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THE JUDICIAL CONNECTION TO HOUSING

Written by admin on . Posted in Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – The impact of judicial nominees can be traced back to the founding of this nation. Today that impact was felt in a painful way when Texas federal judge John Barker ruled that the current CDC moratorium exceeded the authority of the constitution. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued order 361 of the public health act to temporarily halt evictions back on September 4, 2020. This guidance shielded some tenants from eviction due to the current coronavirus pandemic. This order was also issued to help prevent spread of the coronavirus. 

The state of Texas, which ranks at the top in carrying out evictions, is helping perpetuate homelessness. The state is living up to their slogan “everything is bigger in Texas”. According to the Eviction Lab, there have been 2,668 evictions carried out in the United States just in the last seven days. The state of Texas ranks at the top when it comes to executing evictions. Since March of last year, cities in Texas evicted people at an alarming rate. Austin executed 877 evictions, Fort Worth 12,353 evictions, and Houston executed 24,355 evictions. Bigger does not always equate to better.

The National Coalition for the Homeless supports adhering to eviction moratoria, and preventing housing displacement due to the pandemic economic downturn. As the top public health agency of the federal government, the CDC issued an order meant to protect the health and safety of everyone. By allowing evictions to proceed, city and state governments are ignoring the purpose of the CDC’s moratorium and guidance on quarantine and social distance. Housing is a human right.  It says so in our declaration of independence; life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Public servants including the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government are supposed to execute that, not evictions. 

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NCH Statement on Senate Parliamentarian decision regarding Minimum Wage increase

Written by admin on . Posted in News

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – Elizabeth MacDonough, the current Senate Parliamentarian ruled today that the Raise the Wage Act would not be included in the current American Rescue Plan. Her decision now puts a temporary halt to the Democrats plan to raise the wage. During a recent townhall, Senator Bernie Sanders I-VT, indicated that this fight to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour is not over. It’s disappointing for someone that does not have a vote to make that decision, but we will not give up. There are other ways to do this.

There are other economic solutions to focus on beside raising the wage that may make wages more sustainable. Guaranteed Income and Universal Livable Wage would eliminate the argument that jobs and businesses would be lost. It now becomes a matter of the will of the people instead of the skill of the politician.

Background:
In 12 years, the cost of most necessities like housing, transportation and medical care, have increased, and in some cases, astronomically increased. But this the longest period of time the Federal minimum wage has remained stagnant since it was created. While the minimum wage is not the cause of homelessness, it does contribute to it. In the United States, there is not one county where you can afford a two-bedroom apartment working 40 hours per week earning minimum wage.

There are success stories with cities that have raised their own wages to $15 per hour. Millions of Americans have been lifted out of poverty, while millions are still there. In the most expensive cities in the nation, $15 per hour keep Americans in poverty. We are exploring things like guaranteed incomes and wages indexed to the local cost of housing. There is a deep income divide that must be addressed. Stay tuned, game on.

People who are Unhoused Should be Involved in Oversight of Shelters and Funding Decisions

Written by admin on . Posted in Uncategorized

The horrific story of the Bronx Parent Housing Network presented in the New York Times recently points to the need for those experiencing homelessness to be more involved in the governance, oversight and distribution of homeless dollars in every city in the United States.  Staff and Board of the National Coalition wish to express our deep and profound sadness that women were allegedly sexually abused at a publicly funded shelter in New York City, and condemn all abuse, especially when inflicted on those seeking help in traumatic times. 

“It is shocking that the board of an agency serving abuse victims would not put in place strict protocols to protect those women from assaults while they are attempting to rebuild their lives. This agency is using taxpayer dollars to provide emergency housing, and these staff and residents faced some of the same misogynistic, controlling behavior they were fleeing. It points to a need for better oversight by both the local government as well as the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the source of much of this funding,” said Donald Whitehead, executive director of NCH.

We believe that if people experiencing homeless were more involved in a meaningful way in the governance of the shelters in the United States, staff exploitation and harassment would be significantly decreased. Consumer feedback is a necessity in so many industries, why not in homeless or other social services? We at NCH have long advocated for both currently and formerly homeless folks to be employed with the task of collecting and reporting shelter concerns to community leaders. 

The agency facing these disgusting allegations rose from a small organization only 5 years ago to a multi-million dollar operation, in response to the explosion of homelessness in NYC. We now spend billions of federal dollars to provide direly needed services to those experiencing homelessness across the country. Yet no city has instituted full oversight by people who have used these services. Unfortunately, people who are utilizing the services are not treated as equals to homeless services providers, Continuum of Care funding boards or in the oversight of the shelters.   

This is not an isolated incident in New York City. We have documented media accounts of exploitation and harassment at shelters in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Los Angeles, Florida, and Washington, DC. But there are many examples of homeless led organizations that could be tapped by HUD and local communities to provide oversight of homeless services. San Francisco’s Coalition on Homelessness has the most advanced Shelter Monitoring Committee which could be modelled around the country.  Baltimore, Cleveland, Denver, Portland and Philadelphia all have the infrastructure in place to take a leadership role in monitoring and providing peer support. 

We must more fully integrate those experiencing homelessness into reforming our systems. NCH demands that:

  • Communities receiving federal homeless dollars initiate a review of protections against the harassment and exploitation of residents.
  • Each funded Continuum of Care should have a reporting system that prompts action by the local government.
  • Cities should employ an advisory committee of people who have been homeless, or a homeless ombudsman, to review agencies serving people who are unhoused and ensure that they are acting in the best interest of those experiencing homelessness.
  • HUD initiate a process where local groups of unhoused folks are given a chance to weigh in on local funding decisions, and ensure that recommendations are taken seriously by community leaders. 

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