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5 Tips for Winter Planning

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Advocacy, Awareness

by Megan Hustings

In DC, we’re trying to squeeze the last days of warmth and sunshine out of the summer, and the last thing we want to think about is the temperature dropping more.  But winter is on its way.  Did you know that hypothermia, a life-threatening condition due to body temperature falling below 95 degrees, can occur when the outside temperature is as high as 50 degrees?  Wet clothes or socks can exacerbate already difficult weather conditions to make the risk of hypothermia greater.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors has reported for years that the number of requests for shelter beds far outweighs the actual number of emergency shelter beds available, and this is especially the case during periods of cold weather when it is just not healthy to remain outdoors.

Cities around the country are finalizing plans to provide warming centers and additional beds in emergency shelters when temperatures drop this winter.

It is never too late, or too early, to plan how your community can help those who do not have a warm place to call home this winter.  From out report on Winter Services , here are 5 things to be sure to include while you are planning for this winter.

5 Tips for Winter Services Planning:

  1. Increased Outreach – Talk to people who stay on the street to help you locate camps and common sleeping areas.
  2. Stock up on Blankets and Warm Clothing – Wet clothing will not keep anyone warm and can lead to greater risk of illness.
  3. Emergency Transportation – Does your city have vans or shuttles available to transport people to shelters that may be across town?
  4. Day Centers – Make sure there is somewhere people can go, at least when the temperature falls below 40 degrees F.
  5. Low Barrier Nighttime Shelter – Any past bans or other restrictions should be waived on nights when the temperature is lower than 40 degrees F.  If needed, people who are violent or under the influence can be separated, so long as they can remain warm.

US 2009 Poverty Rate Jumps to 14.3%: Census Omits Vital Data from Rise in Poverty Rate

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

by Neil Donovan, Executive Director

The US Census Bureau announced the finding from its annual report: Income Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2009. The Census reported a poverty rate of 14.3% or 43.6 million Americans, slightly lower than the grim predictions of 14.8 to 15 percent. The 14.3% poverty rate jumped from last year’s 13.2 and is the highest rate since 1994.

The new poverty rate is the clearest indicator-to-date to prove that social constraints prevent those living in poverty from working and just as clearly refutes the notion that those living in poverty choose to not work, though given the opportunity.

The 2009 report will be the last year, since the reporting began in1959, when only certain categories of under-reporting will occur. Beginning next year, the Census will publish figures that take into account the rising costs of medical care, transportation and child care. National poverty figures will certainly show an ever higher poverty rate after factoring the new supplemental data.

The Census further omits the impact of significant elements of the Recovery Act. While factoring household cash income received through unemployment insurance benefits, the Census leaves out household assistance received from tax credits and other non-cash benefits, such as food stamps.

Given the proposed changes to future annual reports, it is evident that the Census Bureau has wrestled with establishing a truer measure of poverty in America. However, the Census fails to address the critical importance of poverty, as a fluid and dynamic condition. A weakened economy almost assures a continued rise in the poverty rate next year, unless the soon to be expiring Recovery Act’s substantial benefits and tax credits for workers are renewed. The poverty rate is useful only in so far as it relates to other socio-economic rates and conditions. Announcing the poverty rate alone perpetuates the unexplained bifurcation of the American populous: the widening socioeconomic gap between rich and poor.

Read more at Change.org

Don’t Obstruct the Personal Act of Giving

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Advocacy, Awareness

by Neil Donovan, NCH Executive Director

The people of Memphis want to know if they should put up “parking meter – contribution stations” to replace the method of directly donating to a person in need, often referred to as panhandling. If they asked me, I’d confidently say “No” to the parking meter plan, and “Yes” to promoting compassion through the personal act giving to those in need.” I’d also recommend not asking me, or any national advocate or your local city planners. Instead, ask those in need and those that serve them best. The answer you’re looking for resides within them.

The practice of installing meters has been done unsuccessfully in dozens of communities across the country and most recently in Nashville and Orlando. What these new cities will learn too late and Memphis may learn just in time, is that parking meter plans are often an act of frustration in disguise.

Homelessness has been with us for far too long. No one will agree with you more than a homeless person. But, the responsibility belongs to all of us: national advocates, federal, state and local governments, homeless service providers, the intolerant and dispassionate… and the homeless.

But, let’s not punish one group and call it innovative giving. “Parking meter – contribution stations” are small memorials to a community that’s stopped trying to end homelessness and started to circle the wagons. Most mainstream religions and community organizations can look to their teachings and missions for advice on interacting with those less fortunate: We all become richer in body, mind and spirit through the personal act of giving to another.

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