Homelessness Across America

Honolulu Women Finds New Kitchen to Continue Meals

Honolulu-After faithfully spending every Saturday over the past 19 years feeding the homeless of downtown Honolulu, paying for much of the food with her own money, Sharon Black was ordered to stop.

Last month, after discovering that she did not have a state health permit, The Department of health ordered Black to stop feeding the homeless or face a $1,000 fine. Since 1988, she had used the kitchen at the institute for Human Services but the homeless shelter told her she would have to find another location to prepare her meals.

All Black needed was a Health Department approved kitchen willing to let her prepare meals each week. Entering the picture was longtime friend Penny Vance owner of a small snack bar who cooked all the rice for Black’s annual Thanksgiving feasts for the local needy. Vance told her desperate friend that she is welcome to use her kitchen at any time.

Now, with permit in hand, Sharon Black continues to serve meals to the homeless at Chinatown Gateway Park without fear of being fined.

Louisiana Restaurateur Raises Money, Feeds Those in Need

East Austin, TX- Lola Stevens has a history of helping the homeless and others in need. The owner of Nubian Queen Lola’s Cajun Soul Food and Barbeque on Rosewood Avenue in East Austin opens her restaurant on Sundays to 20 to 40 homeless people and feeds the group for free.

Every day she also cooks and delivers low-cost lunches for 40 children at San Juan Diego Catholic High School in South Austin. The school does not have a cafeteria.

Once homeless herself, the Louisiana native has helped raise thousands of dollars for Hurricane Katrina survivors by hosting two concerts at her restaurant featuring musicians evacuated from New Orleans.

Young Volunteer Reaches Out to Homeless Vets

Phoenix- As a high school student Brad Bridwell enlisted the aid of friends and started an outreach program making bag lunches to give to the homeless. Not only were he and his friends providing nutritious meals but they also included information about available program.

Taking his interest to college, Bridwell graduated magna cum laude from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in social work learned Spanish and became a certified grant writer.

Now, at the age of 26, he is the site director responsible for supervision, implementation and development of veteran residential employment programs for three regional offices of U.S Vets, a national organization that offers support for homeless veterans.

Utilizing a staff of more than 30 and an additional 40 AmeriCorps Volunteers, Bridwell is responsible for three facilities with a bed capacity of 343. In Phoenix, he runs a 67-bed facility called Victory House, a place where homeless veterans go for counseling, to gain work experience and live in a secure environment until they are ready to go it alone.

For more information about U.S. Vets, log onto www.usvetsinc.org

San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness Scores Victory

The Coalition on Homelessness, along with the help of several community based organizations successfully passed a new law to help poor people.

The Single Standard of Care legislation, which mandated mental health treatment parity, was passed unanimously by the Board of Supervisors. As a result 1,700 poor people have now regained their mental health treatment eligibility, and San Francisco is forbidden from withholding their treatment simply because they have no insurance.

The Coalition had been pushing the Department of Public Health to broaden its mental health criteria, at that time dubbed “Cluster Criteria,” according to San Francisco’s Street Sheet. Such criteria were so strict that people were sent to Psychiatric Emergency after repeated denials of preventative care by the City.

Medical regulations were put in place by the state to force San Francisco to adopt broader criteria, at which time the Coalition and other groups stepped forward to demand the same criteria by used for medically indigent or uninsured individuals.   

Florida Homeless Going Back to School

BROWARD COUNTY, FLA. - GED programs will be introduced by county staff to the Broward County Commission as part of the 10- year master plan to deal with homeless prevention, street outreach, housing ideas and time limits spent in shelters.

Encouraging programs like the GED is part of the goal to improve education, job readiness and job training for the homeless.

According to a census taken in January, there are more than 3,000 homeless people in Broward County in shelters and on the streets.

Copyright:  NEOCH Homeless Grapevine, October/November 2005-Issue 73, Cleveland, Ohio