The news website Vox has looked at the cost of caring for the nation’s homeless and has found evidence that providing houses for the homeless is far cheaper than simply leaving them on the street. The crux of their findings is centered on the amount that local jurisdictions spend on law enforcement and medical issues related to homelessness (mostly “nonviolent offenses such as trespassing, public intoxication or sleeping in parks” as well as “emergency room visits and hospitalization for medical and psychiatric issues") compared to how much it actually costs to provide them with housing.
They found that in some cases, it’s more than three times cheaper to actually give them a place to live. Between 2005-2012, after the Bush administration pushed for a new “housing first” method of caring for the homeless, America’s rate of homelessness fell by 17 percent. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, the numbers are continuing to drop. The findings seem to indicate that it is not only less expensive to look for housing solutions for homeless individuals, it’s also a more effective solution to help people get off the streets ... Discuss
You may remember the story of Arnold Abbott, a proud, 90-year-old WWII veteran who embodies what the greatest generation is all about. For years, he’s help run a non-profit organization that is dedicated to feeding Fort Lauderdale’s homeless community. After Abbott was arrested following his refusal to obey the dramatic order to “Drop that plate right now” from police, the city’s new ordinance, which prohibits feeding the homeless, became national news.
Recently, hundreds of protestors marched on the local federal courthouse, many complaining that the ordinance requires such restrictive health code standards that feeding the homeless outdoors would be virtually impossible. Even Anonymous has gotten involved, temporarily taking down the city’s website. Now, all of the attention seems to have made a difference. A Broward County Circuit Judge has issued a ruling that prohibits the city from enforcing their ordinance for at least 30 days while the two sides work together to find common ground and create a new solution ... Discuss
Pope Francis’ chief alms-giver has announced new plans to install free showers in the public restrooms in Vatican City as a service to the homeless. Monsignor Konrad Krajewski explained that the new facilities in St. Peter’s Square were inspired by an encounter with a homeless man. The homeless gentleman declined Krajewski’s invitation to a fancy dinner on his 50th birthday because he said that he smelled bad, and there was no place for homeless individuals like him to wash. According to some reports, the facility will also provide members of the homeless community with fresh towels and clean undergarments ... Discuss
The group RainCity Housing in Vancouver has created a unique response to controversial anti-homeless architectural structures showing up in other major cities. Their “pop up shelter” benches contain foldable roofs that provide shelter from rain, and feature UV-activated letters that read “This is a bench/This is a bedroom” depending on whether it is day or night. The benches also contain the address to the RainCity shelters that provide housing and support to the area’s growing homeless community. The structures are seen as a response to a trend of architectural designs that have controversial built-in deterrents—like spikes embedded in concrete, and additional armrests on benches to prevent lying down—to stop people from sleeping in certain outdoor spaces ... Discuss
According to numbers from the Coalition for the Homeless, there are currently more than 23,000 homeless children living in New York City shelters—an all-time high. And, as this story from My Fox NY notes, because of rising rent prices, complicated employment situations and strict shelter rules that limit working hours and child care options, for parents, breaking out of the cycle of homelessness can be extremely difficult.
The local news outlet interviewed several children at one Brooklyn shelter to discuss the experience of homelessness. One said he hides the fact that he is homeless even from his classmates: “Because they're going to try and make fun of me but in my heart I know I'm a good person and I don't care if they make fun of me because I know I'm going to get out of the shelter." If you are looking to help the homeless in the city, New York Magazine has put together this list of charities and organizations with services and programs to assist those living on the streets, attempting to get back on their feet ... Discuss
The microhouse idea is catching on in California. Several city counsel members in San Jose want their city to follow in the footsteps of several Oregon towns who’ve constructed cheap, safe—extremely small—houses for local homeless community. Though the microhouses are less than 150 square feet and have no running water (bath room areas are shared), officials say they offer a safer and more sanitary option than tent communities or forcing the homeless to live on the street. Last year alone, four homeless people died from exposure during the winter months in San Jose.
Jenny Niklaus of the organization HomeFirst told the local CBS news station, “When you give somebody a key to their own door, their own house, that they can call their own that’s a victory … right now to afford an apartment in San Jose, you have to make more than $30 an hour. It’s stunning the gap between what people can afford and what is real. For people who are homeless, living on a subsidy, a place like a little home helps overcome those barriers.” The council members plan on presenting their microhouse proposal next week ... Discuss