NATIONALHOMELESS.ORG
Twitter Facebook Facebook Facebook Facebook

Putting our heads together to find the Criminalization of Homelessness

Written by admin on . Posted in Advocacy, Civil Rights, Community Organizing, Criminalization, Food Sharing, Hate Crimes, Policy Advocacy, Tent Cities, Violence Against the Homeless

Thirty eight grassroots organizations from around the nation gathered in Denver last week to discuss the criminalization of homelessness. NCH helped fundraise for the event, one of the largest strategy sessions with our field partners in many years. A growing trend of criminalization laws have made it illegal for homeless people to eat, sleep or even ask for help. As a consequence, those who inhabit public spaces have their lives constantly interrupted by law enforcement, racking up arrest records for petty crimes that exist only as penalties for being homeless. Advocates came away from the Denver strategy session with renewed energy to fight these policies and protect the civil rights of those experiencing homelessness.

Advocates from across the country show their fighting spirit

Advocates from across the country show their fighting spirit

 

Top 5 NCH Moments of 2014

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Community Organizing, Food Sharing, Hate Crimes, Speakers' Bureau, Violence Against the Homeless, Youth

Top 5 Moments for NCH in 2014

  • Actress Susan Sarandon spoke out against violence towards people experiencing homelessness. Ms. Sarandon voiced her support of our work protecting homeless individuals from hate crimes at a Congressional briefing in June, which followed the release of our annual Hate Crimes report.

 

  • The international media joined the conversation about food-sharing laws following the publication of our new report on food-sharing restrictions. We were able to use this attention to target Fort Lauderdale, the most recent city to pass a ban on food-sharing in public. We worked with Arnold Abbott,  the world-renowned homeless advocate, to mount a petition that has gathered more than 100,000 signatures opposing the city’s interference with groups feeding the hungry.

 

  • The National Campaign for Youth Shelter was officially launched. In June, nearly a thousand  advocates and homeless youths gathered in NYC’s Washington Square Park to rally for additional resources for young people. To date, more than 75 partner organizations have joined on to support this work.

 

  • We had our most successful Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week ever. Working with 450 schools, student groups, faith-based organizations, and community groups, we coordinated more than 1,000 events that offered opportunities for an estimated 65,000 people to get involved in the fight against poverty.

 

  • The voices of those who have experienced homelessness were heard! Our Faces of Homelessness Speakers’ Bureau has spoken 265 times in the past year, reaching a combined audience of 16,600 people. We believe that individuals living in poverty are some of the best advocates and deserve to have a leadership role in any organizing effort on their behalf.

Letter to the Editor by Guest Matias Vega

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Advocacy, Awareness, Hate Crimes, Violence Against the Homeless

Guest Post – by Matias Vega

Following last weekend’s devastating murders of two homeless individuals, Matias Vega of Albuquerque Health Care for the Homeless, Inc. wrote this piece to gather media attention.

Vulnerable to Hate: A Survey of Hate Crimes Committed Against Homeless People in 2013

This is the title of a June 2014 report from the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) on the national trend of hate crimes and violence targeting people experiencing homelessness. I am a family physician who has worked exclusively with the homeless community over the past 26 years, am the current Medical Director at Albuquerque Health Care for the Homeless where I have worked for the last 16 years, and am a 24 year member of the NCH Board of Directors.

Hate Crimes By Class

For the past 15 years, we at NCH have been documenting hate crimes against homeless people across the nation. Sadly, what has happened locally in Albuquerque over the past 2 months is neither unique nor surprising. Since 1999, there have been over 1400 acts of violence against homeless individuals and over 375 deaths reported in 47 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, DC. 72% of the victims were men over the age of 40, and 48% of the perpetrators were males under the age of 20. For reference, homeless hate crimes leading to death have been greater in number than all other deadly hate crimes combined in 14 out of the last 15 years across all of the US.

These deaths all meet the definition of homeless hate crimes: crimes committed against people simply because of their homelessness and vulnerability. Much can be done to protect the lives of people experiencing homelessness including designating homeless status as a protected class, adding homeless status to existing hate crime laws, or passage of City or State homeless hate crime legislation or a Homeless Bill of Rights, and requirement of law enforcement to complete trainings on how to interact effectively and respectfully with the homeless community. Since most of these hate crimes are committed by teenagers, creating educational curricula in grade and high schools on homelessness can be essential in preventing future homeless hate crimes. As the NCH report documents, “Bias crimes send a message to the attacked group, as well as a message about society as a whole. There is a correlation between the criminalization of homelessness and hate crimes against homeless individuals. Without protection under hate crimes legislation, homeless individuals are targeted as a class because of their status in society. We need to send a message that people who are homeless are still people and, as such, should not be attacked.”

This is the time for NM and Albuquerque to lead the way in making crimes against people who are homeless a hate crime. In America and New Mexico, people deserve the right to a quality of life and safety from violence, and especially, murder, regardless of their housing status. Homelessness should not be a death sentence. We can and must do better in protecting the lives of people experiencing homelessness.

NATIONALHOMELESS.ORG

National Coalition for the Homeless | 2201 P St NW, Washington, DC 20037 | (202) 462-4822 | info [at] nationalhomeless [dot] org
© 2014 National Coalition for the Homeless | Private Policy
Powered by Warp Theme Framework