NATIONAL NEWS

Cold Weather Leads to Emergency Shelter

From StreetVibes, February

CINCINNATI – Whenever the temperature drops below 10 degrees in Cincinnati, the city’s homeless now thankfully have someplace to keep warm.

The Cold Shelter provides a solution for homeless individuals in need of emergency shelter on extremely cold nights. It is a collaboration between the mayor’s office, the Cincinnati Health Department, the Cincinnati Recreation Commission, the Cincinnati Police and the Greater Cincinnati Red Cross. The shelter serves to fill the gap between the number of available beds and the number of homeless individuals in the greater Cincinnati area.  An estimated 1,300 people are homeless each night in Cincinnati.

In January, The Cold Shelter provided beds, blankets and pillows for the city’s homeless for an entire week during one of the winter’s harshest cold spells. They housed about 100 people each night.

Serving Up Dignity and Hope

From StreetVibes, February

CINCINNATI – Mary Magdalene House is unlike most organizations that help the homeless.  There are no beds, pillows, blankets or meals.  But this Cincinnati organization offers something else that is just as important -- dignity and hope.

Mary Magdalene House gives Cincinnati’s homeless some of the comforts of home.  Run by Brother Giancarlo Bonutti, Mary Magdalene House welcomes those without a roof over their heads to stop in and pick up care packages filled with home’s little necessities, such as soap, shampoo, lotion, toothpaste and other personal care needs.  People can stop in and take a cost-free shower, make phone calls, and grab a few changes of clothes.  Visitors can even drop off laundry.  Volunteers at Mary Magdalene House wash between 20 and 25 loads of laundry every day.  Bonutti believes these services help the homeless develop pride and self-respect, two qualities that are essential to helping them reshape their lives. “We believe that dignity is the beginning of hope,” Bonutti said.

Pampering the Homeless

From StreetVibes, February

ATLANTA – An Atlanta pastor and his wife are using one of the Bible’s most remembered passages as inspiration for a valuable service for the city’s homeless.

Reverend Bob Book and his wife, Holly, operate a weekly spa just for homeless people in the Atlanta area. Rev. Book drew inspiration from verses in John13, where Jesus washed his disciples’ feet as a lesson in service and humility. The spa provides services including: a foot soak, pumice, nail trim, massage, and a free pair of socks to about three dozen homeless men and women in the city.  The services help prevent foot infections, which affect many homeless individuals. People with serious foot problems are encouraged to return to the spa to see a volunteer doctor.

Stimulus Dollars Target Homelessness

By Daniel Horner

From Street Sense, March 4

WASHINGTON D.C.– Among the $787 billion in federal spending on stimulus bill, $1.5 billion is reserved for homelessness prevention. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the funds will “provide financial assistance and services to prevent individuals and families from becoming homeless and help those who are experiencing homelessness to be quickly re-housed and stabilized.” In addition to the stimulus money, HUD will give $1.4 billion “continuum of care” grants, along with another $160 million for emergency shelter grants. As part of the grant process, a new pilot program is created due to $24 million. The new program could help the rapid re-housing of families in 23 communities.

Washington Sets Aside Stimulus Dollars to Prevent Homelessness

From Street Sense, March 4

More than $1 billion in federal stimulus money has been set aside to address the nation’s homeless issue in an effort that homeless advocates are calling a “landmark provision.”

President Barack Obama, his administration and Congress have allocated the homelessness prevention money as one of several commitments intended to address both short-term and long-term issues triggered by the current economic crisis.  Under the president’s new economic stimulus bill, the $1.5 billion will be used for financial assistance aimed at individuals and families in danger of becoming homeless, and to quickly house and stabilize individuals currently experiencing homelessness.

According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the funds can be specifically used for a variety of purposes, including rental assistance, credit counseling, utility deposits and case management. 

Police Filmed Beating Homeless Man

From Street Sense, February 18

FRESNO, CA – An innocent bystander caught two Fresno police officers

beating a homeless man, and then turned the tape over to a television station in hopes of protecting those who cannot protect themselves.

The tape shows a 52-year-old homeless man lying on the ground while the officers brutally beat him, hitting the man at least six times in the face. When the footage was shown to Fresno’s police chief, he immediately launched an investigation, resulting in an explanation that was challenged by the eyewitness who filmed the incident. The police chief based his response on the police report written by the two officers involved.

Pictures to Go With The Words

By Elizabeth Schwartz

From Street Sense, February 6

PORTLAND, OR- Frank Cobb has been a familiar sight for several years walking around the southwest and northwest districts of Portland selling Street Roots. He likes to draw portraits of Bob Marley, Anita Ward, and Jimi Hendrix, among others. Frank has dyslexia and has some communication problems. When he expresses his words, many people think he is being rude, so he tries to keep his thoughts to himself when he interacts with the public. But things completely changed after he started selling Street Roots. He said he has begun learning how to interact with the public by following some of the newspaper’s basic vendor rules: no cussing, don’t get mad, no aggressive sales, and stay friendly. He also applied the rules into selling his artwork and he found that people began buying newspapers and asking about the prices of his artwork. He prefers to sell Street Roots rather than panhandling because he would like to give something in return.

Homeless People Look Like You’d Expect

By Dede Stoops

From Streetvibes, March

CINCINNATI- Most people don’t choose to be homeless, but life throws them a curve that lands them in shelters or on the streets or sleeping outside. There are many reasons that people become homeless: some youth are just kicked out by their family or running away from a violent situation; others are adults who loose their jobs and houses. Some people also become homeless because of natural disasters or war. The whole society should work together and show compassion and love to homeless people. Government can make available more housing certificates, building affordable housing in neighbors and create more programs to get people back to work, especially in the current economic crisis.

Report Suggests a Bias in Police Oversight Panel

From Street Roots, February 20

PORTLAND, OR- A committee in charge of reviewing complaints of police bias has found some cause for concern, although most cases were handled suitably. Workgroup looked at discrimination complaints that citizens filed themselves and found that 75 percent of discrimination allegations involved race or ethnicity. Many complainants said the officers’ behavior was not just biased, but rude or insensitive. They suggest that police who generate more complaints should be trained in cultural competency and customer service. Critics said that the process puts too much control in the hands of the police bureau’s Internal Affairs Department and should have more civilian oversight.

Copyright Homeless Grapevine Issue #87 in July 2009 in Cleveland Ohio.