Issuu on Google+

Homeless in America Vol. 3 Issue 4

February 2011

Vol. 2

The hate crimes

“Enough is Enough”


2

Homeless in America


Table ofContents Letter from the Editor >>Pg. 4 Why are People Homeless? >>Pg. 6

Homless to Harvard >>Pg. 11 An Interview with Elizabeth Murray >>Pg. 13 Enough is Enough Pg. >>18 Local News >>Pg. 22 Legal News >>Pg. 24 Sharing the Love >>Pg. 26

Vol. 3 Issue 4

3


Letter from

the Editor

Dear Readers, We am very excited to bring you this new magazine. The idea came to me when I was driving downtown Indianapolis and I saw the amount of people that were suffering from homelessness, and I thought to myself “why doesn’t anyone help them? And how did they get this way?” The fact is most people think people are homeless because they screwed up their life and are now dealing with the consequences. When in fact most people are homeless due to the economy and other factors out of their control. I decided to print this magazine to inform­– inform people what’s really going on, and how they can help. America has this feeling that we’re better than everyone else and we don’t have problems here. We tend to overlook or sweep the problems under the rug to make us look better off than we are. No one wants to believe people are hurting and the economy is in trouble. In designing our publication, we want to effectively communicate the issues at hand. My intent is not to humiliate anyone, degrade anyone, or poke fun at the seriousness of homelessness. We simply want to get people informed and involved in helping out the less fortunate. In saying that, parts of the proceeds from this magazine are being given out to charities to help the less fortunate. Throughout there are ideas and ways you can help contribute and do your part. Helping people is something I feel strongly about and I hope this publication can open people’s eyes to the pain these people are feeling. If you have any ideas about a story or idea for an upcoming issue of this magazine please contact us and we’ll talk.

Editor in ChiefLisa Crawford

Lisa Crawford

4

Homeless in America


Homeless in America Editor-in-Chief- Lisa Crawford Graphic Designer Lisa Crawford Associate Publisher of Advertising Stacy Lyn Bettman Associate Publisher of Marketing Howard Grier General Manager Larry Greenblat Account Manager Gaye Sherman Ad Service Manager Lauran Raad Publishers Assistant SoonPark Midwest Director Robin Billie

Promotion

Director of Promotion Christina Parabak Senior Promotion Manager Lisa Camponi Associate Promotion Manager Karen Otto Senior Designer Emma Wang

Photography

Photographer Emily Land Editor Mark Applegate

Marketing

Marketing Director Jean Block Marketing Coordinator Jesse Mumford

Group Research

Group Research Manager Anna Khait

Production

Group Production Director Chris Butler Group Production Manager Kevin Holt Associate Production Manager Joe Joesph

Published by Hearst Communications, Inc., a unit of the Hearst Corporation President & Chief Executive Offficer Victor F. Ganzi Chairman George R. Hearst, Jr. Vice Chairman Frank A. Bennack. Jr.

Hearst Magazine Division

President Cathleen P. Black Exective Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer, Publishing Director Michael A. Clinton Executive Vice President John P. Loughlin Publishing Consulants Richard E. Deems, Gilbert C. Maurer, Mark F. Miller

Vol. 3 Issue 4

5


Why Are People Homeless?

Published by the National Coalition for the Homeless, July 2009

6

Homeless in America


six million jobs have been lost. In May 2009, the official unemployment rate was 9.4%. The National Low Income Housing Coalition estimates that 40 percent of families facing eviction due to foreclosure are renters and 7 million households living on very low incomes (31 – 50 percent of Area Median Income) are at risk of foreclosure.

POVERTY Homelessness and poverty are inextricably linked. Poor people are frequently unable to pay for housing, food, childcare, health care, and education. Difficult choices must be made when limited resources cover only some of these necessities. Often it is housing, which absorbs a high proportion of income that must be dropped. If you are poor, you are essentially an illness, an accident, or a paycheck away from living on the streets. In 2007, 12.5% of the U.S. population, or 37,300,00 million people, lived in poverty. The official poverty rate in 2007 was not statistically different than 2006 (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2007). Children are overrepresented, composing 35.7% of people in poverty while only being 24.8% of the total population. Two factors help account for increasing poverty: eroding employment opportunities for large segments of the workforce and the declining value and availability of public assistance.

ERODING WORK OPPORTUNITIES Reasons why homelessness persists include stagnant or falling incomes and less secure jobs which offer fewer benefits.

R

FORECLOSURE

ecently, foreclosures have increased the number of people who experience homelessness. The National Coalition for the Homeless released an entire report discussing the relationship between foreclosure and homelessness. The report found that there was a 32% jump in the number of foreclosures between April 2008 and April 2009. Since the start of the recession,

Low-wage workers have been particularly have been left behind as the disparity between rich and poor has mushroomed. To compound the problem, the real value of the minimum wage in 2004 was 26% less than in 1979 (The Economic Policy Institute, 2005). Factors contributing to wage declines include a steep drop in the number and bargaining power of unionized workers; erosion in the value of the minimum wage; a decline in manufacturing jobs and the corresponding expansion of lower-paying service-sector employment; globalization; and increased nonstandard work, such as temporary and part-time employment (Mishel, Bernstein, and Schmitt, 1999). To combat this, Congress has planned a gradual minimum wage increase, resulting in minimum wage raised to $9.50 by 2011.

Declining wages, in turn, have put housing out of reach for many workers: in every state, more than the minimum wage is required to afford a one- or twobedroom apartment at Fair Market Rent. [1] A recent U.S. Conference of Mayors report stated that in every state more than the minimum-wage is required to afford a one or two-bedroom apartment at 30% of his or her income, which is the federal definition of affordable housing. Unfortunately, for 12 million Americans, more then 50% of their salaries go towards renting or housing costs, resulting in sacrifices in other essential areas like health care and savings. The connection between impoverished workers and homelessness can be seen in homeless shelters, many of which house significant numbers of full-time wage earners. In 2007, a survey performed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors found that 17.4% of homeless adults in families were employed while 13% of homeless single adults or unaccompanied youth were employed. In the 2008 report, eleven out of nineteen cities reported an increased in employed homeless people. With unemployment rates remaining high, jobs are hard to find in the current economy. Even if people can find work, this does not automatically provide an escape from poverty.

DECLINE IN PUBLIC ASSISTANCE The declining value and availability of public assistance is another source of increasing poverty and homelessness. Until its repeal in August 1996, the largest cash assistance program for poor families with children was the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program. The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (the federal welfare reform law) repealed the AFDC program and replaced it with a block grant program called Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). In 2005, TANF helped a third of the children that AFDC helped reach above the 50% poverty line. Unfortunately, TANF has not been able to kept up with inflation. In 2006-2008, TANF case load has continued to decline while food stamp caseloads have increased Moreover, extreme poverty is growing more common for children, especially those in female-headed and working families. This increase can be traced directly to the declining number of children

Vol. 3 Issue 4

7


lifted above one-half of the poverty line by government cash assistance for the poor (Children’s Defense Fund and the National Coalition for the Homeless, 1998). As a result of loss of benefits, low wages, and unstable employment, many families leaving welfare struggle to get medical care, food, and housing. People with disabilities, too, must struggle to obtain and maintain stable housing. In 2006, on a national average, monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment rose to $715 per month which is a 113.1% of a person’s on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) monthly income (Priced Out in 2006). For the first time, the national average rent for a studio apartment rose above the income of a person who relies only on SSI income. Recently, only nine percent of non-institutionalized people receiving SSI receive housing assistance (Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, 2005). Most states have not replaced the old welfare system with an alternative that enables families and individuals to obtain above-poverty employment and to sustain themselves when work is not available or possible.

