Heat and Homelessness
Extreme weather is always dangerous for those living outside. Most people remember homeless people when Cleveland gets a big snow storm, and the media calls for more help. But when temperatures reach over 100 degrees those outside are in nearly the same danger as those outside in January. Dehydration can come on quickly. The world starts spinning and the individual becomes disoriented, and can quickly pass out. For those isolated and living alone, this can be deadly. On Saturday, one of our vendors at the West Side Market, while selling the Street Chronicle, did not drink enough water and had to be taken home by a Good Samaritan. If you are going downtown, bring an extra water bottle for the homeless guy you see. Most have the good sense to be inside, but on the weekend it is harder to find air conditioned places open to seek shelter from the heat. When the County declares a shelter emergency, the facilities are not suppose to close during the day as is the custom. I assume that this happened on Friday and Saturday.
TB Outbreak in Homeless Community
A report from the Palm Beach Post today showed that in April the CDC reported a huge outbreak of individuals with tuberculosis in Jacksonville, Florida. Public health officials were focused on their massive budget cuts that the Governor had just signed into law,and the closing of Health Departments in the state. The spread of infectious disease in the homeless community is what keeps shelter providers up at night. Since homeless people move around so much, any infectious disease can quickly move through a congregate living facility and infect thousands. MetroHealth Hospital takes the lead in Cuyahoga County in overseeing infectious disease control. From the article, it sounds as though because of budget cuts, Florida took their eye off the ball by not controlling TB outbreaks early with a protocol of vaccinating everyone who comes in contact with the infected individual. The case went untreated for 18 months and some who came in contact with the individual later died.
Philadelphia "Helps" Homeless by Restricting Access to Food
We have discussed this before here in March. NPR did a story this week about the City of Philadelphia trying to restrict religious and other groups from distributing food outside. Beware of the Mayor who only wants to help a population by passing laws that takes away their rights. We have discussed how foolish this whole plan is to limit the core mission of many of these churches. The law will not go into affect until a judge hears the challenges to the restrictions. Here is the Mayor's take on limiting religious freedom:
"I believe that people, regardless of their station in life, should be able to actually sit down, at a table, to a meal inside, away from the heat and the cold, the rain and the snow, the vehicle exhaust and all the other distractions of everyday city life," said Mayor Michael Nutter to NPR.
I agree with the sentiment, but it is not the job of government to tell people where they can receive food. This should be a non-profits job to strike a compromise that everyone can agree on as was done in Cleveland. Check out the link to the agreement we fashioned in Cleveland. Everyone wants homeless people to be able to enjoy a nutritious meal, but they don't need the big stick of government spending time and resources beating up on churches or their congregants.
New York City Homelessness Increasing
This was from a month ago in the Huffington Post, but we missed it. Wanted to call attention to it for a couple of reasons. First, this is by an independent academic observer so it is not an advocate saying that the local homeless administration had failed. Second, New York City was championed by the previous federal administration and the Bloomberg administration as being on track to end homelessness with a 10 year plan. The previous InterAgency Council director made frequent trips to New York to heap praise on the Mayor for "solving homelessness" by building thousands of permanent supportive housing units. Many complained that federal cuts to mainstream programs like Public Housing and the voucher program was no way to "end homelessness," but very few were listening intoxicated by these beautiful new apartments for homeless people. Now things are coming back to bite the administration who spent so much time on moving the "long term" homeless into housing they forgot to work on the family population. There is no way to "solve homelessness" with big holes in the safety net, which only got bigger with the downturn in 2008. We did not see an expansion of cash assistance, child care help, student loan forgiveness, employment training, and medicare expansion before 2014 in order to stabilize the families losing housing, jobs, health insurance, and prices of staples increasing. It is no wonder that family homelessness is increasing in New York City and Cleveland and most American cities.
Rhode Island Homeless Bill of Rights
This is some great news out of the state of Rhode Island with the passage of the Homeless Bill of Rights. We hope that this is the start of a trend to reverse 20 years of municipal actions making it illegal to be poor. There were some items compromised out of the legislation, but it is a great start for the drive to create a kindler, gentler society. The law protects people from using public spaces, equal treatment by government, and protects against discrimination by an employer because of a person's housing status. The law makes it easier for homeless people to establish residency in order to vote, there are privacy rights guaranteed by law for those who use the shelters and services, and establish rights for those who sleep outside to some degree of privacy.
Homeless People are not all Good People
In Florida, a homeless guy was renting out houses to unsuspecting people who had no idea that they were paying rent to a "landlord" who did not have ownership of the property. The homeless population are no different then the general population. The vast majority of people are kind trustworthy people who are working to find a hand out of homelessness, but there are a few who are criminals looking for an easy score. Just like the guy who raped an elderly woman at St. Clair Place in Cleveland, and was found hiding in the shelter down the street, there are some bad people among the vast majority of upstanding citizens. When a neighbor is found to be a predator, it does not taint the whole street as bad. When a homeless person is found to be a criminal hiding among the population, it should not make people uncomfortable around all homeless people.
Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry