Going Up, Going Down

Though every year communities understand that cold weather brings increased risk of illness and even death among those who do not have safe and permanent warm residence, it seems there is more contention about the opening of emergency winter shelters this year.  For that matter, it seems like there is ever more contention about the placement or even opening of emergency shelter beds, even as demand for emergency shelter is increasing.  Recent news stories show the number of people experiencing homelessness is:

Going Up

While the number of emergency shelter beds is not increasing with the need:

Going Down

The discussion that communities are having around opening emergency winter shelters for increased numbers of families and individuals they expect to need housing this winter could easily be shortened by providing that elusive solution to homelessness: housing.  The Obama Administration helped a great deal by providing permanent housing solutions through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.  But funds for programs like the Homeless Prevention and Rapid-Rehousing program are running out this year.  Our challenge remains to provide long-term housing solutions, while providing for the safety of families and individuals who have no place to call home tonight.

Lots of communities are providing these long-term solutions, like the 100,000 Homes Campaign, along with other programs dedicating new sources of permanent housing and working as a community to provide the services people need.  But the challenge still remains, how can we use what little funding is available to provide permanent and preventative solutions to homelessness, while ensuring that everyone who is homeless tonight has at least a warm bed and roof over their heads?

YOUR concern for your homeless neighbors, or advocacy for the homelessness YOU may be experiencing, is more critical that it has ever been.  Make homelessness a topic of regular conversation!  Talk to your family, friends, neighbors and legislators about the need for housing solutions now.  Let’s not sit by while families, brothers, daughters, parents freeze on our streets this winter.

Keep learning at www.nationalhomeless.org.

Book Review by Tracey Crocker (NCH VISTA in Florida)

“We have become so accustomed to living in a society saturated with misogyny that the barbaric treatment of women and girls has come to be more or less expected” – Bob Herbert, New York Times; 2009

This most recent addition to the Northeastern Series on Gender, Crime, and Law:  “Hard Times Mean Streets: Violence in the Lives of Homeless Women.” The book is an outstanding academic work that offers an in-depth look into the lives of homeless women; providing not only analysis of other relevant academic research but excellent quantitative and qualitative research.  The findings of this study prove what those working with the homeless already know:  gender and violence play key roles in the lives of homeless women.

“Hard Times Mean Streets: Violence in the Lives of Homeless Women” is based on the results of the Florida Four-City Study (Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, and Tampa).  Over 700 homeless women were interviewed, using structured quantitative interviews and in depth qualitative interviews.  The studies researchers took great care in validating their findings. Among the many notable findings of the Florida Four-City study is the correlation of violence/ victimization and adult homeless with patterns of childhood abuse (emotional, physical and, sexual).

There is outstanding cross referencing with hundreds of source materials (i.e. National Survey of Homeless Assistance Providers and Clients (NSHAPC), and the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) just to name a few).  The study also took into consideration explanations of victimization resulting from external forces defined by the “Routine Activities/Lifestyle Theory.”

“Hard Times Mean Streets: Violence in the Lives of Homeless Women” is a must read.  “Who cares, you know? Who fights for the homeless person….who cares?” (Tamara: homeless woman pg. 160).  WE DO!!!

Book Information

Title: Hard Lives, Mean Streets: Violence in the Lives of Homeless Women


  • Jana L. Jasinski: Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Central Florida
  • Jennifer K. Wesley: Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, University of North Florida.
  • James D. Wright: Provost Distinguished Research Professor of Sociology, University of Central Florida.
  • Elizabeth E. Mustaine: Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Central Florida.

Publisher: Northeastern University Press

                          University Press of New England

                          One Court Street

                          Lebanon NH 03766

Pages: 193

Date: May 2010

ISBN: 978-1-55553-721-0

Florida Congressman Introduces Resolution Recognizing National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day

Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) has introduced a House Concurrent Resolution expressing Congress’s support of the goals and ideals of National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day.  This year marks the 10th anniversary of National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day, which is observed on December 21, 2010.

“Winter is a notoriously difficult time of year for homeless people,” said Hastings, who serves as the Co-Founder and Co-Chairman of the Congressional Caucus on Homelessness.  ”Furthermore, the spirit of the holiday season provides an opportunity for promoting compassion and concern for all, especially the homeless.”

On or around the longest night of the year, December 21, the National Coalition for the Homeless and National Health Care for the Homeless Council hold memorial services for homeless individuals who have died from causes related to their homelessness. Throughout the state of Florida, this important day is being recognized, along with over 200 other local municipalities, organizations, and statewide organizations throughout the United States.  With the support of the National Coalition for the Homeless, National Consumer Advisory Board, and National Health Care for the Homeless Council; National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day brings attention to the tragedy of homelessness.

“Homelessness, however, is not just a local issue; it is a national problem that beckons national attention,” said Hastings. Hastings’ resolution encourages state and local governments, the President, media, and the general public to support the goals and ideals of National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day as well as reaffirms our country’s commitment to helping those less fortunate members of society and acknowledges the efforts of those who currently are.

“A national memorial day will ensure that we keep the problem in perspective,” further noted Hastings.  ”Through all the statistics on homelessness, it’s easy to forget that numbers correspond to actual individuals with lives and families.” We must remember their lives-men, women, and children-and we must remember why they died.”

Joining Hastings as original co-sponsors are (15) Representatives Eddie Bernice Johnson, Judy Biggert, Kathy Castor, Steve Cohen, John Conyers, Jr., Elijah E. Cummings, Geoff Davis, Ted Deutch, Barney Frank, Raúl M. Grijalva, Luis V. Gutiérrez, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Chellie Pingree, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and Lynn Woolsey.

Congressman Alcee L. Hastings is Vice Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, a senior member of the House Rules Committee, and Co-Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission.

View text of resolution.