Out of Sight, Out of Mind?

In the past few decades, laws and ordinances have been enacted and enforced as “quick-fix” solutions to remove homeless people from sight, rather than addressing the underlying causes of homelessness. The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty has been documented this criminalization trend in reports by since 1991.

According to an NLCHP report,  out of the 187 cities survey between 2011 and 2014, 34 percent had citywide laws criminalizing camping in public.  Another 43 percent of the cities prohibited sleeping in vehicles, and 53 percent banned sitting or lying down in certain public areas such as parks. All of these laws targeted the kind of activities — sitting, resting, sleeping — that are arguably fundamental to human existence.

Cities all over the country have increasingly moved toward enacting and enforcing laws that target and criminalize homelessness. For instance, in response to their concern about the use of public space. In response to complaints about gatherings of “vagrants” in public parks from downtown Sarasota, Florida. The city decided to remove the benches, later prohibited camping. The benches in Selby Five Points Park were removed in May 2011 to discourage the homeless from using the park.

Florida’s example along with NLCHP report show the common intent of removing homeless people from public spaces and sight. Although some city officials’ concerns about public safety are valid, the criminalization of homeless individuals is a poor public policy for several reasons.

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By adopting anti-homeless laws and policies, we are punishing homeless people for their circumstances rather than addressing causes, prevention, and solution to homelessness.

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Penalizing people for their circumstances will not help homeless people improve their situation and certainly will not keep them out of public spaces when they have no other choice. Rather, we should implement those laws and regulations to help increase resources for shelter and services that homeless people need.

Imposing laws that punish unavoidable activities is not only useless, but it is also inhumane.

Best wishes,

Auris

This is what L.A.’s homeless voters have to say about the presidential election

People registered to vote in Los Angeles will have a chance today to vote for a preposition which would authorize $1.2 billion in borrowing to accelerate the pace at which mostly nonprofit developers build permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless people.

Read more: LA Times

Best,

Auris

An Economic Perspective on Homelessness: Wage Gap

Homelessness is an issue that impacts all of us, whether or not we experience it ourselves directly. It is hard to explain the particular circumstances under which a family or a person may become homeless. However, common economic causes can be observed such as low wages, high rents, and joblessness. As the gap between incomes and housing prices continues to grow, homelessness is affecting larger parts of the population, including those that once had the security of high paying jobs.

According to the 2011 National Alliance to End Homelessness State of Homelessness report, between 2008 and 2009, the homeless population in the US increased by 3 percent. Not only that but, they also listed risk factors for homelessness that became more predominant during this period:

  • 60 percent increases unemployment.
  • Real income for the working people decreased by 2 percent, with some states seeing declines of more than 10 percent.
  • A majority of households with incomes below the federal poverty level spent more than half of their monthly incomes on rent.
  • People living in doubled-up situations increased by 12 percent.

In the past few years, there have been reports in the media of economic growth and low unemployment rates. However, this begs the question of why homelessness persists, and, in some areas of the country, is worsening. One of the reasons of that includes stagnant or falling incomes rates in low-income families and part-time jobs that offer few benefits. Another reason is the need have to overcome the continued dramatic decline in wage growth and unemployment.

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In the major cities where the percentage of homelessness is high, the average minimum wage in the U.S. does not provide enough for a person to afford housing and provide a living for their families. Therefore, low-income families cannot afford the necessities to live and have access to housing.

Helping decrease homelessness rates requires more than funding programs to people that already homeless. It requires closing the gap between incomes and housing costs in our economy. Therefore, jobs that offer a reasonable pay wage are critical. To the economy to strive and reduce homelessness in us, low-income populations should have access to opportunity to obtain and retain a job, which pays a living wage; moreover, the necessary supports and services such as child care and transportation to keep it.

Best,

Auris

What Happens When Cities Make Homelessness a Crime: Hiding The Homeless

This video accompaniment to our refutative post provides a visual idea of how a growing number of American cities are ticketing or arresting homeless people for essentially being homeless. The new laws ban behavior commonly associated with homelessness like reclining in public, sharing food or sitting on a sidewalk.

Read more – Vice News

U.S. communities turn to alternative policies to address the homelessness crisis

Homelessness is on the rise in the U.S., now largely fueled by skyrocketing rents, gentrification, stagnant wages and an economy that has yet to fully recover from the 2008 recession. But, as FSRN’s Christina Aanestad reports, some communities are looking toward alternative policies to redress the homeless crisis. One is called Housing First. Check out the ideas and download the audio below!

Source: U.S. communities turn to alternative policies to address the homelessness crisis

America, we have a problem: Homelessness is out of control

It’s hard to imagine that the country that controls so much nuclear firepower and drops so many bombs every day is unwilling to educate its children and house its own people. The op-ed below, by Cynthia Kinney of the Green Party, gives a politician’s point of view about homelessness and the current situation.

Source: America, we have a problem: Homelessness is out of control

Blog Admins: Meet Auris

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Hey, everyone! My name is Auris, and I am a junior communications major with a minor on general business at the University of Maryland. I am  Dominican and fluent in Spanish. My interest varied from video games to art and film. Within my major, I am highly interested in research and social media. I hope one day I can further the research on cultivation theory and expand the dialogue of the theory in video games and their social aspects. I hope I can contribute to the topic of our blog in meaningful ways. Helping anybody in any shape or form gives the world more hope and more love; I hope our blog can accomplish that.

Homelessness: Our Position

Welcome to our blog! For this project, our group will focus on homelessness and eradicating homelessness in the United States.homeless_1_485x240

We believe that cities should do more to actively decrease their homeless populations by creating and investing in housing options, as well as offering more programs to help individuals find jobs or  cope with mental illnesses or substance addiction. Using options like these will lead to more growth and benefit more people in the long term. In the end, we want to show readers that a lot of myths about homeless people are false, and that Americans need to change their perception of homeless individuals (and get rid of the stigma around being homeless) and put more thought into how people get into that situation rather than perpetuating the idea that hard work is the only way to get out of a tough place.

Posts will be starting soon, so stay tuned!