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This blog is dedicated to distribute current information about the Coalition for the Homeless in Cleveland or poverty or the state of homelessness. Entries are written by board or staff of the Coalition. The opinions contained in this blog reflect the views of the author of the post. This blog features information on shelters, affordable housing, profiles, statistics, trends, and upcoming events relating to homelessness. We welcome comments, and will remove offensive or inappropriate messages. All postings are signed by the author.

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Entries in NCH (16)

Wednesday
Apr292015

Local Reports from National Coalition Meeting

 The best part of the National Coalition for the Homeless meeting is hearing from other communities what is happening locally.  There are a lot of tremendous ideas and amazing advocacy going on in the local community.  This last meeting was held in Denver and we already posted some observations about Denver and Colorado.  Here are some highlights from what is going on around the country from NCH Board members. 

Minnesota

  • Struggling with trying to maintain state funding for homelessness and affordable housing with a tough budget.
  • Activists are working on fair housing issues within the state to rebalance the home ownership rate in Minnesota which is one of the lowest in the Country for African Americans.

Chicago, IL

  • The Homeless Bill of Rights passed the State (one of only three).
  • Agreement on sweeps by the police that resulted in throwing items away for those resistant to shelter.  Police will give one week notice before a "clean-up."
  • Working with re-entry folks on human trafficing issues.  Pilot program with the housing authority for trafficked women to get into housing.
  • Working on additional funding for affordable housing.
  • They had a setback in an SRO law passed which makes it difficult to transfer ownership because of neighborhoods gentrifying and wanting to eliminate low cost housing.
  • Fighting for a $13 minimum wage.

Indiana

  • Indianapolis Mayor vetoed their bill of rights passed by the City Council.
  • Large HIV outbreak in the southern part of the state--started an emergency needle exchange program and are working with trafficked women to try to limit spread. 

Sacremento, CA

  • Increase city trust fund to $25 million
  • Working on coordinated exit planning from various publicly funded programs.  They also have an employment collaboration working with homeless agencies.
  • Working on a better system for serving those addicted with a more "on-demand" system.
  • Statewide homeless bill of rights did not have the votes will be re-introduced in January 2016.
  • They did the DC criminalization survey  and found 75% of those surveyed had been arrested or threatened with arrest for purely innocent behavior of being homeless.
  • 2,900 anti-camping citations issued in Sacramento from 2012 to 2014.

Sentencing Project (national)

  • US leads the world in incarcerated individuals by large numbers. 
  • They have become involved in the Black Lives Matter campaign because of the relevance to their goals of bringing justice to the judicial system especially in cities. 
  • There is a true bipartisan effort to reform sentencing esp. for drugs.  The right wants to look at cost savings and the left is looking at justice.  Trying to limit excessive sentencing and look back at previous over sentencing.

Arkansas

  • The Coalition in Little Rock is barely hanging on and trying to speak up when necessary.

Austin, Texas

  • Gathering stats around the interaction between police and homeless people.
  • Sued the City over landlords not taking Section 8 voucher program under anti-discrimination law.

Atlanta, GA

  • 250 beds closed over last four years.
  • Now the men's shelter has had to serve 60 to 100 families every night with mats on the floor.
  • No new housing being developed locally, and last year 30,000 applied to the housing choice voucher program.
  • Working on fair housing complaint against HUD over loss of shelter locally.
  • Still working to resolve the ownership of the big shelter
  • Working with LGBT you to expand access to shelter.

Florida

  • No Medicare expansion and the indigent care has created a huge hole in the state budget.
  • Serious funding problems for services to the mentally ill.
  • Housing Trust fund is raided every year. 
  • Orlando has a new commission on homelessness that is working on putting together funds for Permanent Supportive Housing.
  • Working with the Veterans Administration on their "vulnerability index."

Mississippi

  • Formed a new regional Continuum of Care with the Mayors around the City of Jackson.
  • Purging the Public Housing Waiting list to get rid of the names that have been on there for seven to nine years and they are starting fresh.
  • Creating food gardens with some of the social service providers, and more groups are using food bank assistance to get fresh food.

