Did New Orleans really solve veteran's homelessness? Media in the Big Easy have spent the past few weeks examining the proclamation by Mayor Landrieu that veteran's homelessness has been ended in New Orleans and found the program lacking. There is always the problem of counting homeless people that makes it difficult to proclaim victory. There is the problem of the varied definition of what is a veteran that complicates the matter. Are you a veteran after 2 months of service or 2 years of services? Then there is the problem that homeless people are so fluid and fall in and out of homelessness on a daily basis. It is bold to make this proclamation, but until you end all homelessness it is impossible to declare victory with just one population.
It is true that there are tons of veteran's resources available now. If you spent time in the military and were not dishonorably discharged, there is so much help available right now. We really have all the tools at our disposal to end veteran's homelessness. But there are a lot of hard core vets who have no contact with anyone and will be hard to reach. It would be unnerving for a retired Marine corporal to be sitting in the library waiting for the rain to subside and read in the Times Picayune that your city had "solved" veterans homelessness while you struggled with PTSD and were bouncing around from family to living in a car. The Marine is thinking once you solve a problem, you stop dedicating resources and staff, and move on to something else. It would seem like you missed the train that will never come around again.
Toledo Blade wrote about what homeless people do during the extreme cold. This was an interesting story about the huge number of people who use the library as a drop in center.
Lakewood teens again spend the night outside in the cold to call attention to homelessness on the North Coast. We have featured stories about previous groups from Lakewood Congregational church about their sleeping outside in the Street Chronicle. We appreciate them calling attention to the plight of homeless people in the cold.
Bloomberg has a good article about why the President never talks about rent. The same could be said about homelessness, and the president only mentioning homelessness when he is volunteering on a service day. I think that the architect of modern homelessness, Ronald Reagan, was the last President who was forced to talk about solutions to homelessness. But half the population rent from a landlord and state or federal elected office holders rarely talk about it.
The City of Cincinnati became the third city to enact a homeless hate crimes bill. Cleveland has one of the laws, but it is rarely used. Most of the time a hate crime is a felony and local laws do not address crimes of that severity. The State of Ohio would need to pass legislation to include homeless people in the existing hate crimes statute to make it real. It is good that the city is trying to do something about the attacks on homeless people and were willing to talk about these issues.
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