In homeless LA, the families, retirees and working people who live in their cars are desperate for overnight parking

LA's homelessness epidemic continues to rage unabated as housing prices soar and wages stagnate; the result is a "wheel estate" boom of people living in cars and vans, with the greatest proportion of vehicles-dwellers being seniors, families with children, and working people. Read the rest

LA's new homelessness stats reveal a crisis that is only worsening

LA has the nation's worst homelessness problem, a (literal) epidemic so terrible it distorts the national statistics. Read the rest

Amazon killed Seattle's homelessness-relief tax by threatening not to move into a massive new building, then they canceled the move anyway

Seattle's immensely popular business tax was designed to do something about the city's epidemic of desperate homelessness, but then Amazon threw its muscle around to get the tax canceled, mostly by threatening not to occupy its new offices in Ranier Square, a 30-story building currently under construction that Amazon was to be sole tenant of, with 3,500-5,000 employees working out of the building. Read the rest

New Orleans reduced homelessness by 90% (and saved a fortune) by giving homeless people homes

Homelessness in New Orleans spiked after Hurricane Katrina, reaching 11,600 by 2007; today that number has been reduced by 90%, thanks to a "housing first" (previously) approach that starts by giving homeless people stable, permanent housing, and then addressing confounding factors like mental illness and substance addiction (on the grounds that these conditions are easier to treat when people have stable housing). Read the rest

Sesame Street introduces Lily, the first muppet to experience homelessness

Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit behind Sesame Street, isn't afraid to keep it real for kids. Last year they introduced Julia, the first muppet with autism. Now they've launched an initiative called Sesame Street in Communities that, amongst other things, will bring the first muppet to experience homelessness. Her name is Lily and she was originally introduced in 2011 as a character whose family was struggling with hunger.

Unfortunately, Lily’s path is common for many children experiencing homelessness. “We know children experiencing homelessness are often caught up in a devastating cycle of trauma—the lack of affordable housing, poverty, domestic violence, or other trauma that caused them to lose their home, the trauma of actually losing their home, and the daily trauma of the uncertainty and insecurity of being homeless,” said Sherrie Westin, President of Global Impact and Philanthropy at Sesame Workshop. “We want to help disrupt that cycle by comforting children, empowering them, and giving them hope for the future. We want them to know that they are not alone and home is more than a house or an apartment—home is wherever the love lives.”

CNN:

"When Lily was first launched, she came out as part of the food insecurity initiative. So she's not brand new, but this seemed like a really perfect extension of her story, so that we could use her to help children identify with," Westin said. "With any of our initiatives, our hope is that we're not only reaching the children who can identify with that Muppet but that we're also helping others to have greater empathy and understanding of the issue."

Although her journey with homelessness will not appear in televised episodes of "Sesame Street" at this point, she will be in separate videos and materials in the initiative.

Read the rest

Bay Area organization offers free birthday parties to homeless kids, cake and all

Habitot Children's Museum in Berkeley, California is making an unusually generous offer to the families of homeless kids. They are providing them with the opportunity to celebrate their child's birthday at their facility for free. Their free birthday party offer includes all the standards: decor, pizza, juice, cake, and even goodie bags for the guests. Plus, they gift the birthday child something special.

Now, I'm not sure the age limit for the eligible children but, according to their site, the museum serves infants, toddlers and preschoolers.

Want to learn more? Email the museum's Family Programs Manager at familyprograms@habitot.org. Also, if you have the means, please consider donating to Habitot so they can keep the magic going.

photo by Yoshika Mcalister Read the rest

San Francisco spends $3.1m/year on homeless toilets and $65m/year cleaning up poop

San Francisco's housing crisis is also (of course) a homelessness crisis, and homelessness crises beget public defecation crises -- and San Francisco has a serious public defecation crisis. Read the rest

Lyft, Stripe spend lavishly to kill San Francisco's homelessness relief measure

San Francisco has a homelessness epidemic that is both heartrending and a threat to public health, and it has only worsened for decades, and continues to get worse even now. Read the rest

City of Seattle's official tow partner impounded a homeless woman's stolen car and wanted $21,634 to give it back

Update: An earlier version of this article misidentified Dick's Towing of Everett as the Dick's Towing of Seattle involved this this story. I apologize to Dick's of Everett for the error.

Seattle is in the grips of a dire housing emergency (though the city has money to burn when it comes to subsidizing multi-billion-dollar sports teams); Amanda Ogle is one of the many people in Seattle living out of a car, in her case, a 1991 Camry. Read the rest

One in ten of New York's public school students is homeless

114,659 of New York's public school students is homeless, bouncing from shelters to relatives' beds: homelessness is a predictor of poor academic performance for all the obvious reasons, including very long commutes to school (some students' families have ended up at shelters that are two boroughs away from their schools). Read the rest

Federal judge orders car returned to homeless man struggling to pay parking tickets

Sean Kayode, a homeless person hustling to make ends meet in San Francisco unsurprisingly received a lot of parking tickets, in San Francisco. Naturally, the best way for San Francisco to secure payment was to seize his method of earning money. A federal judge has ordered the car be returned, for now.

Via the SF Examiner:

A federal judge on Wednesday ordered the city of San Francisco to return a towed car to a homeless man who couldn’t afford to pay the parking tickets he received while working as a food delivery driver.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White said Sean Kayode had raised “serious questions” about whether the March 5 towing of his car because of unpaid parking tickets violated the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment guarantee against unreasonable searches and seizures.

White wrote that in a situation in which a car owner can’t afford to pay overdue parking tickets, “it is not clear…that seizure is reasonable in an effort to secure repayment of the debt owed.”

The judge issued a preliminary injunction requiring return of the car. The order will remain in effect until there is a full trial on a lawsuit filed by Kayode, 52, and James Smith, 64, whose car was towed on Dec. 28, 2017.

Kayode’s car was towed from a street-cleaning zone outside a homeless shelter where he was staying. In the previous 10 months, he had received about 30 parking tickets and had paid some but not all of them.

A state law allows local authorities to tow a car whose owner has five or more unpaid parking tickets for at least three weeks.

Read the rest

Homeless people in San Francisco are hotwiring electric scooters

San Francisco's giant fleet of semi-illegal electric scooters have come to symbolize the tech industry's worst excesses, inspiring all kinds of creative resistance Read the rest

Los Angeles's homelessness epidemic has created a typhus epidemic

Los Angeles county has some 104,000 homeless people, thanks to a real-estate bubble that has priced housing out of reach of working people, while programs to reduce homelessness have been incoherent and unwilling to take the only proven step for reducing homelessness. Read the rest

Oakland to expand managed homeless shantytowns of prefab sheds

Oakland, like San Francisco, has an out-of-control homeless crisis fueled by out-of-control housing prices; like San Francisco (where aid for homelessness can include tents to make outdoor sleeping more comfortable and safe), Oakland is supplying "temporary housing" for homeless people that institutionalizes a kind of living that has heretofore been viewed as a problem in and of itself. Read the rest

San Francisco can not generally ban sleeping in public

A general ban on people sleeping in public places, allowing the San Francisco Police to arrest homeless people for having no place else to go, has been ruled cruel and unusual punishment by the US 9th Circuit Court.

KRON4:

Police can no longer arrest people for sleeping on the streets if they have nowhere else to go.

KRON4’s Lydia Pantazes at San Francisco police headquarters this morning.

She says a federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled arresting people who are sleeping on the street with no where else to go is cruel and unusual punishment.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco sided with six homeless people from Boise, Idaho, who sued the city in 2009 over a local ordinance that banned sleeping in public spaces.

The ruling could affect several other cities that have similar laws, including San Francisco.

For example, In San Francisco it is a misdemeanor sit or lie down on a public sidewalk, or on a mattress or other object on a sidewalk, between 7:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m.

The question now is whether cities can ban sitting, lying, or sleeping outside during a particular time and at a specific location. While that may still be allowed, an all out ban is not.

Read the rest

Duplicitous Catholic Bishop buys $2.3 million home with church funds after pleading for parishioners to help the homeless

A couple of years back, the Most Reverend Patrick J. McGrath, Bishop of the Diocese of San Jose, California, wrote an impassioned missive. In his letter, Bishop McGrath acknowledged the Catholic charities working to better the lives of the less fortunate. He emphasized how important it was that Catholics "vote their consciences" on Measure A: a proposal that would see affordable housing in an effort to end homelessness in the area and give struggling families a much-needed helping hand.

From The Valley Catholic:

Too many veterans have vouchers for affordable housing but no place willing to accept them. Too many children and families are living in cars or tripled up with other families in small homes because they can’t afford the rent on their own. Too many of our own teachers and workers commute long distances to serve our community of faith because they cannot afford ever increasing rents and housing prices.

He was right: everyone deserves the dignity of decent housing. That a community leader, like Bishop McGrath, would lend his voice to end this kind of bullshit, is both just and welcomed. It's how things should be.

So of course, the Bishop and the diocese fucked all of the good will built by this statement by buying a five bedroom house worth $2.3 million for McGrath to live in once he retires.

You should know that not all priests, which sometimes become bishops after decades of service and political finagling, take vows of poverty. Only certain religious orders within the Catholic Church are down with that. Read the rest

Laws that criminalize sleeping are on the rise

Sleeping should be a basic human right, but municipalities are enacting more laws that make it illegal to sleep in public. It's a cruel and financially dumb way to ignore the problem of homelessness. Steve Teare explores the issue in a comic in The Nib called "Sleeping Isn't a Crime." Read the rest

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