Seattle Times Series on Homelessness

Project Homeless, homepage, Seattle Times: “The Seattle Times is launching Project Homeless, a community-funded initiative to explore the causes of homelessness, explain what the region is doing about the crisis and spotlight potential solutions. Today, we examine one of the obstacles to moving people into stable housing…”

Homelessness on the West Coast

Homelessness soars on West Coast as cities struggle to cope, Associated Press, November 6, 2017, CNBC: “In a park in the middle of a leafy, bohemian neighborhood where homes list for close to $1 million, a tractor’s massive claw scooped up the refuse of the homeless — mattresses, tents, wooden frames, a wicker chair, an outdoor propane heater. Workers in masks and steel-shanked boots plucked used needles and mounds of waste from the underbrush. Just a day before, this corner of Ravenna Park was an illegal home for the down and out, one of 400 such encampments that have popped up in Seattle’s parks, under bridges, on freeway medians and along busy sidewalks. Now, as police and social workers approached, some of the dispossessed scurried away, vanishing into a metropolis that is struggling to cope with an enormous wave of homelessness. That struggle is not Seattle’s alone…”

Student Homelessness

  • 10% of New York City public school students were homeless last year, By Elizabeth A. Harris, October 10, 2017, New York Times: “The number of homeless students in the New York City public school system rose again last year, according to state data released on Tuesday. The increase pushed the city over a sober milestone: One in every 10 public school students was homeless at some point during the 2016-17 school year…”
  • Central Florida’s homeless students top 14,000, By Kate Santich, October 10, 2017, Orlando Sentinel: “Mimi is 16, the oldest of six kids, all living in a single room at an Orlando homeless shelter with their mom. Between high school and a fast-food job, she is up most weekdays until midnight. Then she sets three alarms each morning — at 4, 4:30 and 4:40 — to ensure she catches the 5:37 a.m. bus.  ‘I always jumped from school to school every couple of months,’ she said. ‘It was stressful, but I got used to it. This was just how we live.’  These days, it’s how a lot of Central Florida kids live…”

Natural Disaster Recovery

  • ‘Nowhere else to go’: Small Texas towns decimated by hurricane struggle to rebuild amid poverty, By Mary Lee Grant, September 10, 2017, Washington Post: “At a small rural hospital in this shrimping and tourist town of about 3,000, some patients visited the emergency room twice a day, obtaining insulin and other medications they could not afford to buy themselves. Nurses sometimes pooled their money to pay for patients’ cab fare home…”
  • Irma pushes Florida’s poor closer to the edge of ruin, By Jay Reeves (AP), September 14, 2017, Washington Post: “Larry and Elida Dimas didn’t have much to begin with, and Hurricane Irma left them with even less. The storm peeled open the roof of the old mobile home where they live with their 18-year-old twins, and it destroyed another one they rented to migrant workers in Immokalee, one of Florida’s poorest communities. Someone from the government already has promised aid, but Dimas’ chin quivers at the thought of accepting it…”
  • Homeless and in college. Then Harvey struck, By Anya Kamenetz, September 15, 2017, National Public Radio: “Christina Broussard was trapped in her grandmother’s living room for three days during Hurricane Harvey. Rain poured through the ceiling in the bathrooms and bedrooms. Broussard’s a student at Houston Community College. Her grandmother is 74 and uses a wheelchair…”
  • Texas CPS, foster-care providers go all out to protect vulnerable children from Hurricane Harvey, By Robert T. Garrett, September 11, 2017, Dallas Morning News: “Texas Child Protective Services and its contractors had to evacuate more than 400 foster kids in institutions because of Hurricane Harvey and, probably, hundreds more who lived in foster homes along the Gulf coast, protective services officials said Monday…”

Rural Homelessness – California

California’s homelessness crisis moves to the country, By Kevin Fagan and Alison Graham, September 8, 2017, San Francisco Chronicle: “California housing costs are spiraling so high that they are pushing the state’s homelessness crisis into places it’s never been before — sparsely populated rural counties. A Chronicle analysis of biennial homeless counts taken early this year across California shows that the sharpest increases occurred not in San Francisco and other urban centers but in out-of-the-way places such as the thickly forested Sierra Nevada and the dusty flatlands and low hills of the northern Sacramento Valley…”

Youth Homelessness

A hidden population: Youth homelessness is on the rise, By Teresa Wiltz, July 7, 2017, Stateline: “They are the nation’s invisible homeless population, undercounted for years, hiding out in cars and abandoned buildings, in motels and on couches, often trading sex for a place to sleep. And now, for a complex variety of reasons, the number of youth — teens and young adults — living on the street appears to be growing…”

Identification Cards and the Homeless

Without ID, homeless trapped in vicious cycle, By Teresa Wiltz, May 15, 2017, Stateline: “Nearly three years ago, when his fiancee died, Robert Giddings was abruptly evicted from their Flint, Michigan, home. His name wasn’t on the lease, so he had no recourse — and his landlord threw out all his things, including his ID. Terrified, he stumbled through the wintry streets for a day, until police picked him up for public intoxication. Giddings says he wasn’t drunk, but blind from untreated cataracts. Giddings was placed in a shelter, but without ID, he couldn’t get the medical care he needed — or even gain entrance to government buildings so he could apply for a replacement ID…”

Prisoner Re-entry – Colorado

Homelessness, criminal histories create barriers for those seeking to re-enter Colorado society, By Amelia Arvesen, April 15, 2017, Denver Post: “On paper, Glenn Allan Tefft was sure he qualified for an open position at a Longmont, Colorado, printing plant even with his criminal background. But his spirits were low after he believed he was judged on his appearance during what he thought was a suspiciously brief interview. ‘People won’t even look at you,’ he said a week before the opportunity arose. ‘You can tell I’m homeless.’ Almost 39, a three-time felon who’s been to jail but not prison, Tefft is struggling to defy the odds also faced by 95 percent of the prison population that the Congressional Research Service expects will reintegrate back into the greater community at some point…”

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…”

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…”

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…”