Chronic Homelessness – Bergen County, NJ

Bergen County first in nation to end chronic homelessness, By Fausto Giovanny Pinto, March 28, 2017, Star-Ledger: “Bergen County has been certified as the first ‘community’ in the nation to end chronic homelessness.  The announcement was made by county and federal officials at the Bergen County Housing, Health and Human Services Center – which officials called integral in achieving the milestone…”

Homelessness in Orange County, CA

Price tag of homelessness in Orange County is nearly $300 million, UCI study finds, By Theresa Walker, March 8, 2017, Orange County Register: “Orange County would save $42 million a year in health care, law enforcement and other expenses by placing people who chronically live on the streets into housing, according to a first-ever countywide study of the costs of homelessness.  The study, conducted by UC Irvine researchers and released in summary form Tuesday, aimed to pinpoint how much money was spent on services and other costs related to homelessness during a 12-month period in 2014-15 by local cities, the county and non-governmental agencies. Overall, the price tag came to about $299 million, with the lion’s share – roughly $120 million – borne by the 34 cities that comprise the county…”

Homelessness in the US

  • How America counts its homeless – and why so many are overlooked, By Alastair Gee, Liz Barney and Julia O’Malley, February 16, 2017, The Guardian: “They dressed in several layers of clothing or donned old hats. They carried blankets and cardboard boxes. It was approaching midnight in New York one night in March 2005, and recruits who had been paid $100 each to pretend to be homeless were fanning out across the city.  There were 58 sites dotted throughout the metropolis. Pseudo-homeless people arrived at subway stations in Manhattan, back alleys in Staten Island and Queens, the front steps of a church in the Bronx. Then they waited to see if anyone noticed them…”
  • Doctors could prescribe houses to the homeless under radical Hawaii bill, By Liz Barney, February 28, 2017, The Guardian: “One day last month, Stephen Williams asked a passerby for help and then collapsed on the sidewalk. When the ambulance arrived in downtown Honolulu, his temperature was well over 104F.  A life-threatening staph infection had entered his bloodstream. Williams, who lives on the dusty streets of Chinatown, spent seven days hooked to an IV, treatment that can cost $40,000, according to the hospital that admitted him. But Williams didn’t pay: the bill was covered by government dollars in the form of Medicaid. Over the past four years, he has been to the hospital for infections 21 times, he said, a consequence of psoriasis flare-ups in a humid climate and unsanitary conditions…”
  • $3 million sought for Housing First effort, By Dan Nakaso, March 1, 2017, Honolulu Star Advertiser: “Three years after homeless people on Oahu were first placed into market-rate, Housing First rental units, the state wants to add another $3 million to expand the concept to Kauai, Maui and Hawaii island starting in April.  Under the program, imported from mainland communities, landlords are assured of rent and a social service contact to call to address any problems with their tenants, who may be dealing with various issues that could include mental illness and substance abuse…”

Criminalization of Homelessness

Rights battles emerge in cities where homelessness can be a crime, By Jack Healy, January 9, 2017, New York Times: “Condos and townhouses are rising beside the weedy lots here where Randy Russell once pitched a tent and unrolled a sleeping bag, clustering with other homeless people in camps that were a small haven to him, but an illegal danger in the eyes of city officials.  Living on the streets throws a million problems your way, but finding a place to sleep tops the list. About 32 percent of homeless people have no shelter, according to the federal government, and on Nov. 28, Mr. Russell, 56, was among them. He was sitting in an encampment just north of downtown when the police and city workers arrived to clear it away. A police officer handed Mr. Russell a citation…”

Homelessness in the US

  • US homelessness declines: What’s working?, By Amanda Hoover, November 17, 2016, Christian Science Monitor: “Chester Ross may soon be a rarity on the sidewalks of Boston.  ‘There’s too many homeless people out here,’ says Mr. Ross, bundled in a winter jacket on Boston’s Newbury Street, holding out an emptied plastic cup from 7-Eleven where coins and crumpled dollar bills gather. Sitting with his back against a fence, he’s propped a cardboard sign against his knees that reads: ‘I believe people help people in need and I am in need of help. Thank you, God Bless.’  As he looks down the tree-lined street in Back Bay, one of the city’s wealthiest downtown neighborhoods, he adds: ‘The housing is too expensive.’  But Boston may yet hold some lessons for solving homelessness…”
  • Homelessness in the U.S. was down slightly over the past year, By Pam Fessler, November 17, 2016, National Public Radio: “Homelessness in the U.S. declined over the past year. Even so, there were large increases in several cities, including Los Angeles and Seattle.  Overall, almost 550,000 individuals were homeless on a single night earlier this year, according to a new report by the Department of Housing and Urban Development…”
  • Homelessness drops across nation, but California count rises, By Steve Rubenstein, Jenna Lyons and Kevin Fagan, November 17, 2016, San Francisco Chronicle: “Homelessness across the United States fell slightly last year but increased in California and other West Coast states, largely due to a shortage of affordable housing, federal officials said Thursday.  Around the nation, homelessness was down 3 percent amid growing scrutiny of the problem. In California, however, homelessness climbed 3 percent, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s annual snapshot assessment of homelessness in America…”

