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California Considers Homeless Voter Registration Act

Written by Annie Leomporra on . Posted in Uncategorized

As we inch closer toward the general election this November, it’s urgent that we focus on making it as easy as possible for the voices of people experiencing homelessness to be acknowledged through their vote. While the National Coalition for the Homeless has made great strides over the last two and a half decades in helping to secure the rights of individuals without secure housing to register and vote, there are still plenty of areas for improvement.

California State Senator Carol Liu

In February of this year California State Senator Carol Liu introduced SB 928, the Homeless Voter Registration Act, for consideration. Over the past two decades states as diverse as Illinois, Arizona, and West Virginia have adopted similar acts, which are based upon NCH’s own model legislation. The Homeless Voter Registration Act would amend California’s elections and motor vehicles codes in order to allow people experiencing homelessness to use their shelter address, post office, or the cross streets closest to where they reside when applying for a state ID.

This kind of change is more important than ever with new voter identification requirements popping up across the country, though the inability to get a government-issued photo ID can be a barrier to even registering to vote. However, it’s by no means the only barrier that people experiencing homelessness can face when trying to exercise their constitutional right  to vote. Many people lack the documentation necessary to apply for photo ID’s, and retrieving it can be a difficult and relatively expensive process. Depending on the locations of polling places, the lack of transportation can also pose a serious problem.

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways that you can help. Contact your local service providers and churches to see which ones provide assistance in obtaining legal documents, and connect your homeless neighbors to those services. Start your own voter registration drive using materials available on our website’s “You Don’t Need a Home to Vote” campaign page. When voting starts, coordinate with shelters and other providers to help transport registered voters to their polling locations. Together we can make sure that everyone who wants to vote in 2016 has the opportunity to do so.

Presidential Candidates on Affordable Housing Welfare and Poverty

Written by Annie Leomporra on . Posted in Uncategorized

As the primaries start to wind down and the home stretch is near, this is a quick update on what the candidates have said about affordable housing, homelessness, welfare and poverty. To read the full articles please click on the link below.

Republicans

Ted Cruz:

  • Department of Housing and Urban Development
    • Offer real solutions to lift people out of hardship rather than trapping families in a cycle of poverty, and empower Americans by promoting the dignity of work and reforming programs such as Section 8 Housing
  • Welfare and Poverty:
    • “Volunteers in the private sector who depend on donations to keep their efforts afloat have vested interest in helping people down on their luck get back on their feet, so that the charity can then help other people in need. The best cure for poverty is not temporary food and shelter (although those are certainly needed), but a job and the ability to provide for your family. And private charities are far more likely to work not only to feed and clothe those in need, but also to help train them and get them interviews for jobs. Moreover, through the church, they can also help with their spiritual needs, which can be transformational in their lives. Under government assistance, by contrast there is far less on an incentive to help people become independent. Government programs don’t tend to run out of money, regardless of whether they help people or not. In fact, the larger the homeless problem, the more money government programs receive.”

John Kasich:

  • Welfare:
    • In Congress John Kasich worked as part of a leadership team to pass legislation that led to historic reforms to federal welfare programs. Lifetime limits on cash benefits, work requirements and flexibility for states to design their own relief programs helped people begin moving from dependency to self-sufficiency.
    • “… My sense is that it is important that we do not ignore the poor, the widowed, the disabled. I think that’s the way America is. And I think there’s a moral aspect to it. In my state, there’s not only a moral aspect where some people’s lives have been saved because of what we’ve done, but it also saves us money in the long run.”

Donald Trump:

  • Welfare and Poverty:
    • The American work ethic is what led generations of Americans to create our once prosperous nation. That’s what I find so morally offensive about welfare and dependency: it robs people of the chance to improve. Work gives every day sense of purpose. A job well done provides a sense of pride and accomplishment. I love to work. In fact, I like working so much that I seldom take vacations. Because I work so hard, I’ve been privileged to create jobs for tens of thousands of people. And on my hit show, “The Apprentice”, I get to work with people from all works of life. I’m known for my famous line, ” You’re fired!” but the truth is, I don’t like firing people. Sometimes you have to do it, but it’s never fun or easy. One of my favorite parts of business is seeing how work transforms people into better, more confident, more competent individuals. It’s inspiring and beautiful to watch.”

Democrats:

Hillary Clinton:

  • Affordable Housing:
    • Proposed affordable housing policy:
      • Increase the supply of affordable rental homes by expanding annual allocation of Low-income Housing Tax Credits, also known as the Housing Credit
      • Reform the Section 8 program to help recipients of rental assistance vouchers access neighborhoods with good schools, jobs, public transit and other resources
      • Make comprehensive investments in high-poverty neighborhoods, including resources to clear blight and preserve the supply of affordable homes

Bernie Sanders:

Independent

Gary Johnson:

  • Welfare and Poverty:
    • Entitlement reform proposals
      • Block grant Medicare and Medicaid funds to the states, allowing them to innovate, find efficiencies and provide better services at lower cost
      • Fix Social Security by changing the escalator from being based on wage growth in inflation
      • Repeal ObamaCare, as well as the failed Medicare prescription drug benefit

Jill Stein:

  • Affordable Housing:
    • “We will honor right to decent affordable housing, including an immediate halt to all foreclosures and evictions. We will create a federal bank with local branches to take over homes with distressed mortgages and either restructure the mortgages to affordable levels, or if the occupants cannot afford a mortgage, rent homes to the occupants. We will expand rental and home ownership assistance, create ample public housing, and capital grants to non-profit developers of affordable housing until all people can obtain decent housing at no more than 25% of their income. We will honor the right to accessible and affordable utilities-heat, electricity, phone, internet, and public transportation-which will be made available to all through democratically run, publicly owned utilities that operate at cost, not for profit. In honoring these rights we will create the basis for a new economy- an economy that is stable and not vulnerable to speculation.”

 

 

 

 

 

How our cities are preventing healthy sleep habits

Written by admin on . Posted in Awareness, Civil Rights, Criminalization

7 ways to help the homeless sleep safeCollege students pulling all nighters to write a paper, newborn babies keeping their parents up at all hours, breathing disorders, your partner’s snoring, a good book, stress – there are any number of things that keep housed folks up at night. There is loads of research that shows that Americans are terrible at getting enough sleep. But are we all aware that we can add our cities’ own bad policy to the list of things keeping us from a good nights rest?

March 6-13th marks National Sleep Awareness Week, and while many are learning about powering down their devices before bed or other relaxation techniques, there are thousands of Americans who are being all but sleep-deprived by anti-camping bans and ordinances disallowing sitting or lying in public places.

Homelessness is at crisis levels, and there is simply not enough shelter space for the shear number of people who have lost permanent housing. This past August, the US Department of Justice suggested public camping bans could be unconstitutional, saying, “Criminally prosecuting those individuals for something as innocent as sleeping, when they have no safe, legal place to go, violates their constitutional rights.”

Homelessness is tough in so many ways, but we don’t always realize the critical role sleep plays in helping our neighbors get back on their feet. It has been well documented that not having your own bed in which you can relax, feel safe and rest can be damaging to one’s health. Watch this video from our partner Denver Homeless Out Loud, where a young woman details how the lack of sleep has affected her since she became homeless.

Its high time we stopped punishing our neighbors for losing their home and being down on their luck, and started to invest again in affordable housing. Help us promote #SafeSleep and the #Right2Rest during National Sleep Awareness Week!

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