National News Updates on Attempts to Hide Poverty

Homeless Shelter Ordered Closed

Las Vegas, NV

     Anthony Mosley has operated God In Me Ministries, a homeless shelter for men for the past four years. The men are able to donate what they can afford for a room and the use of the services at the shelter. But Las Vegas officials, acting on a neighbor’s complaint, have ordered the homeless shelter operation to close because the property, which is in a residential neighborhood, is not zoned for that use. To comply with the city Mosely has to begin to rent the rooms to a smaller number of people for $350 monthly. The shelter operated for 11 years and housed as many 70 men, before the city realized it was not properly zoned. Mosley has had to whittle the number of residents down to 20, and has to decide which homeless men to cast away.

Insurance Scammers Accused of Recruiting Homeless to Allow Bone Breaking Injuries

Chicago, IL

     Michael Garner was known around area homeless shelters as the bone-crusher. He recruited he homeless to be victims in stages auto accidents. Garner and his alleged partners used a 100 pd. Rock or sledgehammer to break the leg or arm before taking them to a location where the accident would be staged. The police were tipped off about the scheme and began to monitor homeless people and the suspects. Garner and his accomplices received between $10,000 and more than $100,000 with the majority of the money going to the ringleaders. Although some settlements were six figures many of the homeless received only several hundred dollars and left with lifelong injuries. Mr. Garner and his accomplices were charged with aggravated fraud conspiracy, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, aggravated insurance fraud and six counts of battery.

More Shelter Needed In Fitchburg

     Fitchburg has two emergency shelters: Our Father’s House with 28 beds and Valiton House with is run by the state. In addition Our Father’s House runs two transitional housing programs, one for men and one for women. Montachusett Interfaith Hospitality Network, a collection of 10 churches in Fitchburg, Leominster and Luneburg shelter up to 14 homeless family members, but people must be turned away. The region lack affordable apartments, such as those in rooming house and is a great contributor to homelessness.

All retailers Withdraw Hate Videos

     In June, the National Coalition for the Homeless called attention to a long list of retailers including Borders, FYI entertainment, and Amazon.com that were selling video tapes of homeless people being beaten, exploited, and degraded. These videos had titles such as “Bum Hunts,” and “Bum Fights. The information came to light when a staff member of the Cleveland Homeless Coalition walked into a Best Buy and found one of the video tapes for sale. After many letters and e-mails, every company has stopped trafficking in those videos or DVDs. An individual can no longer order the tapes and have them delivered to the stores. They cannot access those tapes using brand name websites.

     This is a major victory for a small organization that represents the interest of homeless people. After press conferences in Cleveland, Austin Texas, and Los Angeles, the retailers relented and pulled the copies from their shelves. NCH will remain vigilant to assure that homeless exploitation does not return to store shelves according to Coalition officials. The big concern was for the safety of homeless people. Did the young people in Chicago and Cleveland that attacked and filmed their attacks on homeless people intend to sell their footage to the producers of “Bum Fights” or “Bum Hunts?”

New York Cop Awaits Trial

     In 2002, The Grapevine posted a story about a New York City cop who was fined and then suspended for 30 days for refusing to ticket homeless people for innocent behavior. After hearing of the suspension homeless people held a service for the individual and raised over $3,000 to help his family. The officer Eduardo Delacruz is awaiting trial regarding the refusal to obey orders. In recent accounts in the media, charges have surfaced that Delacruz might have been covering his own scheme to leave early from work with the homeless ticketing story. A few newspaper in New York report that Delacruz may have been slipping out of work early, and when confronted about the lack of tickets made up the story about refusing to ticket homeless people. We will continue to follow the story.

Homeless Man Donates $10,000 to Gallery Owner--San Francisco, CA

     A 56 year old man who slept in the doorway of an Art Gallery in San Francisco donated $10,000 to gallery as a thank you for the hospitality of the owner. A man identified only as Don won a nearly $200,000 inheritance, and the first thing that he did was to donate the money to the gallery owner.

Disneyland Pastor Again Fights attempts to Close Shelter

Buena Park, CA

     In 2001, the Grapevine reported on a minister, Rev. Wiley Drake, who was under court order to close his homeless shelter in Buena Park California. He successfully fought off attempts to close his facility, and continued to house 70-80 homeless men. Over the summer, he was again notified by City officials that he did not have a zoning permit to operate a shelter. Drake believes that his proximity to the “Happiest Place on Earth” Disneyland is the reason for the harassment. He vows to continue the fight to help those without food or shelter.

Colorado Springs Cracks Down on Homeless People

     One social service provider in Colorado Springs testified before City Council that the city needs to pass stricter laws and enforce existing laws to force homeless people off of the streets. Bob Holmes of Homeward Pikes Peak claims that the city has a reputation as a great place to be homeless, and needs to crack down on panhandling, sleeping in a tent, and other activities of homeless people. City Council members seemed supportive and Holmes comments were well received. He claims only those who do not want to do their part in society will be hurt by the new stringent policies, and they will relocate.

ACLU sues over a new anti-camping law in Hawaii

     The ACLU is challenging a law that cracks down on those who sleep on Hawaii’s beaches. The police issue can a warning then can ban the person if they are caught on the beach or any public property doing anything that is disruptive. The ban can take place even if the individual is not doing something illegal like falling asleep at a library. The ACLU is asking that the law be ruled unconstitutional.

Two Men Charged with Murder in Louisville

Police charged two men in the beating death of Clifton Agnew earlier in 2004. The attack happened outside of the Salvation Army headquarters in Louisville Kentucky. The two men were charged with murder.

Tulsa Take Action After the Beating Death of Homeless Man

     Normally when a homeless man is attacked and killed a city responds with strategies to protect a vulnerable population. Tulsa Oklahoma residents have actually responded to the beating by producing and distributing “Fuck the Homeless” T-shirts. Terry Badgewell is homeless and was beat up by a bar owner, Shawn Howard, who used brass knuckles to “punish” Badgewell for sleeping on the street. The homeless individual, Badgewell fought back and grabbed a lead pipe striking and killing Howard. Tulsa prosecutors refused to prosecute Badgewell because he was attacked by Howard and they ruled the incident as self defense.

     Family members and neighbors have taken action with the Fuck the Homeless T-shirts. They have posted “Wanted” posters with Badgewell’s picture and homeless people have been warned not to come near the area. So far there are no reports of further violence.

Street Youth Have a High Rate of Suicide

     Tulane University released a study in August showing that children and youth that experience homelessness are 11 times more likely to commit suicide. They have a higher incidence of HIV/AIDS and substance abuse which contribute to the higher death rate. The researchers studied homeless youth in Montreal over a five year period to determine the death rate among street youth compared to those who never experience homelessness. The research was published in the Journal of American Medical Association and determined that a much higher percentage of young people do not survive the experience of being homeless than had previously been reported.

 Copyright Homeless Grapevine Issue #66 September-October 2004 Cleveland, Ohio