The apartment complex, called the Fillmore Center, lies just south of Geary Boulevard along Fillmore Street and takes up several city blocks. The complex, which has had numerous owners, was completed in 1991 on land owned by the now-defunct Redevelopment Agency with the guarantee that 20 percent of the units would stay below market rate until 2017. In exchange, the developers received “advantageous financing terms,” according to the City Attorney’s Office. The case, which was heard by Superior Court Judge Curtis Karnow, was originally filed in 2008 by current owners Fillmore Center Associates after they were barred from converting more than 1,000 units into condominiums because the previous owners had relinquished such rights.
Marcin said he first stumbled upon the homeless dwellings as he hiked through the woods bordering the city during hunting season. When he saw a ‘mini-fortress’ made of milk crates just yards from a major thoroughfare, Marcin began searching for other transients ‘living off the grid’. Most were based near railroad tracks, Walmarts, gas stations, and liquor stores. ‘I have always been interested in the unique places people live in, particularly where there exists an element of defiance or desperation, or both. In these situations, a house can often reflect the dilemma of its owner. In the case of the hobo camps, this reflection is quite pronounced for obvious reasons,’ he told The Atlantic Cities.
A group of fired-up activists in Portland, Ore., who were tired of seeing homeless people being mistreated staged the kind of protest that will be difficult for the mayor to ignore. An estimated 4,000 people sleep on the streets of Portland, Ore., on any given night and, since last summer, life has become increasingly difficult for them. So, a group of protesters descended upon Portland City Hall on Tuesday night carrying pitchforks and torches to “shame the mayor into action,” organizer Jessie Sponberg told The Oregonian. Portland appears to be gearing up to revive a bill that would allow police to rouse homeless people sitting on sidewalks, The Oregonian reported at the end of last year. In July, Mayor Charlie Hales launched an effort to clear out homeless campsites,according to the Portland Mercury.
The 2013 law made it illegal to sleep “out-of-doors…adjacent to or inside a tent or sleeping bag, or atop and/or covered by materials such as a bedroll, cardboard, newspapers, or inside some form of temporary shelter.” The initiative referred to homelessness as “camping,” a benign term that minimizes the plight of people lacking reliable access to food and shelter. Yet after a torrent of critical press coverage and a Change.org petition, Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward reversed his previous support for the ordinance and urged the council to amend it “after reflecting and praying on this issue.” Hayward tweeted a picture of himself and his wife supporting a blanket drive for the homeless earlier in the day and posted a photo to Facebook announcing the Council’s vote. Pensacola City Councilwoman Sherri Myers, an original opponent of the ordinance, brought forward the proposal to amend it.
Homelessness is growing rapidly in America, and it’s on the rise in other industrialized countries, too. With fewer good jobs, rising costs, and a disappearing safety net, housing―something we used to take for granted– has become, for many people, unaffordable. A fortunate few can bunk in with relatives, at least for a while. But most of us must sleep in our cars, or pitch a tent, or go to a shelter, or hit the streets. Often, we try several of these options in succession, as our resources dwindle and run out. We keep hanging in there, looking for a real job, searching for solutions, and praying for a miracle. Sometimes things get better, but often they do not. With no roof above us, no walls around us, and no locked door between us and the wide world, we are vulnerable―to the weather, to illness, and to violence.
The operation was announced in a Pastebin November 7, when it became apparent that this season would bring some truly cruel weather to North America, Europe, and Asia. It quickly gained popularity among Anons, many of whom have been itching to get back into the streets for some direct, and positive, action. This kind of do-gooder op is problematic for some older Anons, who remember the days when it was all done with keyboards for the lulz; they call this “moralfagging” with all the contempt they can muster, but since 2008, when Anonymous went up against Scientology in OpChanology, moralfagging has been an important part of the fractious collective.
A 2009 UN report on access to affordable housing painted a grim picture. The report blasted homelessness as a national emergency in Canada. It brought to light the fact that Canada is one of the few countries in the world without a national strategy on homelessness; it also has no enforceable laws on affordable housing, one of the warning signs and indicators of homelessness. “Support services differ from community to community. Some have no services at all and some have unique and varied services to meet the diverse needs of people experiencing homelessness,” says Gulliver. The variation in serves levels makes it difficult to create a lone solution that fits all situations.
Other medical conditions that Withers and his team help the homeless with include frostbite and injuries some homeless people attain from being beaten up. Although Withers says he has lost count of all of the people he has met along the way, he said he is far from the only one doing this work and says there is a global grassroots community actively helping the homeless in about 90 countries.
On Christmas Eve, Linda Austin admired her new home as she set down a box of belongings. A couple of years ago, she faced dark and difficult times. That’s when Camp Quixote, a self-governing tent community for the homeless, took Austin under its wing. The tent camp’s nomadic existence ended Tuesday as residents moved into 30 new cottages at Quixote Village. “Two years ago, I never thought I’d be here,” she said, admiring her heated cottage from the outside. “It gave me a little hope when I thought there was none.” Camp Quixote began in 2007 after a protest in downtown Olympia. The founders envisioned a permanent village where the homeless could escape the woods or streets to find safety and warmth. Residents of this homeless community elect officers and decide who lives there, based on strict criteria. Over the years, local churches have hosted the tent community, which needed to move every six months to comply with municipal codes.
