Notes from Around the Country

From COHHIO’s NOTES The U.S. conference of Mayors 1996 survey of 29 major cities found that during the past year requests for shelter by homeless families alone increased by 7 %, with 63% of the cities reporting an increase. At the same time, the number of emergency shelter beds decreased overall by an average of 2.5%.

It was estimated that 20% of the requests for emergency services by homeless people and 24% of the requests by homeless families go unmet. Requests for assisted housing by low-income households and individuals increased in 81% of the cities. City officials estimate that low-income households spend an average of 49% of their income on housing.

The average wait nationwide is 31-32 months for Section 8 vouchers/certificates. City officials believe that the elimination of Section 8 incremental certificates will lengthen both the waiting lists and the wait for assisted housing. This will make it more difficult for low-income families to obtain affordable, permanent housing and increasing homelessness.

From the National Coalition for the Homeless: Representative John Lewis has introduced legislation to establish National rights for homeless people to vote. The Homeless Voting Rights bill is H.R. 74 and co-sponsored by 15 Democratic representatives. Rep. Lewis said of the Voting Rights Bill, “The purpose of this legislation is to enable the homeless, who are citizens of this country, to vote. The bill would remove the legal and administrative barriers that inhibit them from exercising this right. No one should be excluded from registering to vote simply because they do not have a home. But in many States, the homeless are left out and left behind. That is not a right, it is not fair. It is not the way of the country. “

The budget request from President Clinton proposes no increases in any of the homeless assistance programs. This request is $295 million less than last year’s request. The National Coalition for the Homeless characterizes this as a full-scale retreat by President Clinton in their plans to reduce the homeless populations.

Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine published March 1997-April 1997 Issue 20