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2016 Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week

Written by admin on . Posted in Advocacy, Awareness, Community Organizing, Criminalization, Hunger, Toolkits

hhaw-logo-websiteToday, hundreds of colleges, churches, community groups, and service agencies across the country announced the start of Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, an annual week of action where people come together to draw attention to poverty in their communities. Participating organizations will spend the week holding educational, community service, fundraising, and advocacy events to address these critical issues.

“This is the time of year when we all reflect on our lives, finding gratitude and peace in where and who we are,” said Megan Hustings, Director of the National Coalition for the Homeless. “But there are so many families that will not be able to come together during the season, strained by poor paying jobs, the lack of affordable housing, and even destitution. Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week brings communities across the country together to educate ourselves and our elected officials about what is really happening in our communities.”

H&H Week: A Quick Reference Guide

Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week is co-sponsored by the National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness. The event originated at Villanova University in 1975, and now takes place in nearly 700 communities across the country.

“Hunger and homelessness are epidemics that sadly affect every community across America,” said James Dubick, Director of the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness. “Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week gives local groups a collective opportunity to tackle these issues head on, rally public support, and call for solutions.”

Let us reiterate, it is imperative that we let our voices be heard that homelessness and hunger need to be addressed in real ways. We need to hold our elected officials and communities accountable to ensuring that all of our neighbors have access to safe, affordable housing, and the supports needed to maintain that housing.

Ideas for raising awareness

Swept Away: Reporting on the Encampment Closure Crisis

Written by admin on . Posted in Civil Rights, Criminalization, Tent Cities

National data suggest that only 75% of the need for emergency shelter is being met. As a result, encampments of people experiencing homelessness have sprung up as homelessness has become more visible.

With everything from sleeping bags, tents and camp stoves to tiny homes, makeshift communities are attempting to fill important gaps in shelter, housing and other social services. Homeless encampments also serve as a point of access for outreach workers and others looking to engage those experiencing homelessness.

Unfortunately, these encampments have been met with varying levels of hostility by the wider communities in which they are located. The National Coalition for the Homeless’ new report, Swept Away: Reporting on the Encampment Closure Crisis, examines the disturbing trend of forced removal of outdoor sleepers by law enforcement, city workers, or even private contractors.

“We understand that municipal governments are trying to respond to a difficult situation,” says Megan Hustings, Director of the National Coalition for the Homeless, “But further displacing people who have nowhere else indoors to go is an inhumane response.”

In cities where well-publicized events are being hosted, the sweeping of homeless encampments is particularly aggressive. In the run-up to San Diego’s recent Major League Baseball All-Star Game, camp residents across the city were threatened with fines and destruction of property if they did not relocate within 72 hours, an effort repeated during the popular Comic-Con international convention. San Diego has continued to disrupt encampments on a regular basis, seemingly copying a much criticized similar effort in Denver, Colorado.

In San Francisco, California, where current law already prohibits the building of encampments, a ballot initiative with the somewhat misleading title, “Housing Not Tents,” has been introduced with the intention of allowing authorities to remove encampments with as little as 24 hours written notice and the offer of a shelter bed or the acceptance of a bus ticket. The initiative would empower the city to seize residents’ personal property and dispose of it after a set period of time.

Despite efforts to the contrary, encampment residents regularly lose life-sustaining materials like tents and blankets, but also personal property, including valuables, identification, and medications. Swept Away looks more closely at the causes behind the rise of encampments, the way various communities have chosen to confront the issue, and recommendations for how our unhoused neighbors deserve to be treated in their own communities.

Proponents of measures aimed at facilitating the removal of encampments have suggested that allowing the existence of such camps somehow enables homelessness — a notion unsupported by the lack of affordable housing nationwide. Additionally, breaking up homeless communities can leave individuals more vulnerable to those who prey upon them, as outlined in our recent report, “No Safe Street: A Survey of Hate Crimes and Violence Committed Against Homeless People in 2014 & 2015.”

While dedicated to ending homelessness, the National Coalition for the Homeless also recognizes the need to protect the lives of those currently experiencing homelessness, especially during times when they cannot all be housed. Cities considering urban camping restrictions should follow the lead of a select few that have already passed more humane laws regarding encampment sweeps, such as Indianapolis. Encampment residents should be given ample warning prior to a sweep, and it is imperative that cities do not immediately discard the belongings of homeless residents. Most importantly, sweeps should not be conducted without available housing and supportive services for those who are displaced as a result.

At a time when those experiencing homelessness far outnumber the number of shelter beds allocated to them, we must find a better way to serve our unhoused neighbors without destroying the camps they so often call home.

 

Read the full report.

Learn more about the Criminalization of Homelessness.

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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