Two blocks from the razed encampment, Jessica Kiaraliza Martinez, a homeless advocate with D.C.-based nonprofit HIPS, stood across the street from Kittie Kagona’s tent at its new M Street location. Kagona, who has lived along K Street for about two years, is hoping her days along NoMa’s underpasses are numbered. "We’re trying to make sure homeless people’s property isn’t destroyed,” Martinez said. “When you’ve lost everything, you deserve to have something. I feel like this is the city saying homeless people don’t deserve anything.” [Read Article]
FULL DECRIMINALIZATION IS FULL FREEDOM: TAMIKA SPELLMAN ON BELONGING AND TOWARDS BLACK SEX WORKER LIBERATION By Jamiee A. Swift
A pioneering activist and advocate, Tamika Spellman (she/her/hers) is leading a movement so that present and future Black and Brown sex workers in Washington, D.C., can truly know what full freedom and Belonging is and means in a world that tries to criminalize and control their bodily and political autonomy and agency. [Read Article]
Police Reports Raise Questions about MPD’s Tactics During Undercover Prostitution Stings (Washington City Paper)
“Nefarious people look for the weakest link,” says Tamika Spellman, who is a policy and advocacy associate at the harm-reduction nonprofit HIPS and has been a sex worker by choice for more than 35 years. “And they know there’s a lack of concern for sex workers.” She analogizes the situation to mobsters killing people during Prohibition, or gun crime associated with marijuana—two industries that were very violent so long as they were illegal. “The root cause [of violence] is not the sex worker. It’s the crime that surrounds the sex worker. I’m not a violent person, but I’ve had a lot of violence happen to me,” Spellman says. “People are going to do what they’re going to do. So we can try to at least make them safe when they’re doing it.” [Read Article]
LGBTQ advocates deliver letter to DC council members calling for sex work decriminalization (Metro Weekly)
Transgender sex workers feel under attack. These women are working to protect their own. (Washington Post)
District residents can walk into their local pharmacy and ask for FREE naloxone, the overdose-reversing drug
Alexandra Bradley, Mobile Services Manager at the nonprofit HIPS, has been giving out free Naloxone (also known as Narcan) as part of HIPS’ harm reduction program since well before the pilot. In addition to naloxone, the group gives out condoms and offers information on syringe exchange programs. For Bradley, any reduction in barriers to accessing naloxone is a good thing. Bradley also says that for the clients HIPS serves, which include sex workers, people with substance use disorders, and people experiencing homelessness, pilots like these aren’t always practical. “To go to the pharmacy, you have to be willing to ask a pharmacist in public about Naloxone and risk them acting a certain way,” says Bradley. According to an American Medical Association opioid report released this month, there’s a mistaken belief that naloxone will encourage “risky behavior,” or encourage people to continue using knowing there’s an antidote. And this might make people fearful to ask for it, even if the drug isn’t intended for them, but rather for a friend or a family member. Instead of going to a pharmacy, Bradley says community members can receive free naloxone from HIPS directly. The group gives it out when they do outreach activities. According to Bradley, the Department of Health provides a lot of community-based organizations like HIPS with free Naloxone to hand out. That way people can receive it, no questions asked, from a group familiar to them. The pilot is a great back-up for emergencies when HIPS and other community-based organizations aren’t immediately available, Bradley says. [Read Article]
Miriam’s Kitchen, HIPS and Everyone Home D.C., are service provider and advocacy organizations who belong to The Way Home Campaign. This is one of three responses to an open-letter letter written by the NoMa Business Improvement District.
As social service providers with a combined total of nearly 115 years working to end homelessness in Washington, D.C., we are deeply troubled by the current debate around homelessness encampments in NoMa. While encampments are not ideal, and common-sense strategies should be put in place to protect the health and safety of all of our neighbors, they are a natural byproduct of D.C.’s homelessness crisis. We worry that concentrating on encampments sidetracks D.C. from focusing on proven, humane, and client-centered solutions to end homelessness. As such, we ask the NoMa community, and all D.C. residents, to join us in advocating for the best-known solution to homelessness: housing. [Read Article]
2019 Trans Equality Now Awards Honors HIPS Staff Member and long time community advocate, Earline Budd.