New York City
The new police chief of New York City, Bill Bratton, has tripled the number of arrests for panhandling as was done in the first two months of 2012. This is a crackdown on those who sit by the subway asking for change which is annoying, but these guys need the help. I have never understood giving people who are down on their luck a ticket for begging for money. This seems like kicking a man when he is down. Do they allow these guys to beg for the fine that they will be charged for asking for help? Unless you provide an alternative for these poor people it will only perpetuate the problem.
As every city in the United States is struggling with family homelessness, Washington is in an especially complicated position that the Courts are demanding changes. The Mayoral candidates are at least talking about homelessness and ways to increase access to housing in the Capital City. The families were not being provided privacy and violates they were violating a city law to protect children. Cleveland does not have a law similar to this DC law, but we have a 25 year history of not turning anyone away at the shelter door. We try as hard as we can never to turn a family, a man, a child or anyone away. Why would a fragile 47 year old with AIDS be any less important in the nation's capital than a child? Why not offer anyone who needs help a shelter bed and not just children?
Extreme Weather on the East Coast
I missed this story in February from Tell Me More about the extreme weather conditions. We are so far out ahead of most other states in the United States. We have operated three overflow sites this winter and nearly two thirds of the nights since November 15 have been extreme weather this winter. I am so glad that Cleveland does not only open overflow shelters in the winter. People are more likely to suffer hypothermia during a cold rain that they do not get warmed quickly. The National Coalition for the Homeless has a report on their website about the responses to cold weather. Some open their winter shelter if it is under 20 degrees while others wait until 10 degrees.
There was a nice story this Friday on Storycorps about a homeless young person and their embarrassment over being homeless that appeared on NPR. This was the story of a teacher who discovered one of her students had become homeless and did not have a family to take care of him. They reunite after he has stabilized in foster care.
In a unique way to get around food restrictions, religious groups are asking for the freedom to give out food as part of their ministry. This law tries to sway Tennessee legislators without mentioning hungry or homeless people. They are strictly asking for religious liberty which should be attractive down in the South. Many Southern states have enacted laws limiting when and where people can be fed, so the activists in Nashville are trying a novel approach.
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