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Posts Tagged ‘Poverty’

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)

2016 Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week

Written by admin on . Posted in Advocacy, Awareness, Community Organizing, Criminalization, Hunger, Toolkits

hhaw-logo-websiteToday, hundreds of colleges, churches, community groups, and service agencies across the country announced the start of Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, an annual week of action where people come together to draw attention to poverty in their communities. Participating organizations will spend the week holding educational, community service, fundraising, and advocacy events to address these critical issues.

“This is the time of year when we all reflect on our lives, finding gratitude and peace in where and who we are,” said Megan Hustings, Director of the National Coalition for the Homeless. “But there are so many families that will not be able to come together during the season, strained by poor paying jobs, the lack of affordable housing, and even destitution. Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week brings communities across the country together to educate ourselves and our elected officials about what is really happening in our communities.”

H&H Week: A Quick Reference Guide

Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week is co-sponsored by the National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness. The event originated at Villanova University in 1975, and now takes place in nearly 700 communities across the country.

“Hunger and homelessness are epidemics that sadly affect every community across America,” said James Dubick, Director of the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness. “Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week gives local groups a collective opportunity to tackle these issues head on, rally public support, and call for solutions.”

Let us reiterate, it is imperative that we let our voices be heard that homelessness and hunger need to be addressed in real ways. We need to hold our elected officials and communities accountable to ensuring that all of our neighbors have access to safe, affordable housing, and the supports needed to maintain that housing.

Ideas for raising awareness

Being A Good Neighbor

Written by Je'Lissa on . Posted in Advocacy, Civil Rights, Community Organizing, Housing, Poverty

Compassion and charity have never been enough to address the realities plaguing a society’s most vulnerable citizens long-term. Efforts toward obtaining a living wage, developing more affordable, secure and safe housing, ending community violence and law enforcement brutality, and protecting the rights of people experiencing homelessness must be transformative for lasting change. How we address poverty and its emerging issues, and all forms of oppression is measurement of how we see ourselves in relation to each other in community as neighbors, and ultimately as fellow human beings.

In 1956 as he prepared for the Montgomery bus protests, Dr. King delivered his sermon “On Being a Good Neighbor” and identified our neighbor as “Anyone who lies in need at life’s roadside.” As he reflected on the issues of the day, he asked his listeners, “What would happen if we do not take a stand?” That question is still pertinent today, as we reflect on the Trayvon Martins, the Sandra Blands, the victims of gun violence, the growing number of children without permanent housing, and the women and men burdened with fines and arrest records for inhabiting public spaces. These are a few of our neighbors who can be counted among the most vulnerable and in need.

Unfortunately, it seems that we sometimes struggle with what it means to be a good neighbor to those who are like us, and much too often to those who are not like us. Maybe we feel powerless, are fearful, blame the victimized, or have been lulled into complacency and passivity. Fortunately, history bears witness to what committed people awaken to the call for greater humanity can accomplish.

As we engage in activities across the nation commemorating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, two questions arise, “How open are our ears, minds, and hearts to today’s voices echoing his call for social and economic justice? And, what are we willing to do to get it done?” Dr. King’s question nearly sixty years ago allows us to individually and collectively identify if we can be counted among the active participants to bring about change for our day. This year as we celebrate his life and legacy let us become awaken to the call for justice in new ways. Whether we find ourselves involved in community, seated at tables of power, members of faith communities, or on social media, let us shake the trees of fear, complacency and passivity with active involvement in causes and movements that seek solutions. Let us be active for change, and by doing so take a stand that reflects the essence of being a good neighbor.

– DeBorah Gilbert White, Founder and Coordinator of HerStory Ensemble

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