HOUSING A lack of affordable housing and the limited scale of housing assistance programs have contributed to the current housing crisis and to homelessness. According to HUD, in recent years the shortages of affordable housing are most severe for units affordable to renters with extremely low incomes. Federal support for low-income housing has fallen 49% from 1980 to 2003 (National Low Income Housing Coalition, 2005). About 200,000 rental housing units are destroyed annually. Renting is one of the most viable options for low income people (Joint Center for Housing Studies). Since 2000, the incomes of low-income households has declined as rents continue to rise (National Low Income Housing Coalition, 2005). In 2009, a worker would need to earn $14.97 to afford a one-bedroom apartment and $17.84 to afford a two-bedroom apartment. There has been an increase of 41% from 2000 to 2009 in fair market rent for a twobedroom unit, according to HUD (National Low Income Housing Coalition, 2009). The lack of affordable housing has lead to high rent burdens (rents which absorb a high proportion of income), overcrowding,

8

Homeless in America

and substandard housing. These phenomena, in turn, have not only forced many people to become homeless; they have put a large and growing number of people at risk of becoming homeless. Housing assistance can make the difference between stable housing, precarious housing, or no housing at all. However, the demand for assisted housing clearly exceeds the supply: only about one-third of poor renter households receive a housing subsidy from the federal, state, or a local government (Daskal, 1998). The limited level of housing assistance means that most poor families and individuals seeking housing assistance are placed on long waiting lists. Today the average wait for Section 8 Vouchers is 35 months (U.S. Conference of Mayors, 2004). Excessive waiting lists for public housing mean that people must remain in shelters or inadequate housing arrangements longer. In a survey of 24 cities, people remain homeless an average of seven months, and 87% of cities reported that the length of time people are homeless has increased in recent years (U.S. Conference of Mayors, 2005). Longer stays in homeless shelters result in less shelter space available for other homeless people, who must find shelter elsewhere or live on the streets. In 2007, it was found that average stay in homeless shelters for households with children was 5.7 months, while this number is only slightly smaller for singles and unaccompanied children at 4.7 months. (The U.S. Conference for Mayors, 2007). In 2003, the federal government spent almost twice as much in housing-related tax expenditures and direct housing assistance for households in the top income quintile than on housing subsidies for the lowest-income households (National Low Income Housing Coalition, 2005). Thus, federal housing policy has not responded to the needs of low-income households, while disproportionately benefiting the wealthiest Americans.

OTHER FACTORS Particularly within the context of poverty and the lack of affordable housing, certain additional factors may push people into homelessness. Other major factors, which can contribute to homelessness, include the following: Lack of Affordable Health Care: For families and individuals struggling to pay the rent, a serious illness or disability can start a downward spiral

into homelessness, beginning with a lost job, depletion of savings to pay for care, and eventual eviction. One in three Americans, or 86.7 million people, is uninsured. Of those uninsured, 30.7% are under eighteen. In 20072008, four out of five people that were uninsured were working families. Workbased health insurance has become rarer in recent years, especially for workers in the agricultural or service sectors (Families USA, 2009). Domestic Violence: Battered women who live in poverty are often forced to choose between abusive relationships and homelessness. In addition, 50% of the cities surveyed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors identified domestic violence as a primary cause of homelessness (U.S. Conference of Mayors, 2005).Approximately 63% of homeless women have experienced domestic violence in their adult lives (Network to End Domestic Violence). Mental Illness: Approximately 16% of the single adult homeless population suffers from some form of severe and persistent mental illness (U.S. Conference of Mayors, 2005). Despite the disproportionate number of severely mentally ill people among the homeless population, increases in homelessness are not attributable to the release of severely mentally ill people from institutions. Most patients were released from mental hospitals in the 1950s and 1960s, yet vast increases in homelessness did not occur until the 1980s, when incomes and housing options for those living on the margins began to diminish rapidly. According to the 2003 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Report, most homeless persons with mental illness do not need to be institutionalized, but can live in the community with the appropriate supportive housing options (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2003). However, many mentally ill homeless people are unable to obtain access to supportive housing and/or other treatment services. The mental health support services most needed include case management, housing, and treatment.


Make an

Impact

Volunteer.

You can do your part to help. Sign up today and volunteer at a soup kitchen near you.

Go online to: http://4homeless.hypermart.net/soup_kitchens.html Vol. 3 Issue 4

9


Reading

10

Homeless in America


Homeless

to Harvard

By Antonia Charlesworth , Guest Writer

O

n September 23, 1980, Liz Murray was born with drugs in her system but no birth defects. Her mother hadn’t been careful during her pregnancy but she was lucky. Murray’s parents were hippies, leading a bohemian lifestyle in Greenwich Village, New York, in the 1970s and dealing with the aftermath of the party in the 1980s.

Growing up in a small, filthy apartment in the Bronx, watching her parents mainline cocaine was a normal part of life for Murray. Her mother was a blind schizophrenic who herself spent time living on the streets after running away from an abusive home; her father was a middle-class Irish Catholic who dropped out of university to deal drugs. Murray’s life continued down the path her parents chose for her until her late teens when she decided to turn her life around. Now she has brought her U.S. bestselling memoir of how she went from being homeless to Harvard to the U.K. “My relationship with my parents was always complicated but it was always clear that they loved me,” says Murray. “Later on that mattered a lot when I was in situations where I had nowhere to stay and I felt alone.” Murray found herself homeless at 15 after her mother died of AIDS and her father, also suffering from the disease, was taken into a shelter. The teenager would sleep in the subway, in hallways of buildings and in friends’ parents homes.

