Cheri Honkala from Jason Bosch on Vimeo.

The No-Evictions Sheriff

Cheri Honkala promises to be a sheriff who will stand up for families, not banks.

Cheri on Horse

There’s a new sheriff in town—or there could be soon. Cheri Honkala, a single mom, sometimes homeless, who launched one of the country’s biggest multi-racial movements led by the poor and homeless, is running for sheriff of Philadelphia.

Her platform? No evictions. No throwing people out on the street because of a financial crisis that they didn’t create. Her slogan: “Keeping families in their homes and protecting the ‘hood.”

Cheri knows a few things about evictions. As a homeless mom, she faced a stark choice when the shelters filled up: a night on the frigid Minneapolis streets with her young son, or breaking and entering a vacant HUD-owned house, where the heat was left on to prevent the pipes from freezing. Cheri chose the latter.

Thus began a series of home occupations, evictions, and arrests. Eventually, Honkala joined with others to form the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, whose members work together to defend their basic right to health care, housing, education, and living wage jobs.

If elected, Cheri will bring more experience from the other side of the bars than most law enforcement officials.

I caught up with her after her keynote speech to the Democracy Convention in Madison, Wisconsin, in late August.

Sarah van Gelder: Why are you running for Sheriff?

Cheri Honkala: For 25 years I’ve been trying to change things in the halls of Congress—trying to find a politician with a backbone to say that we have to have a moratorium on foreclosures. The banks are continuing to do whatever they want with the bailout money; they’re not modifying loans or finding ways to help people stay in their houses.

As Sheriff, I will use what’s known as “selective enforcement”—I will refuse to rip down families’ doors and refuse to have my deputies throw them out. Instead, the Sheriff’s office will work with families that are in trouble: help them access resources; help them figure out how they can pay their mortgages.

You can check out the rest of the interview here…

Find out more about Cheri Honkala’s campaign for sheriff here…