Friday, May 29, 2009

Rally at the Statehouse

Save Ohio’s Future

Rally at the Ohio Statehouse
Thursday June 4 at Noon--
Buses Available

We thought the state budget that came out of the house was bad. It now appears that the Senate version will be much worse and that without additional revenue we can not expect any hope for change. We are asking you and others to join ABLE for a Rally at the Ohio Statehouse to protest budget cuts to Health and Human Services and pressure our elected officials to find the needed revenue to prevent cuts.

Rally 12 Noon to 1 p.m. Coordinated by the Campaign to Save Ohio’s Future and will feature comments by a number of Faith Based Leaders from across Ohio

Buses Leave Merrick House, 1050 Starkweather Avenue, at 9:00 a m and return around 4:30PM. You can make your reservation for the bus by calling Organize Ohio at 216/651-2606 or Tim at 216/631-5800. Breakfast and Lunch will be provided.

DO NOT FORGET THAT ABLE WILL MEET AS A GROUP AT 5:30 ON JUNE 3RD AT THE MAY DUGAN CENTER. ABLE is currently distributing postcards addressed to the governor, which they are asking all to sign asking him to support revenue changes including changes in the income tax structure. ABLE will have information on the Senate Version of the budget at that time. You can get a supply of the postcards by calling Tim at 631-5800.


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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Updated Street Card Available

New Street Card on the Website

We have a new intern, Daniel, who has begun updating our website. The first order of business was to put the new Street Card on the site. This is the 2009 updated version of our popular Street Card. At this point, we only have an electronic version of the card. We are hoping that the Cleveland Clinic will print this year's version of the card. For the past 18 years, we have made the Street Card available to homeless people and homeless service providers. This two page 8.5 inch by 14 inch piece of paper has all of the services available to homeless people right off the streets in Cuyahoga County. We also have a Veteran's Street Card and an East Cleveland Street Card available on the website. Feel free to download the Street Card, and make as many copies as you need.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

NCH Statement on McKinney Vento

National Coalition for the Homeless Voices Concern Over Homeless Legislation

National Coalition for the Homeless

Statement on Enactment of the

Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing Act

(S. 896/P.L. 111-022, Enacted May 20, 2009)

The National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) issued the following statement upon enactment of the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing Act (HEARTH Act). The legislation, which reauthorizes the McKinney-Vento homeless assistance programs of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, was included within the larger Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009 (S. 896, P.L. 111-022). President Obama signed the legislation on May 20, 2009.

The National Coalition for the Homeless commends Congress for taking action to reauthorize the McKinney-Vento homeless assistance programs of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. This action represents the first formal reauthorization of HUD’s homeless assistance programs since 1992 – a reauthorization long overdue. Moreover, the wide margin of support for the addition of the HEARTH Act to the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009 is indicative of the bipartisan interest among Members of Congress in responding to homelessness. NCH congratulates U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Christopher “Kit” Bond (R-MO), former Senator Wayne Allard (R-CO), U.S. Representatives Gwen Moore (D-WI), Judy Biggert (R-IL), and Geoff Davis (R-KY), the late U.S. Representative Julia Carson (D-IN) and other Members of Congress who played leadership roles in assuring reauthorization of HUD homeless assistance programs.

From NCH’s perspective, the enacted version of the HEARTH Act is a mix of favorable and disappointing provisions. Among the provisions of the HEARTH Amendment that enjoy NCH support:

  • Adds additional homelessness prevention activities and populations at risk of homelessness into the current Emergency Shelter Grants program, which is renamed Emergency Solutions Grants.
  • Allows Congress to finance the renewal costs of permanent housing projects initiated with HUD McKinney-Vento funds from the Housing Choice Voucher account.
  • Increases the administrative expense limit for project sponsors.
  • Prohibits shelter and housing projects receiving HUD McKinney-Vento funds from requiring a family to separate any child or youth member of the family from the whole unit as a condition for the family’s admission into the shelter or housing.
  • Improves collaboration between Continuum of Care jurisdictions and HUD-funded homeless assistance providers and local educational agencies with regard to homeless child and youth access to elementary and secondary education.
  • Requires the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study on rural homeless assistance, including offering recommendations on the appropriate federal agency or agencies to administer a rural homeless assistance program.

In other areas, the legislation falls short of NCH’s aspirations. Among them:

· The authorization level for HUD McKinney-Vento programs is set at $2.2 billion in FY 2010, far below the minimum $3 billion level of annual funding need identified by NCH and other homeless advocacy organizations, particularly as homelessness prevention activities are introduced as eligible activities into HUD McKinney-Vento programs.

· The bill relegates homeless people and service providers to consultative roles in the Continuum of Care application process, rather than assuring them decision-making roles.

· The new definition of homeless individual for HUD programs (and by extension other federal, state and local programs that use the HUD definition of homelessness) continues to exclude several subpopulations recognized in other federal law to be homeless, including homeless families living in shared housing for more than two week duration and single adults and childless couples living in shared housing due to loss of housing and economic hardship. Furthermore, the new definition is overly complex and likely to prove unwieldy for people to understand whether or not they are eligible for homeless assistance, or why they may be eligible for some homeless programs, but not others.

· The bill permits jurisdictions with low rates of homelessness to use Continuum of Care funds for people who are not homeless under the HUD definition but are homeless under other federal definitions, but limits this flexibility for jurisdictions with higher rates of homelessness, thus creating inequity in access to HUD-funded homeless assistance services across jurisdictions.

· The legislation limits flexibility of jurisdictions receiving Continuum of Care funds to spend resources on the full range of eligible activities by establishing priorities, incentives, and bonuses for some activities over others.

· The legislation limits flexibility of jurisdictions receiving Emergency Solutions Grant (formerly Emergency Shelter Grant) funds to spend the full amount of ESG resources on emergency shelter, outreach, and essential services.

· The bill codifies into law the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) without assuring privacy protections for homeless people or controlling use of HMIS data for decision-making.

· The bill misses the opportunity to elevate the Executive Director of the Interagency Council on Homelessness to a Senate-confirmed position, or to have the ICH Director report directly to the White House rather than to an annual rotation of Cabinet secretaries.

· The bill’s definition of “rural area” for purposes of a new rural homeless assistance set-aside program permits metropolitan cities within some western states to remove themselves from the main Continuum of Care program and instead secure funds through the rural account.

NCH regrets that the above-mentioned weaknesses in the legislation were not adequately addressed in the HEARTH Act prior to passage. However, we will work with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and other stakeholders to assure implementation of the HEARTH Act in a manner as inclusive and protective as possible as the law affords for people experiencing homelessness and for homeless assistance service providers. The brief two-year authorization period for HUD McKinney-Vento programs provides a quick opportunity to ask Congress to redress weaknesses with the new law.

NCH thanks the many individuals and organizations who over this past decade educated us about the challenges in addressing homelessness in their lives and in their communities, who helped us shape our policy recommendations for HUD homeless assistance reauthorization, and who responded to our repeated calls for action.

We urge individuals and organizations who encounter barriers to accessing HUD homeless assistance programs as a result of the new law to report those concerns to their Members of Congress. Please also report them to NCH so that we may attempt to rectify challenges through HUD policy, regulation, or Congressional action.

NEOCH, the Cleveland Homeless Coalition, agrees with these comments along with our previous posts. We had such high hopes for this legislation, but we will have to continue to work on these issues.


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Grading the Administration 17

Weekly Grades for the Administration on Poverty: A-

One more week before the first semester grades come out, and the Administration is finishing strong. This was a good week for the struggle to reduce poverty with an A- for the Administration. If they had passed a better homeless bill this last week, they could have received a solid A. There was the proper balance of issues forwarded as well as action with legislation passed and signed into law. Here is a run down of the positives that led to the "A-" for this week:

  1. The Housing Bill to prevent foreclosures and increase funding for homelessness was signed into law on Thursday. You can read a complete summary of the bill and the positives and negatives from this new law in our blog entry from yesterday.
  2. HR 2346 passed out of the Senate referred to as the Disaster Recovery from the Hurricanes, and will go to conference committee. The Senate version included additional funds for housing vouchers. This is three years overdue, but a good step.
  3. Sec. of HUD Donovan testified in support of the Section 8 voucher reform bill. This is a good bill that will help to fully fund and make needed changes in the Section 8 affordable housing programs.
  4. The President issued the standard Memorial Day speech about the sacrifice made by those serving in the military. The one big change was that President Obama urged the rest of the population to volunteer to help out those serving the country. He mentioned taking food to a VA facility or helping homeless veterans. "That can mean sending a letter or a care package to our troops overseas. It can mean volunteering at a clinic where a wounded warrior is being treated or bringing supplies to a homeless veterans center," President Obama said on Saturday. Any call to remind people of the need to volunteer is helpful.
  5. The President signed a bill "Weapons System Acquisition Reform Act" into law. This will hopefully reduce waste and fraud within the Defense budget, and we hope this will help to move money from guns to butter in the federal budget.
  6. The Credit Card reform bill was also signed into law this last week. Again, debt is keeping many in our society poor, and while this law will not take effect until 2010, it is still a valuable tool in the struggle to reduce poverty.
  7. Finally, was introduced as a new website that details how tax dollars are being spent. There is not a lot of data on it at this point, but it is a good start that when populated should be helpful.
This is finals week for the administration. We will have one last grade for the semester and then grades will be summarized and a first semester grade will be issued.

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Monday, May 25, 2009

McKinney Vento Law Signed

Obama Signed Housing and Homeless Law

This is an example of having to vote for a big bill that will help millions despite some of the negatives. The Helping Families Save Their Homes Act was signed into law on May 20 by President Obama. There are so many good things in this bill, but there are some big problems in the homeless piece of the legislation. Overall, the new law begins to address some of the huge problems within the housing market and corrects some of the problems in previous foreclosure bills. The press release from the White House about the bill only mentions briefly the homeless piece of the legislation.

  • The flawed foreclosure bill from 2008 was corrected to help those homeowners underwater with their mortgages. There is also a provision to permit modification of federally guaranteed farm loans.
  • The law attempts to increase lending, and will extend the increase in deposit insurance. It will increase borrowing authority for the FDIC, and will allow the credit union administration to create a stabilization fund to allow America's credit unions to lend.
  • This law establishes protections for renters in foreclosed homes. This is one of the most important components of the law in that existing leases will be honored and will require a minimum of 90 day notice before an eviction can take place.
  • The new law will allow borrowers to know who owns their loan, and they must be told when their loan is sold or transferred.
  • The law, if given proper appropriation, will significantly increase funding for homeless services and will prioritize funding for homeless families.
  • Fraud enforcement and recovery act, which bring brokers and other private mortgage institutions under the criminal code. This new law prohibits the manipulation of the mortgage lending business.
  • The law corrects problems from the TARP legislation, and extends commodity futures and options market into the anti-fraud statutes. The law will hire additional fraud prevention and enforcement staff to investigate and prosecute fraudulent activities in the mortgage industry.
  • Overall, the law will strengthen the federal government's regulatory and enforcement power to prevent future instability in the housing sector.
The homeless portion of this bill was given scant attention by the White House or the media, but this is actually a major step forward. All of the legislation that impact homeless people are wrapped up in the McKinney Vento law, but that has not been renewed by Congress since 1992. This was hold over legislation from the last Congress. The bill made it through the House, but did not clear the Senate. It was disguised as the HEARTH Act, but the real HEARTH Act was introduced by Congresswoman Julia Carson who passed away. This was a compromise legislation that is going to cause a lot of anxiety in the field. There is a tension in DC between those who are big supportive housing advocates and those who want to serve every homeless person. There is also a split between privacy activists and those who feel that it is in the best interest of the United States to count homeless people.

I stand firmly on the side of those who believe that homeless people should be able to remain private even if they want a bed from a publicly funded shelter. Of course, I want everyone to have access to housing assistance, and not just those with a disability or those who have been homeless for a long period of time. Here are the problems with the "HEARTH" portion of the law that was passed:
  • The definition of homelessness was expanded, but not to the much better Department of Education definition. The problem for the local community is that the new definition is several pages long and will be very difficult for the local shelter case worker to figure out if the person in front of them meets the definition.
  • Prevention and rapid rehousing will be a eligible activity under the Emergency Shelter Grant funds. This is helpful if there is a significant increase in ESG funding. If there is not then emergency shelters will have to compete for funds from the new projects being funded as part of the homeless prevention stimulus funding.
  • The Homeless Management Information System will now be a part of the law, and case workers may have to collect a lot more personal information from their clients. These systems are expensive and rarely provide useful data. In Cleveland, this system is a big drain of resources to a corporation down in Louisiana that has yet to give us anything of value.
  • Consolidated the various homeless programs under one program to make it easier for communities to access these dollars. This could present problems for rural communities.
  • A set aside for 10 percent of the funding must be used for homeless families. Again a good idea, but it takes the away the decisions at the local level and forces those decisions to a bureaucrat in DC.
  • In addition, there are goals to reduce family homelessness to 30 days or less as well as an incentive program to develop rapid rehousing programs for families.
  • The new law will require 30 percent of the funding for permanent housing for people with serious disabilities. This a good concept, but it forces small communities to use their resources for permanent housing even if that is not the priority.
  • Families are added to the offensively named "chronic homeless" definition. This would allow heads of households who have been homeless for a long period of time could gain access to some of the housing resources previously available only to single adults.
  • Finally, there is a provision that prevents age discrimination of children. This is not a big deal in Ohio, because the state had outlawed separation by the shelters of 14 year old or older boys from being separated from their parents.
The big picture is that the law will help millions of homeowners, renters and yes, even some homeless people. The bill could have been so much better. The homeless portion of the bill could have help move toward an end of homelessness in America. We waited 17 years since the McKinney Vento bill was reauthorized. I hope that we do not have to wait until 2026 to get another homeless bill through Congress.

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Broken Public Policy: Sex Offenders

Where Do Sexually Based Offenders Live?

There was a story on NPR about sexually based offenders being dropped off to live under a Miami overpass last week. The worst part of this story was the scale of the homeless village with 67 offenders gathered in the same place, and the Sheriff's office condemning one single woman to live among this chaos. How is that humane, legal or ethical to place one woman among the 67 men who have issues with violence and a demonstrated inability to control themselves? This medieval approach to public policy is disgusting.

In Ohio, we do not have the 2,500 foot rule that they have in Miami. An offender is not allowed to live within 2,500 feet of where children gather in Miami. We do have a 1,000 foot rule in Ohio a notification of neighbors, and now registration of where an offender works. There are three tiers of notification including a life time registration in Ohio. Many of these individuals become homeless, because they are driven from their homes or are told that they may not return to their families. There are varying degrees of problems throughout the state with regard to public policy around sexually based offenders.
  • In Cleveland, we have only one facility that allows homeless sexually based offenders to live. This means that there are well over one hundred offenders registered in the same place. This would not be a problem if the state provided trained case workers to monitor and provide counseling to these individuals. This does not happen, and so while over 100 offenders list one shelter as their residence, many do not actually live at this shelter. Where are they? No one really knows.
  • In Cincinnati, the shelters are all too close to schools or day care centers. So, most of the men sleep outside with no monitoring and no hope of going inside. There was a lawsuit by one sexually based offender who had pneumonia and was released by the hospital without a place to live. He argued that this public policy was a death sentence. He struck a deal with the prosecutor to live at the drop in center while he recovered, but then would be back on the streets.
  • In Dayton, there are no shelters for sexually based offenders.
  • In Columbus, there are no shelters for sexually based offenders because they have all signed a "good neighbor policy." This should be called the "don't ask, don't tell, and don't even think about where these guys are living policy." The good neighbor policy says that every shelter will screen for offenders and refuse entry to all of them. So where do they live? Mostly they are unsupervised outside in camps near the riverbank.
This is how we are trying to protect our children in America? Placing offenders outside to make them angry and more likely to revert to their horrible ways is not a sustainable policy. Every year there are more and more offenders on the street, and soon there will be an army of permanently homeless people in our country. Our politicians, in an effort to win short term political gain, have actually made all of us less safe. The heart of the matter is that the majority of sexually based offenders are not strangers preying on children or women, but are relatives or friends who build a trusting relationship and then attack. We can set up all the notification in the world, but we are not building a safer society? Wouldn't monitoring and counseling make the community safer instead placing offenders in tents near the riverbeds of our major cities? Have these laws worked? Are these guys who wander our streets at night staying out of trouble? Someone needs to step forward and have some courage to buck the current law and order hard line, and bring public safety into this debate. Yes, we may have to spend money on these men who have committed the worst crimes in our society, but it is better than the alternative.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Struggling Non-Profits

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Cleveland Urban League Closing Down

I am just shocked that the Urban League is closing down after 92 years. I had a staff member who had gone through one of their training programs, and always spoke highly of their program. The above pictures are from the Urban League's website, and the new building that seems to be half of their debt. For a non-profit organization, they always seemed to be stable and sound. They had all the big players that all the other non-profit directors in the community would have wished to have on our boards. All the major banks, Cleveland Schools leadership, CSU, someone from Channel 5, Dominion, John Carroll, Sam's Club, Squire Sanders, public relations firms, newspapers, and many insurance companies were at the table as board members. For those teaching non-profit management, this was the golden board that could be a model for the rest of us. I just can't believe it. AIG, Lehman Brothers, and Bear Stearns all had pretty good boards as well. I guess it is a new day in America for non-profit and for-profit corporations since September 2008. If the Urban League can go down, then how close to the edge are the rest of us? This is a huge blow to Cleveland, and someone should host an emergency meeting of all the local non-profits to stop the bleeding. I am especially worried about the social justice organizations in Cleveland closing down. I mean, if an important group that provides job training like the Urban League with their strong board and United Way funding closes, how soon until the gadflies, public policy experts, and rebel groups in the community face the reaper? The one thing that Cleveland needs more than anything else is job training programs. How did this happen?

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Grading the Administration: 17

Weekly Grades for the Obama Administration on Poverty: C-

Grades are slipping this last week. There was a lot of work done over the last week on health care reform. There was a great deal of discussion, but I am not sure on the progress. The health care industry promised to control costs over the next 10 years. This seems bogus to me. They have raised the rates on my employees health care between 8-16% EVERY YEAR over the last 10 years. So, how about a rollback? Not raising rates as much does not seem to be much of a compromise. I actually think that they realize that the jig is almost up, and they are trying to get some sympathy from the public as this debate starts. The health care insurance companies, drug industry, and health care corporations are the main source of the crisis and should not be at the table for this upcoming debate.

Other things that happened last week in the struggle to end poverty include:
  1. A town hall forum on the problems of debt and the problems in the credit card industry.
  2. A progress report was issued on the Stimulus dollars. This did not get much attention because only 6% of the funds are out the door. But the site has a lot of great data. They break up the funds by state or by agency, and everyone has the opportunity to see how their federal dollars are being used. It is actually interesting to see the large amount of funds being spent on bridges and roads compared to housing and health care. I like it, and for the policy wonks out there, it is a virtual schmorgaborg of information.
  3. $1 Billion was released for housing renovation at Public Housing last week.
  4. $1.79 Billion was released to help those living with AIDS be able to pay for medicine.
Still nothing on New Orleans, and hurricane season is fast approaching. Still most of the goals under "Poverty" on the White House website have very little details and are not even started. Some of the plans have begun to trickle in over the last few days regarding preventing homelessness in various cities. It will be interesting to see if HUD allows some of these plans to go forward. For example, Las Vegas is going to use its $2 million to remove a tent city from the area. This does not seem to be consistent with the goals of the funds to set up a system to prevent people from entering shelters. There is a long way to go to fill the holes we dug for ourselves over the last 40 years in creating generational poverty. Semester grades come out the second week in June.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Why Don't You Want Homeless People to Vote?

New Secretary of State Voting Proposal Leaves Homeless Behind

The Secretary of State released her long awaited report on needed voting reforms. These were influenced by statewide meetings held back in December, but they seem to be more influenced by a possible run for U.S. Senate. It is unclear if the alleged "streamlining of identification" will homeless people. There would still be a requirement that an individual present either a picture identification or two other forms of identification. A homeless person may have a social security card, but the only other form of identification would be a library card. There are no details in the report to provide information about what would count as "other forms of identification." We need more details on this initiative.

Dear Secretary Brunner:

Why are you ending Golden Week? Why are you not providing free identification to homeless people so that they can vote? Why are you forcing voters to bring two forms of identification to the polling places? Why are you alienating homeless people?

Why are you proposing a shorting of the early voting time to 20 days which would eliminate the one week overlap when early voting begins and when the registration deadline ends. In the last election, we were able to help 500 very low income go to the polls to vote and register during the Golden Week. Providing 30 to 35 days to verify the registration of those new voters has to be enough time in this modern age of computers. Other states allow registration right up until election day, why do we have to be so old fashioned in Ohio? The Golden week was huge for homeless people. It is not difficult to verify a voter, so why not allow voting registration and voting 35 days before election day? If the goal is to get a maximum number of voters, why not make it easy to vote? Please keep the Golden week.

Brian Davis
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Grading the Administration 16

Weekly Grades for the Obama Administration on Poverty: B

Another good week for the administration as we head into the last few weeks of the first semester. I am giving a B this week for a bunch of positive steps. This is for the week of May 3 to May 9. I was out for the first few days of the week so I did not get to report. Anyway, here are the items that will help with the struggle to reduce homelessness and poverty in America:
  1. There was an announcement about expanding rural health clinics in America.
  2. There was a line by line analysis of the proposed budget with the reduction in funding for some programs that were not working.
  3. The full budget was released with more details about the administration's priorities.
  4. The full HUD budget was released, and it contained an increase in the voucher program, Public Housing renovations, and an increase in CDBG funds.
  5. HUD also released $1 billion in stimulus dollars for Public Housing capital improvements.
  6. The weekly radio address focused on credit card reform, which would help lower income people stay out of debt.
  7. Finally, there was a push to keep jobs in the United States by seeking tax changes that would provide an incentive for businesses to keep jobs in the United States.
For these reasons, we will give the administration a B for work on reducing poverty in the United States.

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Grading the Administration 15

Weekly Grades for the Administration on Poverty: B+

I was extremely sick over the last three days, so I did not get to post the weekly grades on Sunday. The first semester grades are coming out at the end of the month, and I did not want to miss a week. There were a few things that happened with regard to the fight against poverty, but they were all minor issues. The big reason for the B+ was the dismissal of Philip Mangano from the InterAgency Council on Homelessness, and the subsequent appointment of an acting director who seems to have a better understanding of homelessness in America. Sometimes, the appointment of one person can make all the difference. The Supreme Court is the most obvious example. Imagine how different the United States would be without Justices Burger, Brennan, and Brandeis. But there are other critical appointments such as Secretaries of State like Jennings-Bryant and Marshall or Adlai Stevenson as Ambassador to the United Nations during the Kennedy Administration. The converse of this is also true in that when the wrong person is in a position of leadership no progress is made (James Watt at Interior, McNamara at Defense, etc.).

For poverty, Phil Mangano was just such an obstacle to any progress in the area of ending homelessness. It is a good day in America that he is leaving and that is why the administration gets a B+ for this week. The new acting director has a great deal of experience with veterans who have stumbled into homelessness. Peter Dougherty, the new acting director, is rumored to have figured out ways around the stiff HUD definition of homelessness when necessary to better serve veterans.

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Saturday, May 02, 2009

Mangano Has Left the Building

Bush Homeless Czar Replaced

The National Coalition for the Homeless asked for a new director of the InterAgency Council on Homelessness to set a new direction for the federal government. The Obama Administration has made that change this last week. Philip Mangano was let go, and replaced by Peter Dougherty formerly of the Department of Veterans Affairs as acting director. This is a huge step, and it will make a huge difference in national policy toward addressing homelessness. I have never been a fan of Mr. Mangano after listening to his same tired speech over and over. I met with him once in DC as part of my position with the National Coalition for the Homeless Board of Directors, and could not stand to hear him spin and pass off propaganda as fact. So, I skipped the other meetings with Mr. Mangano over the last few years.

David Corn wrote the book Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandel and the Selling of the Iraq War with Michael Isikoff, a perfect book for the career of Philip Mangano and his quest to end homelessness. He has a lot of nerve claiming a success when homelessness is up across the country and more and more children have become homeless in America. He wrote this amazing piece of fiction upon his departure taking credit for a decrease in homelessness (fiction), re-framed the countries response to homelessness (except in New Orleans), and I think he took credit for the election of the first African American President. He used the same Abolishinist themes in his going away letter that he used in every speech that he made over the last seven years in 350 different cities.

My big issue was that mainstream programs like public housing and the voucher program were decimated over the last 10 years, and Mangano never spoke up to criticize his boss for proposing these policies. He calls this the Abolitionist Agenda, but I am not sure that John Brown and Frederick Douglas would support this characterization. This was more like the Separate But Equal agenda where you try to solve homelessness for one group (long term homeless), while all the rest of the populations suffer. This is not a Housing First model as detailed in his letter of resignation. This is a Housing After You Hit Rock Bottom approach. Homeless people who have suffered the longest will be offered housing while all the other affordable housing in the community will be condemned and taken down.

Thank you for leaving the stage, Mr. Mangano. Now we can get to work solving this national embarrassment of homelessness.

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Friday, May 01, 2009

Flu Outbreak and Homelessness

Homeless Providers Call for Prevention Efforts to Avoid Swine Flu Spread In Local Homeless Shelters

How do you stay away from those with the flu if you live in a homeless shelter with 40 to 400 other people? The worst fear of all the homeless social service providers in the community is that the latest flu outbreak will materialize in a congregate living facility. The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, Care Alliance, and Volunteers of America are asking for donations of hand sanitizer, blankets, bottled water, and tissues to be distributed to the homeless shelters and unsheltered homeless persons to help us prevent the spread of the new strain of flu.

Our efforts will be to collect and distribute these items to all of the shelters in Cuyahoga County. This will help minimize swine flu (2009 H1N1 flu) outbreaks in Northeast Ohio. Often, homeless people do not have access to even the simplest means to prevent them from getting sick. Shelters and homeless programs in many cases cannot afford these items in the quantity needed to contain the spread of this virus.

Swine flu is spread through the air when infected people cough or sneeze. People who are homeless are at higher risk because they come together in large groups for meals and live in group quarters. Many times these facilities are not adequate places to wash hands and it is not always possible for them to “stay at home when they are sick.”

Medication is available to treat swine flu, but it must be taken within 48 hours of symptom onset to be effective. The symptoms include fever, muscle aches, cough, sore throat, headache, and diarrhea or vomiting (or both). Since many homeless people do not have access to timely physician treatment, prevention is vital.

We are urging people to donate hand sanitizers, tissues, water, and blankets to the Volunteers of America Shelter on Walton Ave. (2710 Walton Ave) in the Clark Fulton neighborhood. The Homeless Coalition and Care Alliance will work to distribute these items to all of the shelters locally. We need 750 to 1,000 boxes of tissue and hand sanitizer to distribute to all of the shelters over the next month.

For more information, contact Brian Davis of NEOCH at 216/432-0540. To contact Care Alliance (Cleveland’s Health Care for the Homeless) call Donna Kelly at 216/924-0275. To contact the Volunteers of America call Martin Williams at 216/621-0120

For More Information call:

Brian Davis at NEOCH, 216/432-0540

Donna Kelly at Care Alliance 216/781-6228

Martin Williams at Volunteers of America 216/621-0120

Brian Davis
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