During her first stint of homelessness, she relied on her boyfriend Carlos, who promised her a better life once he received his inheritance at 18. The money arrived but Carlos found other uses for it. When he too became addicted to drugs, Murray, who was never tempted, fled. “My mum’s drug use was so graphic in front of me and she was constantly saying ‘Please, Lizzie, don’t do this’ — that really stuck in my mind,” Murray recalls. “Being able to see that and then becoming a teenager later on and people discovering drugs, I understood immediately that that was the beginning of a process that nobody wants to be a part of.” Murray had barely started school when she dropped out. The name calling and teasing about her appearance from her fellow students proved too much for her but, despite her lack of formal education, she taught herself to read, poring for days over literature beyond her years through library books unreturned by her father. “There was just something about reading that gave me an escape. Later on in life that translated to my writing,” says Murray, whose memoir offers a rare and comprehensive firsthand account of being homeless in America. After years of relying on other people but being let down, Murray decided that the only way to get out of her situation was to help herself. Persuading her father to attend the meeting and using a friend’s address, Murray convinced

Vol. 3 Issue 4

11


teachers at Humanities Preparatory Academy — a school that would provide the necessary extra support she needed — that she had a semi-stable home life. Murray completed four years of high school in just two, studying through the night wherever she could find shelter. Carrying all her worldly belongings as well as her school work with her wherever she went, she gained straight As. “If I found myself getting caught up in my past I just try to tell myself it’s not happening now,” says Murray, describing how she achieved what she did. “I don’t have to even consider what happened before to consider what’s happening now. Being weighed down in your past I think is partly to do with the fact that we need healing, but after a while I just got sick of sitting in it. I thought to myself that if I don’t do something to change the situation then I’m going to stay stuck.” When the time came to apply for college, Murray aimed for the best. On a field trip to Harvard she asked herself “Why not me?” but having never seen more than a couple of hundred dollars, she was astonished by the expense of attending a university like Harvard. She came across the New York Times College Scholarship, which required applicants to write about obstacles they had overcome to thrive academically. She knew it was time to reveal her homelessness. Her story gained her not only the scholarship but the kindness and generosity she had seen so little of in her life. Realizing the power of her story and how it changed her life, she had to share it with more people. “I think the power of story telling is about really holding up a possibility for a person,” says Murray, who completed her psychology degree and now runs motivational workshops and talks. “I knew that when I was living through this experience, I had to share it because it was demonstrating what’s possible for people.” Murray made it to Harvard but is keen that people don’t think that is all her story is about — how a girl from the New York streets coped by fitting in with the academic elite.

12

Homeless in America

“I used to hold myself as if I was very separate and I no longer really feel that way,” explains Murray. “We may look different from each other or we may grow up in different atmospheres but we’re really all just one of the same thing … That doesn’t mean I didn’t laugh, and find it funny to go into people’s homes and see little quirks. I honestly felt like I was visiting a foreign country. I never completely lose that feeling, like I’m practicing another culture when I’m around people from any means.” With her successful career, there is no need for Murray to live in any kind of poverty today, but the 30-year-old says she has a very simple, down-toearth life, surrounded by people she loves in her home in Manhattan. Still in touch with workers at the Door, the non-profit organization that provided invaluable support for her when homeless, she is now a trustee for its pioneering new project, the Broome Street Academy — the first school in the U.S. for the homeless, which opened its doors in September 2010. “I’m excited to be on the other side of it because I feel like I understand maybe more than the average person and I want to put that to use. I hate the idea that I would have gone through that for nothing.” Murray believes that no situation is hopeless and that many people’s reactions to homelessness are the result of misunderstandings. “I have been there where it felt like no one in the world cared. I’d see people walking past me and they were cynical, I’d ask for help and they wouldn’t give it — maybe they thought I was on drugs or something. But I came to a point in my life where I realized that it’s not that people don’t care or that people are callous but they don’t know how to help. They just need to realize how much their caring really does matter. “I just want people who live on the street and who are struggling to know that while their past matters and it affects things, it doesn’t control what you’re doing right now. I think it’s victorious for people to take those bold moments of courage where they’ll knock on a non-profit’s door, where they’ll get

sober, maybe one day sign a lease on an apartment, get a set of keys. I’m not talking about some big school somebody needs to go to — these are the victories in life, just to be true to yourself and to have those tiny little successes.”


An Inter view with Elizabeth Murray “One girl’s inspiring story”

Vol. 3 Issue 4

13


Greg Masters: What I think

This interview gives you an in depth look into Elizabeth’s life now, and her life as an artist, wife, and mother. 14

Homeless in America

is most exciting about your work is that it is an emotional experience. It always seems to come out of your psychology, your response to objects in your dailiness, your involvement with an object. It’s some thought process, an emotional response. When you go in to start a painting how do you begin?

Elizabeth Murray: Now, because of these forms, because the forms are very specific, it’s much more focused in a way. First of all, there’s kind of an idea there. Like that’s a question mark. And sooner or later I think that you would know that and see it. But maybe not, it doesn’t really matter. But, because I know it’s a question mark, it really affected how I felt about it, a cracked question. That’s a specific formal idea to have those shapes up there. In the beginning it feels like time breaks through the formal stuff and you get paint on it so that you begin to have ideas and it begins to get very emotional. That color feels like what you are at that particular day, particular moment, like what color feels like the right container for all those feelings. GM: The color’s not formal. EM: It has a formal role but, ultimately, I don’t think anything is formal. This guy was just here asking me if I thought about topography ‘cause his work is very involved in that. It’s not that I think about it. I know a little bit about it. And I know that my work is involved, in a sense, with how those forms change and twist. But to me those are really emotional things. Like a crack in the forms. It really makes me feel something twisting or shoving or touching. All those words like process or formal parts or how a thing gets constructed or deconstructed, all those things feel like, ultimately, they have to go into feelings. Even in science. I always feel that the best paintings, the longer they are, the more tortuous they are, the better they are. ‘Cause they’re more emotional. You get into them more emotionally and you go in and really wrestle with them. I’m beginning to understand that style begins to happen when you find yourself. That’s what style is. The word style is a very meaningful word with a great deal of depth. Style really means the finding of yourself. I do feel like I’m finally beginning to find myself. I hope I’m not kidding [laughs]. It’s taken me a really long time to do that. Making art is such an incredible experience because every time you’re doing something, like the formal thing... When I got to that place I was really

excited. For a brief period of time, say between ‘74 and ‘77, it seemed like I really got myself grounded in a way, and I cleared the decks. I felt that that work was really about clearing the decks and focusing on the structure and I began to work with the shapes and focusing on the paint and thinking in very simple terms about what a painting could be. In a way, as dumb or as simple as possible. But then what started to happen was the formal thing began to be boring. The formality quickly turns into a series of devices and instead of it being learning it was all stuff I knew. So what I began to do was not give up the formal structure but sort of throw more things in. And then it just began to be more and more decorative. And then I think the shapes started to show me that they became real things. I’d be able to have the abstraction of a shape and then an image could go into that abstract-anything structure and give it this other element. Make this other thing happen in the painting. GM: Where are you at this time? Is

this in the middle of Minimalism?

EM: I came to NY in ‘67 and that was when I saw my first Minimal work, Minimal sculpture and process work, and it really hit me. When I came to NY my heroes were Rauschenberg and Johns and Oldenburg and I got here and there was this whole other thing happening that was not about Warhol’s soup cans. Although, it really came out of a lot of that. GM: Yet, you continued to be

a painter in the midst of this. Was that hard for you?

EM: Well, at that point I was so confused. I was trying to paint and look at all this stuff and deal with my life. I was married. I got pregnant the second year I was here which I loved, I was very happy about it. Everything was very personal and I had a few friends who were more out there than I was, who were really very ambitiously working to be the young person who got the next best idea. And I was totally out of that. I was really shocked at how hard it was and how intimidated I felt. I didn’t expect to feel . . . I thought when I got to NY I would just be happy to be in NY working. Instead, I really sensed my competitive nature but I saw how out of it I was. GM: Were you trying to

get into galleries?

