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Homelessness – Growing for Four Decades

Written by admin on . Posted in Awareness, Definition of Homelessness, Homeless Counts, Policy Advocacy, Prevention

The Longest Period of Growing Homelessness In the History of the United States
Many of us providing services in the early 1980’s to people experiencing homelessness warned our political leaders and faith community that if we didn’t make structural changes, we would be in the mess we are in today.

Yet in 2017 media and society continue to blame people for becoming homeless.

In reality, over 1/3 of our country is 1 to 3 paychecks away from not making rent or mortgage payments, and 50% of our American population has a mental health and/or chemical health issue.

If you have money, you have housing. If you don’t have money, you are at risk of homelessness, especially if you have any personal health issues!

We are all responsible for the moral and structural causes of homelessness in our country. Here are the ten primary reasons why people are becoming homeless today:

  1. Limited moral outcry to love and treat others as ourselves.
  2. Greed: me and my needs are more important than we the people and the common good
  3. Housing is treated as a commodity, not a basic need. In Minnesota, through our tax expenditure budget, we will subsidize primarily white homeowners over next biennium over $1.5 Billion (Mortgage interest, tax, capital gain write offs). We are fighting to just keep $30 Million to address the disparity in homeownership between white and non-white persons. We are the 3rd worst state in the country in this disparity.
  4. Lack of or no enforcement of our civil rights and fair housing laws – Disparities against minorities and across income levels continue to increase.
  5. Wages are not livable incomes (from jobs or public assistance). If you have money, no matter what other issues you have, you can get housing.
  6. Demolition of housing without replacement. Tax code change in 1986: Drove out of business our ma and pa landlords, complicated the housing development process, and required sophisticated and well-funded investors.
  7. Credit Expanded in 1970s – Buy now, pay later became the norm. Debt increases.
  8. Disinvestment in opportunities for people with limited resources in housing, jobs, social services, education, health care. Dismantling the mental health asylums without creating the promised community housing. We capped domestic program spending, and pitted them against each other while we built up war and defense budget tax breaks for wealthiest.  This began in the 1970s, expanded in the 1980s with President Reagan and a Democratic Congress, and has continued to NOW.
  9. Scams in the housing industry with little or no consequences for the perpetrators: our financial institutions, realtors, title companies. We have had over 150,000 foreclosures since 2007 in MN.
  10. To rent housing, a criminal, credit, and rental check is almost always completed. Anything on your record may keep you out of rental housing. Only a credit check is done when you buy a home and that is not done if you buy with cash.

Over the last 4 decades we have continued to experience the ongoing growth of homelessness as we fail to address the structural causes of homelessness. Homelessness is caused by our inequitable structural issues, not just people’s personal issues.

We must invest in equitable solutions, which include a balanced continuation of: Housing and Affordable Housing, Rental and Homeownership, the Common Sense Housing Investment Act HR948, livable incomes (wages and public assistance), accessible, affordable, culturally appropriate health care, human services, and transportation, excellent educational and job training opportunities, and assurance that everyone’s civil rights are respected,  protected, and enforced.

We need to decide:

  • Are we going to continue to blame people for being homeless and manage homelessness through a rapidly growing homeless services industry for another four decades,

or

  • Are we going to be responsible and live out our faith, assist those experiencing homelessness now,

AND 

make the structural changes needed to bring our community, state and nation home and live out our pledge to be One Nation, Under God, with Liberty and Justice For All!

 

By Sue Watlov Phillips
Founding member of National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH), Vice President NCH Board
Executive Director, MICAH (Metropolitan Interfaith Council on Affordable Housing)

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/

Message to the Presidential Candidates

Written by Annie Leomporra on . Posted in Advocacy, Awareness, Civil Rights, Community Organizing, Criminalization, Education, Food Sharing, Outreach, Policy Advocacy, Prevention, Public Education, Tent Cities, Violence Against the Homeless

An open letter to the candidates running for the office of the President of the United States:

We invite you to take this opportunity to reach nearly 15% of the voting public. On Wednesday, February 17th from 7:00 pm eastern time through 9:00 am on Thursday, February 18th, we hope that you will participate in the 18th annual Homeless Marathon (news.homelessnessmarathon.org/).

There are anywhere between 500,000 and 3.5 million people who will experience homelessness in the United States this year. Not to mention the almost 50 million Americans who are struggling to make ends meet, and countless more who are just one paycheck away from losing their homes!

The Homeless Marathon gives you a chance to reach thousands of these homeless and low-income voters who are looking for solutions at the Federal level. The Marathon will be broadcast on almost 100 radio stations in 40 states, online and abroad.

You are also welcome to join a rally in Lafayette Park, in front of you potential future home, the White House, on Thursday, February 18th at 8am. The producers of the Homeless Marathon will be holding a straw poll throughout the broadcast, and will be announcing the (unofficial) president that homeless and low-income voters across the country have chosen.

The Homeless Marathon is America’s only national broadcast focusing on homelessness and poverty. Please take the time to participate in this once in a life time opportunity to share your policy objects with the nation on homelessness and poverty. Your message will be shared all around the country to the most vulnerable population, people experiencing homelessness. As you know, every vote counts and your message and policies can save thousands possibly millions of lives.

For more information please visit: news.homelessnessmarathon.org or www.nationalhomeless.org.
Thank you for your attention to the needs of all Americans!

Sincerely,

The National Coalition for the Homeless

 

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