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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-18-03 12:03 PM
Original message
Mayors survey finds hunger, homelessness problem grew in 2003
Mayors survey finds hunger, homelessness problem grew in 2003
By Siobhan Mcdonough, Associated Press, 12/18/2003 10:45

WASHINGTON (AP) Hunger and homelessness increased in many of America's largest cities this year, with growing demand for emergency food supplies for families with children, the elderly and even people with jobs, a survey by U.S. mayors finds.

The report by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, released Thursday, found that requests for emergency food assistance rose 17 percent overall from last year in the survey of 25 large cities. Requests for emergency shelter assistance increased by 13 percent, the report showed.

Most of the cities expected that requests for emergency food assistance and shelter would rise again over the coming year, the study said.

Food needs for the poor grew in nearly nine out of 10 of the surveyed cities. (snip/...)

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maxsolomon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-18-03 12:32 PM
Response to Original message
1. the 25 largest cities are homeless magnets
i have never spoken with a bum in seattle that is a native. native AMERICAN, sure. this is a national problem, and meaningful federal aid to the cities that bear the burden is past due.

i, for one, would like my parks back from the filthy junkies & chronic inebriates. or, at least ONE, thank you.
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Flightful Donating Member (183 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-18-03 12:41 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. In Toronto it's getting ridiculous
Our city throws $30,000 a year at the problem per homeless person and it seems to be making things worse. Part of the problem is that the homeless are being normalized- instead of convincing them to get some help and come in from the cold, most of the "help" we're providing, such as the patrols handing out food and blankets on the street, just makes it easier to stay out. At city hall they've even come up with a set of protocols for the people who sleep in front of the building, getting them to a shelter wasn't even a consideration.
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lazarus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-20-03 12:27 PM
Response to Reply #2
9. It's hard to use only one or two methods to "help" the homeless
Edited on Sat Dec-20-03 12:31 PM by lazarus
There's a great difference between the successful methods of dealing with the various groups of homeless - consider that there are poor senior citizens or SSI recipients who have fallen through economic cracks (as it were) who, in an ethical, truely just society, should be treated differently than homeless families who are on the streets because they can't find work, who are again different than the homeless families that are employed but don't make enough to pay rent, who are again different than the transient homeless who are mentally disabled or who somehow claim to "enjoy the freedom" of not having ties to a location, who are different than run-aways who fled to escape a abusive situation, who are different than the junkies and drug abusers, who are different than...

You get the picture?

Jobs training and other job related security nets (like low-cost transportation, family health care, child care) for the average un- and under employed cost money that most communities either cannot currently afford or don't want to expend because certain powerful factors in the community regard such programs as "handouts for the lazy and unworthy".

Affordable housing for individual groups instead of in an institutional setting, even to the point of "rent vouchers" that can help a senior living on SS or a family that is working hard to stay together from becoming homeless is at critical mass; most communities are too willing to deal with the short-term "bandaid" and build increasingly dangerous warehouse facilities for the homeless instead of acting proactively and spending less in the long term with providing affordable housing and infrastructure.
Most people don't want to admit that homeless shelters are not built for long term inhabitants - most shelters are supposed to be used as a holding area for the very poor individual transients who are either unlucky individuals who ran out of economic time while looking for work in the area or to care for those individuals who are experiancing some sort of crisis that has drained their resources. Shelters are definatly not set up for family units or even couples, and they are usually not set up for people who work in jobs above minimum wage but are not making enough to live in a place on their own.
When they are overfilled with the various type of homeless, as most shelters are nowdays, they are dangerous crime and disease-ridden warehouses that many otherwise healthy and hard-working homeless refuse to enter for fear of losing what little they have left to them. Giving such people vouchers for some sort of individual living space they aren't otherwise able to afford can do a lot to keep them out of the parks and underpasses and save the community a lot of money in terms of policing, community insurance, and community health care.

The problems with the homeless (at least in America) are not because the homeless are lazy drunks and drug addicts, or are being "normalized", however one defines that, but because the money that is supposed to be spent on fixing the problem is being spent to shove the homeless under the rug rather than actually being used to get to the root cause of why an individual or family become homeless and to actually help break the cycle.

When most communities deal with the problems of homeless on an official basis, most of the time it's warehousing them - "Out of sight, out of mind" - which means the community can give the average inhabitant the feeling that all homeless are just crazy, lazy transients and promote that "Homelessness will never happen to me, I'm a hard working, responsible individual" feeling.
That particular impression has apparently become the prime motivator for urban and suburban social policies.