EM: No, not at all. There weren’t too many galleries around. The galleries that were around, that people went to, there was Castelli’s, who was uptown, and Janis’ and Emmerich’s. When Paula [Cooper]


opened up I would just have been too . . . . GM: It’s hard to see your early work. EM: I’ve got some things in storage, not too much. A lot of it I destroyed, it was embarrassing. [The early pieces in the traveling show] are the best ones. The train one with the blanket around the edge [Night Empire, 1969], if I hadn’t given that to my sister, I would have gotten rid of it. Now I’m sorry I did it. When I got to a certain point, I really wanted to destroy all evidence of my past struggles. GM: When you started making

shaped canvases?

EM: Yeh, it started with some very small paintings. I was reading books about Gestalt therapy and I was reading a lot about Zen at the time. Very briefly, I got very involved in Japanese Buddhism and Za-Zen. That was the spiritual thing in a way that was an influence to it but it was also very much from just looking at the Minimalists. What I needed was something, an underpinning for all my emotions, I really needed something to settle me down and some kind of a plate to put this stuff on. Then I began to understand what that was. It gave it some boundaries. I have a real desire for structure and for order. But also the chaos of the feelings feels like the thing that has to be in there. I think it’s totally emotional. For the emotions to be seen you have to have a format. GM: There’s so much energy in

your work. Do you get tired?

EM: Well, the paintings have gotten very demanding, really demanding to work on. Working over those surfaces and those bumps is really interesting but it’s very different to work on these surfaces. Even talking about the light, the shadows and the lighting are totally different from when you have a flat painting. Trying to really see them at times I have to turn off the neon. I have to look at them a lot of different ways. But that goes with painting them. I have to get under them and behind them and sometimes it feels like being a mechanic on your back. Making art is about all your fantasies finally getting...and poetry, too. I know it’s not any different, really. I get to be a doctor and tear open the chest and really pull out the heart and do this and that and some of it’s really a lot about acting out all of the things that you ever really wanted to be and you didn’t even know that you wanted to be them. All of that takes place. Making art is that kind of arena for those things. In that sense, it seems more like fulfilling as opposed to tiring.

GM: You don’t confine yourself

to a canvas. What compels you to go beyond the flat surface?

EM: I don’t know anymore. When I started to do it it felt like I was just bored with flat shapes. When I did the shattered things I really knew that there was something there that was very psychological for me. The shattered pieces were about really feeling that one could be broken and yet . . . I was thinking of taking a painting and actually breaking it into pieces and then using an image to pull it together and that felt extremely psychological and a reality in my life. I don’t feel that uncommon. It is something you struggle with. But it felt metaphorical that way. And that was when I was realizing that the shapes were really extremely meaningful to me. There was a way I could use them where I could find out a lot about myself by working with the shapes. When I first began the shapes I was just doing this and that. It would be a single shape on the wall and then it

“I was trying to paint ....I was married. I got pregnant the second year..I was very happy about it.”

just felt like another way to use edges.

GM: Your work never seems to stay

the same. You always seem to be moving on. Does work develop, evolve or do you say I’ve had it with this, now try something brand new? EM: I think it probably develops and evolves. I’m sure it does. I could be wrong about this. Who knows artistically what is right or wrong. You just do it. I change and things change and one thing seems to lead to another. For me that seems to be what happens in my work. I know that other people really work very differently. That seems right now to be what goes on. Paula Cooper will say “Well, you know people come in and see this and they’re thinking about something that you did last year and so they’re very taken aback.” I don’t even think about that. It is organic. And she’s not saying that as a way to

tell me, “Look, Elizabeth, settle down.” She’s not at all. I really believe that there are a few dealers who love to watch their artists change and work and she’s one of them. She’s really excited about it. What she’s sort of saying is, “Don’t be upset if you don’t get this reaction. It’s just that you were there and people were getting used to you being there and now you’re here and now it’s a whole new ballgame.” Which is absolutely true in a lot of ways. GM: That’s what’s so corrupt

about the art world now. So much of it is about marketing and not pure ideas in art anymore.

EM: Yeh. I don’t think it’s as corrupt as it looks. The corruption is made because the media makes so much of it and, of course, in a few years, could drop it just as quickly as it picked it up. It’s a media sensation and the reality is very different. Most artists are not really involved in it. To me the problem goes so much deeper than the art world. I don’t think it’s an accident that all this stuff is going on now during the Reagan era. It’s slowly been happening since the ‘70s and now with Reagan it’s completely superficial. There’s so much superficiality. If the media can accept Reagan and believe that Reagan doesn’t dye his hair or allow you to believe that, they can get people to believe anything, including a lot of ridiculous things about artists and the art market. But underneath, the person who seems to be the enfant terrible is Julian Schnabel. Yet, if you go to see his show, he’s a good artist. He’s not just a dolt. He’s done ridiculous things with the whole thing that he’s done but he really is a very, very interesting artist. Which maybe isn’t so true with some of the others. Maybe [Julian] believes it all too much and he’s very in love with the whole thing. It’s just an illusion, feeling that you can control something. GM: Who are some of the

artists working now who you like or are influenced by?

EM: Uhmm, I’m always aware that the primary influence is Jasper Johns. I’m more and more aware of that. I think that everything I’ve ever seen has influenced me, including people like Schnabel. I guess it’d be hard for me to say I’ve been influenced by people like David Salle. It’s hard for me to think of someone very specific right now that feels like an influence except someone like Johns. I first saw his work when I was a student in California in 1963–64. That was when he did the first flag paintings. They had a show of his at a little museum out there and the layering, the images, the breaking up of the images, the whole psychological

Vol. 3 Issue 4

15


aspect of his work is very much grounded in this very strong sense of structure with the paint. He’s much more secretive than I feel about . . . he has all these games he plays with the paintings which maybe get to be too much with all these illusions. But there’s a way he thinks about painting that really fascinates me. I couldn’t point to specific influences right now. His last show I thought was brilliant. I think it’s more like seeing someone who continues to just be true to themselves. That’s my feeling about him. That’s really encouraging. Because he’s certainly been out there a long time. GM: How did the show

travelling now evolve?

EM: A woman named Kathy Halbreich wanted to do a show but couldn’t raise the money. She was working for MIT [as Director of the Albert & Vera List Visual Arts Center]. So she got another woman, Sue Graze, who’s the Curator of Contemporary Art in Dallas [Museum of Art], to go in with her. Dallas has a lot of money. It really shocked me. It didn’t shock me that there were two people out there who wanted to do a show. What shocked me was that they could actually get their institutions to put up the money to do it. The gallery has records where everything is. That’s sort of funny. People really keep track of things. I guess that’s what the job is for. ‘Cause I don’t know where they are. I don’t have my own records. Some of the early stuff I have, and some has disappeared and some I disappeared. So those two women organized it. They started this almost five years ago. It’s not that its such a great show, I’m not just being modest, I’m being realistic. It’s a show. It’s not a great show. It’s interesting. But the chance to get to put this [new] work with that work is really exciting to me ‘cause when it comes here to NY [opens at the Whitney on April 21] I’ll be able to put these in. They want to put new work in, as much as we can cram in. This piece will be in and hopefully that piece too [Cracked Question and Two Commas Touching]. Around the same time that this was getting off the ground, Joan Simon wanted to do a show at Broida. The big hitch was when Broida decided that he wasn’t interested in having his museum anymore all these shows were then not going to come to NY. GM: What happened to Broida?

You were supposed to have the first show there, right?

EM: Yeh, one of the first. What he told Joan was that she and the staff weren’t ready to do the travelling exhibitions and Joan just said well, you’re going back on your word then and resigned. And then he decided that he wanted to move back to

16

Homeless in America

California and that he really didn’t want to do this at all and sold the building. Paula called me, I think it was Christmas Day, and said, “Guess what, Elizabeth, Broida’s pulled out. He’s closing his museum.” Working with these two women was really incredible. It was a good experience. They’re really amazing people. They’re really different, too. It was so much fun to work with them and to realize you could put your work together that way and still go on doing your work. I always thought that if you did something like that you’d really get tied in to who you were with your work and it would just set you into this backdrop, tallying up. I found out a lot about myself. GM: You think your being a woman

has anything to do with that?

EM: [sighs] I think it does in a way with some of the people. Paula’s tried, of course, to get them interested. A few of them have come over here at various times. To tell the truth, when they were over here, I don’t think my work was that interesting. Say around ‘75 and ‘76. There were a few good things but, by and large, it wasn’t really there. Sometimes they’d come over and this place was just totally open. I didn’t have any walls. There was a bedroom there and Dakota had a bedroom over there. These guys walk in and there’s this kid running around and I remember once this guy from one of the museums in Amsterdam came in and he looked around and said, “I was just in Robert Ryman’s studio and he just has one thing on his walls.” He just couldn’t stand it. It was too much for him. I think maybe they have trouble with women doing work and it certainly is. Look, gender definition in this country is still in the back ages so I think there, it’s pretty primitive. I think it’s hard for them to think of women as having any power. And they don’t, probably, want it to happen. It’s so deep in their culture. I don’t have the feeling that I have to show my work in Europe. If they really cared about my work that would be nice, I suppose. It does feel like a kind of male thing to me, the European market. GM: How do your kids affect your

work? How does that get involved?

EM: It’d be hard for me to say, specifically, how it’s involved. I know it’s involved. And I always think any artist’s sexuality is involved in their work because it has to be. How could it not be? On the one hand they’re everything. When I’m working, I could never say I made too many things specifically thinking about the children. A few things.

GM: Do they wander in

and out of here?

EM: Yeh, yeh. I can’t really work when they’re around. I really do my work when they’re away, when they’re out of the house in school. They’re distracting. Unless something is really going strongly. Then I can do something. They have such a great take on it. They’re feeling about it is just so pure. They don’t see the forms. They see the colors and some of the flat shapes. They just don’t question a lot of things. I didn’t realize how much they cared about them. Last year, when Sophie walked into the show at Paula’s she looked up and said, “What are these paintings doing here? You’re not going to sell these paintings?” [laughing] She was crying, “Don’t give these paintings to Paula. These paintings are ours.” It really was amazing to me how much they meant to her in terms of the way her life is and how much a part of her life they are. It made me think about them really differently. Dakota [teenage son from previous marriage] didn’t have that kind of take on it. He was more interested in the material aspect of it. When Dakota was little we were really scraping along. He didn’t have many toys when he was little ‘cause we didn’t have any money, which was OK. He wasn’t deprived. When I started to sell them, when he was about 8, he was really into it. Also, I had to teach all the time so I was always leaving him with various babysitters. [Bob pokes in to say goodbye, off to a reading] GM: Does the artist have a

political responsibility?

EM: Yeah. I think so. More than ever. People say well, your work isn’t specifically political. But I think that art is political. Being an artist is taking a kind of stand in relationship to the world. What I want my art to do is really make people feel things differently. Slow down and take a look and be provoked in almost any kind of a way. To see a kind of foreign object that maybe has some meaning that is jolting in some sense. It’s not that I think I necessarily succeed or don’t succeed. That’s not what you’re asking really. That’s what I would want. I think that art does it in very different ways. I think that is political. The ultimate value in this society has always been money and art has always been the thing that’s gone against that. I think the irony for me right now, that I have not come to terms with, is that I’m in this position where these are objects and as objects they’re expensive. But to make them I have to make a certain amount of money. So I’m in this kind of bind where they have to sell. I want Paula to sell them. I don’t mind that, I mean, I don’t want them


[laughs]. After I’ve done them I’ve gotten what I want out of it so it’s fine with me that they sell. I think that the disturbing part is that the people who can afford to buy them are fewer and fewer. Most of the people who buy them are people that, politically, are totally on the other side of the fence than I am. Completely. I don’t kid myself that their lives will necessarily be changed by having them. GM: Do you prefer museums

getting them, then?

EM: That would be nice. But that doesn’t always happen. Not at all. That would be the ideal thing. What would really be ideal would be to have people who would really want them, who really care about looking at them, for my reasons. GM: With big houses? EM: Huge houses and huge art collections. They’re collectors. It’s a particular breed of person. I don’t really know any of the collectors very well but they are all really different people. It’s sort of interesting. I don’t really think about it that much. I just don’t think about it. It sounds like I’m straddling this fence saying I want to change this system and yet, to change it, I’m buying into it. Which is a truth. I have to make a certain amount of money. Paula sells the paintings to people whose politics I don’t approve of. For instance, Saatchi. He owns work and I’m glad he owns work of mine. He’s really a great and powerful collector. On the other hand, he’s the head of a huge organization that has big holdings in South Africa. I can’t say I don’t think about it. Maybe if I said to a group of artists “Well, what if we said we wouldn’t sell him any work anymore?” And this one person said to me, “Elizabeth, don’t even think about that. If you tried to think about all the different people . . . What he does is nothing, probably, compared to what some of the other people do who own your work.” So it’s like, do you want to sell your work at all. I guess the thing that bothers me about it is that there’s a level at which I can talk about it but I don’t think I’m really dealing with it at some level. There’s an either/or choice. You say, “OK I’m not going to sell this work.” Which means I can’t build these canvases. The idea of the starving artist who lives alone in the garret, the whole bohemianism, is an idea that was invented by the middle class in the first place, in 19th century France, because they wanted for there to be those characters. I think that artists should be part of society, including poets, and make a decent living like everybody else and be able to do their work. It just so happens that we don’t live in that kind of society. It’s either everything or it’s nothing.

