Showing posts with label Homeless. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Homeless. Show all posts

August 20, 2015

NYPD Union Uses Flker to Shame Homeless New Yorkers


    
                                                                          
                                                                             

 Members of the NYPD are snapping photos of homeless New Yorkers around the city, asking their family and friends to do the same, and posting the picture on Flickr. The Sergeants Benevolent Association’s (SBA) president Ed Mullins issued the call: “As you travel about the city of New York, please utilize your smartphones to photograph the homeless lying in our streets, aggressive panhandlers, people urinating in public or engaging in open-air drug activity, and quality-of-life offenses of every type.”
 “We, ‘the Good Guys,’ are sworn to protect our citizens,” Mullins continues. “Shouldn’t our public officials be held to the same standard?”
 Supposedly, this campaign is meant to document New York City’s ”homelessness problem,” which some media outlets believe is increasing. Mullins, a critic of Mayor Bill de Blasio, sees this problem as the result of the city’s failed policies, and views the increase in “vagrancy” to be a serious decline for the city.
 Some of Mullins’ claims are highly questionable. Though homicides in the city have worryingly increased 10 percent so far this year, it’s not at all clear that this has anything to do with homelessness. And overall, crime in New York City is down.
 Between 2013 and 2014, homelessness rose by six percent in New York City. While this is a problem, its worse effects befall those who are homeless (obviously). The SBA’s plan to “hold public officials accountable” involves shaming homeless people and posting images of them online without their consent, rather than emphasizing any greater respect for them.
 In fact, the language used on the account is blatantly derogatory. Many of the individuals are labelled in the caption as “bums,” or “disgusting.” Somebody apparently thought they were clever for labeling this photo “bed and breakfast.”

                                                                             
NYC homeless (NBC pic)
  Of course, there’s nothing inherently wrong with photographing people who are homeless. Humans of New York has featured photos and stories of homeless individuals accompanied by their stories. This work is done is a respectful way, and it is meant to reflect their dignity. It can give us a glimpse into the lives of other people and help us understand them a bit better.
 The SBA’s Flickr album, named “Peek-a-boo,” is instead purposefully meant to portray these individuals as a plague on the city. While I’m sure most people would agree that we would rather people not go to the bathroom in the street, sleep on sidewalks or “aggressively panhandle,” these behaviors themselves are not the fundamental problem. Treating the behaviors as if they are the problem only further stigmatizes a vulnerable population.
 In 2014, a survey from the U.S. Conference of Mayors found that city officials listed affordable housing, unemployment and poverty as the major causes of homelessness. If you want to stop homelessness, you have to first tackle these root problems.
 Some might defend SBA by saying that they’re trying to shine a light on these problems, but clearly the campaign sees homeless people as the problem, not homelessness. If they cared about helping homeless people, they could create an account that detailed their stories, how they ended up where they are and what kinds of policies they think could help. Instead, the Flickr account is focused on petty crimes, which are the concerns of those who are privileged enough not to be homeless.
 Instead of focusing on crimes, we should focus on helping people live better lives, which will actually be more helpful in reducing crime anyway. An increasing amount of research suggests that it is in fact far cheaper to provide homeless people with housing and social services than to “treat” the problem of homelessness with more policing and emergency services.
 But substantive, researched solutions to homelessness are not the point, not when your goal is to shame the city’s mayor by using the homeless New Yorkers as pawns. And particularly not when the proposed solutions suggest that we might need fewer police officers and more direct services.
 Our society and, particularly, our police forces, need to rethink the way we regard homeless people, if this is the kind of treatment and shaming they can expect. It starts with taking down the photos that have been posted on the SBA’s page, as advocated in a Care2 petition.
 Mayor de Blasio has a plan to spend $22 million to find and treat those suffering from mental illnesses in the New York City streets. There are additional plans to train police to better interact with this population. I have previously endorsed a guaranteed basic income for all, which could help alleviate poverty and homelessness. But we shouldn’t be satisfied with cities that treat them as shameful burdens, or try to sweep them under the rug, either.

care2.com/causes/nypd-union

January 14, 2015

In Jamaica Homeless Youth are Outlawed from even Calling the Gutters Home (RU A GAY TOURIST?)




Youth walks through Shoemaker Gully before it was sealed shut after a raid on Dec. 23, 2014. (Photo courtesy of LoopJamaica.com)
Youth walks through Shoemaker Gully before it was sealed shut after a raid on Dec. 23, 2014. (Photo courtesy of LoopJamaica.com)
Jamaican activists who balk at the idea of forcing LGBT youths to live on the streets are trying to find a feasible alternative now that police have ousted dozens of youths from Shoemaker Gully, a drainage channel in New Kingston.
The youths had lived in that gully for two years after being expelled from their homes for being gay, then rousted out of abandoned buildings. Police have repeatedly raided the gully — most recently just before Christmas. Again and again, the youths were arrested, warned, released and then allowed to return to their only home — the gully.
At Christmastime 2014, however, the gully was sealed so they could not return to it.
Activist Yvonne McCalla Sobers, former head of the Dwayne’s House initiative that sought to build a shelter and training center for the youths, stated:
Homeless LGBT youths sleeping in Jamaican sewers. (Photo courtesy of Micheal Forbes)
Homeless LGBT youths sleeping in New Kingston drainage channel known as Shoemaker Gully — before they were forced out on Dec. 23. (Photo courtesy of Micheal Forbes)
The youth are today in a worse situation than they were last month, last year, or even the year before that. Shoemaker Gully, “home” to the youth since the latter part of 2012, has been sealed off and made inaccessible to them.
They have been set adrift in a city that is unfriendly to the homeless in general, and particularly hostile to homeless persons who are gay or trans*. So they sleep where they can and how they can, hoping to remain undetected by police or civilians. Providing them with any kind of support has become challenging because there is no longer a central location at which they can be found.
The local police superintendent has proposed establishing a shelter where the youths could be housed and trained for gainful employment, as have the advocates who are raising money to open such a shelter under the name of Dwayne’s House. But nothing has yet come of those plans.
Activists and the news media presented vastly different version of the Dec. 23 raid.  RJR News Online reported:
New Kingston police Senior Supt. Fitz Bailey
New Kingston police Senior Supt. Fitz Bailey
“Senior Superintendent Fitz Bailey, Head of  the Police Division, told RJR news that the operation targeted suspects linked to major crimes, including murders committed in and around New Kingston. Several persons were detained by the police during the operation.
“He said 40 to 60 individuals had sought refuge in the gully, and that New Kingston residents were fed up with the situation.
” ‘They have been wreaking havoc on the business district, in terms of their involvement in criminal activities, from robbery, larceny, burglary, and even two murders. The citizens and business people have really been intimidated and they have exhibited a level of frustration,’ he explained.
“He said a multi-agency approach will continue to be used, as the police are determined to drive criminals out of  New Kingston.” 
In contrast, McCalla Sobers said:
“In the December 23 arrest of ten of the youth, the police said these youth were to be questioned for serious crimes. However, the only youth in the group who was on the police wanted list was able to scale a wall and escape from the lockup; and the other youth were released within hours of their being held. “
She added:
Scene from police raid on LGBT youth in Shoemaker Gully in March 2014. (Click image for video.)
Scene from police raid on LGBT youth in Shoemaker Gully in March 2014. (Click image for video.)
“The claim can now be made that New Kingston is safe with the removal of these youth who are seen as criminals. Now. there are thieves who have taken refuge in the gully; this is a known minority for whom the majority invariably takes the blame.
“In the time of my close association with the youth, the usual policing practice was to make a periodic show of force, detaining eight to ten of the youth at a time. Media would be present, and the impression would be given that the police were being tough on crime in New Kingston. However, most of the detainees would be released, some within hours. The remainder would be charged with minor offences such as littering, loitering, or ‘calumnious language.’
“The police have a list of the youth whom they say are ‘wanted.’  The other youth in the gully have tried, without success, to persuade those committing the crimes to cease the theft or leave the gully. The youth point out that the alleged offenders invariably escape while non-offenders are arrested and harassed before being released.
“Recently, some of the youth confronted the most-wanted person on the police list who had once again taken refuge in the gully after committing a serious offence. There was an altercation in which the most-wanted man stabbed one of the youth just before police arrived on the scene. The police allegedly stood by as this most-wanted man stabbed the youth three more times. As this youth lay bleeding on the ground, the others in the gully [allegedly] appealed to the police for help, to no avail. Ultimately, the injured youth was taken to hospital by another set of police who came on the scene. The most-wanted man [allegedly] stood by with the bloody knife, and no attempt was made to arrest him.”
What’s next? McCalla Sobers said:
“There has been some movement toward finding shelter for these youth. The Member of Parliament representing the New Kingston area has identified a space deemed suitable for housing these youth. An entity has allegedly offered to provide funds for setting up this shelter, but these funds would not be available until mid-year if the promise is fulfilled.”
Dane Lewis, executive director of J-FLAG
Dane Lewis, executive director of J-FLAG
Dane Lewis, executive director of the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG), has asked Jamaicans to be more compassionate toward the homeless youths, who he feels have been marginalized and are victims of a hostile society. J-FLAG has urged stronger action by members of parliament to  solve the problem of homeless LGBT youths.
Activist Maurice Tomlinson said that a recent Home 4 the Holidays campaign  raised only about $10,000 Canadian dollars [US$8,500] plus about US$900 for a shelter for the youths — far less than the US$350,000 that was estimated as needed for the proposed purchase.
McCalla Sobers added:
“The current perspective of the youth is that they have risked their safety by showing their faces on multiple documentaries in the hope that the publicity would help them to find stability in their lives. They need tangible evidence to show they are not being abandoned and neglected yet again. Help for these youth cannot come soon enough in 2015. “
by 
76crimes.com 

About Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart, a 40-year journalism veteran, is publisher and an editor of the "Erasing 76 Crimes" blog. More profile information on Google+.

March 25, 2014

Man Dressed as Waiter Serves The Homeless



 

A group known as PublicPrank posts jokes and pranks to their YouTube page, but their most recent video is teaching us all a lesson about kindness.
The public "prank" that DJ Sennett posted Tuesday is more likely to warm your heart than make you laugh.
DJ Sennett dressed up like a waiter and went around town feeding the homeless.
The emotional video shows just how much it can mean to somebody down on their luck to be served a free, restaurant-worthy meal, The Huffington Post reports.
Check out their reaction to the random act of kindness in the video below. Mobile users watch here — http://bit.ly/1gBjCiw

January 19, 2014

How NYC Creates the Homeless- A real Case-Study on the Poor and the Economy





The well off and their political party have always said that if there is economic growth there would be less poverty. Everyone’s income will rise and so everyone’s standard of living.
This is so silly I am amazed than when politicians say this the media doesn’t laugh them out of their shows. The media doesn’t because guess on which side those in the media fall?

There is people living very well and “If they lived better everyone else will live better”.  Not true they already live better than anybody else. Maybe if you work 7 days a week and your partner too. Even then is to hold your living standard, not to get you wealthy.

If everyone would be tax in a fair way according to what they make and have, maybe when the economy grows then everyone grows (the wealthy not as much but still will get mor e). When people are left way behind  even when the economy improves it does not help them. Having the interest rates lower does not makes it easier for the poor to buy a car or move to a better apartment. They need cash to do either. Even on credit you have to make the payments and pay the insurance for those things 

Getting no raise or unemployment or no unemployment or no COLA for retirees and disabled or COLA’s not really attached to how the economy is doing and what you can buy with the dollar makes people dependent on those things fall further deeper in the hole. Those things bring every one down economically. Even when times get better, people are loaded with debt or collection whitch will keep them from getting a better apartment or a second hand car. A credit score is now taken for everything., From getting an apartment to non emergency medical care. Once you go down once, you will stay down.  
I’ll give you a recent (real) example I know.  This individual we will call Mr. Pink.

Mr. Pink, disabled person worked all his live ,even with a disability. Have had an apartment for 12 years. Every year the rent went up.  He was able to manage it by working partime and getting his pension. He gets sick as the work load got to be too much and by that time SSDI did not pay their COLA for two consecutive years. But the rent went up the maximum allowed by law an average of 5% every year regardless.  No work and solely dependent on SSDI eventually the rent caught up with him. Now paying about 75% in rent without electric.

The government  in NY announces new apartments and condos for well off families being constructed but a percentage of the apartments would be affordable apartments commensurate with income.

Finally Mr. Pink finds the one that falls within his SSDI income: Applies and qualifies . They have an apartment for him at less than half of his current apartment rent. What happiness! Can not be believe it!

Now comes a background check for crime and to see wether he pays his rent. All ok.
Now comes a credit report. He is disqualified 10 days before moving because he got behind on bills when he got sick and stop working. Real case. 

Now the question is, do we have a homeless now in this person?. Clearly he can not go another year with another rent increase and can’t move out because landlords take credit reports and use them to disqualify otherwise good tenants. 

Do you see that when they say things are stock up against the poor no matter what the new mayor says or the old mayor said or the new governor is been saying. We create new homeless without helping out the current homeless population. This is a real case that just happened in the City of New York.

Coming back to the science of the economy and actual economic growth with the past eight years of being in the dumps.  

Eight years of low growth have marginalized the lower base of society, economic growth is not the only factor that reduces poverty, experts now say.
However, they added, poverty alleviation is impossible without robust economic growth.

“According to international research, as growth increases the income of the lowest 40 percent earners rises by the same proportion in developed countries and by 25 percent in developing economies,” said senior economist Naveed Anwar Khan.

“Income inequality might also increase in such cases. However, income itself is an indicator of welfare as it increases the purchasing power of the poor people and addresses their educational and health concerns.” He added that with low or stagnant growth, the poor people are affected more than the affluent.

“The underprivileged are forced to reduce their living standards, which leads to a rise in poverty,” Khan said, adding that equitable growth does not seem achievable in the near future.

He said that inequality would decline if the poor people’s income rises by a high percentage than the affluent.

“Income inequality will widen even if the economy grows by seven percent and the incomes of rich and poor also increase by the same percentage.”

(The following is an International example to be applied to the economies connected to each others economic growth) 

He added that in such a scenario, the income of a daily wager would increase from 10,000 a month to 10,700, while a rich person drawing 100,000 per month would increase by 7,000. (you can substitute the money figures for dollars or pounds, or even rubes)

 Incomes would not rise with no economic growth.  The lower middle class has come down to the level of the poor due to a considerable decline in economic growth in the US and other countries. In some cases, we may see countries registering high growth but the trickle-down effect on the poor may be nominal or not at all.  

Economic planners should see the reasons that have denied the poor even a reasonable share in high growth. Financial openness, policies that trigger inflation and disturb the budget balance affect the poor people’s share in growth.

The state will have to play its due role to ensure that overall prosperity is shared. The poor need taxation and policies that improve the quality of their lives. “A level-playing field through competent state institutions will accelerate prosperity among the poor.”

Market analyst Dr Shahid Zia said the state should create opportunities for the poor people to reduce the widening income gap.

“Policies and an overall environment that promotes investment, growth and create jobs with the institutional support of the state will reduce inequalities,” he said.


Source of economic figures taken from sources on the net.

Pic credit to wday.com on report complaining about beggars allowed on the streets again

