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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.

New Report: The Criminalization of Food-Sharing Practices

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Advocacy, Awareness, Civil Rights, Community Organizing, Food Sharing

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On Tuesday, October 21, Fort Lauderdale Commissioners will vote on a proposed ordinance that will severely limit the capabilities of groups to distribute food to people experiencing homelessness. According to our research, over 30 American cities that have tried to introduce similar legislation in the past two years.

The new report, Share No More: The Criminalization of Efforts to Feed People In Needdocuments the recent known cases of food-sharing restrictions throughout the country. Since January 2013, 21 cities have restricted the practice of sharing food with people who are experiencing homelessness while at least ten others have introduced ordinances that are pending approval.

These restrictions primarily come about in three different forms; the first is by restricting the use of public property. In this scenario, individuals and organizations are generally required to obtain a permit, often for a fee, to share food in a park or in another public space. 12 cities have recently passed legislation that imposes this type of restriction.

The second type of legislative restriction is to require groups to comply with city/county/state food-safety regulations. Since January 2013, four cities have passed legislation that required individuals and organizations to comply with their food-safety regulations when sharing food with people experiencing homelessness.

The last method utilized to deter food-sharing are community actions driven by the principle of “Not In My Back Yard (NIMBY)”. Often, local businesses and homeowners do not want to attract people experiencing homelessness to their community join together to put pressure on local government or directly on individuals and organizations that share food with people experiencing homelessness. These groups are harassed and in result feel compelled to relocate their food-sharing efforts or cut the program all together. Since January 2013, four cities have successfully utilized this tactic, with local community pressure, to pass legislation to restrict sharing food with people experiencing homelessness.

Share No MoreThis year’s food-sharing report attempts to address the myths and motivations that often drive the demand for food-sharing restrictions. While the evidence is overwhelming that this practice is too common, there are some success stories that prove that these restrictions do not need to stand. Citizens can use the same community pressure to stop these laws from taking effect. Some faith-based organizations have led the fight to protect their First Amendment Right to openly practice their religion. There are a number of policies we can advocate for on the local, state, and federal level to protect the civil rights of those experiencing homelessness.

Since January, 2013 the following 22 cities have passed ordinances that restrict the food-sharing process.

Public Property:

Food Safety:

Forced Relocation:

  • Fort Lauderdale, FL
  • Lake Worth, FL
  • Daytona Beach, FL
  • Houston, TX
  • Shawnee, OK
  • Costa Mesa, CA
  • Chico, CA
  • Hayward, CA
  • Manchester, NH
  • Olympia, WA
  • Columbia, SC
  • Medford, OR
  • Raleigh, NC
  • Salt Lake City, UT
  • Myrtle Beach, SC
  • St. Louis, Missouri
  • Pasadena, CA
  • Lafayette, IN
  • Harrisburg, PA
  • Seattle WA
  • Charlotte, NC
  • St. Petersburg, FL

 For more information about food-sharing restrictions please read this year’s report and/or contact the National Coalition for the Homeless.

National Campaign for Youth Shelter

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Advocacy, Awareness, Community Organizing, LGBTQ, Policy Advocacy, Shelter, Youth

National Campaign for Youth Shelter

NCH is proud to work with the Ali Forney Center to launch the National Campaign for Youth Shelter, a collaboration that will build a grassroots campaign to demand a national response to youth homelessness.

 The National Campaign for Youth Shelter calls include the following:

  1. A federal commitment to provide all youths age 24 and under with immediate access to safe shelter, affirming the principle that no young person in the United States should be left homeless in the streets.
  2. An immediate commitment to add 22,000 beds with appropriate services. (This number corresponds to the number of youths identified in the most recent Point In Time Count of homeless persons conducted by the federal government).
  3. A more accurate and comprehensive effort to count the number of homeless youth in the nation in order to determine the number of beds that are needed over the next decade.

The campaign is going to hold rallies in New York City and Washington, DC, to launch the campaign as a priority within the LGBT movement. The New York City rally will be held on June 2. Details to come.

LGBT youth are disproportionately over-represented in the homeless youth population, with as many as 40% of the nation’s homeless youth being LGBT, while only 5% of the overall youth population is LGBT.

Currently, there are only approximately 4,000 youth shelter beds in the United States, yet as many as 500,000 unaccompanied youths experience homelessness each year.

“It’s indefensible that our nation would abide hundreds of thousands of young people to be homeless and on their own,” says Jerry Jones, executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless. “The National Campaign for Youth Shelter will highlight the urgency of basic emergency shelter as we work toward permanent solutions to this crisis.”

The National Campaign for Youth Shelter has gained the support and endorsement of over 30 organizations, including: GLAADthe Alliance for a Just SocietyCampaign for America’s FutureCampus PrideCenter for Community ChangeCenter for Popular DemocracyCenterLink: The Community of LGBT CentersCoalition on Human NeedsCovenant HouseEmpire State Pride AgendaFamily Acceptance ProjectFamily Equality CouncilGarden State EqualityGay Men’s Health CrisisGLSEN, the Hetrick Martin Institute, Housing Assistance Council, It Gets Better Project, Matthew Shepard Foundation, National AIDS Housing Coalition, National Black Justice Coalition, National Domestic Workers Alliance, National Health Care for the Homeless CouncilNational Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, National Low Income Housing Coalition, NETWORK: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, Partnership for Working Families, Rebuild the Dream, the Ruth Ellis Center, Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, Treatment Action Group, USAction, and You Can Play Project.

“It is unprecedented to have so many LGBT organizations join together with prominent national housing and anti-poverty organizations to fight for the humane treatment of impoverished youths.” says Carl Siciliano, executive director of the Ali Forney Center. “With all this support, the National Campaign for Youth Shelter will build a movement to finally prevent youths from being left to suffer homelessness without access to shelter. The wealthiest nation on earth must not allow its youths to be left out in the streets.”

Tweet: The National Campaign for Youth Shelter is fighting for every young person to have access to safe shelter. http://ctt.ec/58RG8+

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