Basically, I feel very lucky. But I don’t necessarily think that this is going to go on forever or that I’m particularly protected cause I’m supposed to have this position so my work will continue to sell at these prices. That’s a lot of bullshit. I’m not taking it all for granted. I’ve been poor before. I can be poor again [laughs]. I would like to continue my work but, on the other hand, I don’t want to continue my work at the expense of a lot of people. That’s where it’s really screwed up. It amazes me that people in this country have the nerve to talk about Afghanistan. There are people here who are starving, in NYC. It’s just ridiculous. People just don’t look at that. It’s terribly upsetting. Especially if you have children. I really believe in the possibility of art that is the one organic thing that works through these things. I feel that it’s the physical link between one generation and another. It’s not just history. It’s something that someone actually made. It seems more and more important to me. GM: So this book will be Bob’s

poems with your drawings?

EM: He’s going to do a lot of the poems he wrote in Greece, a book that he’s called for awhile Cupid’s Cashbox. I love the title, it’s so great. It’s so sexual too, in a way. He’s had this group of poems that he’s wanted to put together so he’s put them together and last year Jordan just approached us about doing something together. Being together with Bob, besides the fact that it’s great to be with somebody that you love, to find a partner, it’s really been so exciting for me ‘cause I’ve always loved poetry but I knew nothing about it anymore and he’s opened up this whole world for me that’s really exciting. And it’s certainly opened me up to the plight of the poet. But it’s interesting to me. GM: Did you do the drawings

after reading his poems?

EM: I read the poems and we read the poems together. I know the poems really well. So I did the drawings without thinking about specific poems, I just did the drawings and now I want him to go through them and think about specific poems. I couldn’t take a poem and do a specific drawing for it. It just doesn’t make any sense to me. It’s not the way I work but more feeling what the whole feeling of the thing is then him finding drawings that he feels work with his poems. I’m really excited about it ‘cause Jordan really does beautiful work. His books are really nice. They’re kind of precious. Have you ever seen them? They’re small, usually. He did a book with Robert Creeley. He basically picks a poet and then finds someone to do the ill...combine the art and poetry.

Be sure to check out Elizabeth’s book “Breaking Night” available in stores now. Vol. 3 Issue 4

17


Real Life

“Enough is Enough�

The Hate Crimes

Hate Crimes & Violence Against Homeless People Increasing By Michael Stoops

W

ashington D.C. - For the past six years (1999-2004), the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) has tracked and reported on a disturbing increase in crimes targeting homeless people. These violent attacks on homeless people, one of our most vulnerable populations, result in injury and in many cases death. The well-documented affordable housing crisis is not the only crisis to affect the millions of people who are homeless every year. There is also an increasing pattern of civil rights abuses and violence directed at the homeless population. Homelessness is no longer simply an issue of the right to affordable housing but a matter of life and death. As the danger of living without a home

increases, the lack of federal housing resources as well as the absence of the political will to end homelessness becomes increasingly more shameful. In October of 2004, three Milwaukee teens murdered a homeless man at his forest campsite. The teens hit 49-year-old Rex Baum, with rocks, a flashlight, and a pipe, before smearing feces on his face and covering his body with leaves and plastic. In August of 2004, Curtis Gordon Adams, 33, beat and stabbed a disabled homeless man to death and then licked the blood from his fingers on a Denver sidewalk. More recently, on May 28th 2005, in Holly Hill, Florida, 53-year-old Michael

Roberts was beaten and punched to death with sticks and logs by a group of teenagers who admitted to beating the man just for fun, to have something to do. The autopsy report indicates that Roberts died of blunt-force trauma to the head and body, his ribs were broken, his skull was fractured, and his legs were badly injured. Defensive wounds were found on his hands. The boys returned several times to make sure the job was done. Homelessness is an issue that affects every community in America. Homeless people lack the protection of a locked door available to homeowners, leaving them in an unprotected position where they are subjected to hate crimes and violence. Sadly, the prevalence of hate crimes and violence against homeless people has risen, as well as negative stereotypes reinforced by the media and intolerant people. Through this report, NCH hopes to educate lawmakers, advocates, and the public about the problem of hate crimes and violence against homeless people, as well as call for a U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) study addressing this issue.

18

Homeless in America


Hate Crimes Against Homeless on the Rise in Modesto By Merrill Balassone

T

wo 55-year-old homeless men — severely beaten, bloodied and unconscious — were found lying in public bathrooms at Modesto’s Enslen and Graceada parks in June 2008. Police arrested 23-year-old Michael “Boogie” Anthony Hardwick Jr. of Modesto in the crime. He was sentenced in April to six years in prison. “They didn’t have anything. They were homeless,” prosecutor Wendell Emerson said of the victims. “I think it was just a cruel crime where he just picked vulnerable victims who couldn’t fight back.” New data released last week show homeless people nationwide were singled out in more than 1,000 attacks over the past 11 years by perpetrators motivated by anti-homeless hostility and a perception of their victims as easy targets. Last year was the deadliest in a decade for hate crimes against the homeless, with 43 people killed, according to the report by the National Coalition for the Homeless. That’s an increase from 27 killings in 2008. The Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group chronicled such brutal crimes as homeless people doused with gasoline and set on fire and others beaten with aluminum baseball bats, golf clubs or pipes. The research showed some assailants killed merely for the sport of it -- a “thrill kill” in police slang. “It’s just a sad commentary,” said Brian Miller, a pastor and homeless advocate in Turlock. “What is it in the heart of humanity that you could take someone so down that they’re homeless and commit a violent crime against them?” Three hate crimes highlighted in the report were said to have been committed against homeless people in Merced, Sacramento and Fresno counties during 2009: Six young men entered a homeless encampment in Merced, with at least one person allegedly punching a homeless man multiple times in the ribs and hitting his girlfriend in the face as she tried to intervene. “They were just picking on anyone they could find,” the male victim said. A Sacramento man who was listening to music alone suffered seizures and

a concussion after a group of “thrill seekers” reportedly pummeled and stomped on him as onlookers cheered. In a story that made national headlines, a Fresno police officer was accused of holding a 52-year-old homeless man’s hands behind his back as another officer repeatedly punched him in the face. Bystanders initially had called police to aid the homeless man, who they believed was ill, and the incident was caught on video. The homeless man has filed a

“Modesto

police called the attacks cowardly, random, and unprovoked.” civil rights lawsuit against the officers

Fear of seeing ‘face in the mirror’ Neil J. Donovan, executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless, said a festering resentment or hatred of the homeless may be driving more people to take action against them. Donovan said people’s economic insecurities -- including worries about possibly finding themselves on the street one day -- can drive them to transfer those frustrations onto the homeless. “It’s the fear of that being your face in the mirror,” Donovan said. Feelings of exasperation against some Modesto homeless played out in front of the Modesto City Council in June, which in a split vote decided to take back McClatchy Square from the homeless who inhabited it. Council members approved a plan restricting use of the downtown park to those who make reservations and pay fees after some downtown business owners complained about public urination, alcohol use, drug dealing and verbal abuse of park visitors.

Vol. 3 Issue 4

19


Should Attacks Against the Homeless be Classified as Hate Crimes? By Gustavo Arellano

T

hat’s what Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at Cal State San Bernardino, is trying to do today.