November 4, 2013

Bi-Kid Gets Kicked Out of Home Gets $16K in Donations



When Nick’s parents discovered their teenage son was bisexual, they threw him out of the house, taking his car while he was at work, along with all of the money in his bank account, and threw his remaining belongings out of their home and onto the front lawn warning him to pick it up before it gets stolen.
Steve Bevers, whose mother-in-law works with Nick, not only took the Georgia teenager into their home, but also started a GoFundMe page for him on Oct. 22. In just 11 days, that fund has raised over $16,000 for the penniless 18-year-old Kennesaw State University freshman.
nick
The description on the GoFundMe page states that the money in Nick’s bank accounts totaled a “significant sum,” and explained that Nick’s parents “used the fact that his bank accounts were “custodial accounts” to take all his funds, taking the considerable amount he had saved up over the past 3 years working as a bag boy at Publix.
Bevers explained in a statement on the GoFundMe page, “[Nick] has felt that the people most responsible for loving and protecting him through anything have turned their backs and don’t care where he’s sleeping, or how he’s going to feed himself.” He added, “We’re working to show Nick that he is loved, even by strangers. That the horrible acts of some people will not be enough to stop him, and that with the help of people everywhere, he can get through this.”
He has no home, no car, thus no way to get back and forth to his school, and no money. We have taken him in, and are committed to keeping him on track. But he will need to find a place to live soon (He is welcome on our couch as long as he needs, but everyone deserves a bed to call their own) and a car to help him get around. Had his parents not emptied his accounts, he could have paid a deposit, got into an apartment, and found a new car, but he was left with nothing.
Nick’s GoFundMe page had been flooded with messages of support for the disowned teen. In a video message to his supporters, Nick said, “You guys pretty much saved my life.” He added: “This whole thing started when my stepmom caught wind of me being bisexual,” he said. “I don’t know where she got her information from, but I know it wasn’t from me. She didn’t like that and neither did my dad. I got told some very vulgar and disgusting things… That’s why I didn’t tell them, because I wasn’t ready. And I didn’t tell them for the exact reaction I was scared about, and that’s exactly what happened.”
Watch Nick’s thank you video below:

The messages of support were just as incredible as the overwhelming generosity for the disowned teen.
Warren wrote on the GoFundMe page: “I don’t have enough money for rent, but I am going to figure out a way to donate some money. IT GETS BETTER! I was an “ally” in high school and in turn got almost as much crap as the homosexual kids. Please keep your head up. We all love you!
Timothy writes: “Nick, I was disowned by my father and was told by him that I should commit suicide when it was discovered I was gay. The reason I’m telling you this is to KEEP YOUR CHIN UP and to share my strength and hope that IT GETS BETTER! They do not deserve to be in your life. Your father and STEPMOTHER don’t know the meaning of the word love.
Jennifer writs: “My thoughts are with you. Don’t let the actions of you parents stop you from becoming an amazing person. You have the world (well, most of) supporting you and your dreams.


The Huffington Post reports that Nick will use the money to register for spring semester and hopes to put the remainder of it towards a new vehicle.

October 23, 2013

Homophobia in France Creates Homeless Gays



Antoine was only 17 when he was kicked out of his home in Picardy for coming out as gay. On the occasion of the International Day Against Homophobia, read our report on Antoine’s plight.~~~~~~~~~~~~









