3/25/2012 homelessness in the news -
12/09/2010 homelessness in the news -
7/7/2009 homelessness in the news -
1/06/2009 homelessness in the news -
1/02/2008 homelessness in the news -
12/27/2003 homelessness in the news -
based on these three states, youth homelessness in America is growing (78+31+18)/3= 127/3= 42% a year.]
Questions, comments, suggestions? E-mail us or phone 617-623-8080 (Boston).
[Anyplace is a life in limbo if you're not connected to everyone else via The Market via a good job.]
...At the Home Suites Inn...the hotel's main rooms are nearly all occupied by 90 homeless families with children placed there by the state, both the working poor and the unemployed.... The Home Suites Inn on Totten Pond Rd in Waltham MA...now holds far more homeless families than paying guests; 133 children live there..\.. The state [of Massachusetts] pays $80 a night per room because traditional emergency shelters cannot handle the surge of families who have become homeless in the past few years.
[and digging deeper, because we have frozen a 1940 concept of "full time employment" through the ages of mechanization and automation and deep into the age of robotization. So it's just going to get worse and worse and worse until we wake up and resume our 1840-1940 reduction of the workweek and once again restore something approaching full employment (in 1944, we had "wartime prosperity" with 1.2% unemployment) and maximum consumer spending, marketable productivity and stable investment.]
As recently as 2007, the state placed almost no homeless families in hotels or motels. But the next year, as the economy faltered, the number of homeless began to climb. In Massachusetts, it peaked [for the moment] at 1,793 families living in hotels and motels in July 2011, and the state created HomeBASE, a program to help qualifying famlies pay rent [bandaid alert!].
But even as that program moved 1,600 families into apartments, it wasn't enough: 1,442 families still live in hotels. More than 2,000 more families are living in shelters....
Homeless families [in Massachusetts per fiscal year, in terms of total emergency assistance caseload daily averages],
graph data from Mass. Dept. of Housing & Community Development, 3/25 Boston Globe, A15.
2008 1,983; 2009 3,215; 2010 3,857; 2011 3,979; 2012 4,960
[4,960 in fiscal 2012 to date (and that's only one of the 50 states!) compared to less than 2000 just four years ago, because the state is still ignoring its antique 72-year-old concept of "full time employment" and the solution potential of its worksharing program. How bad does this have to get before we get our outdated workweek into the crosshairs? "D. D. & H." ... downsizing, disability, and homelessness...]
Last fiscal year, the state spent about $29 million on motels and hotels, out of about $154 million total for housing homeless families.
[Ironically, motels and hotels are sounding relatively inexpensive!]
Families - mostly mothers with children - are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population in the country. Three decades ago, families made up just 1% of the national homeless population. Now they account for 37%, according to the National Center on Family Homelessness in Needham.
[So just as we now have millions of people working for our huge, bloated military-"defense" industry with a self-interest in blocking diplomatic solutions, now we're moving toward millions of people working for our huge, bloated "hospitality" industry with a self-interest in blocking employment solutions.]
...Rashita Clark...shares a room with her two younger kids.... She doesn't earn enough at ther part-time job to cover the rent....
[Shorter hours is happening anyway but not the best way. The American public in general, and the Massachusetts public in particular, need to wake up to *workweek regulation as full-employment strategy.]
VANCOUVER, B.C. - Compared with many other developed countries, Canada has had a good financial crisis. Its banks and public finances are sound, and the economy recovered quickly and strongly from recession, even if the pace is now slowing. But there is one sense in which Canada does less well. When it comes to child poverty, it ranks 22nd-worst out of the 31 countries in the OECD, a rich-country grouping. More than 3m Canadians (or one in ten) are poor; and 610,000 of them are children.
The problem is a chronic one. Back in 1989 Parliament unanimously supported a resolution to eliminate child poverty by 2000. Having failed, the politicians last year approved a woolly resolution to do better. This week they were rebuked by Campaign 2000, an activist group, which reported that child poverty is now as bad as it was two decades ago. Earlier this month Food Banks Canada, an association of charities, reported that 900,000 Canadians rely on food handouts, up by 9% on last year. Many are among the country’s 300,000 or so homeless people.
All this is despite long periods of steady growth over the past two decades. But only a third of the poor are in jobs. The rest are mainly single mothers, disabled people, aboriginal Canadians and immigrants. In the 1980s and 1990s these groups suffered cuts in welfare payments (which are too meagre to keep someone above the country’s de facto poverty line) when governments, both federal and provincial, cut public spending to restore fiscal health. One of the keenest slashers was British Columbia, which despite being one of the richest provinces has one of the highest rates of child poverty (10.4%) after taxes on family income. Critics of such policies say that children who grow up in poverty forfeit the chance to prosper as adults, or to become productive workers.
Half a dozen provincial governments, including those of populous Ontario and Quebec, have launched poverty-reduction programmes; many include attempts to prod or help people back into work. Newfoundland, helped by royalties from oil and mining, has cut its poverty rate in half (to 6.5%). Earlier this month, a House of Commons committee urged the federal government to adopt a national strategy. The response of Stephen Harper’s Conservative administration was that the best long-term strategy to fight poverty is “the sustained employment of Canadians”. That is certainly a necessary condition, but is it sufficient? Both the government and its critics might ponder why it is that growth seems to bypass so many.
BOSTON, Mass. -..City, state and federal officials say [there] is a rising number of homeless youths and young adults. Every year, tens of thousands of them become too old to remain in state custody or [they] land on the streets because of broken families. State education officials counted 13,000 homeless students in the last academic year - an 85% increase from five years before. Of those, 735 were defined as unaccompanied, out of the custody of their parents or legal guardians. That is more than double the number five years before...
Federal officials estimate at least 110.000 youths between 12 and 24 years old live on the nation's streets...
[And they evidently have every incentive to lowball these estimates, because ten years ago the estimate was 930,000 (see intro paragraph, top of page) and it sure ain't got less!]
One measure of the increase's effect is the amount school districts payp to pick up homeless students at shelters and transport them to their schools. That expense more than doubled, exceeding $9 million, from 2005-2006 to 2008-2009. The Pine Street Inn, one of New England's largest providers of homeless services, ha so far this year accommodated 332 youths and young adults - those between ages 18 and 24 - more than double the number in 2008.
[OK folks, the USA is starting to topple off an underwater shelf into a deep undersea trench, and we have ringside seats.]
The Boston Public Health Commission said 469 of the nearly 5,300 people who stayed at city shelters between last December and the end of last month were 18 to 24 years old, a 68% rise from the year before. Meanwhile, Youth on Fire, a drop-in center for homeless youths and young adults in Harvard Square, served 620 clients this year - more than triple the number from two years ago. And Father Bill's, which houses homeless in Quincy and Brockton, reported that 179 youths and young adults between 18 and 22 sought shelter there in fiscal 2010, up 43% from 2008...
..The U.S. Dept. of Education in the 2008-2009 academic year counted 52,950 unaccompanied homeless youths between ages 12 and 17 - 32,000 more than they counted five years before...
..Frankie Rosa, 22..grew up in Boston [and] bunks at night \at\ city shelters... He wants a place that will allow him to collect his thoughts, let down his guard, and work on his goal of going to college. "I need to live in a place that's not so depressing, where people haven't given up on life," he said...
[= the "hot potato" solution?]
They are flown to Paris ($6,332),
[ah, is this for a group of people, or for first-class on the Concorde??]
[not too suspicious!]
Johannesburg ($2,550.70), or most frequently, San Juan [Puerto Rico] ($484.20). ...All are families who have ended up homeless...
[Now if we could just get NYC to discover cheap last-minute fares!]
The Bloomberg administration...has paid for more than 550 families to leave the city since 2007, as a way of keeping them out of the expensive shelter system, which costs $36,000 a year per family.
[Hey, that's cheaper than our prison system at $30,000 per individual inmate.]
All it takes is for a relative elsewhere to agree to take the family in.
[Well, my uncles Donald and Mickey have agreed to take me in - you can fly me to Orlando.]
Many of them are longtime New Yorkers who have come upon hard times, arrive at the shelter's doorstep and jump at the offer to move for free. Others are recent arrivals who are happy to return home after becoming discouraged by the city's noise, the mazelike subway, the difficult job market or the high cost of housing...
As the school year sailed to a close last month, Arielle Figueras crossed the stage in her cap and gown and proudly accepted her fifth-grade diploma.
The next day, she was homeless.
Arielle, a petite 11-year-old, and her parents, brother and sister packed their belongings and arrived at the intake center for homeless families in the South Bronx. Though they had been fighting with their landlord for months and their gas and electricity had long been shut off, they refused to leave their apartment while school was in session.
“She was graduating, so we had to wait,” Arielle’s mother, Marilyn Maldonado, said. “We just didn’t want to disrupt their routines. We couldn’t do that to them.”
Many New Yorkers view summer as a time for vacations, camp and lazy days at the beach. But city officials have been preparing for quite a different summer ritual: the swelling of the population of homeless families.
They call it the summer surge, and say that this year could be the worst yet.
Because the homeless population this spring was up more than 20 percent over last spring, possibly because of higher unemployment, officials are girding for an all-time high in the number of families in shelters at once, expecting close to 10,000. Already, the number has reached 9,420.
Other cities are noticing a similar trend. In Toledo, Ohio, one overcrowded shelter has been turning away dozens of people each night. In Charlotte, N.C., a shelter that is typically open only in winter has stayed open for the summer to meet demand, which is 20 percent higher than last summer. Across town, a Salvation Army shelter is so full, it has set up mats on the floors.
The reasons are varied but simple. Landlords who are reluctant to evict during winter are less hesitant when it is warmer. Parents like the Maldonados, who have endured poor housing conditions to spare their children agitation and humiliation at school, finally pack up and leave. And relatives who have taken in families in cramped apartments lose patience when children are suddenly underfoot all day long.
“When school’s open, families tend to stay where they are,” said Deronda Metz, the director of social services for the Salvation Army in Charlotte. “And when school’s out, they’re told it’s time to go.”
In New York, the number of homeless families applying for shelter in the summer has been 28 percent higher than the rest of the year the last three years. Their first stop is the intake center, a 24-hour, sprawling 66,000-square-foot brick building in the Bronx. They must walk through metal detectors, must submit to questioning from social workers and, after hours of waiting for their names to be called, are bused to a temporary hotel room or apartment.
Workers have begun to make room for the hundreds of extra families that are expected at the center this summer. On the second floor, all of the cubicles in one room were dismantled, replaced by rows of plastic chairs to make a waiting room for up to 114 people. Rows of boxy light gray metal lockers — each large enough to hold several suitcases — were installed. Employees at the intake center are being limited to one week of vacation during July and August.
Just a few hours after the public schools let out for summer, families began trickling into the center, their faces tight with stress. One woman walked briskly inside with her young son, who wore a bright blue backpack and held an armful of books. Another woman, who would not give her name, waited outside with her daughter, who had just finished second grade. “My sister said we couldn’t stay with her anymore,” she said, fanning herself for some relief from the humidity. “I said once she’s done with school, we’d get out.”
Arielle’s father, Douglas Maldonado, said that their landlord had stopped making repairs and had altered the building’s electric billing to make the Maldonados pay for other apartments’ power, up to $8,000 a month. But they held onto their apartment just long enough for Arielle’s graduation and for their son, Sabino Figueras, to graduate from eighth grade the week before.
The Bloomberg administration has run into trouble before with its handling of the summer influx of homeless families. In 2002, there was a public relations debacle when officials allowed hundreds of parents and children to wait in the intake office each day, more than three times the number that city fire codes allowed. Other families were placed in an empty men’s jail in the Bronx that was later discovered to have been contaminated with lead paint.
This summer, the administration will use a combination of existing homeless shelters that are not quite full and vacant apartment buildings that have been fixed up for homeless families, said Robert V. Hess, the commissioner of homeless services.
“We have a variety of options, so that we can be as nimble as possible,” Mr. Hess said. “We keep some reserve.”
One essential part of the city’s plan is to place families in hotels temporarily, some of which are used for both homeless people and paying customers.
Mr. Maldonado’s family spent its first few nights in a hotel on 145th Street in the Bronx. One of the mattresses in the room, Mr. Maldonado said, was filthy and stained with urine.
On June 28, Tarshima Dixon, a mother of four, went to the intake center with her 14-year-old son, Jason. Two more sons, Craig Dixon, 13, and Nahjee Johnson, 8, waited outside with their grandmother and cheerfully bounced a basketball on the sidewalk as Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” played from their minivan’s stereo.
The family was evicted in April, and Ms. Dixon’s mother did not have room for all of them. So Ms. Dixon, along with Craig, Nahjee and another son, Gregory, 16, moved into a shelter in Brooklyn soon after. Jason had been living with his father in Camden, N.J., but Ms. Dixon wanted him back with his brothers. They had to come to the intake center to let the city know there would be one more homeless person needing a bed.
“He just finished school this week,” said Ms. Dixon, who added that she was determined that the whole family would move into an apartment by August. “I wasn’t going to bring him here until he was done.”
...7,681 the number of homeless men women and children counted on Dec.15,,,,
Thomas Nelson, 49, is among Plymouth's homeless - "We try to stay out of the way," he says, but some merchants disagree.
Thomas Nelson says 25 cents is enough to keep him respectable. "You always need a quarter in your pocket," he said in a voice that is part rasp, mostly growl. "Then they can't say you're a vagrant." ...A grinding road of alcoholism, depression and broken relationships brought him to this place, an emergency shelter at Christ Church, north of downtown Plymouth. Nelson has been homeless for about 6 years. Like the other 13 men at the parish hall on a recent night, he will be back on the street in the morning....
[Inside photo caption:]
Sue Hickey, of M&M Sporting Goods, has given assistance including sweatshirts, but is troubled by recent events.
As once-pastoral Plymouth grows [eg: with a huge new retirement community] it is struggling with issues such as homelessness that larger communities have faced for years. Shopkeepers say disruptive behavior is becoming more than a nuisance. They cite an incident last spring as a turning point: A homeless man allegedly tried to abduct a 3-year-old girl after an Easter egg hunt....
In contrast to the relatively stagnant state [Massachusetts] population, Plymouth's has jumped more thn 10% since 2000.... With almost 60,000 people, it dwarfs cities such as Chelsea, Everett, and Melrose.
No one claims to have a count of Plymouth's homeless population, partly because the town covers more territory than any other Massachusetts community, about 100 square miles. Police Chief Robert Pomeroy said "invisible homeless" sleep in cars, bunk with friends and relatives, or live at campsites in Myles Standish State Forest. Pomeroy estimated police have dealt with 70 homeless people in the past few years, but he pegged the downtown disturbances to a "core group of six to eight, some with mental health issues and extensive criminal records." If they could be removed, the number of calls [to the police] would dramatically decrease, he said. "Just because homelessness is unsightly or unseemly doesn't make it a police issue," Pomeroy said....
[But it is an economic issue of inefficiency and deactivated consumers, and one that our unimaginative power elite have been ignoring for years.]
Over the last year, the Salvation Army's soup kitchen on Carver Street served more than 8,000 breakfasts and lunches, about one-third to the homeless, said Captain Daniel Brunelle. Based on requests for holiday assistance, he expects a 15-20% increase in 2008.
...Connie Melahoures...leads the Task Force for the Homeless, whose Overnights of Hospitality program runs from late October through March. On a rotating basis, seven churches donate space. Volunteers prepare dinner, and two chaperones spend the night with lodgers, who...sleep on floor mats....
After a meatloaf dinner at Christ Church last month...Melahoures sat near Thomas Nelson and Michael DeCoste.... About a year ago, DeCoste...lost his $70,000-a-year job as an electrician, his apartment, and his 2006 Kia....
DeCoste does not disagree with the merchants. "If I had a store, I wouldn't be happy to see a drunk stganding outside," he said.
Brian Mullin, owner of a Main Street building that houses a restaurant, salon and apartments...believe[s] the promise of food and shelter encourages the homeless to remain in the area.
"...These soup kitchens are not dealing with the problem, they're feeding into it," Mullin said....
[To really deal with homelessness, you need full employment based on automatic worksharing and overtime-to-training conversion, but the segmentation and partitioning of American society, and the dysfunctionality of the American political system, are now so advanced that it ain't going to happen here first, despite existing corporate models like Nucor and Lincoln Electric. America has missed so many "rings" on the carousel in the last 100 years. The Democrats missed the all-points emergency need for election system cleanup and standardization in 2001 and 2005, the Clintons missed the chance to get us a national health insurance plan in 1993 based on Hawaii's plan of 1990, Reagan missed the chance to get us off our military makework addiction in the 1980s and instead got us on much worse, American CEOs missed their chance to copy Japan's and Nucor's and Lincoln Electric's lifetime employment guarantee in the 1970s, labor unions missed their chance to preserve their power with a flexible worksharing system in the 1940s and 50s, FDR missed his chance to get us down to a 30-hour workweek in 1933. It wasn't perfect but at least we could have been tinkering in the right garage for the last 74 years instead of wasting our time with makework, welfare, disability, prisons, forced retirement, and forced self-"employment." Now America is finished, at least for a few centuries. It's all over but the nostalgia.]
[Photo caption -]
Alvaro and Jessica Larrama and their children, Angelina, 3&1/2, and Omar, 1, during dinner at the YMCA Families in Transition Shelter yesterday.
BOSTON, Mass. - Boston's homeless population jumped by 9% last year over the previous year, the highest number ever recorded, the mayor's office reported yesterday.
The figures reflected a nearly 50% increase in families staying in shelters or enrolled in transitional programs, officials said.
Officials believe that many of the additional families in shelters and programs - 746 households last year, compared with 505 in 2004 - were previously part of the city's "hidden homeless," people who elude the annual count because they crowd unsafely into small apartments or sleep on the couches of relatives or friends. They are now being counted among the homeless, officials said, because new state guidelines have made more families eligible for shelters and transitional programs.
The record number of homeless counted was 6,365 men, women, and children. Over the past five years, the annual census has hovered at about 6,000 people....
The category that saw the greatest increase was homeless families, both those in shelters or other programs and those living on the streets. The total number of family members increased 24%, to 2,325 people....
The average monthly wage for families who have jobs and are living in shelters is $1,200, said Stephanie Brown, exec. dir. of Homes for Families. But the average rent for a 2-bedroom apartment in Boston is $1,266..\..
Advocates blamed...the reduction in federal housing subsidies and state rental vouchers available for low-income families. But they applauded changes approved by the Legislature that took effect in July and allowed more families to qualify for shelter living. The new rules allowed famililes who earn 130% of the federal poverety level, up from 100%, to qualify for spots.
Alvaro Larrama, 22, lives with his wife and two children at the Huntington Ave. YMCA, part of a transitional program that allows him to attend college and his wife to participate in a job-training program.... He is studying business at Roxbury Community College.
"Now they're asking $1,500 for a 2-bedroom [apartment]," he said. "I'd need four jobs to pay that."
Larrama watched his tenuous finanancial situation fall apart in a 2002 fire that destroyed the $800-a-month apartment he was renting from his aunt....
The grinding effects of 3 years of lost jobs are showing up in continuing increases in hunger and homelessness in the nation's major cities. More than 80% of cities had to turn away applicants at emergency shelters this year. ...Increasing numbers of families...are losing their homes, according to a survey by the US Conference of Mayors....
The Bush administration has announced a $1.27B array of grants devoted to homeless programs nationwide.... But the resources fall far short of the true needs in such critical areas as vouchers for low-rent housing.... It is not as if there is no money in DC.... Congress is taking its holiday break after unwrapping an estimated $23B of pork-barrel projects in members' home districts. That is nearly 20 times the amount granted to the homeless....
As the face of poverty changes, food baskets are changing too, by Leslie Kaufman, NYT, A13.
NEW YORK CITY - For years, public and nonprofit food assistance programs have been reporting a sharp rise in the number of working families using their services.... In its 2003 survey of the city's more than 1,000 food pantries and 254 soup kitchens, NYC Coalition Against Hunger found that demand for meals was up by nearly 50% since 2001....
Loretta Skaggs and her four children, Dana.., Donovan...and twins, Tami...and Aliyah, make their home in one room at the Coachman Family Center, a shelter in White Plains, NY. [photo caption]
Albert Circelli...was shot to death on Monday night [12/22] at Rao's, a widely known Italian restaurant in East Harlem..., killed by another patron because he had criticized a singer performing a solo in the restaurant. [photo caption]
...Late [Tuesday] morning, TV reporters took positions in from of Rao's...preparing to provide on-the-scene updates for the noon newscasts....
A man emerged from the urban nowhere and stopped in front of the restaurant - just out of camera angle.... By his side was a red metal cart equipped with a cardboard box and a black garbage bag. He seemed oblivious to the TV reporters.... Focusing instead on the restaurant's small blue Dumpster, he began picking through the remains of an evening at Rao's...retrieving bottle after redeemable bottle...from a malodorous stew of wine-bottle shards...twisted lemons, crumpled napkins and dented juice cans....
He remained at the Dumpster's lip for a full 10 minutes.... When he was done, he grabbed a used napkin and wiped his hands with grand thoroughness, as though signaling the conclusion of a fine holiday meal.... As he rolled a postprandial cigarette, the man explained that he was from Moscow, that he had been in New York for four years...and that he lived across the East River in a building on Wards Island. "K-e-e-n-e-r," he said, spelling the name of a shelter where several hundred homeless men sleep each night.... He did not know that a man had been murdered at Rao's. All he knew was that 5 days a week, this place throws out bottles worthy of redemption.
ROCHESTER, NY - Sister Grace Miller works in...a section of [town] called the crescent...home to 27% of the city's residents and 80% of the city's homicides. An unidentified man found shot in the street there early Monday morning became Rochester's 55th homicide victim of the year, pushing the city's rate - which already is the worst in the state - higher. "The people we know are the people who are killed," said Sister Miller, who runs a shelter and emergency food distribution center, the House of Mercy, less than 3 miles from the shooting....
People from Rochester would much rather believe that the city is associated with the Eastman Kodak Co. or a fast ferry to Toronto that will begin travel across Lake Ontario next May. [But it was] Rochester's homicide rate and "execution-style hits" [that were] cited in a recent column in the [Toronto] Globe & Mail...which said Canadians might not want to travel here when the fast ferry sets up service.
[We can see the dime-novel title now, "Fast Ferry to Death." Guess we can scrub Toronto's sister city, directly across the Lake. They don't call it "Rot-stah" for nothing.]
...The shelter's staff members note that many honest, hard-working families [it doesn't have to be "hard" working as long as they're supporting themselves] live in the crescent...but the ones who turn to violence find it had to turn back. "People don't know how to settle arguments," Sister Miller said..\..
[Yeah, like with poor Al Circelli in the story above.]
New York [City] schools cut number forced to leave early - Critics are pleased to see fewer students leave but wonder if the problem is solved, NYT, A17.
...Thousands of [homeless] families..\..an unseen army of children with parents...make no ostensible pleas out on the streets, but are turning up in record numbers at charity wards. The downward spiral of this increasing throng can be measured in the collapse of manufacturing jobs and employment opportunities in the economic recession.
Hunger and homelessness rose in many of the largest cities in the United States this year, a report from the Conference of Mayors said.... The report found that requests for emergency food aid increased 17% from last year and that requests for emergency shelter rose 13%. Low wages and high housing costs were cited as factors, the report said.
[The report should have added:
PORTLAND, Ore. - On a 1-acre patch of asphalt neaer the airport, about 80 homeless people are living in shelters slapped together from scavenged planks, plastic, sheetrock, and cardboard. But this is no ordinary shantytown.
Dignity Village, as it is called, is an unusual social experiment: a government-sanctioned encampment for the homeless.
Besides holding a city lease, it has its own government, maintains a website and operates as a nonprofit corporation. Residents get free legal advice from local lawyers, medical aid from a homeless shelter, and financial support from a national network of charitable donors.
"There really isn't another model in the country that is as well-organized as Dignity Village," said Donald Whitehead, exec. dir. of the National Coalition for the Homeless [NCH] in Washington. "It's pretty revolutionary."... Michael Stoops, dir. of community organizing for the NCH, said he believes Dignity Village is the nation's only camp for the homeless that is officially supported by a city government....
Homeless people set up the encampment in Sept/2001 and won permission from the City Council [no doubt softened up by 9/11]. Dignity Village pays the city more than $20,000 a year for rent, water, and garbage pickup, with most of the money coming from donations.
[So it provides a tangible focus for donations.]
It has rudimentary utilities, including portable toilets and electricity provided by a windmill....
Many homeless people prefer Dignity Village to shelters because it offers self-government and more freedom. Unlike shelters, it has no curfew.
It is governed by 4 board officers who handle administrative concerns and 11 council members who manage day-to-day operations. Residents who become violent of disrespectful or use drugs or alcohol are given 24 hours outside of Dignity Village to cool off. Repeat offenders can be expelled....
Villagers are required to contribute to the camp's upkeep, either through chores or by working outside Dignity Village. "This is not utopia," Howard said. "It's not where I really want to be. But it's...better than a lot of places I've been in"..\..
Two years after it was built ["built"??], though, Dignity Village has reached a crossroads. Its most recent lease having expired at the end of October, residents have asked the city to extend their stay for up to 10 years. They have also requested that the city stop charging rent for the site and make thousands of dollars in improvements at the location.
["Give'em an inch and they'll take a mile."]
The request has set off a debate among city officials over -
Benjamin Howard, a homeless man who serves as Dignity Village's fire chief, said it is a place where people can develop a sense of stability, start looking for work, and then move into low-income housing. About 200 have taken that step in the past two years, he said.
Portland has an estimated 2,000 homeless people, and 20 homeless shelters run by the city and private organizations.
Other cities generally do not tolerate large-scale encampments of homeless people.
The promise of beds in Brooklyn has the women waiting [for buses] by the door [of] the Antonio Olivieri drop-in center [in] and old fur factory on West 30th Street..\.. They know too well that sleeping several nights in a chair can swell the feet needed to keep moving.... They are players in a nightly NYC ritual arranged by the Dept. of Homeless Services and the Partnership for the Homeless: the shuttling of homeless people to church and synagogue basements throughout the city, where government-issue cots await.
Of NYC's 10,000s of homeless people, those who sleep on these cots are among the most difficult to help. ...In the grip of substance abuse or mental illness or profound misfortune, they gravitate toward the drop-in centers that are tucked here and there in the city's commercial grayness. Olivieri, a round-the-clock sanctuary for women...has no cots but it does have food, showers, a medical clinic and over-whelmed social workers juggling 90 cases. It also has claim to some of those coveted "church beds" [and buses to take people there -]
WICHITA, Kan. -...Homeless adults get little help from the government, since many poverty relief programs were dismantled in the 1990s. But a federal law that requires local districts to seek out and enroll homeless students and provide services to them has forced public schools across the nation to become safety nets of last resort, educators and experts on the homeless said.
["Pay me now or pay me later" - and it's usually a lot cheaper to "pay me" earlier. But such is the mean spirit abroad in America ever since:
..\..The public school system helps Mariah Miller, a first-grade pupil at Park Elementary here, survive homelessness. Mariah lives with her parents and little brother at a Salvation Army shelter in downtown Wichita. This fall, a school social worker outfitted her with the school's red and white uniform (Ms. Claus!)...and recently gave her a new winter coat....
With unemployment and spiraling housing costs pushing a growing number of families into homelessness, school systems across the country are seeing more and more children like Mariah living in shelters, cars or motels. Some states are reporting a nearly 50% increase in homeless students over the last year.... Nationwide, thousands of homeless families depend on free school meal programs to feed their children....
[So our school system and disability system and prison system are becoming our welfare system of last resort, and our prison system is becoming our mental health system of last resort, and we wouldn't need a welfare system or most of our old mental health system if we simply shared the vanishing work and made it as easy as it should be in the Age of Robotics to make a good living and support oneself so taxpayers wouldn't have to.]
And in compliance with the federal law, known as the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, school officials...arrange for homeless students to get immunizations and tuberculosis tests, dispatch taxis to take them from shelters to school and supply items like clothing and art supplies.
[Look how careful we are to prepare young humans for self-supporting 40-hr/wk jobs that just aren't there any more!]
...Federal grants to states to help comply with \the\ McKinney-Vento law, passed in 1987...totaled $50m this year. Educators say that financing falls considerably short of the need. Many school districts supplement the grants with federal money appropriated to help poor children..\.. Some homeless people rely on schools for basic needs in ways not foreseen by the federal law.
[And our partitioned-brain reporter has missed the most obvious reason - because they have no other way to get food.]
[Had enough yet? Is America getting seriously pathetic or what! Better reduce our estimate for our arrival in the Third World from 20 years ahead to just 15. Or less. Maybe if we started called the GOP the TWP = Third World Party.]
[Oops, there goes our only current estimate of homeless numbers in America = 600,000, embedded in a Japan story on 6/18/2003. And that's only youths, and since the 600,000 estimate probably included all ages, we now discover what we suspected - we still don't have a plausible estimate of homeless Americans, not even for 3 years ago.]
Dr. Martha Burt, a researcher at the Urban Institute in DC who in 1996 led a federally financed nationwide survey of homeless people, said the Dept.'s 2000 figures undercounted the school-age homeless considerably. Statistics from individual states suggest that their numbers are rapidly rising.
[That's an increase of 5963-4103= 1,860 in May/03-Oct/02= 7 months, meaning an increase of 1860/7= 266 a month or 265.71x12= 3,189 a year meaning an increase of 3189/4103= 78% per year.]
[That 's an increase of 7322-5605= 1,717 in a year, equivalent to 1717/5605= 31% per year.]
[28600-21000= 7,600 in two years, meaning 7600/2= 3,800 a year, equivalent to 3800/21000= 18%.]
"Homelessness is exploding in Oregon," said Dona Bolt, coordinator of the state's homeless education program.... As they move through the state, Ms. Bolt said, homeless people use local school district offices, especially in rural towns, "as a sort of one-stop center for help. They're looking for a house and some food and a job.... They ask not only how to enroll their children, but also about jobs or where to park the trailer for a couple of weeks or where the soup kitchen is."...
Raven Hamilton plays with her daughter, Jayda, 2, while son, Michael, 7, does his homework. "I live check to check," says Hamilton, who works at a Dorchester residence for homeless children. "If an emergency situation happened, I couldn't cover my expenses." [photo caption]
...Hamilton gets by with federal and state housing and daycare subsidies.... She can't afford the $10 per month for health insurance offered by \her job as\ a counselor at The Bridge Home at St. Mary's Women & Infants Center near Upham's Corner [Dorchester, Boston, Mass.], but qualifies for the state's free insurance plan....
Angelean and Kenneth Thomas averted eviction from their Bronx apartment with help from The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund. [photo caption]
...Mr. Thomas['s] experience in a youth cadet program...inspired him to join the New York Guard in 1993...but a call to serve after 9/11 gave rise to the Thomases'...challenge [in] keeping a roof over their heads. On that day, Mr. Thomas was activated and he worked 12-hour shifts 4-5 days a week at the 369th Armory in Harlem, checking trucks and verifying IDs of military personnel.... Three weeks into his 7-week service he learned that he would not be getting his regular paychecks. He was making $100 a day as a staff sergeant, but, he said, "the military pay was sort of late." ...The Thomases soon found themselves 3 months behind on their rent....
...From 1977 to 1997, one in four Americans at some point received federal food stamps, Labor Dept. studies show, as millions of people slipped in and out of poverty depending on the strength of the job market....
[how much smarter it would be for merely the workweek to adjust down and up to counter unemployment instead of having millions of people slipping in and out of poverty. Compare, on opposite page -]
Pantry U. gives facts to those who give food - The basic lesson: 'I think we need more structure at our food pantry', by Fara Warner, NYT, E27.
CHICAGO -..."You know, the Internet is a great place to look for volunteers," Nancy Lee said, reeling off websites like *idealist.org and *ChicagoVolunteer.net. At the volunteer management class where she was speaking...run by the Greater Chicago Food Depository..\..Ms. Lee handed out samples of an application and a pop quiz she gave to every potential volunteer who showed up to help out.
Many answers to the quiz are counterintuitive but are meant to get volunteers thinking about homeless people a little differently. "What percentage of homeless people has a part-time or full-time job?" Answer: 40%....
PARIS - The nearest freestanding toilet, or sanisette, to my house is in the Place Monge, cunningly disguised as a kiosk [Koike's kiosk?] covered with film posters. Having never ventured into a sanisette, much preferring to use the pay toilets that abound in cafes and department stores, I approached it reluctantly.
[And purely for scientific purposes?]
I had the required coins (two 20-cent pieces) ready to put into the slot when I saw that the red 'occupied' sign was showing, so I waited. Finally, the door opened and a homeless man, a clochard, stumbled out, fell to his knees and passed out. This was not at all encouraging.
Still, I inserted my coins. The door slid open and I stepped inside a tiny circular room made entirely of molded plastic. The automatic door closed behind me and I was at once overwhelmed by a heady mix of disinfectant and rancid clochard. The toilet seat appeared clean if wet. The little sink, however, was filled with something nasty that I did not linger to examine. I almost wept with relief when the door actually opened and let me out....
The New York City Council last week cleared the way for the installation of similar toilets in New York, a city where the ability to find a restroom has long been a survival skill....
[Re the Oct.10 letter valuing the "peace of mind" provided by high taxes in Norway, and stating that U.S. is almost barbaric by comparison:]
The letter writer says that "in Oslo you never see homelessness or begging." What Oslo did he visit? On my walks on Karl Johans gate between the Royal Palace and the train station this past summer, I saw aggressive panhandlers, homelessness and the effects of what appeared to be drug addiction and alcoholism....
[Guess we'll have to visit and decide for ourselves.]
LOUISVILLE, Ky...- The city's Salvation Army chapter is charging homeless families $5 a night if they stay at its downtown shelter for more than a week, a change that has angered some advocates for the homeless.... The National Coalition for the Homeless and the national Salvation Army in Arlington, Va., knew of no other shelters nationwide that charged families, although some charge individuals....
The Louisville organization started the fee this month as an incentive to pull people out of homelessness, said Maj. John Tolan, the agency's director of social services. Some people have been staying for months at the shelter, Major Tolan said. ...The new policy comes as the Louisville Salvation Army copes with a budget crisis that forced it to lay off 12 workers this year.... [Even so,] the charge is well below the $20-30 it costs to house and feed a person for one night, he said. [After] seven nights in the 12-family shelter, [families] must pay $5 per family at the door each night and meet with a counselor to discuss becoming self-sufficient.
[Thereupon, the "no jobs" problem again.]
Major Tolan said families who could not pay would not be turned away [huh?] and could earn additional free nights if they showed they were working to improve their lives. The shelter also makes exceptions for people who are disabled or mentally ill.
"All homeless people don't smell or sleep on park benches," says Crystal Evans, here riding the T to a shelter. "We aren't all lazy." [photo caption]
For moments each day, Crystal Evans feels like she is part of "the regular world." She makes calls on her cellphone, updates her online journal, and hopscotches the Hub [ie: Boston, Mass.] with her monthly T pass.
But when the one-hour time limit on a local-library computer expires, when the sun turns to a salmon hue and she is alone, or when someone spits on her after she asks for spare change - then she is reminded that she isn't just like everyone else.
Under her screen name - "being-homeless" - Evans...describes the daily challenges of finding a bed, a warm meal, and a shower. Her cybernarratives of life on the city's streets have attracted 300 faithful followers - some from far beyond Greater Boston. She calls her online journal [begun in March] simply: "Written from the perspective of a homeless girl."
Sympathetic readers regularly post supportive comments. Others ask: How can she have a cellphone - or a T pass - as a homeless person?
Her story: She ran away from her home in Concord NH three years ago, then suffered a brain injury during a car accident two years ago that left her with recurring seizures, short-term memory loss, and at times vertigo. She floated from housecleaning to many jobs, but with the seizures, she did not last long at any of them. Broke, she became homeless.
...Growing up in a religious middle-class family...but now, estranged from her family after clashing with their fundamentalist Baptist ideals in an abusive atmosphere, she declares she would rather be homeless than living back with them.
...She logs onto the Internet in Boston and Cambridge libraries, recharges her cellphone at outlets in McDonalds and Dunkin' Donuts, and does volunteer work at a children's center. She carries a list of homeless shelters in her backpack. ...She manages to afford a cellphone and a PO box near South Station...from last year's tax refund and monthly disability checks from Massachusetts for her brain injury.... Before she came to Massachusetts, she sought assistance from the Brain Injury Assoc. office in Concord NH, where counselors helped [her] complete the state forms for welfare and disability aid....
While bouncing from shelter to shelter in New Hampshire and trying to get state aid, Evans researched the best areas to relocate. She learned that Massachusetts was rich in homeless outreach as well as rehabilitation for brain injury victims....
She began describing her homeless experiences in a notebook while staying in a Gloucester shelter - a stop on the way to Boston - earlier this year, and she discovered that libraries were among the few places where she could be productive and keep warm during the winter..\..
Evans strives to capture the struggles of people in her world - the discomfort of sleeping in used shelter beds, the fear of being robbed or attacked on the street, and the constant anxiety of not knowing where the next meal will come from. She is determined to debunk the stereotypes.
...Said Margaret Elenko, a Charles River Park resident who has read Evans's journal: "...She makes the time almost every day to update the journal. You start to realize everyone has a story behind them.... The point is that it could happen to any of us...."
...This year the city faces a record number of homeless families - more than 9,000..\.. With every summer season...landlords are emboldened to evict....
But with 700 additional shelter units...the Dept. of Homeless Services say[s] the city is ready to cope....
For the core design of a better, better integrated and oriented society, our handbook Timesizing, Not Downsizing is available from *Amazon.com online or at the Harvard Coop and Harvard Books in Harvard Square, Cambridge, Mass.
12/09/2010 homelessness in the news -
7/7/2009 homelessness in the news -
1/06/2009 homelessness in the news -
1/02/2008 homelessness in the news -
12/27/2003 homelessness in the news -
based on these three states, youth homelessness in America is growing (78+31+18)/3= 127/3= 42% a year.]
Questions, comments, suggestions? E-mail us or phone 617-623-8080 (Boston).