The OC resident is in Washington, D.C. today because he just testified before a Senate committee to argue that attacks against the homeless be labeled a hate crime. He testified at the invitation of Senator Ben Cardin (D-Maryland), who is trying to pass such a bill, currently titled the Hate Crimes Against the Homeless Statistics Act. Such a bill has long been a goal for Levin, who spends most of his time

tracking skinheads, anti-Semites and anyone who’s a hater, whether gabacho or brown. “Access to objective, official data is crucial for our society to assess the scope of criminality, implement policies and allocate resources” to help the homeless from

being victims of crime, an protect people who are living homeless, Levin said according to a news account. Though homelessness is obviously not an ethnicity, a gender, a sexual orientation, or any of the other groups currently protected under hate-crime legislation, Levin has shown in the past stats showing most homeless people are targeted and ridiculed because of their status, in a way different and distinct from other social classes.

Everything is Increasing

The amount of foreclosures, unemployment, crime, poverty, homelessness and abandonment of pets is on the rise.

T

imes are tough – unemployment increasing together with foreclosures, crime, poverty levels, homelessness and abandonment of pets. The local shelters are all full. But before giving up pets one should mull over stories of brave animals that have come to the rescue of man over and over again. They risk their lives for mankind and yet man will think of nothing about surrendering them on the slightest pretext. Despite the hard days, abandoning an animal is the last thing the foreclosed victim should think of. The borrower at least understands his fate and can somehow manage the coming days but an animal cannot. Labrador retriever Bo was rafting with his masters Bob and Laurie on the Colorado River when suddenly the raft somersaulted. Bo and Laurie got trapped beneath it. Bo managed to get out but

20

Homeless in America

seeing that Laurie was still under the raft, the dog dived and grabbed Laurie’s hair towing her against the current to safety.

although the jump had caused Woodie to break both his hips. Both Woodie and Ray recovered to savour the tale.

A Newfoundland named Villa saved a child who had got trapped in a snow drift during a snow storm. The dog got attracted by the screams of the little girl, scaled a high fence and rushed to the aid of the child. The dog circled the victim clearing the snow with its paws and then led her back to the safety of her home. Villa did not belong to the girl.

King an Alsatian mixed breed rescued a family from death by burning. The family slept in a part of the house while King slept a little distance away separated by a small room. At midnight the interconnecting room caught fire. Instead of running off to the safety of the yard, King chewed his way through the doors, ran through the burning part of the house and woke up the family alerting them of the spreading flames. King suffered from burns and splinters but recovered to give licks of joy.

A mixed bred collie Woodie jumped off a high cliff (80’) to save a drowning man. Rae Anne and Ray were walking with Woodie along a wild trail when Ray went on top of a cliff to take photographs. He went ahead and fell over the cliff and lay unconscious in the stream that had cradled him. Woodie however had raced ahead and kept nudging his head to keep it above the water

These are only some of the many common stories that abound in man-animal relationship. Should foreclosure be a reason strong enough to break such strong bonds?


Vol. 3 Issue 4

21


Local

In Local News

Homeless Evicted From Beneath Indianapolis Bridge Published by The Indy Channel

H

omeless people who are living beneath a railroad overpass on Indianapolis’ near-east side will be evicted on Monday, three days after Mayor Greg Ballard toured the camp. Signs went up at the Davidson Street encampment, warning the homeless to gather their belongings and get out by 5 p.m., 6News’ Tanya Spencer reported.

The city planned to close and fence off sidewalks beneath the bridge on Monday and destroy any belongings left behind. “It’s kind of sad to see something like that happen. I just wish and pray that they would get a place to stay,” said resident Diana Joiner. Deputy Mayor Robert Vane said the city is not being cold-hearted, but simply putting the safety of area citizens first. A growing number of break-ins into houses and garages in the area around the homeless camp generated a barrage of complaints recently. At a meeting earlier this month, people who live nearby expressed frustration about the homeless camp, a message that was clearly heard. “It’s terrible, and it doesn’t improve,” said Richard Campi at the meeting earlier in the month. “It keeps growing, and we are tired of it.” Business owners complained that the homeless, along with the trash and human waste they leave behind, is scaring away customers. Homeless groups, city officials and neighbors have been trying to find a solution palatable to all, but because many homeless people simply won’t go to a shelter, the city saw eviction as its best

22

Homeless in America

option. “A lot of them may be alcoholics … they’re going to stay alcoholics, but still, love is love to me,” said resident Jimmy Joiner, who disagrees with the eviction. “So much money is taken out of my taxes. I wouldn’t mind if another 75 cents or $1 went out of my taxes for that purpose of helping somebody. We’re helping everybody else, even the people over in Haiti. We’re sending money there. I mean, what about our people in Indianapolis?” Some of the homeless spent Sunday moving their belongings from the Davidson

Street bridge to another bridge nearby. City officials hope that by working with homeless organizations, people who live on the streets of Indianapolis can be coaxed into seeking assistance. Officials said shelters were notified in advance of the planned eviction and that homeless organizations talked to people living at the bridge about other options.


City’s Homeless Count Shows 100 Percent Increase Published by The Indy Channel

I

n Muncie Indiana, a 100 percent increase in the number of homeless people has advocates scrambling to find space for those needing shelter in the height of winter.

A count of Delaware County homeless as part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s National Homeless Day showed 447 homeless men, women and children, up from 223 last year. “I was expecting it to be higher, but was hoping for less,” said Susan Kemp, executive director of Bridges Community Services and the former coordinator for the Delaware County count. “The shelters are full and we found more people on the street. I was thinking it would maybe be 300 or so. ... This is a shocker.” Advocates for the homeless worry the numbers might be even higher. They say it’s difficult to get an accurate count in the winter, when many homeless residents could be sleeping in abandoned homes or staying in all-night restaurants and other places that are open 24 hours.

An accurate count is important because data collected can be used to apply for future HUD grants for homelessness prevention. “In a lot of ways, many of the homeless are invisible, and if you’re not in a given place at any specific moment, you’re not going to see them,” said Becki Clock, executive director of Christmas Ministries and this year’s Delaware County count coordinator. The federal government defines homeless as someone without a permanent residence or a place to keep their belongings long term. That includes those living in transitional housing, in an emergency shelter or with a group of people in a hotel or motel room for the long term.

“Even last year, our meals jumped up 18 percent,” said Ray Raines, Muncie Mission director. “It looks like we’re going to jump up another 15 to 20 percent by the end of this next year.” Muncie Mission’s programs specialize in helping homeless men find jobs in the community. Men at the shelter have the opportunity to get their GED or take classes via computer.

Mark Whalen, a former social worker who has been homeless for about a year, says sleeping rooms fill up quickly this time of year, especially on weekends. “I keep seeing new faces, faces coming for assistance, walking the streets. I’ve been talking to them. It’s

tough in the winter,” he said. Facilities that cope with the influx of homeless people, such as the Muncie Mission, are struggling to provide shelter and meals for a growing number of people in need.

Delaware County organizers say they hope to create more emergency shelters in Muncie, but it likely won’t come in time to help this winter’s influx. “We are packed and we have just gotten repacked. There has not been a slack and that kind of surprises me,” Kemp said. “I thought we would have a (break) ... but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.”

