News from the Streets

HOMELESS MAN MURDERED

News From Arizona

A homeless man was shot and killed by two men behind a department store in Mesa. An argument started after the homeless man approached two men who were urinating behind the store and asked them for some money. One of the men shot the homeless man at close range. The man was pronounced dead at the scene. The other man reported the crime to police within an hour and will not face charges for his part in the crime. Police are still trying to identify the transient man who they describe as a white man in his 40’s, approximately six feet tall and 190 pounds.

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HOMELESS OFFERED DOG SHELTER

From San Francisco’s Street scene

Homeless people in San Francisco are currently being offered a place to stay at an area animal shelter. The new 7 million dollar S.P.C.A. shelter offers “home style” housing for pets has opened it’s door to homeless people. The rooms include televisions, furniture and skylights. It is hoped that homeless people will pair up with a cat or dog and be an overnight buddy for the incarcerated animals. Homeless people will not be able to bathe, eat meals or receive clothing at the new shelter. The shelter will merely provide an overnight place to stay.

The S.P.C.A. shelter is reportedly much nicer than the new human homeless shelter the city recently built in the China Basin. The China Basin “camp style” shelter boards 600 people and numerous raccoons and other nocturnal animals even though housing animals was never the intent.

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ILLINOIS TAXES TO FUND SHELTERS

News From Illinois

The state of Illinois has found a way to help fund homeless programs in their state. Illinois allows their citizens to fund homeless and medical research programs through donations made through tax returns. Illinois citizens simply check a box on their tax forms to allow a one dollar donation to be added to what they owe or deducted from their tax return. In the past, nearly two million dollars was raised for the homeless through this program.

HOUSE BILL ATTEMPTS TO REPEAL FAIR HOUSING RIGHTS OF DISABLED

House Bill 3206, the “Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1998” was introduced to the House of Representatives February 12, 1998. If passed, the bill would permit local governments to zone out group homes for disabled people. The bill would repeal civil rights protections currently guaranteed to disabled individuals in need of assisted living programs through the constitution.

The bill sponsors, Brian Bilbray (R-CA), Jane Harman (D-CA), and Charles Canady (R-FL) have since proposed a substitute bill which is expected to be introduced as

early as April 22. This revised version narrows the target to people in recovery, the mentally ill, and people with other disabilities.

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POOR CHILDREN REMOVED

News From Alberta

Poor children in Alberta are being taken away from their parents simply because they live in poverty. Since welfare cuts were enacted four years ago,

There have been an additional 570 more “failure to provide the necessities of life” cases.

Although it would only cost an additional $300-$400 per family per month in welfare payments to keep the family intact, the government has opted to spend $600 per month, per child placed in foster care forcing taxpayers to support the dismantling of families at exorbitant costs. The long-term costs caused by broken families will be much higher.

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CUTBACKS IN WELFARE EXPECTED TO DEVASTATE HOMELESS POPULATION

News from Los Angeles

Cutbacks in welfare for single adults in Los Angeles are expected to have devastating effects upon the homeless population. The current system provides food stamps, health care and a $212 monthly grant. The cutbacks will limit benefits to five out of twelve months and community service will be the requirement for all able-bodied individuals.

The cutbacks are expected to increase the burden on nonprofit social services providers who are already unable to adequately address the housing problems of people with minimal incomes. Although numerous buildings have been reclaimed to provide housing for the poor, their meager incomes have proven to be too low to cover basic operating costs. Federal rental subsidies have failed to assist nonprofit organizations in ameliorating the problem of unaffordable housing because most federal rental subsidies are for persons with disabilities.

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HUD FUNDING CUT FOR 1998

On March 31, 1998, a supplemental spending bill was passed by the House of Representatives. The bill grants additional spending authority for the Department of Defense and disaster relief. The additional funding is expected to come from a $2.2 billion cut in HUD Section 8 funding despite President Clinton’s proposed increase in HUD funding for year 1999. It was found during the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ 1997 survey of 29 cities that 27 percent of all requests for emergency aid went unmet in 1997.

The Conference Committee passed this measure transferring funds from HUD’s Section 8 program to disaster relief. The President signed the measure promising to restore the funds in 1999. He made the same promise with regard to welfare reform.

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LONELINESS REPORTED BIG PROBLEM

News from Ottawa, Canada

A recent survey of Ottawa’s homeless community shows that 40 percent of the homeless people surveyed rate loneliness as the biggest problem they face. The report found that only 20 percent stated the lack of money was their biggest problem, and only fifteen percent rated being homeless as their worst problem. The survey also asked what homeless people rated as their greatest need in getting off the street. The survey found 77 percent needed help to obtain housing, 68 percent wanted help budgeting money and 60 percent needed help dealing with emotional crises.

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MINNESOTA TO BUILD STATE-RUN POOR HOUSES

News From Minnesota

Minnesota passed legislation April 9, 1998 to build three “residential” academies” for poor youths. Twelve million dollars have been put aside to pay the costs of the three facilities. It is expected that between 150 and 900 children ages 9 through 18 will be served. These state-run boarding schools are being implemented to house and educate children from poor families.

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FOOD REQUESTS INCREASING

News From Ohio

A recent survey by Ohio’s Second Harvest showed a dramatic increase in requests for emergency food. Statewide Second Harvest Food banks distributed food totaling $59 million in 1997 while in 1996 only $46 million was distributed. Those requesting food are usually the first warning about future increases in homeless people. Nearly 60 percent of those requesting food were female. Thirty-three percent of those requesting food were working. Also, those receiving assistance reported an annual income of less than $10,000.

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FREEZING POINT USED AS SHELTER GUIDELINE

From the Denver Voice. Colorado

The City of Denver recently passed legislation that uses “freezing” as the guideline temperature at which shelters may exceed their capacity. Critics of the legislation argue that 32 degrees is too cold. They point to research that demonstrates that half of the freezing deaths occurred when the temperature was between 32 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Critics also argue that former State Senator Phillip Hernandez, member of the Governance

Board of the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative (MDHI) urged a critical temperature of 40 degrees in 1997. The 32 degree standard is likely to result in more cases of hypothermia, frostbite and death by freezing.

Copyright for the Homeless Grapevine Cleveland Ohio Issue 27 May 1998