Saturday, April 10, 2010

Homeless in the big cities

I suppose some people would say that anything is better than being homeless, but fortunately the New York City City Council doesn't agree. The council announced it intends to bring an end to the practice of sending the city's homeless from shelters to illegal and unsafe boarding houses being run for a profit by unscrupulous owners. This follows two years of pressure from homeless advocacy groups, including Coalition for the Homeless.
Lindsey Davis, a director at the Coalition for the Homeless and the author of the 2008 report, described conditions that she said she had recently observed at overcrowded boarding houses.

In one building, Ms. Davis said, an external wall had collapsed while people were living inside. One room was filled with 12 bunk beds. “There was mold covering the walls, and the floors and ceilings were not structurally sound,” she said, adding that people were sleeping in beds placed within feet of stoves. New York Times.
Another bit of help for New York's homeless comes from singer/songwriter Cyndi Lauper, who is opening a homeless shelter for LGBT youth with funds from her True Colors Fund.  Of the 20,000 young people homeless in New York City, a quarter of them identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered.

In Tampa, FL, it's OK to solicit donations from passing traffic as long as they don't disrupt traffic AND, since a new ordinance was passed in January, they wear reflective vests or risk being cited and fined.  Not everyone who solicits donations is homeless; one mother of two who lost her job is trying to avoid homelessness by alternating her days job-hunting and soliciting donations. Tampa Bay Online.

Now that the risk of dying from hypothermia is diminishing, many homeless people in Washington, D.C. are leaving the shelters, many of which are due to close, and heading back to the streets.  12,000 people are estimated to be homeless in D.C., although that number is expected to climb when the results of the latest homeless census are released.  Washington Post.

Photo of homeless D.C. man from winged photography's photostream at Flickr.

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