Homeless to Harvard AMBITION Pass it on. Vol. 3 Issue 4

23


Legal

In Legal News

Homelessness Implicates Human Rights Obligations By The National Law Center for Homlessless and Poverty

O

n March 10, 2011, the United States government filed its official response to the recommendations it received from the United Nations Human Rights Council as part of its first ever comprehensive human rights review. The response marks the first time that the Administration has acknowledged that homelessness in the U.S. implicates its human rights obligations. The U.S. has been engaged in this Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process for more than a year. It began with a series of government consultations in a dozen cities across the country, throughout which housing was the number one human rights issue raised, according to government sources. This comes as no surprise, as recent studies show a dramatic rise in homelessness – especially family homelessness – in the wake of the recession. “We’re especially pleased that the Administration supports the Council’s recommendations to take steps both to ‘reinforce’ safeguards to protect the rights of homeless Americans and to reduce homelessness as part of our human rights obligations,” said Maria Foscarinis, executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty. Foscarinis also noted that the Administration’s response showed support for recommendations to improve social protection coverage, to ensure the rights to food and health for all, and to commit to “[c]ontinue its efforts in the domain of access to housing, vital for the realization of several other rights, in order to meet the needs for adequate housing at an affordable price for all segments of American society.”

24

Homeless in America

But, she emphasized, “the real issue now is whether the Administration will made good on these statements and take action to help the millions of Americans now suffering as a result of the foreclosure and economic crises sweeping our country.” The government submitted its initial UPR report to the Human Rights Council in April 2010, and then was reviewed by the Council in November. At the review, it received 228 recommendations, including recommendations to “take further measures in the area of economic and social rights and reducing the number of homeless people,” and to “reinforce the broad range of safeguards in favor of & homeless [people] to allow them the full enjoyment of their rights and dignity.” The government’s response, which will be officially presented to the Council at its

upcoming session on March 18, indicated they supported those recommendations. Three-quarters of Americans agree that housing is a basic human right, and the Obama Administration says it supports the reduction of homelessness as a human rights obligation,” said Eric Tars, Human Rights Program Director at the Law Center. “So let’s put those words into action. We strongly urge the Administration to tell Congress to stop cutting billions of dollars of housing assistance from the budget. That would defeat the very purpose of the recommendations they say they support.”


Correcting Renters’ Rights Misinformation By The National Law Center for Homlessless and Poverty

I

n February, the Washington Post sent out a special advertising section called “Ready to Rent” with the headline, “Foreclosure: What it Means for the Renter.” At first, the Law Center was excited to see a major newspaper drawing attention to renters’ rights in foreclosure -- until we read the article. The piece had distributed out of date information to approximately 575,000 people in the Washington, DC metro area, telling renters they had few legal protections to help them “make sure [they] don’t end up temporarily homeless in a foreclosure situation,” if their landlords defaulted on their mortgages. In 2009, the Law Center released a report that was instrumental in the passage of the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act (PTFA) -- a critically important law that provides federal protections to tenants in good standing, keeping them from being evicted immediately even if they’d been paying the rent on time. The law originally had a sunset date of 2012, but the Law Center has successfully

worked to extend it now to 2014. The article published in the Post supplement had distributed information as though PTFA protections did not exist at all. In response, the Law Center approached the Post about running an updated supplement as a step towards undoing the harm caused by the distribution of this misinformation and in an effort to help keep the article from contributing to the area’s homelessness crisis.

Our advocacy was successful. The Washington Post advertisers responsible for the mistake (Apartments.com) ran a special section with accurate information on the rights of tenants in foreclosure, written by the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty. And it ran in both the Saturday and Sunday paper, reaching an even wider audience than the original, harmful piece had.

Imagine what you could do if you felt good all the time. Vol. 3 Issue 4

25


Support

Sharing the Love

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

E

Grants

nding homelessness requires housing combined with the types of services supported by HHS programs. The delivery of treatment and services to persons experiencing homelessness are included in the activities of the Department, both in five programs specifically targeted to homeless individuals and in fourteen non-targeted or mainstream, service delivery programs.

• •

Targeted homeless assistance programs are specifically designed for individuals or families who are experiencing homelessness. Non-targeted or Mainstream programs are designed to serve those who meet a set of eligibility criteria, which is often established by individual states, but are generally for use in serving low-income populations. Very often, persons experiencing homelessness may be eligible for services funded through these programs.

Targeted Homeless Assistance Programs

Health Care for the Homeless (Health Resources and Services Administration) >> This multi-disciplinary comprehensive program provides primary health care, substance abuse treatment, emergency care with referrals to hospitals for inpatient care services, and outreach services to assist difficult-to-reach homeless persons establish eligibility for entitlement programs and housing.

Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH) (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) >> PATH is a formula grant program

26

Homeless in America

that provides financial assistance to states to support services for homeless individuals who have serious mental illness or serious mental illness and substance abuse. Eligible programs and activities include outreach services; screening and diagnostic treatment services; habilitation and rehabilitation services; community mental health services; alcohol or drug treatment services; staff training; case management services; supportive and supervisory services in residential settings; referrals for primary health services, job training, educational services, and relevant housing services; and a prescribed set of housing services.

Programs for Runaway and Homeless Youth

Basic Center Program (Administration for Children and Families) >> This program establishes or strengthens locally-controlled, community, and faith-based programs that address the immediate needs of runaway and homeless youth and their families. Centers provide youth with temporary shelter, food, clothing, and referrals for health care. The grants may also be used to provide counseling, outreach activities, and aftercare services for youth once they leave the shelter. Locate a Family and Youth Service Bureau Program.

Transitional Living Program for Older Homeless Youth (Administration for Children and Families) >> The program provides stable, safe living accommodations, basic life-skills, career counseling, educational training, and physical and mental health support services to youth, ages 16 through 21, who are homeless, for a continuous period, generally not exceeding 18 months. Minors may remain in the program for an additional 180 days or until their 18th

birthday, whichever comes first. Locate a Family and Youth Service Bureau Program.

Street Outreach Program (Administration for Children and Families) >> The Street Outreach Program provides educational and preventive services to runaway, homeless and street youth who have been subject to, or are at risk of, sexual exploitation or abuse. The program establishes and builds relationships between street youth and program outreach staff to help youths find safe and appropriate alternative living arrangement. Support services include: treatment, counseling, information and referral services, individual assessment, crisis intervention, and follow up support. Locate a Family and Youth Service Bureau Program.

Community Living for People with Disabilities >> The primary programs administered by HUD include mortgage and loan insurance through the Federal Housing Administration; Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) to help communities with economic development; job opportunities and housing rehabilitation; HOME Investment Partnership Act block grants to develop and support affordable housing for low-income residents; rental assistance under the Housing Choice Voucher Program, which benefits lowincome households; public or subsidized housing for low-income individuals and families; homeless assistance provided through local communities and faith-based and other nonprofit organizations; and fair housing public education and enforcement.


Vol. 3 Issue 4

27



Homeless in America