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 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 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 and Housing – New York City

Confronting surge in homelessness, New York City expands use of hotels, By William Neuman, December 7, 2016, New York Times: “Facing a continued surge in the homeless population, New York City officials are aggressively expanding the costly and highly criticized practice of using hotels to plug gaps in the city’s strained shelter system. The increase has been stark: About 12 percent of the total homeless population is now being housed in hotel rooms, compared with just 4 percent in January…”

Youth Homelessness

  • Youth homelessness in Baltimore higher than previously thought, By Colin Campbell, November 30, 2016, Baltimore Sun: “Homelessness among Baltimore youths is much higher than previously thought, according to an Abell Foundation report released Wednesday.  More than 1,400 young people under the age of 25 were unaccompanied by a parent or guardian, without a safe, stable, affordable place to live, according to data collected by homeless advocates, service providers, the University of Maryland, the city and other stakeholders…”
  • City adds beds, services for homeless youth, By Julia Terruso, November 30, 2016, Philadelphia Inquirer: “In response to a rapid increase in youth homelessness, Philadelphia announced Tuesday that it will dedicate $700,000 to pay for additional beds, job training, and employment and counseling support targeting people 18 to 24…”
  • Against all odds — and with a little help — homeless students find a brighter future, By Kyra Gurney, December 2, 2016, Miami Herald: “One month into his senior year of high school, Terrence Nickerson found himself homeless and alone. He had been kicked out of his step-father’s house after an argument and had no money, no nearby family and nowhere to go. After crashing with friends for a month, Nickerson wound up at a homeless shelter in downtown Miami, in a large dormitory where 100 men slept in wall-to-wall bunk beds. For the first week he was there, Nickerson walked from the Chapman Partnership shelter on North Miami Avenue to Miami Jackson Senior High School in Allapattah — over an hour each way…”

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…”

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…”

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 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…”

Homelessness in Minneapolis, MN

Homelessness increases despite decade-long push to end it in Minneapolis, Hennepin County, By Steve Brandt, February 28, 2016, Star Tribune: “A decadelong quest to end homelessness in Minneapolis and Hennepin County has yielded discouraging results: The number of people without homes hasn’t dropped. It has risen. There are 231 more homeless people — living in the streets, in emergency shelters or in transitional housing — in Hennepin County in the final year of the push than when it began in 2007. Last year’s count found 3,125 homeless people in the county, which accounts for two of every five homeless Minnesotans. Homeless counts also are up statewide for the same period, despite an 11 percent drop nationally…”

Homeless Youth – New York City

Homeless young people of New York, overlooked and underserved, By Nikita Stewart, February 5, 2016, New York Times: “Hundreds of homeless young people are in plain sight every day in New York City.  They are sitting on the floor at the Port Authority Bus Terminal and charging their phones as if they were college students awaiting a bus home. They are huddled on the sidewalk, hanging out. They sleep on friends’ couches and in strangers’ beds. They stay with ‘Uncle A.C.E.,’ code for the long route of the A train, where they can spend hours unbothered and unnoticed. Mostly, they just blend in, people in their late teens or early 20s, navigating a treacherous path into adulthood…”

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…”

Veteran Homelessness

Cities, states fight veteran homelessness, By Jen Fifield, December 21, 2015, Stateline: “The smell of coffee filled the air on a recent Thursday morning in Carpenter’s Shelter, a homeless shelter here, as about a dozen people milled about. Two U.S. Army veterans were among them: a middle-aged man and woman who aren’t looking for a permanent place to live. They said the food, showers and services at the shelter are enough, for now. The Obama administration, in June 2014, challenged local governments to find a home for all veterans who want one by the end of this month. At least nine states and 850 municipalities tried to meet the goal, but Virginia and 15 municipalities were the only ones that succeeded…”

Homelessness and Housing

  • States freed to use Medicaid money for housing, By Michael Ollove, November 20, 2015, Stateline: “Communities with big homeless populations are increasingly turning to a strategy known as housing first. The idea: helping chronically homeless people to find a permanent home—and stay in it—is the best way to help them lead stable, healthy lives. The approach has been used in cities like Chicago and Cleveland, as well as in several states, such as Massachusetts, Minnesota and Washington, as local nonprofits have worked to provide both housing and health care to homeless people…”
  • ‘City of shanties’ in L.A. as homeless cluster in urban areas, By James Nash and Esmé E Deprez, November 18, 2015, Bloomberg: “Homelessness is on the rise in many of America’s biggest cities as wealth concentrates in urban centers, elevating rents and squeezing supplies of affordable housing in places like Los Angeles and New York, new federal data show. Homelessness in and around big U.S. cities increased 3 percent this year, even as the nation’s overall rate declined 2 percent, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released Thursday…”
  • In one California community, a different approach to homelessness, By Gloria Goodale, December 1, 2015, Christian Science Monitor: “On a sunny morning in the beachfront community of Pacific Palisades, Steven ‘Boston’ Michaud perches confidently on a large dock tie just above the sand. He waves vaguely at the hills above the Pacific Coast Highway, indicating where he sleeps. ‘It’s up there, but you’ll never see me,’ he says, pointing to his own shadow on the ground, ‘because I’m a shadow and I don’t bother anyone.’ Mr. Michaud is one of about 170 homeless people in Pacific Palisades, an affluent waterfront neighborhood in Los Angeles. Pacific beaches have long been a magnet for the homeless from around the world…”

Homelessness in the US

  • New York’s rise in homelessness went against national trend, U.S. report finds, By Nikita Stewart, November 19, 2015, New York Times: “The federal government’s annual homelessness count showed an increase in New Yorkers living on the streets or in shelters, even as the number of homeless people nationwide dipped slightly compared with the previous year. The results of the count, released on Thursday by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, confirmed what many New Yorkers had already recognized, particularly in recent months — that homelessness was rising and that more government action was needed…”
  • Homelessness ticks downward across US, despite local crises, By Corey Fedde, November 20, 2015, Christian Science Monitor: “The number of people experiencing homelessness in the United States dipped slightly this year, according to federal data released Thursday.  A Housing and Urban Development (HUD) study found 565,000 people – roughly a quarter of them children – were homeless in the US during a point-in-time survey conducted in January. The number reflects a two percent decrease from 2014, and an 11 percent drop since 2007.  While the downward trend, however slight, is promising, advocates are cautious to celebrate declines just yet…”
  • New data show homelessness dropped early this year, HUD says, but problems persist, By Lisa Rein, November 20, 2015, Washington Post: “New figures released by the Department of Housing and Urban Development Thursday show that 564,708 people were homeless on a night in January of this year, a 2 percent drop from 2014.  HUD officials said the decline, of a total of 11 percent since 2007, is an encouraging sign that the Obama administration is succeeding in its five-year-old goal of preventing and ending homelessness and ending what the government calls chronic homelessness by 2017…”

Homelessness in the US

New stats boast a dip in homelessness — but they’re not the full story, By Pam Fessler, November 19, 2015, National Public Radio: “More than 560,000 people lived on the streets or in homeless shelters in the U.S. earlier this year. That number marks a 2 percent drop from the year before, according to new figures released Thursday by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  Still, some question how accurately those numbers depict the problem. There are many ways one can count who is and isn’t homeless…”