Monday, May 08, 2006

What's Goin' On?...

Homelessness Throughout the United States

Here are some things that I learned while in Washington.
Indiania passed a more restrictive ID law then Ohio's. I have no idea how it is not a Poll Tax like the one that was struck down in Georgia. They did start a Housing Trust Fund using the Real Estate Tax.

Puerto Rico has an involuntary commitment bill pending that would allow the police to pick up homeless people with a suspected mental illness and confine them in a mental institution against their will. There is a competing law that makes it hard to pass laws that criminality homelessness. A judge did determine that Puerto Rico could restrict the speech of panhandlers.
Philly has three competing plans to end homelessness in 10 years. Does that mean that it will end in 3.5 years? Philadelphia is ground zero for the research on long term homelessness, which is being shoved down all of our throats by HUD.

New York has $1 billion in TANF surplus just sitting around the halls of Albany. At the same time there were massive cuts to many programs including human services.

In D.C., many of the programs have not received money for nearly a year. This has caused major chaos in the nation's largest shelter: Mitch Snyder's old CCNV. They have had a series of directors and are having problems keeping staff. They have around 1,300 people there every night.

The great state of Minnesota seems to be one of the only states actually making significant progress. They have this cool X committee of homeless people who are making decisions about how to spend money and what programs would should be funded. One of the programs that they are working on is a storage facility for homeless people (which homeless people in Cleveland has said is a high priority, but few listen). The state is running a rental assistance program.

Colorado developed a 10 year plan that does a lot of work on Housing First, and some work on presumptive eligibility for those who are homeless. Colorado also used their Tobacco Tax to dramatically expand medical services to homeless people.

The Cities that were on the Meanest Cities List were not very happy. Sarasota (the first meanest city) held a big hearing on the matter. Puerto Rico also was very upset by the matter and invited a Bush official down to show what a great job they do. The Las Vegas Mayor said that he was going to beat up the Director of the National Coalition for the Homeless if he was ever in Washington D.C. Las Vegas was listed in the top five meanest cities. Lawrence Kansas, also in the top five, also very upset.

South Carolina has $45 million in unspent HOME dollars, which provides federal funds for housing. They had an issue with Clemson athletes using Section 8 vouchers to pay for their housing. There is a growing issue with some legislators trying to force non-profit developers to pay property taxes for their housing of formerly homeless people. This would bankrupt many of these developers.

Finally, Los Angeles has a new Bring LA Home plan with a goal of $150 million for permanent supportive housing and $100 million for a County Trust Fund. There is also a need for $300 million for Mental Health expansion services with a total cost of $11-$12 Billion to end homelessness in Los Angeles. There is a proposal for a $1 Billion County Housing Trust Fund. There was a big controversy about private hospitals dropping patients in Skid Row. The biggest offender was the Kaiser Hospital, which are trying to correct the problems. There is an effort to expand the homeless children and youth program in the schools. Finally, the City is trying to pass restrictive laws to expand sentencing requirements for certain areas of town like a 2 mile radius around Skid Row.

Things are bad, but at least there is an organization working on these issues with the National Coalition for the Homeless.

Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.

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