta estimates that roughly 3,200 people live on the streets, though Rhoades believes this is an undercount. A faction of the 3,200 came together with activists and staged a camp-out on the lawn of Atlanta City Hall to draw attention to their group, but the city responded with arrests, including the arrest of Rhoades.

He said the reception to the group has been mixed. The working class, many of whom live paycheck to paycheck, actively support the group. Yet the city, law enforcement and wealthy residents do not support them and often take action against them.


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