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…”

Homelessness and Food Insecurity Among College Students

State’s public colleges see rise in hunger, homelessness, By Michael Levenson, January 25, 2017, Boston Globe: “The state’s colleges and universities are reporting that hunger and homelessness among students have increased over the past year, an alarming new disclosure that makes clear that many low-income students have far more to worry about than just exams and extracurricular activities.  The findings, released Tuesday, come from a survey of administrators at the 29 state colleges and universities, 24 of which operate their own food pantries or have partnerships with community food banks…”

Homelessness in Los Angeles

Homeless people face L.A. crackdown on living in cars, By Gale Holland, January 24, 2017, Los Angeles Times: “Los Angeles’ new ordinance on living in cars was billed as a boon to homeless people, making it legal for the first time to park and sleep in half the city’s streets.  But with the measure set to kick in Feb. 6, a new map suggests the law could trigger a crackdown on some of the city’s 28,000 homeless people…”

Homelessness in New York City

Mayor de Blasio scrambles to curb homelessness after years of not keeping pace, By J. David Goodman and Nikita Stewart, January 13, 2017, New York Times: “During Mayor Bill de Blasio’s first year in office, the Department of Homeless Services created 16 new shelters across New York City to house more than a thousand families and hundreds of single adults.  Then, for eight months, the city stopped opening shelters. With the number of people falling into homelessness still rising and with shelter beds running short, the city instead turned to what was supposed to be a stopgap: hotels…”

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 and Hunger in U.S. Cities

  • Homelessness declining in nation’s cities, but hunger is on the rise, By Octavio Blanco, December 14, 2016, CNN Money: “Even though homelessness in America’s cities continues to decline, food banks and pantries are still being stretched thin as the number of people seeking emergency food assistance climbs, according to a survey of mayors from 38 of the nation’s cities.  The number of people seeking emergency food assistance increased by an average of 2% in 2016, the United States Conference of Mayors said in its annual report Wednesday…”
  • Charleston’s homeless and hunger problems ranked against other cities, By Robert Behre, December 15, 2016, Post and Courier: “Charleston saw a 6 percent increase in requests for emergency food assistance last year — more than the national average — and local governments and nonprofits distributed almost 1,500 tons of food.  Those statistics are from the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Annual 2016 Hunger and Homelessness Report released Wednesday…”
  • D.C. has the highest homeless rate of 32 U.S. cities, a new survey finds, By Justin Wm. Moyer, December 14, 2016, Washington Post: “The District had the highest rate of homelessness in a new survey that looked at the problem in 32 U.S. cities. The ‘Hunger and Homelessness’ survey from the U.S. Conference of Mayors found that D.C. has 124.2 homeless people for every 10,000 residents in the general population. The city also had one of the fastest increases in homelessness between 2009 and 2016, with a 34.1 percent gain. By comparison, New York had the largest increase during that period, at 49 percent…”

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 in Los Angeles, CA

A fix for L.A.’s homeless crisis isn’t cheap. Will voters go for $1.2 billion in borrowing?, By Doug Smith, October 20, 2016, Los Angeles Times: “For years, many Los Angeles residents have watched with alarm as homeless encampments spread across the city, from the sidewalks of skid row to alleys in South Los Angeles, behind shopping centers in the Valley and even  on the bluffs above the Pacific Ocean.  Next month, voters will have to decide whether these concerns are strong enough to approve a new tax to fight homelessness…”

Homelessness and Housing – Madison, WI

  • ‘We are failing’: Need overwhelms patchwork of homeless service providers, By Dean Mosiman and Doug Erickson, August 28, 2016, Wisconsin State Journal: “Death, for Roy and Cindy Jacobs, had become preferable to the grind of living on the streets from their 1983 Chevy van.  For months, since their lease was not renewed in the summer of 2015, they sought housing, chased meals, struggled to stay clean and find restrooms, saw degrading and illicit behavior, and engaged the elements as part of a small group of homeless living out of beaten vehicles parked on East Side streets.  By late March, the couple were on the verge of suicide, their despair unbearable by Easter morning. ‘Things were just out of control,’ Roy said. ‘We were right there. I even wrote a goodbye letter.’ That morning, they showed up early, as usual, for volunteer work at First United Methodist Church Downtown, which was providing a meal for the homeless later in the day…”
  • Shelter, at a cost: Madison’s outmoded homeless shelters can be dehumanizing, demoralizing, By Doug Erickson and Dean Mosiman, August 31, 2016, Wisconsin State Journal: “As Madison looks at potentially big changes to its homeless shelter system, its current hodgepodge of ill-suited, outdated drop-in sites has fallen far behind what experts recommend for shelters that promote dignity and contribute to a person’s recovery.  The shelters have long been considered deficient, their flaws readily acknowledged and bemoaned by those who run them.  None of the sites was built as a shelter. Homeless men sleep in church basements. The facility for single women and families is a former Catholic school.  In many areas, from the degree of privacy to the number of toilets and the amount of storage space, they come up short compared to facilities in other cities and models espoused in the field…”

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…”

Connecting the Homeless to Services

This Republican mayor has an incredibly simple idea to help the homeless. And it seems to be working, By Colby Itkowitz, August 11, 2016, Washington Post: “Republican Mayor Richard Berry was driving around Albuquerque last year when he saw a man on a street corner holding a sign that read: ‘Want a Job. Anything Helps.’  Throughout his administration, as part of a push to connect the homeless population to services, Berry had taken to driving through the city to talk to panhandlers about their lives. His city’s poorest residents told him they didn’t want to be on the streets begging for money, but they didn’t know where else to go.  Seeing that sign gave Berry an idea. Instead of asking them, many of whom feel dispirited, to go out looking for work, the city could bring the work to them…”

Student Homelessness in Madison, WI

Shelter to school: For homeless 6-year-old, kindergarten provides stability in an otherwise chaotic life, By Doug Erickson and Dean Mosiman, July 17, 2016, Wisconsin State Journal: “Six-year-old K’won Watson cries as his mother rouses him at the Salvation Army homeless shelter in Madison. He had wanted more sleep and will spend much of the school day yawning.  It is March, and K’won is in kindergarten — one of the hundreds of students who are homeless in Madison on any given day.  He and his infant brother, Amir, and their mother, Alicia Turner, 25, are living at the shelter in a dormitory-style room that is clean but spare. To add some warmth, Turner has decorated the door with three drawings she’s done with colored markers — two of butterflies, one of a fruit basket.  Like his older brother, Amir wakes up cranky, too. Turner changes his diaper while sending K’won to brush his teeth in restrooms shared by 18 families…”

Homelessness and Food Insecurity Among College Students

  • Cal State University looks to stem homelessness, hunger among students, By Josh Dulaney, June 21, 2016, Long Beach Press Telegram: “On the heels of a report showing close to one in 10 Cal State University students are homeless or face housing instability, officials met this week in Long Beach to come up with solutions to help students. ‘I think we’re going to start getting some greater awareness across this country because of Cal State — because of our size and importance — is raising this issue across the nation, and we’re not alone in doing so,’ Chancellor Timothy P. White said at the outset of the two-day meeting at the Chancellor’s Office…”
  • Food pantries address a growing hunger problem at colleges, By Stephanie Saul, June 22, 2016, New York Times: “Tucked away in a discreet office atBrooklyn College’s Student Center, beyond the pool tables and wide-screen TVs where her classmates congregate, Rebecca Harmata discovered a lifeline.  A psychology major who works in a doctor’s office to pay for her education, Ms. Harmata describes a break-even, paycheck-to-paycheck existence, with little left over for luxuries — or even for food.  So when she saw a sign last fall advertising the school’s new free food pantry, she decided to take advantage…”

Homelessness in Seattle, WA

  • Seattle may try San Francisco’s ‘radical hospitality’ for homeless, By Daniel Beekman, June 11, 2016, Seattle Times: “Denise and Michael were relaxing on a sunny Friday afternoon.  She sat on their bed in pajamas, folding laundry, while he roughhoused with their friend’s pit bull. Soul standards were blaring from a boombox.  There was something homey about the scene, even though the couple were homeless. Denise and Michael were inside San Francisco’s Navigation Center, an experimental shelter where guests come and go as they please and where pets, partners and possessions are welcome…”
  • Houston’s solution to the homeless crisis: Housing — and lots of it, By Daniel Beekman, June 13, 2016, Seattle Times: “Anthony Humphrey slept on the pavement outside a downtown Houston drop-in center. Except when a Gulf Coast rainstorm slammed the city — then he took cover under a storefront awning or below Interstate 45.  He had no driver’s license, no Social Security card, almost no hope. That was in 2014. This month, Humphrey will celebrate a year in his apartment…”

Wisconsin State Journal Series on Homelessness in Madison

Homeless in Madison | A City Challenged, series homepage, By Dean Mosiman and Doug Erickson, June, 2016, Wisconsin State Journal: “They sleep in beaten vehicles and tents in the woods. Doubled up with family or friends in worn apartments and ratty motel rooms. Huddled under bridges and in crowded shelters. The stereotype is a weathered denizen of the Capitol Square. In reality, perhaps half are children, most out of sight. Despite the efforts of many, perhaps 2,400 men, women and children are homeless on any given night in Madison. Statewide, that number swells to 20,000— enough to fill the Kohl Center, and then some. The number of homeless people seeking help in the state grew by 18 percent this decade…”

Aging Homeless Population

Old and on the street: The graying of America’s homeless, By Adam Nagourney, May 31, 2016, New York Times: “They lean unsteadily on canes and walkers, or roll along the sidewalks of Skid Row here in beat-up wheelchairs, past soiled sleeping bags, swaying tents and piles of garbage. They wander the streets in tattered winter coats, even in the warmth of spring. They worry about the illnesses of age and how they will approach death without the help of children who long ago drifted from their lives. ‘It’s hard when you get older,’ said Ken Sylvas, 65, who has struggled with alcoholism and has not worked since he was fired in 2001 from a meatpacking job. ‘I’m in this wheelchair. I had a seizure and was in a convalescent home for two months. I just ride the bus back and forth all night.’ The homeless in America are getting old…”

Family Homelessness – Washington DC

There are now more homeless kids and parents in D.C. than homeless single adults, By Aaron C. Davis, May 11, 2016, Washington Post: “The number of homeless families in the District has soared by more than 30 percent compared with a year ago, according to a federal estimate released Wednesday.  For the first time since the annual census began in 2001, homeless children and their parents in the District outnumbered homeless single adults, a population beset by mental illness and disabilities that historically has loomed as the larger and more in­trac­table problem in cities nationwide…”

Homelessness in Los Angeles, CA

L.A. sees another sharp rise in homelessness and outdoor tents, By Gale Holland and Peter Jamison, May 4, 2016, Los Angeles Times: “Homelessness increased in the last year in the city and county of Los Angeles, leaving nearly 47,000 people in the streets and shelters despite an intensive federal push that slashed the ranks of homeless veterans by nearly a third, according to figures released Wednesday by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.  Nearly two-thirds of the homeless people tallied countywide, or 28,000, were in the city of Los Angeles, representing an 11% jump in January from a year earlier, a report from the agency stated. The county’s homeless population grew 5.7%.  Homelessness has increased steadily since 2013, as local officials struggle to identify funding for billion-dollar plans they approved this year to solve one of the region’s most intractable problems…”