Meeting Needs Of Homeless Youth: Public Schools Are Doing What Government Won't Do Directly

Food is served to students at Public School 397 in New York, November 21, 2013. (Photo: Joshua Bright / The New York Times)

By Eleanor J. Bader for Truthout – Dr. Art McCoy, superintendent of schools in Jennings, Missouri, is a humble man. But when he speaks of his school district as “a lighthouse for informed practices that respond to the needs of homeless and low-income kids,” his pride is obvious. As a leader of the movement pushing public schools to address the overlapping emotional and material needs of impoverished students, Jennings is a model — stepping in to provide food, shelter, health care and consolation to students who need it. Not surprisingly, school districts throughout the US are looking to Jennings for inspiration, especially since federal and state governments have done very little to assist this population. Jennings is adjacent to Ferguson, the small city that was catapulted to prominence in August 2014 after police murdered 18-year-old Michael Brown. Each of Jennings’ eight public schools — with an enrollment of 2,600 students, most of them poor and 160 of them homeless — have “comfort rooms”: private spaces where students can meet with counselors and address the obstacles they’re facing. “The biggest issues for our students are domestic violence and the death of a loved one,” McCoy states. “About 2,000 of our 2,600 enrolled students see school-based therapists each academic year to address the multiple traumas in their lives.”

Hundreds Suffer As City Shuts Down Church For Helping The Homeless

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By Annabelle Bamforth for Activist Post – A church in Davenport, Iowa, facing zoning restrictions related to its outreach program to feed the homeless, is appealing its local council and questioning the legality of the city’s regulations. This all stems from a cease and desist order they received — because feeding the homeless is not allowed when you’re zoned as a church. Pastor Jim Swope founded Timothy’s House of Hope in 2009 and is associated with Compassion Church, which was founded by Pastor Nick Cantwell. One of the primary missions of the church is focused on outreach to poor and homeless individuals, offering addiction resources, haircuts, a food pantry, clothing, and meals at no charge, according to the ministry’s website. Timothy’s House of Hope center has estimated thousands of meals served each month. Timothy’s House of Hope recently moved its operation from West 4th Street to Washington Street, which is where the Compassion Church is located. The center’s location change resulted in its closure just days later due to what has been described as “zoning issues.”

London NGOs Help Authorities Detain, Deport Homeless Migrants

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By Staff of Tele Sur – The war on the homeless has turned into a war on migrants and non-profits are readily offering their services. London nonprofits are collaborating with immigration authorities that collect intelligence and conduct raids to detain and deport hundreds of homeless people, and are even lobbying for harsher policies, according to a report published Tuesday. At least three organizations with the shared goal of ending homelessness and connecting the vulnerable to appropriate resources — St. Mungo’s, Thames Reach, and Change, Grow, Live — regularly conduct joint operations with the Home Office “Immigration Compliance and Enforcement” and “through a creeping process of changes they are being turned into informers,” Corporate Watch found in its investigation.

Doctors Could Prescribe Houses To Homeless Under Radical Hawaii Bill

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By Liz Barney for 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.

Medicine Hat Becomes First City In Canada To Eliminate Homelessness

The Alberta Council of Women's Shelters released its annual report Thursday that said despite the economic downturn the province hasn't seen a spike in shelter visits. (Andy Clark/Reuters)

By Staff for CBC Radio – Medicine Hat, a city in southern Alberta, pledged in 2009 to put an end to homelessness. Now they say they’ve fulfilled their promise. No one in the city spends more than 10 days in an emergency shelter or on the streets. If you’ve got no place to go, they’ll simply provide you with housing. “We’re pretty much able to meet that standard today. Even quicker, actually, sometimes,” Mayor Ted Clugston tells As It Happens host Carol Off. Housing is tight in Medicine Hat. Frequent flooding in the past few years didn’t help matters. With money chipped in by the province, the city built many new homes.

In Tampa, Food Not Bombs Activists Arrested For Feeding Homeless—Again

Two activists with Food Not Bombs are handcuffed after they defied police orders to stop feeding the homeless in a downtown Tampa public park.Anthony Martino

By Kate Bradshaw for Creative Lofting Tampa Bay – Temperatures were dipping into unfriendly territory Saturday afternoon as sports fans flocked to the events at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. At nearby Lykes Gaslight Park, members of Tampa’s homeless community were gathered for hot coffee and bagels, courtesy of the group Food Not Bombs. There were no altercations, no illicit substances, no bad behavior—unless you count that, according to the City of Tampa, that coffee and bagels were illegal. Why? Because you have to have a special permit in order to offer free food to the needy in city parks.

Unhappy Holidays: Houston Police Force Homeless People To Throw Away Food

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By Derrick Broze for The Anti-Media – On Thursday, the Houston Police Department targeted a group of homeless advocates who were attempting to hand out hot food and gifts to the homeless. Houston, TX – On Thursday, the Houston Police Department targeted a group of homeless advocates who were attempting to hand out hot food and gifts to the homeless. Local activists attempting to hand out food and gifts were shocked on Thursday afternoon when Houston police forced the homeless to throw away the donations. Around 1 pm on Thursday, several individuals met in downtown Houston to distribute plates of hot food, blankets, and other supplies to the city’s growing homeless population.

Will Detroit Use Funds To Restore Water or Tear Down Homes?

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By Sara Jerome for Takepart. Detroit, MI – Aurora Harris is familiar with the way people sound when they first lose water service. “I try not to let it affect me emotionally, but there are some days where it’s heartbreaking to listen to elderly people crying on the phone, begging for water,” said Harris, cofounder of the community group We the People of Detroit. In Detroit, water and sewer bills have doubled in the last decade for thousands of customers living in poverty, according to the advocacy coalition People’s Water Board. Rates continue to rise. In May, the city resumed its practice of shutting off the water of delinquent customers, and as of July 1, nearly 4,000 households were eligible for disconnection, according to Bryan Peckinpaugh, spokesman for the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.

Colorado City To Pay People Jailed Because They Couldn’t Afford Fines

In Colorado Springs, people who told judges they could not afford to pay fines were sentenced to serve a day for every $50 they owed, with some sentenced to multiple terms for multiple offenses. Photograph: Craig F Walker/Denver Post via Getty Images

By Staff of Associated Press – In a rare move, a Colorado city has agreed to pay dozens of people, most of them homeless, who were sent to jail because they could not afford to pay fines for minor offenses such as panhandling and jaywalking. The $103,000 deal requires Colorado Springs to pay up to 66 people $125 for each day they spent behind bars. The city said municipal courts stopped imposing “pay or serve” sentences by the end of 2015 and the ordinances that allowed the practice have been changed.

People’s Assembly A Call To End Homelessness

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By Genesee Martin for Capital Hill Times – The first People’s Assembly drew several hundred attendees to City Hall on Saturday, many carrying signs and flyers with slogans concerning healthcare and housing. Dozens of organizations, advocates, activists and union workers participated, as well as councilmembers Kshama Sawant, Lisa Herbold and King County Councilmember Larry Gossett. Sawant organized the all-day event with the help of several different advocacy groups.

Homeless Forced Out Of Camp They Were Moved To Before Super Bowl

‘If it was my front yard, I wouldn’t want to see this either. But you can’t keep running your problem from this side of town to another side of town. You have to just deal with it where it is,’ said a part-time bartender who is homeless. Photograph: Eric Risberg/AP

By Julia Carrie Wong for The Guardian – Residents have been ordered to vacate the San Francisco homeless encampment under a highway overpass after police and public workers pressured the city’s homeless to relocate there from areas of the city slated for Super Bowl 50 festivities. The 21st-century Hooverville became a symbol of the city’s gaping inequality in the run-up to and throughout the week of star-studded Super Bowl festivities in February, rekindling long-running controversies over how the city should address the needs of its nearly 7,000 homeless residents.

Homeless Advocates Fight For The Right To Rest In Denver

Tiny homes constructed by Denver Homeless Out Loud for those experiencing homelessness in Denver, Colorado. (Photo: Alais Clay)

By Chris Steele for Truthout – Homelessness in Denver has grown 600 percent in the last 20 years, while the amount of emergency shelter beds has been stagnant. In October 2015, Denver Homeless Out Loud (DHOL) occupied space at Sustainability Park and, financed through online donations, began constructing tiny homes for those experiencing homelessness. The group named the site Resurrection Village, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign, which culminated in 1968 after King was assassinated.

Homeless Activists Feed Shelter With Rooftop Garden

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By Steven Maxwell for Activist Post – Every activist has read the increasing number of stories where homelessness is being criminalized, as if simply being homeless isn’t punishment enough. However, there is a rising tide among all walks of life that is beginning to view homelessness in a very different light. As a sinking economy and the criminal actions of the banking elite are leading many middle class, stable families into abject poverty, it is becoming much easier to identify with the less fortunate the closer their plight appears to be.

Buffalo, N.Y., Only Has 25 Chronic Homeless People Left To House

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By Eleanor Goldberg for The Huffington Post – One of the poorest cities in the nation is on track to end chronic homelessness. It just needs a few landlords to step in to finish up the job. Four years ago, Buffalo, New York, had 400 homeless people living on the streets and streaming in and out of shelters. Today, it has knocked that figure down to 25 people, thanks to its collaborative housing efforts, the Homeless Alliance of Western New York said in a press release. The city’s success is due to its employment of the “housing first” strategy. The approach supports giving housing to people in need, and then dealing with their employment and health issues afterward.

Squatters Occupy Royal Mint Site To Protest Against Homelessness

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By Lexi Finnigan for The Telegraph – A group of 20 anti-capitalist squatters have taken over the former Royal Mint Building in protest over Britain’s homelessness problem. The squatters, wearing V for Vendetta masks and hanging out of windows, have set up camp in the grade II-listed Johnson Smirke building, in the City of London, and are refusing to leave. They claim they will only be removed when the owners of the building arrive with a High Court order. Some of the protesters have taken to the roof of the building while others have hung banners with messages such as ‘anticapitalista’, as well as adorning the walls with ‘End World Debt’ posters.