 
Two years ago, Antoine was forced to leave his home in a town in the northern French region of Picardy after coming out as gay. He was 17 at the time. The young man remembers the night when his stepfather looked at his mother, and gave her the ultimatum, “It’s him or me.”
At the time, Antoine (not his real name) did not see his stepfather’s words as a reason for concern. Up until then, everything at home was “going well”. "What’s more," Antoine said, “They had been seeing each other for barely three months, and I was her son.”
But the revelation that Antoine was gay came as an unwelcome shock to his parents. Although the young man had always known that he was gay, he had taken pains to hide it, explaining that in Picardy “people are not as forward-thinking as they are in [the capital] Paris”.
“It was better to hide the fact that you were gay,” Antoine said, “because it wouldn’t have been well viewed”.
From the moment his mother confided in her partner that her son was gay, though, everything changed.
“My stepfather wouldn’t speak to me anymore, the atmosphere became very strained,” Antoine said. His daily interactions with his mother’s companion were peppered with insults, whether it was during a cigarette break or at the dinner table.
“One day, I touched his fork. He yelled ‘Don’t touch that!’ as though I were contagious,” remembered Antoine. “There were lots of other insults. Lots...”
Then, one morning, the young man’s mother made up her mind. Antoine had to go.
“As time passed, I realised that my days at home were numbered,” he said, explaining that somehow, he had known for some time that he would be the one to leave, and not his stepfather. “The worst part of it all was that I have two younger brothers who I knew I would never see again.”
Cries for help amid debate over same-sex marriage
Since a bill legalising same-sex marriage and adoption in France was introduced last year, organisations like SOS Homophobie and Le Refuge, which provide support to victims of homophobia, have noticed a significant hike in cries for help from young people like Antoine.
According to SOS Homophobie’s president, Elisabeth Ronzier, the organisation has received a 30 percent increase in calls during the year 2012 – a number she said has only continued to grow since the beginning of 2013.
“During the debate we received calls from people who told us they just couldn’t take it anymore, but then we also got calls from people who had never been victims of homophobia before in their lives because they had always been accepted by their communities. The debate was the first time they had ever felt it,” Ronzier told FRANCE 24.
Le Refuge, which gives housing to victims of homophobia between the ages of 18 and 25 who have been kicked out of their homes, has experienced a similar influx of demand for their services. Clio Léonard, who runs the organisation’s programme in Paris, said that they received 200 calls in the month of December alone, or six times the monthly average.
“In Paris, we have 21 places and they’ve always been full, but we now have a waitlist for the first time,” Léonard told FRANCE 24.
‘I didn’t know where to go’
Like so many of those who have called SOS Homophobie or Le Refuge in recent months, Antoine said he too just couldn’t take it anymore. He couldn’t imagine that his situation could possibly get any worse.
After being forced from his mother’s home, Antoine headed to Paris where he said he discovered “a little earlier than most,” the harsh realities of living on your own. There was finding a place to stay, food to purchase and rent to pay... After struggling to get by for several months, the young man decided to turn to his father, who also lived in Picardy.
“He welcomed me with open arms,” Antoine remembered. The transition to living with his father went smoothly, and Antoine began to take comfort in the thought that the worst was behind him. Then, suddenly, it all came crashing down around him.
“One day, I was on the phone with my boyfriend when my father interrupted our conversation,” Antoine said. The young man tried in vain to explain the situation, but his father wouldn’t hear of it. Instead, Antoine remembered him shouting, “You have five minutes to get your things and get out!”
Another door slammed in his face, Antoine found himself in the streets once again.
“I had to sleep outside, it was really hard. I didn’t know where to go,” he said.
A slow recovery
The young man turned to his boyfriend, Tim (not his real name), who entreated him to return to Paris where he was staying at one of Le Refuge’s sites. By “complete chance”, the organisation had an extra space free at an apartment in the city’s central 2nd arrondissement, where Tim just happened to be living.
After all he had lived through in recent months, however, Antoine was severely depressed.
“I thought about committing suicide. It’s true, I just couldn’t do it anymore,” the young man said. “If I didn’t have my boyfriend at my side, I wouldn’t be here anymore.”
While Antoine, who is still living at Le Refuge, knows that the organisation is only a temporary solution for now, he sees it as key to his survival.
“Things are going a little bit better these days even if, paradoxically, I miss my mom and my brother the most now,” he said. “I will not go back, but I’ve learned to forgive. I am no longer angry with my family or society. It’s the way things are. Anger has never helped anyone move forward.”
“The law on same-sex marriage is a good thing,” Antoine said. “One day I would like to get married too. And have children. My boyfriend and I joke around about it, but I would really like to.”

By Charlotte BOITIAUX / Rachel HOLMAN
 

August 25, 2013

NYC Engineer Wants to Help Homeless Man Not By Food But By Coding Knowledge


  

