Monday, June 29, 2009

Grading the Administration 22

Weekly Grades of the Administration on Poverty: B

It is almost time for the Independence Day vacations, and so there was a big push on to get things done. A great deal happened between June 15 and June 21 in the struggle to reduce poverty. Here is a short run down of the items that result in a B on the academic scale:
  1. There was more information released about the health care reform efforts. Every week that they push for universal health care guarantees at least a D for the week.
  2. The Administration talked about HIV testing, which has not been uttered by a President for 9 years.
  3. HUD is proposing additional vouchers for those with a disability.
  4. One negative was the crumbling of the nation's infrastructure with the crash of Metro trains in DC. This is the a sign of the maintenance that has been delayed in nearly every American city for major transportation, utility, and energy projects.
  5. There was more volunteering by the Administration including an event in Dallas and New Orleans by the Trade Representative and the HUD Secretary.
  6. Michelle Obama and the President did another volunteer activity to call attention to the AmeriCorps programs by putting together backpacks.
  7. There was the announcement of $80 billion in prescription discounts for seniors by the major pharmaceuticals.
  8. There were repeated questions for the administration about health care last week including during the press conference.
  9. The middle class task force met, which normally results in a decrease in points. This week they get a boost because the task force met in Ohio, and our own Amy Hanauer of Policy Matters Ohio spoke to the group. Maybe the middle class task force is not all that bad.
  10. There was the ABC television special on Health Care reform in which the administration had to defend their choices and the cost of this massive effort to cover everyone.
  11. There was another push to make sure that no veteran ever becomes homeless with the announcement of the release of more housing vouchers.
  12. HHS released a report on the hidden costs of health care last week.
  13. Finally, HR 3068 was introduced to put $1 billion into the National Housing Trust in a bill that is being labeled as relief for main street.
Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Linking Homlessness to Foreclosures

National Coalition for the Homeless Releases Report on Foreclosures

A partnership of national homeless organizations, including the National Coalition for the Homeless, the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, the National Alliance to End Homelessness, the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, the National Low Income Housing Coalition, and the National Policy and Advocacy Council on Homelessness; have release a joint report on the impact of the foreclosure and economic crises and the unprecedented growth in the number of individuals and families left without a home in the United States.

In a national survey of homeless service and advocacy agencies conducted by the these groups, 79 percent of respondents stated that at least some of their clients were homeless as a result of foreclosure, and about half estimated that more than ten percent of their clients were homeless because of foreclosure on a home they had been occupying.

During 2008, RealtyTrac reported 3,157,806 foreclosure filings — default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions, an 81 percent jump from 2007 and a 225 percent increase from 2006.

“We are one step away from foreclosure. More and more families and children are affected by job loss and the economy. ‘Getting back on your feet’ is next to impossible in today’s society. The public needs to be made aware of who is becoming homeless... and that they could be next - just like any average family,” an individual respondent to the national survey from North Carolina reported.

The study found that there are many interrelated consequences of the economic downturn that lead to both home foreclosure and to homelessness. There is an increased need for affordable housing, as well as targeted legal assistance, health care, living-wage jobs, income supports, access to education, civil rights protections and the various supports that will continue to be needed as a result of the recession.

John Parvensky, Board of Directors President for the National Coalition for the Homeless and Executive Director of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless states, "This report underscores the fact that we as a nation need to strengthen our efforts to prevent homelessness resulting from this economic crisis, while creating sufficient new affordable rental housing to ensure that no family in America has to experience the tragedy of homelessness."

The report is available online at

The best part of this report is that it features photos from the NEOCH Photo project from last year. Please check it out.

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Veterans Street Card Available

Photo by Cheryl Jones of the NEOCH Photo Project. Call NEOCH if you want a print.

Homeless Veterans Street Card Available on the NEOCH Website

We have updated the Street Card dedicated to the services for Veterans in Cleveland. This is an 8.5 inch by 11 inch double sided piece of paper with all the information that you might need if you became homeless in Cleveland. Please feel feel to print and distribute the Veterans Street Card as much as you want.

Speaking of the website...
  1. The Homeless Legal Assistance Clinic has been updated.
  2. We have added a section on the Movable Wall exhibit that is available to educate the public about homelessness.
  3. We added the new regular Street Card to the site.
  4. The About Us section has been updated for accuracy.
  5. We added a report on the Voting activities from the 2008 election. We will blog about this in the future.
  6. There is a better search function on the site.
  7. Finally, we added our 2008 Annual Report and some of the items from the report to various sections of the site.
Tell us what you think, and what we should add. We have an intern this summer working on the site. Daniel from CSU has been great at improving the site. What do you think?

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Grading the Administration 21

Weekly Grades of the Administration on Poverty: C+

For the week of June 15-21, the administration received a C+. They are still hammering on health care, which they always get additional points for this work. There were a number of other items that the administration undertook this last week:

1. A new office of Consumer Protection was introduced that would help regulate credit, insurance, and lending in the United States.
2. A new fatherhood initiative was introduced by the President.
3. The First Lady kicked off the United We Serve initiative in DC. More volunteers will lead to more people realizing that there is a problem in the country. If people realize there is a problem that is one step closer to finding a solution.
4. More discussions of open government (again there were more hits to transparency last week.)
5. Budget Guru, Peter Orszag discussed the problems with our current health care system.
6. The Prez. went to visit the obstacles to progress in health care reform when he spoke to the American Medical Association in Chicago.
7. The US Interagency Council on Homelessness finally met and they elected the HUD Secretary. Not much happened here, but having all these cabinet secretaries sitting around talking about homelessness is important.
8. Congress hosted a hearing asking HUD to initiate a moratorium on demolition of public housing until a policy can be established.
9. Congress also scheduled a hearing to continue the discussion about the reform of Section 8.
10. Quietly, and without a lot of fanfare there were additional housing vouchers for areas recovering from the hurricanes put into the supplemental defense authorization bill for Afghanistan and Iraq.

Brian Davis
Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Social Justice Celebrated

Shares Awards/Annual Meeting today

I used this somewhat outdated photo because it is a great image of City Hall. If I had this captured this photo, I would use it in all my materials. But anyway...Community Shares held their annual meeting today at the definitively non-Social Justice type venue of Windows in the Flats, but still it was a nice event. I have to say that I love Community Shares, and believe that it is one of the 100 coolest things about Cleveland that does not get enough attention. In an ever expanding number of awards in the area of social justice, Community Shares recognized the following individuals and groups:

1. The Eleanor Gerson leadership award went to Cleveland Councilman Anthony Brancatelli of Ward 12 for his efforts to save his neighborhood in the face of the hurricane of foreclosures.
2. Mike Brickner of the ACLU was volunteer of the year--one of NEOCH's volunteers as well.
3. Reverend George Hrbek of LMM was the named Distinguished Activist one of the activist who helped nurture NEOCH through our infancy in the 1980s.
4. Policy Matters of Ohio was selected as Member Organization of the Year. They do fantastic reports for elected officials to use in support of social justice.
5. Dan Harkins of Cleveland Scene Magazine was given an award for social justice reporting. A good reporter who does not get enough credit in Cleveland.
6. Finally, a new award for 2009 called the "Power of Participation: Making History" to the LGBT Community Center and the NAACP for their work to create the Domestic Partner Registry.

The most interesting part of the lunch was the speech by George Forbes, the long time chair of the NAACP Board. As everyone knows there were many African American preachers in Cleveland who were opposed to the Domestic Registry for same sex couples. It was interesting hearing Forbes talk about his movement on this social justice issue. He said that he had never had any opinion about the rights of lesbians and gay members of our society until Councilman Cimperman approached the NAACP about this issue. Forbes said that he was confused why Cleveland even needed this law, and the LGBT community said that they just had no standing within the law so they could not even sue to protect their right to marry in Ohio. Forbes said that this struck him as fundamentally unfair, and he recognized this as a civil rights issue. It was a good speech for a strange champion of the rights of gays and lesbians in George Forbes.

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Grading the Administration 20

Weekly Grades for the Administration on Poverty: C-

Twenty weeks for the administration and the grades are slipping from last week. They keep pressing the health care reform with a town hall forum and the announcement that the administration supports a public alternative to insurance companies. These are both positives. They have issued a report on the savings that could be made with medicare and medicaid. One of the interesting items on the White House Blog is four or five stories from real people throughout the United States who are trying to survive during this economic downturn.

There were a few other anti-poverty measures from last week:
  1. There were more actions to make government more transparent. They only get a few points for this, because at the same time they were moving to a more open government, the administration decided to fight an attempt to disclose the White House visitor's logs.
  2. They nominated a HUD Secretary for Community Planning and Development.
  3. The administration gets points off for releasing those questionable job figures last week. We need a government office that can check statistics released by the government like they have in England.
  4. The administration did a conference call about possible savings in the Medicaid and Medicare program, but I could not find the results of this call on the site. I know that there are plenty of arguments from the Office of Management and Budget about the crippling costs of health care for the economy.
  5. Also, last week there was a cabinet meeting and many poverty related issues were discussed.
Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

I Worry About the Lack of Home Rule!

What Do We Do After "One Goal?"

I am worried about the city of Cleveland and our suburbs. How do you come back if you set "one goal" and then fail to accomplish that goal? If community leaders and advertisers only set one goal for the year and then you do not accomplish that goal, what is next? Will we be gun shy to make any other goals, after this failure? I could understand if a big giant city such as Los Angeles, New York or Chicago stood in our way, but our goal was extinguished by a fake city like Orlando. Maybe we need to take over a few neighboring cities to regain our confidence?

I am especially concerned for the future of Cleveland and the suburban communities over this Ohio Supreme Court decision last week with regard to home rule. An overwhelming majority of citizens support our tax dollars going to pay the salaries of our neighbors. The clear majority want our safety forces to live in the city that they patrol. We want them to have a stake in the future of the Akron, Cleveland, Cleveland Heights, and Youngstown. I love Cleveland, but can't image the city without police, fireman, and city workers living within its borders. Sure many were skirting the law right now, but it was an important statement that employees receiving salary from the City care enough to own property within the Cleveland. This is going to be a killer for many cities. We already have 10,000 empty units in Cleveland. Where do we go from here? I am worried that any progress made in addressing poverty and homelessness will disappear because of the reduction in property taxes and city services.

We need to hold a town hall for all of us to weigh in on the future of the City. Where do we go now that home rule is as outdated as hats with buckles on them? What are we going to do in the next few years when a large number of our safety forces live outside the city? We need to set some realistic goals that are not entirely wrapped up in the fate of our sports' teams. With a state government on the brink of massive human service cuts, and the beginning of big migration at the local level, we need to do something that involves all the residents and tax payers in Cleveland. Since the safety forces always point to the sad state of the Cleveland schools, maybe we need to start over with the schools. We have tried everything including Mayoral control, and the state report card still gives us a D in the management of the school. Ask the city employees to hang in for two years, while we start over with the school system. We need some assurances that civic and government leadership recognize the problem and are working on a solution.

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Illegal to Be Homeless

Myrtle Beach Restricts Access to Food

Why are most cities so horrible in dealing with poor people? Is it that they do not understand how those with a low-income live or is it just a single-minded focus on pandering to those with political connections? I can at least understand this desire on behalf of business and government to target homeless people with laws in order to hide such a visible sign of failed leadership. I do not understand when cities restrict access to food served by highly devout religious congregations. Myrtle Beach recently passed a law against feeding homeless people without a license. These groups are only allowed to apply for four licenses to feed per year. These laws are a useless waste of money. Churches will come together and fight the cities over these feeding bans. As happened in Orlando, they will sue, and the city, typically, will lose. Any questions? Ask San Francisco, Las Vegas or anyone of the many cities in Florida that tried this strategy, but failed.

NEOCH in Cleveland worked to try to come to some compromise on these feeding issues. Not until listening to all of these various interests, did I realize how deep seated the religious organizations feel about bringing food downtown. Some of these churches were far away from Cleveland, but felt that it was a part of their very existence to distribute food. After all, in this modern world that often is detached from the words contained in the 2000 year old writings in the Bible, feeding poor people is a clear directive lifted straight out of the Bible.
"Feed the hungry and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as day."--Isaiah 58:10

It is clear in the Bible (Matthew and Romans) that the Christian God commands the devout to go out and feed the hungry. There is no chance for misinterpretation or confusion. How can a city government mess with this expression of Christian faith? I was surprised how strong this faith was in the delivery of food to homeless people in Cleveland. No matter that the outreach workers were concerned about the lack of nutrition or coordination. No matter that the Public Square was nearly completely shut down with the Euclid Corridor construction project. The religious groups pressed on bringing warm soup, pasta, and their ministry to the streets in snow, rain, and opposition by downtown businesses. We were able to strike a compromise with a few of the churches to relocate the largest meals to a neutral site, but it took many months and wading through some anger. The City of Cleveland did not want to give out tickets or pass a law, but they could no longer tolerate the mess, the clean up costs, and the lack of coordination taking place on the streets.

I was quoted in one of the editorials from The Sun News by the paper, which expressed some skepticism about this decision by the Myrtle Beach City Council. Most of these fundamentalist churches who minister to people on the streets do not like each other. They come from different faiths, and are suspicious of other Christians or Jews, but when facing legal restrictions will join together to fight City hall. They will compromise, but limiting their faith to four feeding times per year is unacceptable. So, instead of working on why people are hungry or living in a park in Myrtle Beach, their City Council will spend the next year fighting to preserve this law. They will continue to get federal funds to support homeless and hunger programs, while trying to make it illegal for the faith community to help. It is always amazing how short sighted city leadership is in dealing with poor people.

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Areas Needed to End Poverty

Photo by Cheryl Jones--one of the 2008 graduates of the Photo project in Cleveland.

Outstanding Issues for Administration Ending Poverty in America

The new Administration earned a B- for the first semester efforts to end poverty. This is not bad for a time of two wars, a housing bubble, and a financial collapse, but they could do better. Grades get tougher as we go through the administration, because expectations are raised. Here are the areas that they need to address over the next few months.

1. Katrina Housing: The administration has not ignored the problem, but we have yet to start building housing on a grand scale. We need a massive investment in a large number of affordable housing projects.
2. Jobs are starting to trickle in from the Stimulus, but Ohio, Michigan, and most of the South are still suffering and their needs to be more work on this issue. How about a WPA style jobs program?
3. The summer is a good time to work on an overhaul of the school system in America.
4. College needs to be made more affordable. The student loan program needs overhauled, and the proposed legislation needs passed.
5. The new homeless law needs to be implemented with protections for the privacy of homeless people, and the creation of a simple way to determine whether a person is homeless or not.
6. We need some actions on civil rights issues which keep people poor. There is no progress on hate crimes against homeless people, fair housing violations, or equal rights for women and homosexuals.
7. We still have not seen any progress on the problems facing the rural or urban poor.
8. There was a good start on debt issues with the credit card reform bill, but we still need bank, payday loan, and mortgage lender reform.
9. We need a moritorium on foreclosures as soon as possible, while we figure out what to do.
10. What are we going to do with the millions of housing units sitting empty in our cities?
11. We appreciate the transparency of the White House website, but we need the same from the departments.
12. There are still lower level staff vacancies at many of the Departments that are not filled at this point.
13. The White House site lists strengthening families as a goal. We have not seen much progress on strengthening families especially very low income households losing their housing.
14. There are impressive gains in the services to veterans especially homeless veterans, but there is more that we could do to provide mental health care to all veterans.
15. There is a lot of talk about health care reform, but we are waiting for a bill. Under health care issues that need more attention include the poverty level checks sent to those on disability, and more attention to the AIDS/HIV crisis.
16. We need more attention to Re-Entry issues, and what are we going to do with all the people returning to our city as casualties of the war on drugs.
17. It is time to look again at the entire entitlement system. From cash assistance, social security, child support and unemployment to repair the safety net across the country in a sensible and humane manner.

A tall order, but the current president ran on the platform of Hope and Change.

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Next Up Prostitution/Escort Services?

Payday Lenders Will Turn to Other "Adult Decisions?"

Yesterday, our good friend Jeff Dillman appeared on the Sound of Ideas on WCPN to talk about the loan sharks at the payday lenders trying to get around the wishes of Ohio voters. Jeff is the Director of Housing Research and Advocacy organization, and works on fair housing issue as well as predatory lending including payday lending. Dillman and Rep. Lundy of Elyria did a good job laying out the issues, and describing the new effort to close the loopholes in the current law with HB 209. I thought that Rep. Lundy did a great job talking about how he is just trying to enforce the desires of Ohio voters who supported the 28% loan restriction last November with over 60% of the voters affirming the payday loan limits.

Ted Saunders from Checksmart or Check'n'Go or Predatorypaydayloan or whatever his company is called was amazing. He did everything he could to sell the audience that this was a consumer choice issue. He was basically saying we are just as bad as banks and credit card companies, so why pick on us? He kept saying that his product was an "adult decision." I have to wonder if HB 209 passes will they move to other adult decisions and start running an escort/prostitution service. They could claim that they would do a better job then the guy on the corner, because they would be regulated. Mr. Saunders could claim, "Hey, we are better than the local pimps." They would maintain the employment of thousands of workers in Ohio and continue to pay rent on these stores they own. Saunders pitch was "Government should stay out of consumer choices, and these companies just want to be part of the 'Ohio landscape'"-- no matter how harmful their business model is to the local community.

There are many businesses that could bring jobs to the community, but what are the residual effects on the neighborhoods. Our society has not always taken into account the effects of decisions made in Columbus or Washington. Deregulating the banking industry turned out not to the best decision in the 25 years. Allowing usuary rates to go above 30% interest rate per year hurt our neighborhoods with increased debt, bankruptcy, and homelessness. Just because we get short term jobs in the neighborhood does not mean that we are better off. Prostitution, legalized drugs, gambling, eliminating consumer protections to cut the cost of government are all ways to increase jobs and revenue for government, but there are long term impacts on our cities. If we factor into the bottom line the residual impacts a business has on society, payday lenders and other businesses are a big negative for the community. If we have to regulate them out of existence: so be it! The Louis Guitierrez bill mentioned on the show (HR 1214) would effectively eliminate the Ohio law, and allow the payday lenders to charge up to 390% annual interest rate. This is a bad bill that NEOCH and others do not support. Finally, most consumer advocates would agree that there is a need for additional regulation of the bank and credit card fees.

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Grading the Administration 19

Weekly Grades for Administration on Poverty: B-

Have you noticed that when the CEO is in Europe or the Middle East, the Executive Branch does not accomplish much domestically? Obama was in Germany, France, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt this week, and very little happened from the White House to address poverty. Here are a few things from 1800 Pennsylvania Ave. with the lead being the full court press on health care reform. Obama talked about it in the weekly video address. He sent a letter to Sen. Kennedy outlining his plans, and there was the release of information on the cost of not reforming health care to our economy. The administration is serious about reform, but please do not listen to the insurance companies and big pharma. They have lied to us for decades, and their only interest is staying in business. They force us to make health decisions based on costs and not the advice of doctors. They told us that HMOs would control costs for everyone. LIES, LIES, and more LIES. At NEOCH, our health care goes up 8 to 18% per year no matter if the economy is depressed or booming. They just lie to America, and they fear government funded health care more than swine flu in a TB isolation ward. Many fell for their propaganda in the 1990s, but we are a lot smarter about health care at this point.

America bought a car company last week. That has to be worth something toward ending poverty. If we could just buy a health care company and about 100 million apartment units, we would be set. VP Biden held another middle class task force meeting--still waiting for the "How do I get into the Middle Class Task Force" meeting. Points off for every meeting of the middle class task force. The Veterans Administration held a hearing on Capital Hill regarding ending homelessness among veterans. I don't know how I missed it, but the VA recently updated their website with an entire section of resources for homeless veterans. This is a very good upgrade, and it is maintained regularly. Senator Schumer of NY introduced the "Homes for Heroes Act of 2009" last week (S. 1160). The bill would provide $200 million to HUD for supportive housing for very low income veterans. The bill would also provide 20,000 new housing vouchers for homeless veterans. Senator Brown is already a co-sponsor.

There were a number of new initiatives announced to address the housing crisis in the Gulf region. There were additional vouchers, additional funds, and the selling of FEMA trailers to home owners. The problem is that there is just not enough affordable housing in the region. Until we get into the business of building large numbers of affordable housing developments (apartments, scattered site houses, mixed use owner/occupied complexes, and senior housing) there will not be enough space for all the low income people in the region.

I have to mention that Dr. Jill Biden did some volunteering last week to assist the troops. The big four will always get a few extra points if they are out volunteering. There was a great deal of discussion and tangible ideas presented to make government more transparent last week. There was a hearing in Congress to look at the reform of Section 8 housing program. Senators from the Banking committee urged support of the 2010 Federal budget and especially the "robust" appropriations for housing. Ohio's Senator Brown signed onto this letter urging his colleagues to support additional housing funds. Finally, there seems to be a new approach at HUD to enforce fair housing laws. HUD has refused to certify one county in New York's consolidated plan, which is the road map for a community accepting government dollars and planning to reduce housing disparities, discrimination, affordability issues. This is a huge step forward. Check out the National Low Income Housing Coalition's website under Memo to Members for last week for more details.

On Tuesday, we will go over the syllabus for the next semester of issues still lacking in the struggle to end poverty in America.

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Dream/Home at Dobama

Cleveland Hts. Playwright Captures Foreclosure Crisis

Dobama Theatre, currently residing at the Playhouse near the City of Cleveland Clinic, staged a wonderful play about the impact of foreclosures on Greater Cleveland. I am no expert on foreclosures, but my wife is, and she was impressed that the playwright captured all the ancillary problems. Sarah Morton wrote the play Dream/Home in an attempt to capture the hardships associated with losing a home in a neighborhood. I am sorry that I did not see this earlier so that I could have warned people to catch it before it ended. I was impressed that she used the stories about the 1933 riots over foreclosures into the play.

Morton had characters that included the head of a local bank, neighbors, elderly facing housing issues, teenagers facing displacement, a number of Mom's, and real estate agents. I thoroughly enjoyed the play even though it was depressing. I hope that Ms. Morton is able to sell this play to a national audience. It is a fantastic representation of the devastation in neighborhoods because of the foreclosure crisis. Morton did a great job demonstrating the concept of a home. She spent a great deal of time looking at this concept from the perspective of everyone with a stake in the neighborhood. A special recognition of Rodney Freeman who played the grandfather neighbor "George." I really enjoyed his performance. I had the privilege of speaking after the Friday show with Sarah Cruise of Interfaith Hospitality Network for a post play talk. It was amazing how many people stayed for the discussion, and most had great questions.

Since the crisis is not abating, and after seeing the play laid out in such stark colors, I had to wonder if it was time to start protecting our neighbors from any further foreclosures? Would the new County Sheriff go ahead with kicking a family to the street with young children if a large number of neighbors showed up to block access to a house? Shouldn't we protect children from displacement especially children in families that have a parent working and trying to save their home? Just because a family loses one income or they are only able to find part time employment, should we force them into a homeless shelter? These families may not have read their documents, and were persuaded into taking out a bigger loan then they could handle, but they do not have to shoulder all the blame for these exotic loans. They at least have to share responsibility with the banks that gave out these loans. These homeowners did not create this financial crisis caused by reckless business executives, and the homeowner never got a bailout. They did not want to lose their jobs and they did not plunge the country into a recession. No matter what, a point made by Ms. Cruise on Friday was an innocent child never deserves homelessness.

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Homeless Voting and Recent Arrest

We Do Not Need This Headline

This week the Plain Dealer and most of the television media reported on the arrest of Darnell Nash for fraud in voting during the last election. The problem is that the PD reported that Nash was homeless and made up addresses in order to vote. I see this as a success for the process. The workers at the Board of Elections in Cuyahoga County flagged Nash and contacted him. Then when he showed up to vote they turned him away. The other issue not addressed in the article was that Mr. Nash is also Santina Gibbs, a transexual, who was not afraid to proclaim that she was in fact a woman to Carl Monday. She was allegedly scamming people last fall, and was caught by Carl Monday and the police in our building. This seems like a big part of the story that was missed by the Plain Dealer. Don't those who are accused of a crime get to be referred to by the sex of their choice in newspapers? If a person outwardly appears as a woman, don't newspapers have an obligation to refer to that individual as a "she"?

We did not need this negative attention for homeless people. Ms. Gibbs will only make it more difficult to convince the legislators of the merit of the registration/voting overlap week. This was a wonderful quirk in the law that allowed hundreds of additional voters in Cleveland. By the arrest of Gibbs aka Nash, we see that the system worked. There was plenty of time before the election day to screen out bogus voters. The Board quickly caught the fact that there was one person registering in multiple locations and that some of these locations were fictitious. In fact, I am not sure that Ms. Gibbs was even able to vote one time. She was pulled out of the line and told that there was a problem with her registration.

Anyway, this attention taints the thousands of legitimate homeless voters. We registered 371 people using sheleter addresses in Cleveland in 2006 and 891 at homeless addresses in 2008. Over 400 people voted during the golden week (overlap week) in Cuyahoga County, which was about one-eighth of the total early voters in Cleveland. Every shelter helped out to make it possible for homeless people to change their address and cast a ballot in the last election. There was so much good that happened with homeless people participating in democracy. It is too bad that people like Ms. Gibbs and those ACORN workers who turned in hundreds of bogus registrations get all the headlines.

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Hate Crime in Central Ohio

Young People Attack Homeless

In Reynoldsburg, Ohio just outside of Columbus, a group of young people attacked a man who was sleeping behind a hardware store. Robert Wirtz was known to the community as a quiet man who did not bother anyone, but lived outside. People in Central Ohio have raised money for Wirtz's medical care, and the Mayor of this suburban community has gotten involved. Eugene Clemons was attacked in Cleveland last April, and had to spend weeks in the hospital and in nursing care. The Veterans Administration eventually caught up with Clemons and were willing to offer housing to this former Marine. He is doing well in housing. Both individuals were attacked by young people.

This is a common occurrence, and the Columbus Dispatch has done a good job of looking at this issue. They interviewed Michael Stoops from the National Coalition for the Homeless and a lawyer from California who has done a great deal to address this problem. It only brings up that we need Rep. Foley's hate crimes bill to act as a deterrent to these kind of attacks in Ohio. If Maryland can pass a homeless hate crimes bill, why not Ohio? For those who do not believe that enhanced punishments do not work, look how attacks on minority and religious institutions have fallen over the last 40 years since hate crimes legislation swept across the United States.

The National Coalition for the Homeless hate crimes report will come out this summer. This is strategic in that many of the attacks happen during the summer when kids are out of school. They get bored and they find easy targets. These targets have become fixtures in our communities. Homeless people are hardly noticed in our cities anymore. Pedestrians walk over, ignore and turn their heads when confronted by a homeless guy or a panhandler. For the young person who has grown up ignoring homeless people their entire life, it is not much of a stretch from ignoring to vandalizing to violence. The problem is that homeless people are not mailboxes or washboard signs that can be tagged and beaten with baseball bats. Suspects are in custody in Columbus for this brutal attack. No one was ever arrested in the Cleveland attack on Mr. Clemons.

The above photo is by Larry Whitted from our 2007 Photography class.
Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Semester Grades for the Administration: 1

Obama Administration Earns a B- for First Semester Struggle to Reduce Poverty

The grades are in for the first semester of the Administration, and the executive branch earned a B-. This is not bad for the first 18 weeks of the new administration. They earned only one solid A in the first 18 weeks with the signing of the stimulus bill. They had one A- last week after the homeless/foreclosure/renter bill was signed into law. They did get one F in week 12. If we were grading on a curve in comparison to other administrations in Europe, Asia and South America, I am sure that they would have received a B+ or better.

The country has dealt with an auto industry in free fall, a Supreme Court vacancy, a financial collapse, recession, 30 plus banks that failed, rising unemployment, a housing bubble bursting, foreclosures, the fallout from US torturing detainees, Guantanamo Bay prison, North Korea and Iran, lawsuits filed against the previous administration, a federal budget, and two wars. It is amazing that any attention was paid to poor people, health care, the environment or homelessness. Just compiling the above list it is almost like we can summarize the first semester of the administration as: the good news is that they won the popular vote to take the leadership of the United States, the bad news is that they won the popular vote to take the leadership of the United States.

Unlike a few other administrations, this group will not be taking the summer off. We will have grades at the end of August for the summer semester. Next week, we will again post the list of areas that the administration needs to dedicate some attention with regard to poverty to begin to get their grades up to the A level. There is a long list of problems that they have not even begun to address including rural issues, Katrina, and jobs, jobs, jobs.

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Grading the Administration 18

Weekly Grades for the Administration on Poverty: C

This was a slow week, because Congress was on vacation for Memorial Day, and the administration focused a great deal of attention on the Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor. A few things did happen that will have some impact on homelessness and poverty, which lead me to give the Government a "C" for this week.

There was a new focus on Open Government by the administration with more work on making the federal bureaucracy more transparent. As always, the more information on the workings of government the better for everyone.

There was $252 million distributed to Indian, Native and Alaskan tribes through HUD for housing and development issues through the stimulus. This is one of the poorest populations in the United States, and they deserve about 10 times that amount.

A bill to reform the Neighborhood Stabilization funding was introduced right before Congress went on vacation. This would allow the federal government to recoup any of the profits realized by the government after disposition of these funds.

One thing that slipped by me two weeks ago with the signing of the renters in foreclosure bill by President Obama was that those rules were effective immediately. So, any renter living in a building in which their landlord goes into foreclosure has some ability to continue with their lease after the sale of the property. This is huge and is right now the law of the land.

There were three hearings scheduled for the this week by the Congress in which the administration staff will have to testify. These include a hearing on the status of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on Wednesday. There is a hearing on the same day to lay out the plans by the Veterans Administration and other federal offices to assure that there is an end to homelessness among veterans. Finally, on Thursday there is a hearing on the Housing Choice Voucher Program and the reform attempts. Set your TiVo to tape C-Span in the evening over the next few days.

Not much else that had any impact on poverty.

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.