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Date of  Issue:  August 7, 2009

For Immediate Release

For more information, contact:
Michael Stoops, Executive Director, National Coalition for the Homeless
mstoops@nationalhomeless.org; Ph. 202-462-4822 x234
Brian Levin, Director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism
Blevin8@aol.com; Ph. 949-400-6558

New Report Documents 10 Years of Anti-Homeless Violence

Washington, DC, August 7, 2009 – Today the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) released the 2008 numbers of hate crimes and violent attacks against people experiencing homelessness.  The numbers are from a new report entitled Hate, Violence, And Death on Main Street USA, 2008.

Key findings include:

  • The total number of attacks for 2008: 106.
  • The number of fatal attacks is the second highest since 2001: 27 deaths.
  • 73 percent of the attacks were committed by individuals who were ages 25 and younger.
  • Florida ranked #1 for the fourth year in a row for most attacks, California was second.

“Those experiencing homelessness are often ignored or misunderstood by society.  If these brutal attacks were committed against any other religious or minority group to the same degree, there would be a national outcry and call for governmental action,” said Michael Stoops, executive director of NCH. “We must respond to this dehumanization and protect homeless persons against hate crimes and violence.”

The 42 percent of homeless people who are unsheltered are the most vulnerable to these attacks. Because crimes committed against homeless persons often go unreported, the actual numbers of non-lethal attacks may be much higher. While the motive for an attack is often unclear, some of the attackers said they committed the crime out of “boredom,” or for a “thrill” or “fun.” 

The report also details ways communities and governments can act to solve the crisis of anti-homeless violence. Maryland added homeless people to its hate crimes law in May 2009.  California, Florida, South Carolina and Washington, DC have similar pieces of legislation pending.  The DC City Council approved adding homeless people to its hate crimes law on July 31st.  The bill awaits approval from the Mayor. A bi-partisan bill, (H.R. 3419), was introduced in the U.S. House on July 30th by U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and 13 other Members of Congress asking for hate crimes statistical data to be collected on homeless people.

“The bottom line is, people need to be housed," said David Pirtle, a victim of violence and NCH Board member. "If the federal government adequately funds permanent affordable housing, fewer people will be on the streets, and fewer men and women will be attacked."

The report is available online here.

The National Coalition for the Homeless' mission is to end homelessness and poverty. NCH seeks to accomplish this mission through policy advocacy, litigation, public education, research, technical assistance, community organizing, and empowering the homeless population.

The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino is a nonpartisan research and policy center that addresses violence emanating from hate crime and extremist movements


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