Communities Mobilize Nationwide to End Homelessness

           On June 16, 2003, members of Lakewood City Council passed a resolution urging Congress to pass the Bring America Home Act (HR 2896) which would go along way to ending homelessness. This is part of a national day of housing action to Bring America Home. 38 cities are holding similar actions across the nation to bring national attention to the issues of affordable housing, health care, and homelessness in their communities. NEOCH is also asking its members to urge Congresswomen Stephanie Tubbs Jones and Sherrod Brown to endorse this legislation. Congressman Dennis Kucinich has already signed on as a co-sponsor.

            In the United States, 3.5 million people – almost 40 percent of them children – experience homelessness each year. There are 25,000 people homeless every year in Cleveland and 3,800 people on the streets every night. Many of these individuals work, but due to high rents, tight rental markets, and low paying jobs, they have found themselves living on the streets, in cars, in shelters, in abandoned buildings, in motels, or in over-crowded, temporary accommodations with others.

            Councilman Dennis Dunn of Lakewood introduced the legislation at the June 16, 2003 Lakewood City Council meeting, and it was passed unanimously. Activists from Lakewood and Cleveland were on hand to speak in support of the legislation.

            The current economic downturn puts even more Americans one paycheck, one illness, or one rent hike away from homelessness. Today, a worker making minimum wage cannot afford housing at a fair market rate anywhere in the United States. In fact, in Cuyahoga County, a worker must make $11.29 per hour to afford a one-bedroom apartment at a fair market rate.

            The Bringing Home America Campaign is national, broad-based initiative dedicated to the goal of ending homelessness. The Campaign is founded on the principles that people need affordable housing, livable incomes, health care, education, and protection of their civil rights. It is composed of a variety of efforts that address these causes of homelessness, including the Bringing America Home Act.

            “This Campaign is crucial to assisting people who are homeless or near homelessness,” said Donald Whitehead, Executive Director of the National Coalition for the Homeless. “It would end the disgrace of the worst form of poverty in the richest nation in the world. It’s time for Americans to take a stand to help our most vulnerable citizens. It’s time to Bring American Home.”

Copyright of the Homeless Grapevine Cleveland Ohio in September 2003. For publication exclusively by the North American Street Newspaper Association and its member papers. No other newspaper including INSP papers may publish stories from the Homeless Grapevine—Cleveland Ohio