National Coalition Updates

What is happening in other parts of the country to homeless people? The best part of the National Coalition for the Homeless meeting is when we go around the table and each talk about issues facing homeless people around the country.  Here are a few brief updates:

MassachusettsNCH Board Member Alan at the October 2013 Board meetings

  • The Mass. legislature has introduced a bill to protect the rights of the transgendered in public services including homeless shelters.
  • Boston is developing 32 units of housing for LGBTQ youth who have experienced homelessness.
  • They are expanding the speakers bureau locally to teach homeless program board members about homelessness.
  • There are disturbing trends in youth homeless with mental illnesses, and as most cities are seeing a rise in family homelessness.

Atlanta, Georgia

  • Having issues with Central Intake excluding more and more people.  Establishing limits on the number of times a person can be homeless and they are not transparent in how public dollars are being used. They attempt to restrict movement from one shelter to another among the population.
  • More and more families showing up for help which is putting a strain on the public schools. 
  • Georgia is not going to expand Medicaid which will harm the homeless population.
  • Atlanta is reading the names of 64 homeless deaths in the Memorial Day.

South Carolina

  •  NCH helped with the reversal of a draconian piece of legislation in Columbia.  There are still problems with warrant checks of homeless people in order to stay in the winter shelter and the lack of input by the social service providers in the laws.
  • Not doing Medicaid Expansion.

Minnesota

  • Increasing numbers and frustration within the community about the rise in the numbers.
  • Minnesota passed a $33 million Homes For All campaign that would increase affordable housing by 28%, and $7 million homeless youth, and $2.8 million safe harbors for sexually exploited youth, and an increase in shelter and transitional housing.
  • There was a movement to increase the cash assistance for Moms, but it did not pass. 

Federal Issues

  • Food stamp issues could have a dramatic impact on the poor and hungry, and Congress may try to ban felons from every getting help.
  • There is no resolution of the Sequestration cuts which are now filtering down to impact the shelters and housing programs across the country.

Colorado

  • Still dealing with the negative impact of the anti-camping ordinance--very few arrests, but many people forced to relocate.  If you lie down without a blanket then you are not camping, so this law is encouraging people to sleep outside without bedding to keep them from freezing. 
  • The rule changes for the federal funding is very confusing to the local homeless service providers esp. how to verify long term homelessness. 
  • They are doing a great deal with expanded Medicaid and expanding health care access to homeless people.
  • Developed a new residential treatment facility for those in recovery to house 50 to 100.

 Indiana

  • Renewed interest in requiring ID for voting since the Federal Appeals Court judge who made this decision said that he had made a mistake and did not have all the facts.
  • They are not going to expand Medicaid, but asked for a quasi-expansion that needs federal approval.
  • A small town in southern Indiana has taken down tents constructed by homeless people without an alternative.

Orlando, FL

  • Not much advocacy going on at the State level.
  • The State Housing Trust Fund is not being used for housing, but is so restrictive very few homeless people qualify.
  • The new E-Grants from HUD for the shelters are not getting to the local community in a timely manner causing a delay in receiving funds.  United Way has had to step in to cover the gap while federal dollars are delayed.
  • Problems with the Director of the local Continuum resigning.

Washington State

  • They have a split in the state legislature which is causing long delays in moving legislation forward. Je'lissa (staff at NCH)
  • Housing and homeless services were on the chopping block. 
  • They are expanding Medicaid and won a court case to fund outreach services.
  • Big increase in street homelessness and panhandling bringing up efforts to make it illegal to be homeless in some cities.
  • State advocacy homeless and housing groups merged.

New York City

  • Historic levels of homeless families 52,000 on any given night with 22,000 children.  Dramatic increase in homelessness during the Bloomberg administration (76%).  This was as a result of the withdraw of targeted housing vouchers for families. 
  • Many advocates are hopeful that the new Mayor who has spoken of two cities (the rich and the poor NYC) will reverse course, and solve some of these outstanding issues.
  • The Sandy eviction were stopped because a wealthy donor stepped in to help. 
  • Governor has done very little on homelessness, because the legislature is dysfunctional. 
  • Diversion strategies were blocked through lawsuit and City Council support.
  • Racial profiling law (Stop and Frisk) disproportionately impacts low income populations. 
  • State is seeking a Medicaid waiver to use health care funds for supportive services in PSH properties.

Sacramento, California

  • Great organizing around the California Homes and Jobs Act to create jobs and build more affordable housing.  No idea if the legislation will pass and the Governor will sign.
  • Hoping to have another run at the Homeless Bill of Rights for 2014.
  • Are looking at a homeless death study. Found that 30 to 40% of those who died never went through a health care clinic. 20% of those who died had some violent death.
  • Also, having issues with the federal funding for housing and shelters with the director resigning in October. 

 That is it for now.

Brian Davis

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