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Michael Stoops

Written by Annie Leomporra on . Posted in Advocacy, Civil Rights

The Board and staff of the National Coalition for the Homeless are heartbroken to share the passing of long-time organizer Michael Stoops. Michael passed away on May 1, 2017, due to illness incurred while recovering from a stroke.

collageThere will never be anyone like Michael, with his dedication to others, his tenacity, his quiet leadership and quirky humor. We all loved Michael as a mentor, a colleague, a brother and a friend.

Michael began his career in the early 1970’s, after receiving his bachelor’s degree in social work. His Quaker community encouraged him to travel from his native Indiana to Portland, Oregon to assist veterans. This is where Michael found his passion for ending homelessness. He was a founding board member of NCH, and joined NCH’s staff in 1988. Since 1988, he has worked to establish and provide ongoing support to local/statewide homeless/housing coalitions, and homeless self-help and social justice/action groups. In 2004, Mr. Stoops took on the role of Executive Director of NCH. Working to mobilize NCH’s grassroots network, Mr. Stoops traveled nationwide giving workshops, providing technical assistance, and testifying before state and local legislatures. Mr. Stoops was one of the founding members of the North American Street Newspaper Association and served as Board Member of Street Sense, Washington, DC’s premier street newspaper.

We will all remember Michael as a caring friend to each one of us. He has mentored us, and thousands of other advocates across the country. Michael could see potential, and did not waste time in getting us all to work. He has been steady, being the rock of NCH, through financial, political and personnel upheavals. Though he might have cut you short, he returned every call he ever received. He made time for each and every student doing research, for every mother crying because she couldn’t find shelter for her family, for every filmmaker wanting to make a difference, for each traveler who happened upon our office looking for help, and for every advocate looking for a way to fight for change. For many of us, Michael was a super hero. For the 10 years that I have had the honor to know Michael, he has worked 12 hour days, 7 days a week. We could never get him to go home to rest, and he would at most take off one week a year to go visit his family (stopping at shelters and visiting advocates all along the way).

This is the Michael Stoops that we know, the Michael Stoops who we will remember lovingly, and the Michael Stoops who will continue to inspire us to work tirelessly until all of our neighbors, friends or family can sleep safely in their own homes. Rest in power Michael, we will keep the fight going.

-Megan Hustings, NCH Director

A Memorial will be held Thursday May 25, 2017 at 12:00p.m. at the Church of the Pilgrims, 2201 P Street, NW Washington, DC (map). A reception will follow in the church fellowship hall.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the National Coalition for the Homeless. Memorial organizers would appreciate any photos or stories you would like to share. Please email them to info@nationalhomeless.org.

The ongoing quest to protect the rights of homeless people

Written by Annie Leomporra on . Posted in Uncategorized

As America’s poverty and homelessness crisis continues to escalate, men, women, and children across the country have resorted to finding shelter for themselves in the form of homeless encampments, known colloquially as ‘tent cities.’ There’s currently a six-digit shortage of emergency beds for those defined as ‘literally homeless’ by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, meaning that for many homeless individuals and families, there is no other option when it comes to immediate shelter.

Most communities faced with the increasing dilemma of encampments in public and private spaces have, until very recently, reacted negatively toward their unhoused neighbors. Encampments in every part of the country where homelessness abounds have faced forced closures, often with little or no regard shown for the residents’ civil or property rights. However, a recent string of legal victories might be turning the tide on what has been described by the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington and other organizations as “policies which chase people from one place to another, without effectively answering the question: Where can people go?”

In January, the city of Honolulu agreed to refrain from disposing of personal property including tents, bicycles, clothing and household goods as a partial settlement of a federal lawsuit brought by the ACLU that alleged improper treatment of the homeless and others cleared from Oahu sidewalks.

In June, the L.A. City Council approved nearly $950,000 in settlement fees and attorney costs for a pair of lawsuits charging that the city violated the civil rights of homeless individuals by impounding their personal property without allowing adequate time for people to separate out their medication and medical supplies.

Earlier this month, Ponoma, California agreed to build 388 lockers for the property of homeless people and to stop enforcing three laws that prohibit tents, personal property and overnight sleeping on public property until sufficient accommodations exist, either in indoor shelters or open spaces designated for overnight stays.

Finally, just yesterday Akron, Ohio settled a federal lawsuit involving how it removes homeless citizens’ belongings from public and private property, agreeing to change its policies and pay $20,000 in damages and court costs after police unfairly seized and destroyed homeless citizens’ tents, documents and other personal property in a series of raids.

These and other legal victories are helping to change the conversation about homeless encampments from, “How fast can we get rid of them,” to “how can we better address encampments without ignoring the needs of homeless residents.” We still have a long way to go before the majority of the country recognizes the right of persons experiencing homelessness to exist in public spaces, but progress is being made. To learn more about the encampment closure crisis, read our report.

Media Blitz to focus on Homelessness June 29th

Written by Annie Leomporra on . Posted in Advocacy, Awareness, Civil Rights, Community Organizing, Criminalization, Education, Food Sharing, LGBTQ, Policy Advocacy, Poverty, Prevention, Public Education, Tent Cities, Violence Against the Homeless

On June 29th the media of San Francisco, Seattle and DC will be having a media blitz with all day coverage on the issue of homelessness. This effort was started in San Francisco, where media organization in have agreed to put aside their differences for the day is focus on the issues of homeless–discussing root causes and collaboration to find long-term solutions. This movement is being lead by the San Francisco Chronicle, but more than 70 media organizations have agreed to participate, including radio and TV stations and online publication. Seattle and DC media organizations have expanded this effort by planning a media blitzs in their cities on the same day as well. Advocacy groups, public officials and individuals are encouraged to participate and flood all types of media sources with information about and discussion of the issue of homeless in America.

How can you join the movement?
1. Use the hashtags  #Seahomlessness for Seattle, #SFHomelessProject for San Francisco, #dcHomelessCrisis for DC as well as #endhomelessness and #June29

  1. Tweet about homelessness on Twitter
  2. Share articles about homelessness on Facebook
  3. Encourage your local media outlets to focus on covering homelessness in your area on June 29th
  4. Contact your local, state or federal government officials and let them know ending homelessness in important to you

Sources

Fuller, T. (2016). A Plan to Flood San Francisco With News on Homelessness. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/16/us/san-francisco-homelessness.html?_r=0

Homeless Crisis. Twitter. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/_HomelessCrisis

San Francisco Homeless Project. National Alliance on Homelessness. Retrieved from http://www.endhomelessness.org/library/entry/sfhomelessproject

Hanscom, G. (2016). Homeless in Seattle: Media, community rally to address crisis. Crosscut. Retrieved from http://crosscut.com/2016/06/homeless-in-seattle-media-june-29/

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