Puerto Rico

  • The territory or commonwealth is nearing bankruptcy, which puts a strain on all public services.
  • They are trying to encourage billionaires to live in Puerto Rico and pay taxes.
  • The Bloomberg consulting group has been working with cities on urban issues including San Juan, and has a draconian approach to serving homeless people.  Basically involves shipping them out.
  • Trying to reform the police and teach them how to not violate the rights of homeless people. 
  • Ever increasing numbers of homeless people seeking help. 
  • Talked about the WBEZ/This American Life radio program about the relocation of addicts to non-licensed facilities in Chicago, Philadelphia and New York City.  These men get stuck in the cities and have no way to return to the island.  

Denver

  • The Right to Rest bill has galvanized Denver's homeless population around this law.
  • The Denver auditor criticize the City for not meeting its goals to end homelessness that they signed 10 years ago.  Declared that there were not measurable outcomes and little progress.  Also criticized the city for enforcing a "no camping" ordinance as more costly than effective.
  • Denver increased population and no vacancies has created a rental crisis and causing rents to increase.
  • Denver is trying out social impact bonds with 300 frequent flyers in the jails to provide housing alternatives and any savings in law enforcement/court fees would go to the investors in the bonds.   

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Thursday
Jan292015

Bill Introduced to Change the Definition of Homelessness

In an effort to capture the number of young people who do not go into shelter, the Senate has proposed a new bill to reform the way homeless people are counted.  Al Jazeera America did a really nice story about the issue.  We had this fight 10 years ago when the HEARTH Act was being debated.  Advocates from the National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Association for the Education of Homeless Youth  wanted to align the definition of homelessness with the Department of Education definition. 

The DoE uses a standard definition that we all think about when we think of homelessness.  The HUD definition does not include those doubled up, coming out of jail, those within a few days of homelessness or those who regularly staying in a motel.  Advocates from the National Alliance to End Homelessness, the Corporation for Supportive Housing and staff of HUD hated this idea to have one broad definition of homelessness.  They felt that it would triple the population of homelessness overnight. It would make it impossible to count during their annual point in time counts.  All the successes claimed by the Permanent Supportive housing movement would be lost with the stroke of a pen.  What administration wants to be in office and preside over a time when homelessness increased by 200 to 300 percent in one year? 

A compromise was struck by maintaining the HUD definition for most of the programs with additional hoops to jump through in order to be able to use a small piece of the federal funding to serve young people or families.  This compromise is obviously not working, and so now Congress has proposed a change. NEOCH supports this change in the law to align the definitions of homelessness across the federal agencies.  We oppose the Point in Time count as a huge waste of time, and we are not sure that the 100,000 homes created over the last five years are meeting the need of our most disabled and long term homeless people. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

Friday
Nov072014

Ft. Lauderdale: Center of Hate Toward the Poor

Ft. Lauderdale officials are taking heat world wide for the arrest of a 90 year old chef and two religious leaders for the crime of feeding low income and homeless people.  They approved a series of anti-homeless measures with the most prominent outlawing the serving of food outside without a permit.  Comedian Stephen Colbert roasted the City last night mocked the Mayor for arresting this "perp", Arnold Abbott, for carrying the dangerous weapon of food.

  "So clearly he knows what Jesus said in Matthew. 'For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat.  I was thirsty and--look out! The cops are here! Hide the Loaves and Fishes!' And I am glad...they eventually caught up with him."

The National Coalition for the Homeless Sent a letter to the Mayor asking for a re-evaluation of the legislation. 

[Full Disclosure:  I helped in the drafting of the NCH letter.] Most are focusing on the anti-feeding law and that is appropriate, but there are four other laws including the prohibition against a homeless person to sit down in the public space that are just as offensive.   These laws go back to the 1990s when cities were using law enforcement to try to "solve" homelessness.  They have failed and in fact, most cities found it only increased the number of homeless people.  Repeatedly ticketing homeless people make them unemployable and unable to engage a lease for housing.  We have also seen the correlation between a rise in hate crimes directed at homeless people when cities begin to pass laws directed at those without housing.  Ft. Lauderdale, by preventing people from being able to eat, goes to the front of the line in legislating hate against a fragile population.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

By the way if you want to express your concern over these extreme laws here is the Mayor's e-mail: jack.seiler@fortlauderdale.gov.  Send us a copy of the e-mail if you decide to write neoch (at) neoch (dot) org. 

