Note: The Kensington Welfare Rights Union
is a Philadelphia grown project with goals
we all should fight for like health care
for all and education that actually can
make a difference. We spoke with Natashia
Euler of the organization and she gave
us the scoop on the organization and some
personal reflections too! Listen and take
some action people!
Tell me brief history of the Kensington
Welfare Rights Union?
Euler of The Kensington Welfare Rights
Union (KW ):
KWRU was started by a group of
4 women with their children in April 1991.
They came together out of necessity –
realizing that they could help each other
survive. This was during
a time when families were threatened by
Governor Casey's welfare cuts.
While talking about the injustice of poverty
and their homelessness, they decided to
start organizing other people in the same
situation to come together to do 3 basic
things: Speak to the issues that
directly effect our lives, help each other
and all poor people get what they need
to survive, and build a broad base movement
to end poverty.
The Kensington Welfare Rights Union (KWRU)
is a multiracial organization of, by and
for poor and homeless people. We believe
that we have a right to thrive - not just
barely survive. KWRU is dedicated to organizing
of welfare recipients, the homeless, the
working poor and all people concerned
with economic justice.
What type of programs and actions have
KWRU done/created in support of their
well. there are so many. Tent Cities
in North Philadelphia to tent cities in
the rotunda at the capital, bus tours,
and marches all in effort to organize
to make these issues visible, and to document
these violations. Truth Commissions,
sleep outs in front of the mayor's office,
demonstrations on Republican national
conventions. This is all fighting for
people to have their basic economic human
rights. We have constant education
with our members about their rights; we
do constant outreach to the community
as well as basic social services.
What specific rights/issues is the organization
working with now?
Well we talk a lot about economic human
rights. This framework allows us
to address everyone's basic needs/rights.
. Such as Food, Clothing, Housing,
healthcare, education, a job at a living
wage. We use the Universal declaration
of human right to advance this framework.
We have also been apart of the
Philadelphia affordable housing coalition
along with about 20 other organizations
with directly with the housing crisis
What's are some frustrations encountered
when dealing with the powers that be about
these rights/issues? When dealing with
The powers that be well..?
They don't care. They criminalize
the poor. The city creates these
initiatives that are suppose to help with
all the issues that people are facing,
but they don't work and there is so much
bureaucracy that the money never gets
to the street. City hall gets to
all sit on nice big salaries. There
is a 100 million dollar surplus in our
cities budget right now and everyday I
see homeless families in our office.
So the most difficult thing is knowing
that these resources exist yet, they constantly
deny people of these basic rights.
The contradictions that we face in this
country shows the lack of value we have
toward human life.
What's needed for KWRU from the people?
Can people volunteer?
People can volunteer. We have a
program for student "summer of social
action" that u can look up on line for
the application. We have a list
serv that will let u know when all the
new events are. We are in constant
need of food, baby clothes, diapers and
supplies for our office. People can also
donate using our website. We need
mad support for our events, for example
the national truth commission.
How long have you been at KWRU and what's
your role? How did you know of this organization
and how did you get involved?
I have been with KWRU for 3 years now.
I am the Chair of the Local Organizing
Committee, Administrative assistant to
the Director/ Office manager. Among many
grew up very low income in PA. I was raised
by my grandparents who were in their 70's
and a mother who struggled with drugs.
My grandparents both died by the time
I was in 7 th grade; which left my brother
and I nowhere to go. This of course
has affected my view on the world.
I always knew I wanted to do some kind
of Humans Rights work and was interested
in pursuing photography. After being in
phila for a couple years I meet a couple
kids who worked with kwru. We got to rappin
bout politics and then soon started I
attending marches. I looked into a lot
of non-profits in phila, but KWRU was
the only on that stood out. I liked
how the people who were directly affected
were in the leadership and were speaking
for themselves. I liked how KWRU was about
changing things instead of just charity.
KWRU saw the bigger picture.
Can you draw a parallel to the treatment
of people in the USA and the people in
Well I'm not sure how to answer this question:
know that billions of dollars is being
spend on the war. And the same
people who supporting this military spending
are taking it straight out of social services
here in this country. Such as headstart
programs, literacy programs, healthcare,
housing, welfare. We are killing poor
people in Iraq so our corporate profit
will keep rising. We are killing people
here for the same reasons. The government
preys on the most vulnerable of our society
first: children, the elderly, and the
sick. and we just let them. Its
twisted morals and sick how we keep letting
the government takes from us and treat
our basic needs as privileges.
Yet there is a never-ending budget for
war. This must change.
I am so angry by this war. (Let me know
if u need more. I'm not sure how much
I should go into each question)
How does the media played a role in wars
and other significant events told and
untold in your opinion?
The media plays a big role in manipulating
our view on everything. The media
panders to people ignorance, telling people
who to hate and criminalizing religions
beliefs, cultures, and race. The
media has left the poor out of ever discussion.
The media is responsible for fear.