But the 23-year-old engineer didn't think those two parts of his day had to stay separate. Earlier this week, he made an offer to one of those homeless men.
"I walk by a homeless guy every day on the way to work and I get this feeling every day that he is a smart guy -- he has books and he writes," McConlogue told ABC News. "I was trying to think of a way to engage him and help him."
McConlogue approached Leo, a 36-year man who lives on the streets of lower Manhattan, on Thursday and gave him two options.
The first was $100 in cash.
"I figured that was enough for a ticket some place or a few meals, if that's what he wanted," McConlogue said.
The second option on the table was a laptop, three JavaScript books and two months of coding instruction from McConlogue.
After hearing the offer, Leo, who McConlogue described as very articulate and gifted, especially in on the topic of environmental issues, decided to take the coding option.
"I want to spread knowledge and information about climate change and global warming," Leo told ABC News in a phone interview facilitated by McConlogue.
Soon, McConlogue will deliver him a Samsung Chromebook with 3G connectivity, three JavaScript books, a solar charger for the laptop and something to conceal the laptop in. He will spend an hour before work every morning teaching him the basics of software coding.
McConlogue began documenting his plans to help Leo on the blogging platform Medium earlier this week and has seen a mix of reactions.
The technology community, in particular, was critical of his first post, which was titled, "Finding the unjustly homeless, and teaching them to code." Many commenters criticized McConlogue for using the word "unjust," which he admitted was a poor word choice.
Still, some writers heavily criticized McConlogue's effort beyond that.
Techcrunch editor-in-chief Alexia Tsotsis said McConlogue was "tone-deaf" and that his plan demonstrated "a profound cluelessness about poverty and the disenfranchised."
Slate's Matthew Yglesias argued that housing, not coding, is the first step in fixing homelessness.
Then, Slate's Will Oremus called him a "naive techie."
But along with the critics, there were those who supported his effort. More than 1,200 people have liked the "Journeyman" Facebook page McConlogue has set up about the project and he said he has even heard from some previously homeless individuals who see the effort as useful.
Leo himself, who is aware of the online chatter, said that he is understanding of the criticism. "It's America, people have the right to have their opinions," he said. "It's the Internet, people have the right to post what they want. I agree to disagree." When asked about housing Leo said that he thought "housing was great for people who want to be put in housing, for people who want and need it."
Ultimately, McConlogue says he is offering what he can right now to help.
"Being able to code will help him do some of the things he wants to do," McConlogue said. "The negative feedback is that you should give him housing and food. My thought is that technology will do a better job connecting him, in the long term, to what he wants."
McConlogue plans to keep blogging about the experience on Medium and Leo himself will write the next post. He said he doesn't have plans to do anything with the larger homeless community at this point, however.
"I've tried to build products for the many before, but I wonder if this new generation is building projects for the power of one," he said. "I am going to do a really good job with this guy. I will learn from him, maybe even more than he learns from me.”
By JOANNA STERN | Good Morning America 

August 8, 2013

In Some Cities, NYC Included Gays Faced Greater Fear of Becoming Homeless

 

Tim Oviatt was once a successful businessman. For 32 years, he owned an apparel store in San Francisco called All American Boy.
 
