Archive for the ‘Homelessness’ Category

Massachusetts receives $17.9M in housing stimulus

Not all news is bad news:

Community-based nonprofits will get a $17.9 million shot in the arm to address homelessness.

[...]

The $17.9 million is part of $1.2 billion in stimulus funding issued nationally by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development through its Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program.

Boston Business Journal:State receives $17.9M in housing stimulus

Local Gainesville Tent City Forced To Close Back In June

Seeing that previous CNN article brought this one to mind that I saw this summer in the Alligator.

The first paragraph read:

Residents of the Tent City homeless community have been served eviction notices following a stabbing last week, but no housing alternatives have been offered for the mini-city’s nearly 200 inhabitants.

Yet again we run into the problem: where are these people going to go? It’s another example of there not being enough support to handle the number of homeless in the area:

Tent City residents who asked the city for help were referred to the Office of Homelessness for a place to go, but according to Gunn, there is no place for the displaced residents to go.

“From my perspective, there’s not much city support,” she said. “There’s no funding for all of these people. At least Tent City was a place for them to go.”

An advocate for the homeless paints the rosy side of the picture:

[Amanda Gunn, a local Faces of Homelessness spokeswoman] talked about a Tent City man who built a house with insulation, a kitchen and a bedroom all from scraps he found at a construction site.

But the self-proclaimed mayor of Tent City can’t take his home with him, just as many residents can’t carry everything that they own on their backs.

“There are a lot of personal items they are just expected to walk away from,” Gunn said.

But’s not all sunshine and roses, either. Things can and do get rough when people fend for themselves. The article balances both sides of the issue fairly well:

However, Gainesville Police Department spokesman Keith Kameg said the eviction is about more than one incident.

“It’s not just about the stabbing,” Kameg said. “This is not a healthy or safe environment. The owners have a genuine concern for the people and don’t want to see people get hurt.”

Crime has also increased in the area, according to Kameg. Drugs are being sold, prostitution has taken a foothold and stolen property is being taken to the area, he said.

Many people point to stuff like this as reason for more government involvement. The reasoning goes along the lines of getting the people into normal low-cost housing in hopes that we wouldn’t have so many problems. That, of course, takes money. And who’s going to pay? Who decides how it’s spent?

In the end, this is why homelessness is such a difficult issue to solve. It’s a complex social and economical situation only made worse by heaping tons of preconceptions and misconceptions on top of it. I don’t think there’s an easy answer, but like with most things, it starts by being better informed.

Through the book and this site, that’s what I hope to do.

Alligator.org: Tent City residents will be evicted Thursday (Tuesday, June 9, 2009)

Tent Camps on the Rise

The idea that tent camps are a new thing due to the economic downturn is absurd: they’ve been around long before the downturn and they’ll still be here even after (if?) we get the “all-clear”. Opening line aside, the article does hit on one of the major issues:

The camps have often led to standoffs between local governments that say the camps violate housing ordinances and homeless rights advocates who argue that people struggling to get back on their feet need a permanent place to stay.

What we have here is a bureaucratic process crashing head-on with what we deem as a basic human right to shelter. “They’re breaking codes,” say the officials. But where are else they supposed to go? The fundamental disconnect is here:

Port officials say the camp violates city codes. The officials add that they have tried to find the camp’s residents another place to live.

They tried to find another place–they apparently failed. So now what? There are still people without a place to stay. That fact hasn’t changed.

It’s common when dealing with homelessness: people and governments and institutions try to make a difference; when they can’t, sometimes other people/organizations can step in. And when they can’t, people go without.

And thus we’re back to people fending for themselves. Meanwhile, discussion goes on around them.

CNN: Homeless find temporary haven in tent camps

Alachua County Ten-year Plan To End Homelessness

I’m not even sure what search path led me to this. Dubbed Project GRACE:

The people described in this plan — those without shelter, who are vulnerable, suffering and struggling to survive — belong to this community.

Homelessness carries a cost for all of us: financially for taxpayers, emotionally and physically for homeless persons. GRACE for the Homeless is designed to act on our compassion for our poorest neighbors. Alachua County has approximately 1,200 homeless men, women and children.

Our community has less than 350 shelter beds, which leaves over 650 people unsheltered each night.

The plan highlights the homeless statistics of our county and current resource gaps.

Kyle, the main character in Norton’s Ghost, encounters a lack of shelter beds a few times in the story. Not only did the serve as a springboard to happenings in the story, but it also hopefully makes a point: the help available to homeless people is sorely overtaxed.

Read more: Alachua County 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness