Eric Tars On The Human Right To Housing
The Martin v. Boise decision stands for the very simple principle that punishing a homeless person for undertaking basic, life-sustaining activities like sleeping or sheltering themselves — when there’s no adequate alternative accessible to them — is cruel and unusual under the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.January 2023
It’s Sunday at noon, and the open-air / vendors are planted in their usual spots — picklers / pressed against the outer edge while growers / forest the pathways with kale, collard greens, / and patches of lavender.January 2023
Most days, within a block of my house in San Francisco, I’ll encounter someone who is unhoused. Since 2011 I have befriended and photographed unhoused people, and the experience has changed me in a way I never would have imagined. . . . One man said to me, “Most people see us as drunks, but you talk to us and see our humanity.” This is what I hope my photographs convey.January 2023
It is hard to argue that housing is not a fundamental human need. Decent, affordable housing should be a basic right for everybody in this country. The reason is simple: without stable shelter, everything else falls apart.
Americans, like human beings everywhere, believe many things that are obviously untrue. . . . Their most destructive untruth is that it is very easy for any American to make money. They will not acknowledge how in fact hard money is to come by, and, therefore, those who have no money blame and blame and blame themselves. This inward blame has been a treasure for the rich and powerful, who have had to do less for their poor, publicly and privately, than any other ruling class since, say, Napoleonic times.
Because my car is twenty years old / and the gizmo that goes ding ding ding / when you leave the lights on / has been busted for at least a decade, / I’m always contending with a comatose battery.August 2022
I want to help carry the burden when it is heaviest. The dying patients and their families need time with a compassionate stranger: someone they don’t have to expend their fragile energy to try to support or protect.April 2022
At dusk, everything blurs and softens. / From here out over the long valley, / the fields and hills pull up / the first slight sheets of evening, / as, over the next hour, / heavier, darker ones will follow.February 2022
This was what it was like to do the work she did, to recognize the person in the dying body and to stay with them — like bearing witness to light moving through wreckage, stubborn and pure.July 2021
She read a brief passage in a small, clear voice that will live on in my memory. Fluent in sounding out words she didn’t know, she gleaned tones from everyday verbs that I’d never dreamed they possessed, and conferred a strange new life on faded old nouns, as one might draw a hidden thread of some brilliant color from an old rug.April 2021