"If you wore my logo T-shirt, people knew you were gay all over the world," he says.
Now, Oviatt finds himself symbolizing something stark about the gay community. Having lost his business, his longtime partner and finally his home, Oviatt, who is 64, has mostly been sleeping in his car the past nine months.
He's not alone. A recent census of the homeless population in San Francisco found that 29 percent of them identify as gay. That is twice the share of the city's total population that is gay, lesbian or transgender.
"There's this stereotype of the gay community that we're all doing well and are affluent," says San Francisco Supervisor David Campos. "This really challenges that, the fact that we have a segment of our community that's struggling, even more so than the straight community."
It's typical for young gays, who have often fled hostile environments, to make up a large proportion of the homeless who are under 25 — perhaps as much as 40 percent in major cities such as Boston and Los Angeles.
But the generation of gays who came of age in the 1970s and 1980s — those who saw their friends decimated by AIDS — are now overrepresented among the homeless, as well.
"It's not just a San Francisco phenomenon," says Jerry Jones, executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless. "LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] folk are disproportionately represented among the homeless."
Lack Of Family Support
"Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in," wrote the poet Robert Frost.
In that sense, many gays who are middle-aged or older are truly homeless.
Tom Oviatt, 64, a former apparel store owner in San Francisco, has mostly been sleeping in his car the past nine months.
Tom Oviatt, 64, a former apparel store owner in San Francisco, has mostly been sleeping in his car the past nine months.
Alan Greenblatt/NPR
"The fact that folks weren't able to legally marry and have those traditional ways of being able to set up retirement, those folks are particularly impacted," says Lisa Marie Alatorre, a human rights organizer with the Coalition on Homelessness in San Francisco.
As is the case today, gays who moved to large cities years ago might have cut off, or been cut off from, relations with their families. Most didn't start families of their own.
"Probably the bigger factor that protects you from losing your housing seems to be having adult children," says Margot Kushel, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, who studies health issues among the homeless.
In addition to their diminished family lives, many older gays have lost their closest friends, due to the scourge of AIDS.
"When I was 30 years old, I threw a birthday party for myself," says Oviatt, who moved to San Francisco in 1972. "There were probably 30 people there. There's about four of them still alive."
Issue Gaining Attention
People like Oviatt who have lost work or housing face an additional hurdle: San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities in the country.
"We have a very strong, thriving economy," says Campos, the city supervisor. "With that comes a very significant increase in rents."
The desire to charge higher rents has led to a spike in evictions. The epicenters recently have been traditionally gay neighborhoods such as the Castro and Bernal Heights.
In April, Jonathan Klein, who like Oviatt had been a longtime business owner in the Castro, committed suicide when faced with eviction. His death, along with the most recent census, has helped bring attention to the problem of displaced gays.
"If there is a silver lining here, it is the hope that it will increase awareness and heighten the commitment not only of city government but the entire community to deal with this issue," Campos says.
Next week, San Francisco's Planning Commission will hold a hearing to decide whether to approve the opening of a shelter specifically dedicated to housing people who are LGBT.
Many — particularly those who are older or transgender — have been wary of going to existing shelters for fear of discrimination or abuse.
"About 50 percent of our shelter staff will identify as LGBT," says Marlon Mendieta, program director for Dolores Street Community Services, which will run the shelter. "It's not creating a room or a space where I'm going to segregate the LGBT community. The whole program is prepared."
But the new space will only have 24 beds. Getting it open has been a struggle that has gone on for more than two years.
How The City Responds
San Francisco's problem takes place against the backdrop of a city with an unusual number of top public officials who are gay or transgender.
"There's an eye on it," says Alatorre, the advocate for the homeless. "By and large, people recognize it's an issue and express sympathy, but we don't see the resources going to the programs that actually serve the need."
San Francisco has enjoyed some success in combating homelessness. The recent census found that the overall count is about where it was two years ago, but there are significantly fewer people who are chronically homeless — that is, who have been living on the streets for more than a year.
"San Francisco has made a tremendous amount of progress on chronic homelessness, which isn't always evident when you walk down the street," says Kushel, referring to the visibility of the homeless.
San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee has run a number of programs designed to combat homelessness, says Bevan Dufty, his lead advisor on the issue, including winning approval from voters last November of a housing trust fund that will create more affordable units.
Brian Basinger, director of the AIDS Housing Alliance/SF (left), helped Tom Oviatt navigate his way through red tape to find temporary housing.
Alan Greenblatt/NPR
But advocates in the gay community complain that the bulk of the city's funding is geared toward serving families with children present. That may be understandable, but it offers little help to those who are gay — or senior or disabled — and childless.
"All the other adults are pushed into a corner and fighting over scraps," says Brian Basinger, director of AIDS Housing Alliance/SF.
Fortunate To Find A Home
The result is waiting lists for housing that can be years long. In that sense, Oviatt is lucky.
With Basinger's help, he was able to navigate his way through months of red tape and a number of bureaucratic false starts. On Monday, he moved out of his car and into a single room occupancy (SRO) hotel in the city's grungy Tenderloin neighborhood.
Oviatt has AIDS and has been losing weight, so having a small but clean place where he can prepare meals for himself is a lifesaver.
"I got food in the slow cooker so I'm going to be able to eat on my own again," he says. "It's the first night I've slept in a bed in five months. It's such a joy.”
by ALAN GREENBLATT
npr.org

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