Tuesday
Aug192014

Hate Crimes in Ohio

The National Coalition for the Homeless issued a report in June on hate crimes against homeless people in America.  The report is entitled "Vulnerable to Hate" and is available on the front of their website.  We pulled out the specific incidents in Ohio below, but first a few facts from the report:

  • 23% increase in the number of hate crimes in the report in 2013 when compared to 1999.
  • There were 109 attacks in 2013 documented in the report.
  • 18 of the 2013 attacks resulted in the death of the homeless victim.
  • 85% of the perpetrators were under 30 years old.
  • 93% of the perpetrators were male.
  • 65% of the victims were over 40 years old
  • 90% of the victims were male.
  • Ohio has seen 80 attacks since 1999 putting the state in the top 5 in the United States.
  • There were seven attacks documented in Ohio with four detailed below

Dayton, Ohio

Dayton homeless man stabbed to death

Oct. 10 – Daniel Mooty, a 51-year-old homeless man, was found dead behind a vacant house after being stabbed by 27-year-old Curtis R. Gray. Police responded to a call they received about a man screaming when they arrived on the scene, they witnessed the suspect standing over Mooty’s body. The murder weapon, a knife, was found at the scene. Gray was charged with give felony counts and $500,000 bail.

Cincinnati, Ohio

Homeless man assaulted after talking with suspects

Robert Warden, a 48-year-old homeless man living at a homeless camp in Cincinnati was approached by two young men. They sat and talked with him before striking him in the head with a calf prod “He hit me eight more times. I was blocking with my arms and kicking him and stuff.” A fellow homeless man took out his phone, which caused the two students from the University of Cincinnati to flee. The homeless man did not seek treatment at the hospital or file a report with police.

Canton, Ohio

Homeless man assaulted

January 13 – Jason P. Doty, 34, was found lying in the roadway with a visual wound on his head by Canton city police officers. The local hospital caught video surveillance footage of the attack and of the assailants running away. Doty had been punched several times and hit his head on the ground. He was transported to the nearest medical center. Officers believe he may have been assaulted by two males. Investigators have no further leads.

Newark, Ohio

Gang members beat up homeless man

April 6, 16, 26 – A 47-year-old homeless man was beaten multiple times by gang members under the Route 16 overpass. Members of the Ohio Boyz gang planned these attacks. The victim suffered severe injuries including several broken bones. Dustin Nelson, 25, one of the perpetrators faces 8 years in prison for assault and participation in a gang that commits criminal activities.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Monday
Jul212014

Does Institutional Violence Provide Cover to Hate Crimes?

Over the weekend the Albuquerque police made an arrest of three young people accused of killing two homeless people.  This after police shot a homeless person who was giving himself up earlier this year.   It seems that cities that mistreat homeless people or pass laws directed at homeless people are also the cities that have higher numbers of hate crimes directed at homeless people.  Albuquerque police have a large number of officers involved in shootings (40) of which 26 were killed since 2010.

The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty just released a report on the large number of laws directed at homeless people.   The Law Center details the surprising rise in cities which have made it illegal to feed people outside.  There are panhandling laws, anti-sitting laws, anti-"camping" laws, loitering, and no feeding laws.  These "quality of life" ordinances are on the rise, and there are consultants sitting in hotel conference centers crafting new ways to hide homeless people.  Then there are police actions to arrest and hide homeless people.  These include private security for Business Improvement Districts harassing homeless people to go into hiding.  Then in those cities that use law enforcement to solve homelessness there is a corresponding increase in attacks on homeless people

In the 1990s, when there were routine arrests of homeless people for sleeping outside in Cleveland we also saw regular attacks on homeless people.  We saw the stun gun attacks and bricks being thrown from motorists.   We have not seen the level of hate crimes that they see in Cincinnati, which still has not worked out how they deal with a growing population.  If government targets homeless people with laws or arrests it seems to give cover to violent or fringe elements of society to attack fragile populations.  If you place the National Coalition for the Homeless hate crimes report on top of the National Law Center criminalization report you see some huge overlapping cities especially in cities in Florida. 

We have been dealing with homelessness for 40 years, and it seems as though cities have not learned anything.   They still try to deal the problems associated with homeless people instead of dealing with the root cause of homelessness: housing.  They are still trying to regulate homelessness out of existence instead of providing affordable housing and behavioral health services.  Fair share development laws, minimum wage increases, universal access to treatment are sure fire ways to end homelessness.  Passing "quality of life laws" are sure fire ways to prolong homelessness. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry