News Updates from Around the US

Elvis Summers turned the tiny home trend into a viral campaign to bring innovative shelters to homeless men and women living in and around Los Angeles. He’s raised more than $85,000 in crowdfunding for the project, called Tiny House, Huge Purpose, and received an overflow of volunteers and building materials. City officials, however, are not so thrilled.  City Council passed earlier this year in an attempt to crackdown on homeless encampments and permits authorities to seize such items without notice.

America has the largest number of homeless women and children in the industrialized world. It's a depressing statistic exacerbated by a housing crisis that forced thousands of families out onto the street. In 2010, the Obama administration announced a plan to end homelessness among children, youth, and families by 2020—but, predictably, there have been spats over funding and how to best use federal dollars.

From Fort Lauderdale to Denver to Los Angeles, cities are struggling with a surge in people living in cardboard boxes and doorways. Local lawmakers are trying to ban “camping out” in public spaces, and ordering police to clear the fetid encampments.  The National Coalition for the Homeless is working with others to overturn these efforts to make it illegal to be homeless.

The captions below the pictures of homeless New Yorkers are blunt and derisive: “disgusting,” says one; “bed and breakfast” mocks another. The Guardian newspaper takes a look at efforts in New York City to make it difficult to be without housing.  There is a rise in the United States to make it illegal to perform life sustaining activities such as eating or sleeping in public.

When Oahu, Hawaii-based photographer Diana Kim saw her father for the first time in years, he was standing on a street corner, staring at the asphalt below. He didn't acknowledge her presence.   Kim's father was struggling with mental illness, had been homeless for some time and didn't recognize her.  

America is stronger when we have decent, affordable homes and stable communities. Yet, since 2011, Congress has allowed low spending caps to deprive families and neighborhoods of the housing and community development investments they need to thrive. This is a commentary by the Mayor of Racine Wisconsin about the need for a comprehensive policy for housing people throughout the United States.  He argues that Congress needs to take the lead on this effort.

One of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s most ambitious goals is to get the city out of the housing crisis. However, just a few days later, he was silent about nearby Skid Row activists protesting both delays in the construction of affordable housing projects as well as the recent passage of city ordinances 56.11 and 63.44, which criminalize homeless. These laws allow the city to steal items from people who live outside and put in place fines for living outside.

by Joyce Robinson

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