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Archive for July, 2012

HUD to publish new Continuum of Care Regulations under HEARTH

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Policy Advocacy

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is expected to publish later this week in the Federal Register interim regulations for the new Continuum of Care (CoC) program under the HEARTH Act and a summary of these regulations.

Eligible activities & program requirements of the CoC program addressed in the regulations are:

  • Permanent housing ( PSH for people with disabilities and rapid re-housing) (PSH)
  • Transitional housing (TH)
  • Supportive Services Only (SSO)
  • Homeless Management Information Systems (HMIS)
  • Prevention (For High Performing Communities designees)

“HUD expects the regulation to be published in the Federal Register in the coming week. The interim regulation will be effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. The final Homeless Definition is in effect for administration of the CoC Program interim rule.” -HUDHRE.info

Read the Regulations and Summary

Protecting Our Country’s Homes

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Criminalization, Tent Cities

To each person, the word “home” carries a different meaning. For some, it is simply a roof over one’s head. To others however, the word “home” carries greater significance: it implies a certain sense of comfort provided not only by the protection of having a physical shelter, but also by the support given by a person’s family or loved ones. Thus, having a “home” can also mean having a community to rely upon.

This is exactly what the word “home” meant to the residents of Camp Take Notice (CTN) in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The camp was a grassroots tent community of homeless people who worked to create a safe and sober atmosphere in which they could receive food and shelter. CTN partnered with Michigan Itinerant Shelter System-Interdependent Out of Necessity, an organization that facilitates tent communities for the homeless, to create the camp.

Photo by Michael Dietsch

Unfortunately, the Michigan Department of Transportation ordered the eviction of the camp, stating the residents of CTN were trespassing. Homeless persons were forced to move out of the area on June 22nd, 2012 and abandon the community they called home. An eight-foot wall is now being built around the area in order to prevent the establishment of any other encampments.

Of the 68 camp residents, only 33 qualified to receive one-year housing subsidies; the others were left to fend for themselves. In a situation like this, real sustainable solutions for every resident need to be provided. Unfortunately, this rarely occurs when dealing with criminalization of the homeless. Many simply believe that by implementing camping bans and similar laws, the homelessness issue will disappear. Yet, without sustainable solutions attacking the root of the problem, the homelessness issue will still remain widespread.

Michigan Senator Rebekah Warren has worked tirelessly to delay the eviction, and help create alternative solutions to the problem. “I am deeply concerned for the well-being of the residents of this camp and I believe that all people deserve basic necessities like shelter, running water and electricity.”

Senator Warren sought another property that could serve as a new location for the camp but was regrettably unsuccessful in her attempts due to MDOT’s unwillingness to delay the eviction. Consequently, there was insufficient time to find another location. Despite these setbacks, she remains committed to the issue by continuing to look for long-term solutions to the homelessness issue.

While Senator Warren’s work is inspiring, too few public officials champion the issue of homelessness. In fact, many support criminalization efforts that negatively target the homeless in an attempt to “deal with the homeless problem.” Everyone deserves to have a place they can call home. Creating barriers to housing not only violates basic human rights, but it also counters the better interests of our society. It is thus imperative that more actions be taken to prevent such criminalization laws from being put into place.

By Sahana Malik, NCH Summer Intern

See NCH Staff talking more about Home and Homelessness. (Special thanks to Speak For We for the insights, platform and innovative thinking!)

Congressional Caucus on Homelessness considers Violence Against Un-Housed Persons

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Violence Against the Homeless

On July 10, NCH hosted a briefing at the capital to discuss acts of violence against the homeless and advocate for hate crimes legislation.  The importance of this issue was marked by the attendance of the four co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Homelessness: Representative Judy Biggert (R-IL-13th), Representative Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL-23rd), Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX-30th), and Representative Geoff Davis (R-KY-4th).

Greg, victim of violence

All four congressional members spoke passionately about the remarkable number of violent acts against the homeless that have been recorded, as well as the overwhelming lack of data currently available.  Representative Johnson also discussed her bill, HR 3528, which would include “homeless status” in current federal Anti-Hate Crimes legislation and further require the collection of data on hate crimes committed against the homeless.

Afterwards, NCH played an equally horrifying and crucial video that displayed images of homeless individuals being beaten up.  It was difficult to watch as some of the most vulnerable members of our society were targeted and battered for circumstances outside of their control.  This video reinforced how vital hate crimes legislation is to protect the homeless.

The briefing also featured three speakers who testified about their different experiences with violence against the homeless.  The first to speak was Captain Wierzbicki of the Broward County (Florida) Sheriff’s Department who was instrumental in the passage of hate crimes legislation against the homeless in Florida in 2010.  He stressed the need for law enforcement participation in the passage of such legislation because of their role in reporting hate crimes and working with homeless individuals.

The next speaker was David Pirtle who testified as to his experience living on the streets of New York and Washington, DC due to mental illness.  Mr. Pirtle not only witnessed others being brutally beaten, but suffered abuse repeatedly himself.  His compelling story reinforced that people living on the streets are deserving of protection, particularly because of added vulnerability to the elements, illness, and hunger.

Lastly, Maria Foscarinis, current director of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP) and former NCH staff, testified as to the efforts by NLCHP to combat homelessness.  She drew attention to criminalization efforts across the country to penalize people for “activities of life” performed in public spaces.  She stated that access to affordable housing is a human right and that governments should seek to deal with the root causes of homelessness.  For example, permanent supportive housing has proven to be not only widely successful, but a financially responsible solution.

This event demonstrated the shared recognition amongst government officials, advocates, law enforcement, the homeless, and concerned citizens that hate crimes legislation should be expedited to protect this segment of the population. Such legislation will not only punish and deter individuals from committing bias-related crimes, but it will make a statement to the community that the homeless are deserving of such protection.

By Allison Dinmore

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