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Homeless Memorial Day Resolution Introduced to Congress

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Advocacy, Awareness, Policy Advocacy

Florida Congressman Introduces Resolution Recognizing National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day

Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) has introduced a House Concurrent Resolution expressing Congress’s support of the goals and ideals of National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day.  This year marks the 10th anniversary of National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day, which is observed on December 21, 2010.

“Winter is a notoriously difficult time of year for homeless people,” said Hastings, who serves as the Co-Founder and Co-Chairman of the Congressional Caucus on Homelessness.  ”Furthermore, the spirit of the holiday season provides an opportunity for promoting compassion and concern for all, especially the homeless.”

On or around the longest night of the year, December 21, the National Coalition for the Homeless and National Health Care for the Homeless Council hold memorial services for homeless individuals who have died from causes related to their homelessness. Throughout the state of Florida, this important day is being recognized, along with over 200 other local municipalities, organizations, and statewide organizations throughout the United States.  With the support of the National Coalition for the Homeless, National Consumer Advisory Board, and National Health Care for the Homeless Council; National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day brings attention to the tragedy of homelessness.

“Homelessness, however, is not just a local issue; it is a national problem that beckons national attention,” said Hastings. Hastings’ resolution encourages state and local governments, the President, media, and the general public to support the goals and ideals of National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day as well as reaffirms our country’s commitment to helping those less fortunate members of society and acknowledges the efforts of those who currently are.

“A national memorial day will ensure that we keep the problem in perspective,” further noted Hastings.  ”Through all the statistics on homelessness, it’s easy to forget that numbers correspond to actual individuals with lives and families.” We must remember their lives-men, women, and children-and we must remember why they died.”

Joining Hastings as original co-sponsors are (15) Representatives Eddie Bernice Johnson, Judy Biggert, Kathy Castor, Steve Cohen, John Conyers, Jr., Elijah E. Cummings, Geoff Davis, Ted Deutch, Barney Frank, Raúl M. Grijalva, Luis V. Gutiérrez, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Chellie Pingree, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and Lynn Woolsey.

Congressman Alcee L. Hastings is Vice Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, a senior member of the House Rules Committee, and Co-Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission.

View text of resolution.

The Ongoing Business of Harm and Neglect: DHS’ Experimentation with NYC Families

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Advocacy, Awareness

by Neil Donovan, Executive Director

200 families in New York City are part of a new draconian experiment cooked up under the supervision of the new and troubling commissioner of the Department of Homeless Services, Seth Diamond.  The two-year test, under controlled conditions, divides 400 families into “haves” and “have-nots”. 200 families who “have” are enrolled in the Homebase project, receiving rental assistance, job training and other “wrap-around” services. The 200 families who “have-not” are required to manage without help. (http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2010/09/30/2010-09-30_city_cruel_test_for_poor_families.html)

The mission of the NYC Department of Homeless Services is to “…prevent homelessness wherever possible and provide short-term emergency shelter and re-housing support whenever needed.” DHS should not be in the business of social experimentation. This type of testing has grown over the past quarter century, with mounting concerns about the lack of public debate on research ethics prior to testing. This valid concern is glaringly evident in DHS’ Homebase project.

Experimenters should be troubled by numerous past studies that produced little to no usable qualitative data, but produced negative effects for participants that exist far beyond the studies. Project Access, a multistate mental health study (1992-97), which provided housing and mental health services to one group of mentally ill individuals living in persistent poverty versus another group that were left to fend for themselves, had insubstantial findings that were never published. Hundreds of thousands of tax dollars were spent affirming the common wisdom that housing the “Haves” helped. But, the tragic lasting toxic effects on the “Have-nots” are still evident, persistent and measureable today.

DHS’ experimentation is fraught ethical lapses, void of the basic application of social justice principles and guilty of infringing on the civil and human rights of 200 families. Nothing shy of the stoppage of this experiment and the immediate and full relief of the 200 “have-not” families will suffice. Those with the least among us, families living in persistent poverty, deserve our cries of outrage and our insistence that DHS get out of the business of harm and neglect and return to its core mission.

Get Out the Homeless Vote in 2010

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Advocacy, Awareness

by Michael Stoops

In the early 1980’s there were successful lawsuits on the right of homeless people to vote in New York City, Philadelphia, Santa Barbara and Washington, DC.

Many groups worked successfully in getting the National Voter Registration Act (commonly referred to as the motor voter law) passed in Congress and signed into law in 1993 by President Clinton.   This required that welfare, motor vehicle divisions, and other state agencies to make voter registration forms available to their clients.

In 1992, the National Coalition for the Homeless launched You Don’t Need A Home to Vote voting rights campaign.   The name was chosen because we wanted to get the word out to homeless people that they can vote, even if they lacked a home.  And we wanted candidates for office to know that homeless people vote .

The National Coalition for the Homeless has sponsored the You Don’t Need a Home to Vote project every election cycle, holding National Homeless and Low Income Voter Registration Week to encourage voter registration and education (Sept. 26 – Oct. 2, 2010).  Bills have been introduced and passed in a dozen states, re-affirming and clarifying the right of homeless people to vote.

Many states still require a traditional mailing address and a few have passed laws requiring a government issued photo ID in order to register.  We’ve tracked these rules and have listed them in our Voting Rights Manual .

Please join NCH this week in making voter registration available to homeless and low income individuals in your community.  Check out our website for materials and more information on how you can help our democracy.

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