Criminalization of Homelessness

Report: Cities passing more laws making homelessness a crime, By Cathy Bussewitz and Colleen Slevin (AP), November 15, 2016, Virginian-Pilot: “Cities across the country are enacting more bans on living in vehicles, camping in public and panhandling, despite federal efforts to discourage such laws amid a shortage of affordable housing, a new report said.  Denver, which ordered about 150 homeless people living on sidewalks to clear out their belongings Tuesday, was among four cities criticized for policies criminalizing homelessness in a report by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, an advocacy group aiming to prevent people from losing their homes. The other cities listed in its ‘hall of shame’ are in Hawaii, Texas and Washington state…”

Homelessness and Housing – Los Angeles, CA

Is the shift to permanent housing making L.A.’s homelessness problem even worse?, By Doug Smith, August 15, 2016, Los Angeles Times: “As Los Angeles grapples with the nation’s worst homelessness problem, experts have almost universally embraced permanent housing as the best approach for lifting people out of homelessness.  The strategy is to quickly re-house those who are able to live independently, and to provide housing with intensive on-site services for chronically homeless people for as long as it takes them to become independent, or for life if needed.  But the shift toward permanent housing has had a cost: As money has been directed away from programs that combine services with shorter-term housing, the region’s homelessness problem has gotten worse…”

Criminalization of Homelessness – Colorado

  • DU report finds Colorado cities spend millions arresting the homeless, By Tom McGhee and Katy Canada, February 16, 2016, Denver Post: “Denver spent more than $750,000 enforcing ordinances that target homelessness in 2014, a high price tag that has done little to alleviate a problem so apparent on city streets, a new report concludes…”
  • Report: Homelessness citations cost Colorado cities millions of dollars, By Nathaniel Minor, February 16, 2016, Colorado Public Radio: “The ‘criminalization’ of homelessness has cost six of Colorado’s largest cities at least $5 million from 2010-2014, according to new numbers from the University of Denver’s Homeless Advocacy Policy Project.  The report says laws that criminalize panhandling, camping and other activities associated with being homeless are not the right approach to dealing with the issue…”

Oregonian Series on Homelessness in Oregon

Our Homeless Crisis: A close look at homelessness in Oregon starts this weekend, By Anna Griffin, January 16, 2016, The Oregonian: “This weekend, we’ll publish the first story in a project that started last spring with a question, one readers ask anytime The Oregonian/OregonLive.com writes about poverty, panhandling or illegal camps: Is homelessness worse in Portland, or does it just feel that way? To find out, reporter Anna Griffin interviewed national experts, elected officials, nonprofit organizers, advocates for the poor, social workers, police officers, doctors, volunteers and dozens of men and women who are either homeless now or recently got indoors. She and visual journalists Thomas Boyd and Dave Killen visited shelters, soup kitchens, day centers and illegal homeless camps. In all, they interviewed more than 100 people. They’re still reporting – and want your input.   The answer about Portland is as complicated as the reasons people end up on the streets…”

Homelessness in Los Angeles

L.A. to declare ‘state of emergency’ on homelessness, commit $100 million, By Peter Jamison, David Zahniser and Matt Hamilton, September 25, 2015, Los Angeles Times: “Acknowledging their failure to stem a surge in homelessness, Los Angeles’ elected leaders on Tuesday said they would declare a ‘state of emergency’ and devote up to $100 million to the problem. But they offered few details about where the money would come from or how it would be spent, leaving some to question the effort’s chances of success. The announcement by seven City Council members and Mayor Eric Garcetti was a powerful signal of growing alarm at City Hall over L.A.’s homeless population, which has risen 12% since 2013, the year Garcetti took office. It coincided with a directive from the mayor Monday evening that the city free up an additional $13 million in the coming months to help house people living on the streets…”

Housing First – Utah

The surprisingly simple way Utah solved chronic homelessness and saved millions, By Terrence McCoy, April 17, 2015, Washington Post: “The story of how Utah solved chronic homelessness begins in 2003, inside a cavernous Las Vegas banquet hall populated by droves of suits. The problem at hand was seemingly intractable. The number of chronic homeless had surged since the early 1970s. And related costs were soaring. A University of Pennsylvania study had just showed New York City was dropping a staggering $40,500 in annual costs on every homeless person with mental problems, who account for many of the chronically homeless. So that day, as officials spit-balled ideas, a social researcher named Sam Tsemberis stood to deliver what he framed as a surprisingly simple, cost-effective method of ending chronic homelessness.  Give homes to the homeless…”

Homelessness in the US

  • National homelessness: Oregon shows 50 percent drop in number of homeless since 2010, By Stuart Tomlinson, October 30, 2014, The Oregonian: “Oregon is one of 36 states where homelessness decreased between 2013 and 2014, according to the U.S. Housing and Urban Development’s Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress. The report, released Thursday morning, is based on a single-night count made at the end of January of both sheltered and unsheltered homeless people. The Oregon count showed a decrease of 1,658 homeless people in 2014 from a year earlier. Oregon also saw a 38.2 percent decline in homeless people over the past 4 years, dropping from 19,492 people in 2010 to 12,164 in 2014…”
  • Homeless population in Mass. rising faster than any other state, By Katie Johnston, October 30, 2014, Boston Globe: “The homeless population in Massachusetts increased faster than in any other state in the nation, rising 40 percent since 2007 even as overall homelessness in the country declined, according to a report issued Thursday by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. But less than 4 percent of the homeless in Massachusetts live on the streets — one of the lowest rates in the country. Massachusetts is the only state in the country with a ‘right to shelter’ law that entitles every family to a roof over their heads the day they qualify for emergency housing. As a result, the vast majority of the state’s homeless population are in shelters or transitional housing…”
  • Nevada’s increase in homeless individuals largest in nation, By Yesenia Amaro, October 30, 2014, Las Vegas Review-Journal: “Twenty states saw an increase in the number of homeless individuals between 2013 and 2014, with Nevada experiencing the largest surge of 1,733 more individuals, according to a report released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Homeless individuals are defined as people who are not part of a family during their episode of homelessness, according to the 2014 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress…”
  • Homelessness Rose in New York, By Tatiana Schlossberg, October 30, 2014, New York Times: “The number of homeless people living on the streets and in shelters across the country fell this year, according to an annual federal survey released on Thursday. But in New York City, the homeless population continued to grow, swelling in almost every category: individuals, families and the chronically homeless. The report on homelessness, from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, is based on a nationwide ‘point-in-time’ survey conducted on a single night in January as part of the agency’s effort to track the homeless population over time and across the country…”

Chronic Homelessness – Utah

Will Utah end chronic homelessness in 2015?, By Christopher Smart, October 18, 2014, Salt Lake Tribune: “When Joseph Hardy and his three siblings were young, his mother took them from his polygamist father and bolted. They spent the next decade on the run — camping in the summers, crashing with friends when they could, and grabbing an inexpensive rental when the money held out. ‘I feel like I grew up in the back seat of a car,’ Hardy says today. At age 15, he began using methamphetamine to dull his grief and anxiety. Drug use and depression have ravaged his health, and he’s spent about 14 years of his life behind bars. But the last time he was arrested, Hardy was offered a new choice: treatment and his own apartment, with support from a caseworker to help him shape a new life…”

Homelessness and Housing First – Utah

  • Utah praised for initiative to end chronic homelessness, By Christopher Smart, October 8, 2014, Salt Lake Tribune: “Utah is making national headlines for a successful initiative to end chronic homelessness — it’s down 72 percent since 2005 — as the 11th Annual Utah Homeless Summit convenes Wednesday in Salt Lake City. The number of chronic homeless — people who have been without housing for more than a year or who have been homeless four times in three years — has dropped in the state from 1,932 in 2005 to 539 this year. But the overall number of homeless during that period has remained at about 13,600. Most of those people will find housing within a 12-month period, according to the ‘2014 Utah Comprehensive Report on Homelessness,’ released Wednesday…”
  • Affordable housing helps prevent, cures homelessness in Utah, new report says, By Marjorie Cortez, October 8, 2014, Deseret News: “Affordable housing is not only a key to preventing homelessness, it’s the cure to chronic homelessness, officials say. But Utah’s needs far outstrip the state’s ability to build affordable housing. Utah needs some 44,000 units of affordable housing statewide to keep pace with demand, according to federal and state estimates. When a segment of Utahns can’t afford housing, they’re at great risk of becoming homeless…”

Homelessness – Los Angeles, CA

Skid row: Renewed push for cleanups, social services for homeless, By Gale Holland, August 5, 2014, Los Angeles Times: “Acknowledging that law enforcement alone had failed to end homelessness on skid row, officials launched a city-county initiative Tuesday to bring social services and enhanced cleanups to the 50-block downtown Los Angeles district. ‘The seriousness of the situation makes this much more than a police issue,’ Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar said at a City Hall news conference. Starting this week, city and county agencies will go into the streets to offer health and housing services to the estimated 1,700 people living in tents and cardboard boxes in the most concentrated homeless enclave in the nation…”

Libraries and Homelessness

U.S. libraries become front line in fight against homelessness, By Ian Simpson, July 17, 2014, Chicago Tribune: “George Brown, a homeless man in Washington, has a simple answer when asked how often he uses a public library. ‘Always. I have nowhere else to go,’ Brown, 65, said outside the U.S. capital’s modernist central library after a morning reading sociology books. ‘When it’s hot, you come here to stay out of the heat. When it’s cold, you come here to stay out of the cold.’ Brown is among the hundreds of thousands of homeless people who have put the almost 9,000 U.S. public libraries, the most of any country in the world, in the forefront of the battle against homelessness. Moving beyond their old-fashioned image as book custodians where librarians shush people for talking too loud, libraries have evolved to serve as community centers, staffed with social workers and offering programs from meals to job counseling. . .”

Chronic Homelessness

This group thinks it’s found a way to end chronic homelessness. It’s working. By Robert Samuels, June 11, 2014, Washington Post: “Four years ago, a nonprofit organization named Community Solutions, declared they could reduce homelessness in the country by 100,000 people. On Wednesday, at a reception for about 100 people, campaign director Becky Kanis made the announcement: The plan worked, even better than they thought. “101,628″ read the placard displaying the number of people housed since the campaign began. In the Washington region, Montgomery County housed 96 homeless people during the campaign; Fairfax, 222; and Arlington, 90. The District, which this year saw a 13.5 increase in homelessness, housed 2,422. The announcement of the program’s success was notable. . .”

2013 US Homeless Count

  • New report: Big drops in veteran, chronic homelessness, By Marisol Bello, November 21, 2013, USA Today: “The number of homeless veterans and people who have been homeless for at least a year has dropped significantly, according to the latest survey by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The number of homeless veterans fell 24% over the past six years, to 57,850, and the number of chronically homeless people decreased 25% to 92,590. Overall, there were 610,040 homeless people in the USA, a 9% drop from 2007, according to the annual count of the homeless. The survey counted people at a given point in time this past January. The number of homeless families, which shot up during the recession, also decreased 8% since 2007 to 222,200, the report shows.”
  • Number of homeless people declines in annual count, By Carol Morello, November 21, 2013, Washington Post: “The number of people who were counted as homeless on a single night this year declined by almost 4 percent, with the biggest drops among families, veterans and those who have been homeless the longest, according to figures released Thursday. Across the United States, 610,000 people were homeless on the night in late January when the annual count is conducted. Most were living in emergency shelters or some form of temporary housing designed to be transitional, but one third were living in unsheltered locations, such as the streets and in fields…”

Homelessness and Housing

  • A new start for KC’s homeless as shelter eliminates daily lines for beds, By Lynn Horsley, November 13, 2013, Kansas City Star: “Every afternoon for 30 years, as many as 100 men and women have lined up behind reStart’s homeless shelter in downtown Kansas City, waiting for overnight stays in a grim dormitory. They got a free meal and bunk bed in a crowded room. They had to leave during the day, often to wander the streets and then return to line up again each afternoon. But by the end of this week reStart is declaring, ‘This is the end of the line.’ Literally. No more lining up. Instead, single adults will stay in rooms of four to six people that they can call home while reStart helps them find long-term housing. It’s part of a national trend to end chronic homelessness, and it’s showing early signs of success in Kansas City…”
  • Huge increase of mentally ill homeless in Alameda County, By Doug Oakley, November 14, 2013, Contra Costa Times: “The number of homeless people in Alameda County with severe mental illness jumped by 35 percent in just two years, according to a census taken earlier this year by a consortium of local agencies called EveryOne Home. The overall number of homeless people in the county was slightly higher since the last count two years ago, up 86 at 4,264, according to the report released Tuesday night. It did not break out individual cities within Alameda County. When the count was taken during the spring, 1,106 homeless identified themselves as having a severe mental illness, up from 818 in 2011, the report said…”

Homelessness in the US

Homeless population dips, By Greg Toppo, September 3, 2013, USA Today: “Despite a deep recession and a slow, fitful jobs recovery, one key indicator of the nation’s economic well-being has quietly improved nearly every year since 2005: homelessness. The number has dropped 17% in that span: An estimated 129,000 fewer Americans were homeless in 2012 than in 2005, even after a mortgage crisis kicked thousands out of their homes…”