Archive for April, 2008

Law makers and the NAACP have asked for an investigation into a research experiment with “sludge” (a mixture of industrial and human sewage) on yards in low-income black neighborhoods in Baltimore.

Those living in the neighborhoods were told that the substance was being tested to see if it would reduce the effects of lead-poisoning among children in the area but allegedly were not told about the toxic content of the sludge.

Though this may not seem like it has much to do with poverty or homelessness, a story like this underscores how often low-income people and neighborhoods are subjected to unsafe conditions and poor development because of absentee law makers and landlords. Now it would appear that researchers don’t seem to mind putting sewage on the lawns of low-income people and not telling them what it really is.

Not only are they subjected to these kinds of conditions, but often are treated with less dignity, as if it is not wrong to put sewage in their yards.

The full story can be found at Democracy Now!

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Download the Poverty Challenge Participants’ Guide here.

Check out the flyer for the Poverty Challenge here.

From May 6 through May 7, a number of community leaders have agreed to maintain a poverty budget to demonstrate how many of our area’s residents are not able to meet their basic needs. With the support of a number of religious leaders, elected leaders, and other community leaders, the 2008 Poverty Challenge of Greater Buffalo is an attempt to raise awareness about the nature of poverty in Western New York.

The point is not to play poor for a few days but to stand in solidarity with those facing the day-to-day struggles of poverty: the limitation of choices and the stifling effects of a low income. (more…)

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Massachusetts legislators are considering a $10 million dollar allocation of funds toward a project that will eliminate homelessness throughout the state. The projected plan, which utilizes a Housing First model, demonstrates a shift among state legislators from funding shelter model projects toward funding permanent housing models.

State officials have recognized the cost-effectiveness of permanent housing options.

Not only is Housing First a cost effective model, it is a just model. Click below to read the article. (more…)

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Though it may seem like a stretch to report on health insurance on a blog about homelessness, it certainly is not. It is not uncommon for someone living in poverty to experience a significant health emergency and seek care for which they are not covered, only to fall behind in bills because they now have a hefty hospital debt to pay. This can result in eviction and/or utility shut-off and, consequently, homelessness.

But even the average American is beginning to feel the strain of precarious health care coverage. Consumer Reports investigated this and reported in September 2007:

  • 29 percent of people who had health insurance were “underinsured,” with coverage so meager they often postponed medical care because of costs.
  • 49 percent overall, and 43 percent of people with insurance, said they were “somewhat” to “completely” unprepared to cope with a costly medical emergency over the coming year.
  • 20 percent of people said they were so disappointed with their HMO or PPO that they wanted to switch plans
  • 16 percent had no health plan at all, including many working respondents whose jobs didn’t offer insurance, or who couldn’t afford the premiums or deductibles of the available plan.
  • Read the full story here.

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    Hello Friends,

    You may have wondered why there hasn’t been much posted on the blog in the past several week. The staff at the Alliance has been very busy. We are currently working on a number of projects that are raising awareness about homelessness in Buffalo and Erie County. Here’s some of them:

    The research staff is currently entering data from the Street Survey that was conducted this past January. They are nearing the end of the data entry process and will then begin to analyze that data, mark trends, and form policy recommendations in response.

    The FOOD Project (Faith Outreach and Opportunities Development) is currently putting together the first ever Poverty Challenge of Greater Buffalo. This will challenge religious leaders, elected leaders, and business leaders to live on a poverty budget for 3 days and record their experience for TV, radio, and print media. Standing in solidarity with those who struggle with poverty daily, these leaders will commit to making poverty a key factor of any policy decision made for the Buffalo Region. The 2008 Poverty Challenge of Greater Buffalo will take place during the week of May 5th.

    The research staff has also been working on the 2008 Annual Homelessness Profile, which gathers data from local homeless-service programs and evaluates trends among the homeless population locally. This profile will be released shortly.

    The 2008 Continuum of Care is kicking into gear (local applications are due today!) . I and the rest of the staff have evaluated the scores from the 2007 competition and are going to be determining what we as a community need to do to be successful in the 2008 competition.

    The Homeless Alliance is also excited to be a part of an effort that is happening locally to foster grassroots economic development known as the Partnership for the Public Good .

    Despite all of that, we hope to put up a series of blog posts within the coming weeks to keep you updated and informed about trends in poverty and homelessness locally, regionally, and nationally. Stay tuned for more.

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    The National Alliance to End Homelessness released a national estimate of the number of people living double and tripled up in the US. Though HUD does not currently consider this population to be “homeless” according to federal law, initiatives are under way to have the definition changed to include this population.

    Locally, the 2008 Annual Homelessness Profile (to be released shortly) found that 33% of those currently residing in homeless housing and shelter reported that they stayed with family and friends the night before coming to the program.

    The National Alliance states the following:

    There have been recent proposals to expand the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s definition of homeless to include households that are doubled up for economic reasons. To assess the impact of this proposal, a new data snapshot from the Homelessness Research Institute at the Alliance looks at how many people would be added to the homelessness population if the proposal were adopted. The data snapshot shows that expanding the definition would increase the current homeless population (744,313 on any given night) by 3.8 million. The amount that would have to be appropriated so that the amount of funding per homeless or doubled up person matched the actual amount of funding per homeless person in 2005 is $7.725 billion.

    Read the full report here.

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