Homelessness in Wisconsin

GOP lawmakers offer legislation to address homelessness, including key council, By Dean Mosiman, April 12, 2017, Wisconsin State Journal: “Following spending initiatives in Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget, Republican state lawmakers are offering a series of bills intended to reduce homelessness in Wisconsin, including a high-powered council that’s at or near the top of a key state advocate’s wishlist.  State Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna, and Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, on Wednesday will offer a legislative package of four bills that would provide new structure to state efforts to reduce and end homelessness, adjust some current programs and test new approaches…”

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 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…”

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…”

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…”

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…”

Emergency Responders and the Homeless

San Francisco firefighters become unintended safety net for the homeless, By Sarah Maslin Nir, August 26, 2015, New York Times: “When the emergency bell sounds at Fire Station 1 here, firefighters pull on boots and backpacks, swing into Engine 1 and hurtle out the door in almost a single motion, a blast of red lights and caterwauling sirens. More often than not, there is no fire. Instead, the calls that ring in this and nearby fire stations tend to go like this: Male, apparently homeless, sprawled unconscious on a train platform. Male, prone on a street corner pushing a needle into his arm. In a measure of just how much homelessness has become an all-encompassing problem here, this city has the busiest fire engine in America — yet just over 1.5 percent of its runs last year involved fires…”

Homelessness in Los Angeles, CA

  • L.A. moves closer to easing limits on seizing homeless people’s belongings, By Gale Holland, June 9, 2015, Los Angeles Times: “The city of Los Angeles moved closer Monday to making it easier to remove homeless people’s belongings from public parks, over opposition from City Councilman Gil Cedillo, who said it was a failed strategy. ‘We have pursued a strategy that does not work,’ Cedillo told the arts, parks, health, aging and river committee, which voted 4 to 1 to approve the new ordinance. ‘The overemphasis on policing is a fetter.’  In 2012, a federal appeals court ruled the city could seize and destroy transients’ possessions only if they posed an immediate threat to public health or were evidence of a crime. The court also required the city to give owners a chance to reclaim their belongings before they are destroyed…”
  • L.A. city homeless committee debuts with calls for restrooms, showers and shelter, By Gale Holland, June 19, 2015, Los Angeles Times: “The Los Angeles City Council’s new homeless committee kicked off Thursday with members calling for the city to provide showers, restrooms and emergency shelter to help indigents survive in the streets with dignity. At the committee’s inaugural meeting, members also discussed developing transitional and bridge lodgings for homeless people while they await permanent lodging, new storage facilities for their possessions and parking lots for people who live in their cars…”

Internet Access for the Homeless

Fighting homelessness, one smartphone at a time, By Claire Cain Miller, April 14, 2015, New York Times: “Holly Leonard has been homeless on and off for years. There was a stint in jail and, more recently, a period in a women’s homeless shelter, while her husband slept in their car. But last month, the two moved into a one-bedroom apartment in San Jose, Calif., complete with a small garden. Ms. Leonard found it on Craigslist while using her Nexus 5 smartphone — a donation from Google that she got from a San Jose nonprofit called Community Technology Alliance…”

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. . .”