Chicago Accused of Underreporting Homeless Count
CHICAGO – A city census counted only 24 homeless people living on downtown Chicago streets and drew criticism from homeless advocates, according to an article in the Chicago Sun Times.
The count was released the same day Mayor Daley announced homelessness in the city was down 12 percent.
The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless ridiculed the census, saying it was an attempt by Mayor Daley to spruce up the city’s image in hopes of hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics.
It was later released that the count was confined to a 12-block area of the city. A separate census on a wider scale of the city turned up 995 homeless people. Of that number, 352 people were living on the street and the remaining 643 people were staying in shelters.
Three Homeless People Jailed for Witnessing Crime
MEDFORD, Ore. – Three people who witnessed a fight at a homeless encampment that left a man dead in early June have been jailed as material witnesses, according to an article in the Mail Tribune.
They have been locked in Jackson County Jail, not because they committed a crime, but because officials worry these witnesses will flee without testifying in court. The witnesses earn $7.50 a day.
Attorneys representing Carl Bogenschneider, 51, Lynn Bogenschneider, 46, and Timothy Williams, 39, argued that the three witnesses should be allowed to record their testimony and regain their freedom.
Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Ron Grensky said these witnesses are the only people who can testify about what happened at a fight that resulted in one death. Grensky has found that the three witnesses were a flight risk.
Police Targeting Homeless People in Indianapolis
INDIANAPOLIS – Police are cracking down on homeless people living Downtown in hopes of pushing them off the streets, away from the city, and perhaps into jail, according to an article in the Indianapolis Star Tribune.
Police leaders and probation officials are discussing ways to arrest homeless people who are wanted for skipping court hearings, violating probation or committing crimes.
Homeless men and women have noticed an increased police presence in the past weeks and said police will stop them for no reason and demand identification.
Homeless advocates said the police tactics are heavy-handed and possibly illegal.
Police officials said homeless people are free to file a complaint against an officer. Advocates, however, note that homeless people often distrust law enforcement and may not complain through official department channels.
A merger of the city’s largest shelters may be responsible for landing more homeless people on the street.
Organic Farm Provides Job Opportunities, Fresh Produce
BOSTON – Both soup kitchens and upscale restaurants are serving fresh, organic produce that’s planted and harvested by homeless trainees in a program run by the Boston Public Health Commission, according to an article in the Boston Herald.
Workers at the Farm live just yards away from the 2-acre farm and are paid a minimum wage salary provided by a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The Farm, the city’s only certified organic farm, generates 25,000 to 35,000 pounds of produce for distribution at three city-run shelters, two farmers markets and fine restaurants. Seventy percent of the harvest goes to city shelter kitchens.
Homeless Camp Out to Protest Sleeping Ban
SANTA CRUZ, Calif. – Police booted as many as 35 homeless people who set up camp in front of City Hall to protest a long-standing ban on sleeping outdoors, according to an article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel.
Police broke up the protest after city employees complained about vandalism, lewd behavior and drug use. According to the city ordinance, no one is allowed to sleep outdoors from 11 p.m. to 8:30 a.m. Those caught with blankets, tents or other camping gear can be fined $97-$397.
The campers planned to hold their ground until city officials gave them another place to pitch their tents. Officials said the community already provides a number of services to homeless individuals. Prior to the group’s expulsion, a police sergeant had even brought the group coffee and doughnuts.
Copyright Homeless Grapevine, Cleveland Ohio Issue 82 October 2007