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Natural Disasters and Homelessness

Written by admin on . Posted in Advocacy, Awareness, Outreach

Natural Disasters and Homelessness Fact Sheet 2009

Click here to view our Factsheet on Disasters and Homelessness

Extreme weather events are a very common cause of homelessness, especially when insurance and other rebuilding resources are limited. Many are still working to rebuild their lives from storms and other natural disasters that occurred years ago.

But as an outreach worker in Houston says, “help for the homeless, often hard to come by under normal circumstances, likely will be even more challenging in the storm’s aftermath.” Moreover, people living on fixed incomes, working poor families, and those who are homeless often do not have the resources to evacuate or even collect needed supplies.

The National Coalition for the Homeless urges all those suffering under extreme weather conditions, or sharing concern for those affected, to consider with assistance and compassion the position of families and individuals who are not able to get out of a storm’s path.

Consider the words of some homeless Houstonians (from this article):

“It’s just rain,” he said, echoing the words of others on the streets.

The camp’s unofficial leader is Stanley Unc, 56…He says even if conditions were worse here, many wouldn’t have blinked — they are toughened by lives lived outside. He said others can’t grasp what their lives are like each day, much less on a day when a Category 4 hurricane hits. “They know what it took them through and we went right in the middle of it,” he said.

Below are some resources for those who are in the path of Irma in Florida, and those affected by Harvey in Texas:

Broward County, Florida:

“Broward County residents who do not have a permanent home or place of safety to reside are especially vulnerable during emergencies, such as a hurricane. When a Hurricane Warning is announced, the Homeless Helpline 954-563-HELP (4357), provides information and referral for homeless services in Broward County, including assistance in finding shelter, support services, or programs for individuals or families who are homeless or on the verge of being homeless.

Additionally, when a hurricane warning is announced or a mandatory evacuation order is issued, Broward County Transit (BCT) buses will offer evacuation transportation from the assigned pick-up points to General Population shelters. Transportation will continue until sustained winds reach 39 miles per hour.

Pick-up Points for Persons Experiencing Homelessness

North Central South
100 West Atlantic Boulevard
Pompano Beach, Fl 33060

(South Side Parking Lot)

Salvation Army Lodge
1445 West Broward Blvd
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312

954-524-6991

Corner of N. 21 Ave
& Lincoln St.
Hollywood, Fl 33020

(East of railroad tracks)

Corner of N. 21 Ave
& Sherman Street
Hollywood, Fl 33020

(East of railroad tracks)


What to Bring
: Homeless persons are allowed one suitcase, duffel bag or plastic bag of belongings at the shelter. Additional belongings may be left at the nearest feeding program pick-up point until the evacuation order is lifted.

For more information, call Homeless Helpline at 954-563-HELP (4357).​​​

Florida Keys/Monroe County, Florida:

The Monroe County Emergency Operations Center is now operational and the Emergency Information line is up and running for those who have questions about Hurricane Irma. The Emergency Information number is 1-800-955-5504.

Key West Transit will begin hurricane evacuation service at noon Thursday. Buses will be clearly marked “hurricane evacuation” on the destination boards. They will circulate throughout the city, picking up riders at regular bus stops. Riders will be transferred at the Transit Center on Stock Island, and the buses will proceed to the hurricane shelter at Florida International University, picking up riders along US 1.

Evacuees are asked to go to the nearest bus stop, or the Transit Center on College Road. Pickups will continue throughout the afternoon Thursday and resume at 6 a.m. on Friday. Weapons and alcohol are prohibited on the buses.

Regular bus service – Citywide, the Duval Loop and the Lower Keys Shuttle – will end at midnight Wednesday, September 6th.

Manatee County, Florida

Miami, Florida

Orlando, Florida

National Resources

Harvey Recovery Resources

 

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)

HUD Continues to Undercount Homeless

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

New report once again misleads lawmakers and the public about the supposed ‘decline’ in numbers of people experiencing homelessness in the United States.

Housing UndercountWashington, December 19, 2016 –
As we rapidly approach the end of another year, cities around the country are preparing vigils recognizing those who have lived and died without adequate housing in 2016. November’s release of the Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress by the Department of Housing and Urban Development may give those attending some small cause for hope, describing a 3% decrease in the number of men, women, and children experiencing homelessness, counted on a single winter night, over last year’s number.

Unfortunately the report leaves out some important information. For instance, the count in question tallies those staying in emergency and transitional shelters, as well as those who can be located outside. HUD’s recent decreases in funding for such shelters means fewer members of the homeless population are easily accounted for. HUD provides bonuses to communities that decrease their count, creating a disincentive for those conducting counts to locate every unsheltered person in their neighborhoods.

Furthermore, HUD only asks communities to report those who it considers “literally homeless.” This doesn’t include the large numbers of individuals and families who are doubled up or “couch surfing” with friends and relatives. This unrealistic definition of homelessness explains why HUD reported just over 120,000 children experiencing homelessness on a given night, while the Department of Education has reported well over ten times as many children youths registered as homeless in recent years, a number that has more than doubled over the last decade.

The reports of HUD and other governmental and non-governmental organizations purporting to chart a decline in the numbers of those experiencing homelessness are doing a disservice to those men and women who we have lost this year without the basic dignities afforded by secure housing. While so many of those who are tasked with ending homelessness in America won’t admit to the actual scope of the problem, they cannot be relied upon to enact meaningful solutions to it.

The National Coalition for the Homeless calls upon the Department of Housing and Urban Development to face up to the reality that homelessness is not diminishing in America. We call on HUD and its allies to work with us and other organizations to put into place housing policies and investments that will ensure an end to the memorial vigils that have become a disgraceful necessity every December 21st, the longest night of the year.

Press Contact:
Megan Hustings, Interim Director
Phone: (202) 462-4822 ext. 234
Email: mhustings @ nationalhomeless.org

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