Barb Poppe Stepping down at InterAgency Council
Our friend, Barb Poppe, from Columbus Ohio former shelter director and current US InterAgency Council on Homelessness has announced that she will step down next month. She is the wife of COHHIO Director, Bill Faith and was the coordinator of funding in Columbus Ohio for years. The InterAgency Council publishes reports on homelessness and was the first agency to push a housing first strategy. They also have a really nice newsletter. Barb put her stamp on the agency by focusing on the rise in family homelessness and beginning to talk about the problem of youth homelessness. The InterAgency Council is supposed to work with all the federal departments (Social Security, HHS, HUD, Labor and others) that may have cross agency concerns with homeless people. For example, Social Security not giving out printouts is going to make it difficult for homeless people to get ID which makes it difficult to access entitlements and health care. The USIAC is looking into the problem that privately funded shelters are having with coordinated intake in Cleveland.
Surplus Military Property Available in Sandusky
Federal law requires that military surplus property be offered to homeless programs before being sold. This is rather a dubious law since military bases are rarely in the heart of an urban city where there are large numbers of homeless people. But it is the law, and NEOCH receives notices of federal surplus property. This year it is the Rye Beach Pumping Station on Columbus Ave. in Sandusky Ohio 44870. It is GSA Control Number 1-Z-OH-598-2-AB or HUD number 52401410002 if you want to claim it for a homeless program in Sandusky Ohio. How you would turn a 6,424 square foot pumping building and 60K of water piping into anything useful for people without housing is difficult to imagine? The property was listed in the federal register and is available through the General Services Administration in Chicago until March 10. Good luck and please invite us to the grand opening of the pumping station/homeless shelter. We would love some pictures of that.
Justice Department Urges States to Forgive Felons And Allow them to Vote
Attorney General Eric Holder is reaching out to ask the States to restore voting rights to those felons who have paid their debt to society. Kentucky and Virginia never allow a felon to vote. Those released from incarceration and probation are stripped of their rights for the rest of their life. Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Mississippi, Nevada, Tennessee, and Wyoming force the individual to beg and plead with the state to restore their voting rights. There is an estimated 5 million Americans who need to move to a state that forgive and allow people to move on. I have never understood why we have a national election for President, and we allow each state to do their own thing when it comes to electing the Commander and Chief. Why can some states disenfranchise felons? Why can some states require burdensome proof that poor people cannot produce? Why do some states (Florida, I am speaking of you) make students and old people wait for three hours to vote? Why do some states allow same day registration and others allow voting by mail? How is this a fair system? Holder said about the felons:
"By perpetuating the stigma and isolation imposed on formerly incarcerated individuals, these laws increase the likelihood they will commit future crimes," Holder said during a speech at a criminal justice reform event hosted by The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights at Georgetown University Law Center on Tuesday.
Psychiatric Drugs and Medicaid
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is asking the Department of Health and Human Services and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services to not implement the changes to Medicare Part D. NAMI alleges that this will make it difficult to get anti-depressant and anti-psychotic medications. The changes will take these drugs off the preferred list of drugs, and may limit their usage in 2015. NAMI has put a petition together to oppose these changes. Here is the link.
National Coalition for the Homeless on Bitter Cold
National Coalition for the Homeless Executive Director, Jerry Jones, was on the NPR Program Tell Me More about the extreme weather and its impact on homelessness. Unfortunately, news reports have identified 10 homeless people died because of the extreme cold weather. Jones did a good job explaining the hardships faced by the population; the folly of making it illegal to curl up in a doorway; and the strange concept of figuring out how cold it should be before opening an "overflow" or cold weather shelter. Some cities say 40 degrees or 32 degrees or 20 degrees before they open an winter shelter, which makes it difficult for those without housing to adjust to the winter. I have advocated that every city in the United States should provide shelter to everyone who shows up for help like we do in Cleveland. If you are a tax payer in the richest country in the history of the world and you lose your housing, your government should offer you a warm place inside. Think of the madness in many cities which close the shelters when they get to a certain number and the temperature outside is 34 degrees. Then the law enforcement arm of the city go out and arrest the person who could not find a bed and instead is sleeping on the doors of a religious organization. This is America in 2014.
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