For many couples, the thought of living together in a 96-square-foot house sounds awful. But for Chris Derrick and Betty Ybarra, it’s a Christmas miracle. That’s because Derrick and Ybarra have spent the better part of a year braving Madison, Wisconsin’s often-harsh climate without a roof over their head. They’ll spend this Christmas in their own home, thanks to more than 50 volunteers with Occupy Madison, a local Wisconsin version of the original Occupy Wall Street group in New York. The group, including Derrick and Ybarra, spent the past year on an innovative and audacious plan to fight inequality in the state’s capital: build tiny homes for the homeless. In a city where an average home for sale costs nearly $300,000, many low-income individuals simply can’t afford somewhere to live. Indeed, in January of this year, a citywide count found 831 homeless people living in Madison, a 47 percent increase in the past 3 years.
What most of the country calls the holidays, Wall Street bankers know as bonus season. In just the first nine months of 2013, banks put away more than $90 billion to be doled out at the end of the year as bonuses, according to analysts at Johnson Associates, a compensation consulting firm. That’s on top of whatever they siphon from the final three months, meaning bonuses are likely to total well over $100 billion this year. An online populist advocacy group, The Other 98%, is instead suggesting bankers donate their bonuses to charity or other housing-related endeavors in an effort to combat the housing crisis caused by the financial collapse. “This holiday season, we have some free PR advice for the banks: Help end the homelessness they created. It is quite literally the least they could to,” said Alexis Goldstein, a former Wall Street analyst and Occupy Wall Street activist who serves as communications director for The Other 98%.
Utah has reduced its rate of chronic homelessness by 78 percent over the past eight years, moving 2000 people off the street and putting the state on track to eradicate homelessness altogether by 2015. How’d they do it? The state is giving away apartments, no strings attached. In 2005, Utah calculated the annual cost of E.R. visits and jail stays for an average homeless person was $16,670, while the cost of providing an apartment and social worker would be $11,000. Each participant works with a caseworker to become self-sufficient, but if they fail, they still get to keep their apartment. Other states are eager to emulate Utah’s results. Wyoming has seen its homeless population more than double in the past three years, and it only provides shelter for 26 percent of them, the lowest rate in the country. City officials in Casper, Wyoming, now plan to launch a pilot program using the methods of Utah’s Housing First program. There’s no telling how far the idea might go.
On Tuesday, November 19, 2013, two Occupy veterans, Stephen Michael Clift (Army) and James Cartmill, (Navy), radicalized and humanized by their military service and their Occupy experience, began a self-described ‘epic’ ‘Trans-national mission to wage peace,’ Code Name: March Across America. This two-man team represents Occupy Veterans San Francisco (OVSF), a working group of Occupy San Francisco. Their journey will be undertaken in the name of Veterans For Peace whose 81+ chapters they are determined to visit. They intend to advocate for “the establishment of a special [VFP] chapter for homeless veterans and other non-joiners,” to honor the government’s chosen goal of ending veterans’ homelessness by 2015.
As bad as it is for the 44% of homeless people who have jobs and can’t escape homelessness, climbing out of homelessness is virtually impossible for those without a job. For those with limited skills or experience, opportunities for jobs that pay a living wage are very limited. Additionally, many members of the homeless population have to combat barriers such as limited transportation and reduced access to educational and training programs (Long, Rio, & Rosen, 2007). In such a competitive environment, the difficulties of job seeking as a homeless person can be almost insurmountable barriers to employment. Mental or physical illnesses also play vital roles in the employment participation of homeless individuals or those at risk for becoming homeless. Research statistics illustrate that a disability, mental or physical, can result in difficulty acquiring work. In addition to mental illness and substance abuse, incarceration also serves as a barrier for employment. Incarceration can decrease the types of employment available to an individual after release from jail or prison. Along with the previously mentioned barriers, the lack of access to technology serves as a handicap for the homeless searching for work. In this job market, some knowledge of computers and technology is essential for every field. Although there are computers available through public access, some homeless individuals lack computer knowledge and fear failure.
My PBS movie is devoted not so much to the homeless themselves … as to a spreading phenomenon that involves them (is aimed at them, to be blunt about it) in mid-sized American cities from Tampa to Seattle. A phenomenon that has so far generated insufficient media coverage nationally. For PBS’s Religion and Ethics Newsweekly (check local listings for airtimes) correspondent Lucky Severson and I investigate cities’ growing enforcement of new, or moribund but newly-revived ordinances in the streets of their downtown districts, as they work to spruce up those districts in the interest of post-recession recovery. One inescapable result of the recession was the dramatic increase in homelessness since 2008 that has brought it to the current high level, with considerable concentration in those downtown areas. Local governments and businesses appear united in their desire to now sweep away the homeless — whose lingering presence, they feel, detracts from the economic improvement they have begun to experience and want to encourage. Their chosen tactic has been to act — with police enforcement if need be — against charities and churches who are attempting to help the homeless on downtown streets. Especially, it seems, by offering them food.