Media hides poverty, by showing only the
wealthy. I never believe the media
now. This is especially true in this country
during times of war. Corporate
media is all owned and controlled by the
US government, so u know they just trying
to shame other people, but ignore all
human rights laws when it comes to their
must create our own media to tell the
truth. GeoClan has got the right
idea with independent media.
How can we fight for our rights and the
rights of others as a society?
Stop the silence. Its kind of eerie
how quiet people are about not having
jobs and fewer social services.
Its disturbing that there isn't more of
a national outcry about what the government
is doing to people all over the world
as well as here in this country.
Also doing documentation of all these
human rights violations is a good way
to make them visible and creditable.
The Kensington Welfare Rights Union is
collecting this documentation to take
to the UN, as well as locally to put pressure
on city council (or the powers that be).
a country of such wealth there is no excuses
for children to go to bed hungry.
This won't change unless we change the
moral and values of this nation.
Basically about the hearts and
minds of the people. Get people
to see that allowing for there to be homelessness,
it is a direct threat on everyone's right
to housing. When people are dying out
side the world best hospitals and it is
just as much about my right to healthcare
as it is your right to health care. Etc.
Is the glass of America, in terms of liberty
and justice, half-empty of half full?
Can we truly make things better?
History has proven that we can make things
better. Change is possible but it is going
to take a large movement of the people
who are directly effect by poverty to
make this change. Civil rights
movement and woman's suffrage movement
are examples that this is possible.
We need to get the masses of the people
to organize against globalization and
change policy that is not in the best
interest of the people.
What is the Economic Human Rights Campaign?
The Poor People's Economic
Campaign was spearheaded by KWRU because
realized that if we were going to make
any real change in this country it would
have to be a national effort.
Through bus tours and marches kwru realized
that people all over the country were
under economic assault. So linking
up with other organizations led by the
poor to create the Poor peoples economic
human rights campaign.
The Poor People's Economic Human Right's
Campaign is committed to uniting the poor
across color lines as the leadership base
for a broad movement to abolish poverty.
We work to accomplish this through advancing
economic human rights as named in the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights-
such as the rights to food, housing, health,
education, communication and a living
How far has KWRU's reach gone and have
you been surprised by the people reactions
to the organization in positive and negative
I'm always surprise at how many people
have been involved with kwru at some point
or have heard of us. Even on the
west coast! I think people have
respect for what we do. Even more
people think that the basic social service
stuff that we do it noble, but beyond
that some people have problem with our
tactics. Its very interesting being
in city hall or welfare offices and people
get that panic look like" what are they
gonna do now". This kind of stuff
is merely interesting to me; I'm not fazed
by it. I know that charity is not
going to change anything. Charity doesn't
change policy and policy is what kills
people. So we have to be creative
to get attention to these issues.
What has been your personal highlight?
Highlights- families getting housing,
the political education that I received
being apart of this process is priceless,
traveling, meeting a lot of interesting
people all over the country who are organizing
for change, seeing that people are incredibly
resilient and resourceful when faced with
poverty, domestic violence, etc.
never ending struggle, dealing with people
who make a lot of money to address poverty
issues and don't do shit aka OESS, the
never ending cuts to social services (we
have less resources to refer people to).
The amount of children and elderly that
live in poverty that I have seen is always
very upsetting. The lowlight could be
a long list but only because they are
the things that make me mad or emotional.
These are the same things that make me
more motivated tho.
Do you have some future projects or events
you want to highlight?
We are doing a fundraiser for one
of our lead organizers that has been wrongfully
imprisoned. We are trying to raise money
for an appeal lawyer in April. This summer
we are doing a march through North Philadelphia
in June, the National Truth commission
is in Cleveland, Ohio in July and we do
weekly food distribution, monthly drug
reality tours and poverty reality tours.
How can the organization be reached? Are
there like organizations that you want
to shoutout for those in other parts of
Here is our information.
The Kensington Welfare Rights Union
2825 N. 5th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19132
are also looking for Volunteers to work
in our office. Please contact us at 215-203-1945
or thro website www.kwru.org if you are
like to give a shout out to Venezuela,
they doing it big down there.
all the PPEHRC group in the US. www.economichumanrights.org
How has technology helped/hurt the progress
of these causes and the organization in
Technology has been huge in breaking apart
the connection in production between the
workers and the capitalist, which has
been the only thing that held society
together. Laborless- production
= no jobs which only leave people in poverty.
The government has chosen the profit
over its own people.
holds a lot of good things tho. For example:
communication, medical technology that
has kept people alive, technology has
been useful in replacing jobs where peoples
lives were in danger. Since there
is no going back, we must make sure that
the profits make from technology are redistributed/re
organized for the people.
What do you think about change (think
of GeoClan.com's slogan, Uploading Change)?
Ha ha ha, I think you might already get
a feeling how I feel bout change from
what I already said.
is possible, it's necessary, and it's
more info on KWRU go to www.kwru.org.
any comments to firstname.lastname@example.org