If, to use your post, in Toronto, instead of what they currently do, the city would spend an annual $12,000 - $15,000 on housing in vouchers per individuals and family units, $5000 on child care for those that need it,make availible $5000 on employment training or grants on additional for higher education for those who want to take advantage of such a program, as well as approximatly $500 per homeless individual per year( for all the support employment, liability insurance, and facilities) and finally, about $50 - $100 a week per individual of sustinance (food and hygiene sundries) - they would be spending far less than the stated $30K per individual per year - (and that's not including the additional $10K per individual per year in associated community costs such as additional policing and other community resource management costs that the homeless don't use or contribute to, but the rest of the community uses) the city of Toronto currently claims to spend and would be getting better service for their money. (The homeless don't pay property taxes and far less in income taxes, y'know...)

But, of course, really addressing the problem of homelessness would mean the community would have to acknowledge there is a problem with housing, with jobs, with education, and with health care. And we can't have that if we need to believe if we're just hard working and responsible enough, we'll be successful and better than those unworthy, lazy slobs, correct?

Yeah, I realize that amongst the various categories homeless, there are a few people out there that just don't fit in society and have chosen to live the transient life - no rules, no laws, survival of the fittest sort of attitude.
Unfortunatly, we as a society no longer have the ability to just "let" them to head out into the hills and frontiers to survive on their own with their own rules, far away from the cities and civilization - "civilization" has since grown out to where we sent the malcontents and sociopaths a century ago, so they're now stuck in our back yard with no where else to go.

Just my 4 cents.


- On edit - oops - sorry Laz, hon - I'm under the wrong login. I'll logout and come back in under my own profile.
Needless to say, at least in this case, the opinions of the writer of the piece matches for the opinions of the person who's profile this peice was posted under.
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Heddi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-18-03 12:44 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. many smaller cities bus the homless to larger cities
this was a problem when I lived in South Carolina.

Not that CHarleston was a big city by any stretch, but it was bigger than alot of the surrounding rural areas.

One area, Myrtle Beach, would routinely round up the homeless, give them a bagged lunch, and a one-way bus ticket to Charleston, becausee they felt that CHarleston could better handle the homeless population than Myrtle Beach could.

Of course, that wasn't it at all. Myrtle Beach is very touristy, as is Charleston, and myrtle beach officials felt that by having homeless sleep on the beach and on the sidewalks, that the large TRADE GROUPS that had conventions there wouldn't be as likely to hold multi-day, multi-million dollar conventions in the city anymore if they didn't do something about the homeless population.

Of course, Charleston has a much wealthier tourist base--people who are willing to spend $700 a night at the Omni hotel.

SO Charleston makes sure that all the homeless shelters are located in very bad, very drug infested areas of town that tourists wouldn't DARE go to anyways---outta sight, outta mind.

Then, always, the city finds one reason or another to shut down the shelters and forces the inhabitants to move further off the peninsula (read: further away from people who don't want to see homeless people around their $700,000 carriage houses), forcing them into North Charleston, Goose Creek, etc, where the wages are lower, where the communities are more poor and working class, because we all know that poor and working class don't have the inate problems with the homeless like the rich do :eyes:
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SpiralHawk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-18-03 02:21 PM
Response to Original message
4. Why don't they just spend the "tax cuts for the rich" that Bush
handed out, to buy themselves a room at the Ritz, a bottle of fine wine and a steak dinner?

Republican motto: "A rising tide lifts all yachts."

So why don't these homeless, hungry people just go to their yachts, sit down and shut up.

Chimpy is at the helm of the Ship of State, and we are headed for...
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KayLaw Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-18-03 02:25 PM
Response to Original message
5. I feel for the homeless
You know a lot are mentally or developmentally disabled who really can't care for themselves and other children.
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Bandit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-18-03 03:20 PM
Response to Original message
6. As the Bush* Tax comes more and more into play, more cities will feel
these same effects. Bush* is devestating America.
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tlcandie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-18-03 03:59 PM
Response to Original message
7. Is this an image of what we might be seeing in the future?

Hooverville named sarcastically after their great leader. What would today's name be?

Bushnut City?
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otohara Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-18-03 04:33 PM
Response to Original message
8. Homeless People No Longer Just Downtown In Denver
I see women in my neighbor near the University of Denver holding signs for money. Drive near downtown and people on every corner practically - it's very sad
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depakid Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-20-03 04:10 PM
Response to Original message
10. Well, duh!
Isn't that the usual consequences of record personal bankruptcy rates and the loss of 3 million jobs over the past 3 years?
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