Criminal of Poverty
Criminal of Poverty
Growing Up Homeless in America

Profile in the "San Francisco Examiner"
Feb 18, 2020

"SF Lives: A 'poverty scholar' gives visibility to homeless people." By Denise Sullivan

Huffington Post

"Gray-Garcia tells her multi-generational story of poverty in unpolished prose, but it all rings even truer for that . . . Contrary to some enduring American mythologies, Gray-Garcia shows that it is possible to be smart, work hard, avoid the perils of addiction, violence, HIV and so many other afflictions that beset the poor, and still get stuck in a lifetime of poverty."

—Steve Heilig

Media Justice and the Crime of Poverty --An interview with Tiny from POOR Magazine
Mar 27, 2010

"Tiny (aka Lisa Gray–Garcia) is a poverty scholar, revolutionary journalist, PO' Poet, spoken word artist, welfareQUEEN, lecturer, Indigena Taina/Boriken/Irish mama of Tiburcio and daughter of Dee and the co–founder and executive director of POOR Magazine/PoorNewsNetwork. POOR is a grassroots, non–profit, arts organization dedicated to providing extreme access to media, education and arts for youth, adults and elders struggling with poverty, racism, disability and border fascism locally and globally. Tiny is a teacher, multi–media producer, and author of 'Criminal of Poverty: Growing Up Homeless in America,' published by City Lights."

- Criminal InJustice Kos, The Daily Kos

Executives and experts react to Congress' bailout plan
Sep 29, 2008
"Lisa Gray-Garcia, activist for the homeless and author of Criminal of Poverty: Growing Up Homeless in America:

'When poor people try to get support from the government, we have to do endless amounts of begging and pleading. We're told we're lazy or we use bad judgment. But when it comes to corporations making bad decisions, corporate welfare gets framed as a valiant effort to save the country. This comes down to how we frame poor people vs. how we frame sanctioned business people.'" - Lisa Gray-Garcia, USA Today

50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World
Dec 1, 2009

"Tiny a.k.a. Lisa Gray-Garcia
Cofounder, POOR magazine
Tapping her life experiences in the Bay Area, this self-proclaimed "poverty scholar" uses a grassroots magazine—as well as her performance art project welfareQUEENS—to tell those street stories the mainstream rarely cares to hear."

- Staff, Utne Reader

Dec 31, 2006
"Something inside all of us will awaken when we read this book and bear witness to the excruciating plight of our generation's poor. With unflinching courage Lisa Gray-Garcia brings the raw events of her childhood to the page. She de-centers us with her searing images of destitution and blows us away with her resolve to beat it. We are not the same after reading this hellish tale of a young girl's struggle to survive." - Yannick Murphy, author of Here They Come

"Criminal of Poverty lays bare the devastating effects of inheriting a life of poverty, as well the real redemption and power in finding your voice." - Michelle Tea, author of Rose of No Man's Land and Valencia

"Tiny’s indomitable spirit comes to life in her amazing story of poverty and homelessness, reaching into and teaching our hearts and minds. With her flawless descriptions of the pain of living in the margins of the richest country in the world, she opens up an important window onto a reality looked upon by many but truly seen by few, augmenting our capacity for empathy and action in an area so in need of social change. Bravo Tiny, for your gift to us all! Punto!!!" - Piri Thomas, author of Down These Mean Streets

"Most books on poverty or the poor are written by people who have never been really poor, or are individualistic tales of a bootstrap pull that separates the (once) poor person from society as a whole. Tiny, a.k.a Lisa Gray-Garcia, has written an eloquent, graceful and refreshingly humor-filled book that tells a story which places poverty in a larger social, spiritual and political context. It challenges the reader to let go of clichés and catch phrases about the poor and homeless and see a population of struggling, hard working survivors who can work miracles when given proper support. It also is a compelling love story of a mother and daughter who surmount hurdles and climb out of pits that would defeat many, while building ladders and twining rope so that others can join them in their ongoing efforts to bring more and more people out of the quagmire of relentless poverty, hunger and hopelessness." - devorah major, author of where river meets ocean and Brown Glass Windows

"In America we prefer not to see our poor. Only if we turn determinedly away can we maintain the illusion that we are not all responsible, not all culpable. Lisa Gray-Garcia won't let us avert our eyes. With style and verve she hauls our unwilling attention to what matters. If your heart is unmoved when you finish this memoir, then it's made of stone." - Ayelet Waldman author of Love and Other Impossible Pursuits

Hard look at need
Lisa Gray-Garcia (or "Tiny") has been struggling with poverty and homelessness all her life.

It's hard to figure out exactly how to begin a memoir about being poor. There are just so many places to start. When Gray-Garcia located a moment to open her memoir, "Criminal of Poverty: Growing Up Homeless in America" (City Lights Books; $15.95; 287 pages), it didn't come easy.

- The San Francisco Chronicle

The Portland Alliance

"Criminal of Poverty provides . . . an up-close, in-depth view of poverty's effect on two women, Tiny and her mother Dee. The reader gets to share in their shame as the police supervise evictions and the landlord shouts about "white trash" and their small victories as they are accepted in the Berkeley art world.  More important, Criminal encapsulates Tiny's deep anger at a system that accepts homelessness, yet resents the homeless; at 'a system that values independence and separation over interdependence, community, support and caregiving . . .'"

—Judy Ferro

Lisa Gray-Garcia on Poor Magazine
May 3, 2007
Holding it down for the homeless in San Francisco and the Bay Area is no small feat-- a fact well known to author Lisa Gray-Garcia and her mother Dee Gray who run 'Poor Magazine', part of the PNN (Poor News Network) and a landmark publication ran by the homeless and low-income community.

Eviction, police discrimination, incarceration, and an unrespondent government, are all problems tackled in the activism and writing of the magazine's staff in their daily battle with homelessness and its ills. - Earz Magazine

'Criminal of Poverty' a Look at Growing Up Homeless
Feb 17, 2007
Author Lisa "Tiny" Gray-Garcia's life turned upside down at age 11 when her mother lost her job and she had to live on the street. Gray-Garcia talks with Farai Chideya about her life on the streets, which she chronicles in the book Criminal of Poverty: Growing Up Homeless in America. - News & Notes

The Avenue Magazine

" This memoir openly details how the lives of Tiny and her mother sank into chronic homelessness after her father abandoned them. Using her struggles as a middle school dropout forced to find jobs and family housing, Gray-Garcia exposes the systematic poverty that many people of color in the United States face today."

Media Justice: Another World or Another Mistake
Jul 20, 2007
POOR Magazine journalists explain why they seized the stage at the United States Social Forum...

From the POOR News Network: Poverty, Race, Disability, Youth and Indigenous Scholars from POOR Magazine travel to the US Social Forum to realize a new world of media production..By Any Means Necessary

  .Scholaz til we die
   The Revolution begins with I

The morning air in the Tenderloin was sharp. Small hidden daggers were embedded in the 9:00 am breeze. Micro-business people were trading products, elders and youth of color were convening and poverty survivors were consuming and acquiring different forms of substances to get through another day in Amerikkka. . . . - optout: Media Justice

Lisa Gray-Garcia on Poor Magazine
Nov 23, 2007
"Tiny's business card has a two-line description of her job: 'Co-editor of Poor Magazine & Poor News Network (PNN), Revolutionary journalist; welfare QUEEN, Daughter of Dee.' None of these positions pays. Tiny, who is 37, makes her living as a communications director for a nonprofit, which is not on her card." - Sam Whiting, San Francisco Chronicle

Bay Area authors' books among best of '07
Dec 23, 2007
"Here are some other notable books of 2007...Criminal of Poverty: Growing Up Homeless in America (City Lights) by Lisa Gray-Garcia." - Oscar Villalon, San Francisco Chronicle

Test Creates 'Learning Crisis' for Low-Income Students
Oct 2, 2007
"Lisa Gray-Garcia, communications director for Justice Matters, said that what was happening in the West Contra Costa Unified School District was representative of the impact of NCLB throughout California.

'It's a majority minority community—similar to many communitites in California today—that are being negatively impacted by No Child Left Behind,' Garcia said.

She said that Justice Matters chose the West Contra Costa Unified School District as a model community mainly because its demographics reflect those of most urban school districts in the state." - Bay City News Wire,

Bitch Magazine
“This beautifully told tale of a homeless mother and daughter who eventually find rooms of their own captures the shame homeless individuals face as they encounter the problems inherent in the search for shelter, sustenance, and safety. …The book’s take on how disenfranchised people are criminalized for their lack is just one refreshing aspect of the book…Criminal of Poverty is a valuable memoir, and certainly a much-needed antidote to more salacious…attempts to capture the reality of living on the margins.  It is revolutionary that women like Dee and Tiny make it at all, and that alone makes the book worth reading, studying, and sharing.”
—Joshunda Sanders

Race, Poverty, Media Justice Institute Fall Schedule
Sep 8, 2008
The Fall schedule of The Race, Poverty, Media Justice Institute At POOR Magazine is available now! To download the schedule and/or register for clasees go to

Free Classes for Poverty Scholars(low and no-income youth, adults and elders)
Digital Resistance 101-104: Creative Writing, Story development, Journalism, Media Literacy, Media Organizing/Media Activism, Digital arts, Book Development and Book Publishing

Paid classes(on a sliding scale) For Enmeshed Academics, Folks with Income: Revolutionary Professional Development, Media Activism, Media Organizing, Creative Writing, Journalism, REAL service provision, radical research, pan-philanthropy, and deconstructing the 21st Century default missionary in all of us! - Tiny, aka Lisa Gray-Garcia, Poor Magazine