Militia Camp Overrun With Disease and Suffering (Excerpt from ‘Libya’s Migrant Trade’) – Vice News Published on Oct 2, 2015


In a desperate bid to seek a better life in Europe, thousands of refugees and migrants leave the shores of Libya and cross the perilous Mediterranean Sea every month. Over 2,000 people have died making the journey in 2015 alone.

The routes to and journey through Libya are also dangerous, however, and since the fall of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, the country has struggled to achieve and maintain stability. Porous desert borders, rival fighters, and weak governance have left much of Libya in complete chaos.

With militias controlling large swathes of land, their attentions have turned to the people that cross their territories. The fighters assert they are bringing order to the country as they detain the refugees, yet these people’s lives have become valuable commodities to the militias as they try to solidify their positions in the country.

In this excerpt from ‘Libya’s Migrant Trade,’ VICE News visits a militia-run camp in a suburb of Tripoli, where migrants and refugees endure harsh conditions and suffer from starvation and disease.

Watch “Libya’s Migrant Trade: Europe or Die (Full Length)” – http://bit.ly/1V943t1

Social start-up gives homeless people a helping hand – BBC News July 5 2015


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3 hours ago

For some in San Francisco the tech boom has brought wealth, but the city also has one of the highest rates of homelessness in the United States.

Some in the tech community are trying to help including Hand Up, a company which is linking donors directly to members who need support.

The BBC’s North America Technology Correspondent Richard Taylor reports.

http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-33325407

The American housing crisis is threatening to put us all on the streets – STEVEN ROSENFELD, ALTERNET WEDNESDAY, JUL 1, 2015 02:15 AM PDT


A new study reveals apartment rents are skyrocketing, and low- to moderate-income households are feeling the pinch

The American housing crisis is threatening to put us all on the streets
AlterNet
On Monday, New York City took a dramatic step that highlights just how out of control rental housing costs have become in the Big Apple and in many cities nationwide. For the first time, New York froze rents for one-year leases on a million rent-stabilized apartments.

“Today’s decision means relief,” Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters. “We know tenants have been forced to make painful choices that pitted ever-rising rent against necessities like groceries, child care and medical bills.”

Landlords balked and citicized City Hall, calling the move an “unconscionable, politically driven decision.” But Rent Board chair Rachel Godsil was having none of it. Her staff had found that landlord incomes had grown for nine years in a row, including by 3.4 percent last year, while costs only grew by 0.5 percent. In contrast, a majority of most stabilized renters faced continuing income stagnation.

New York City’s struggle with affordable rental housing is part of a nationwide trend that has seen rental housing costs skyrocket in recent years as the housing market has mostly recovered from the 2008 recession, which was in part fueled by real estate speculation and Wall Street aggressively repackaging and reselling risky high-interest mortgages.

According to a new study by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, vast stretches of the county are facing a rental housing crisis marked by big rent spikes. “The number of cost-burdened renters [paying more than 30 percent of incomes]… set a new high in 2013 of 20.8 million, totaling just under half of all renter households,” Harvard researchers found. “Although the number of severely burdened renters edged down slightly, the number of moderately burdened renters climbed by a larger amount.”

Most low to moderate income households are feeling a very big pinch. The researchers said that 80 percent of households with annual incomes under $15,000, three-quarters of renters with incomes up between $15,000 and $29,999, and 45 percent of households earning up to $44,999, are all “severely burdened,” with non-whites and single mothers facing the greatest financial stress.

“Minorities and certain types of households are especially likely to have severe housing cost burdens,” the report said. “Indeed, 26 percent of black households, 23 percent of Hispanic households, and 20 percent of Asian and other minority households were severely burdened in 2013, compared with just 14 percent of white households. Nearly a third of single-parent families also had severe burdens, compared with a tenth of married couples with children. Finally, more than half of households headed by an unemployed individual in 2013 were severely housing cost burdened.”

http://www.salon.com/2015/07/01/the_american_housing_crisis_threatening_to_put_us_all_on_the_streets_partner/

Every single county in America is facing the same crisis – KRISTEN CAPPS, THE ATLANTIC CITIES JUN. 20, 2015, 5:25 PM


Map

Atlantic Cities

From Portland, Oregon, to Portland, Maine. From Jacksonville to Juneau. No matter where you look, there isn’t enough affordable housing.

Without exception, there is no county in the U.S. that has enough affordable housing. The crisis is national and it is growing. Since 2000, rents across the nation have increased. So has the number of of families who desperately need affordable housing.

New research from the Urban Institute shows that the supply of housing for extremely low-income families, which was already in short supply, is only declining. In 2013, just 28 of every 100 extremely low-income families could afford their rental homes. Than figure is down from 37 of 100 in 2000—a 25 percent decline over a little more than a decade.

Using data from the Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, researchers built an interactive map to illustrate the nationwide reach of the problem. In no county in the U.S. does the supply of affordable housing meet the demand among extremely low-income households. (Families who made no more than 30 percent of an area’s median household income were considered “extremely low income.”)

Map 2Atlantic Cities

In Travis County, Texas, for example, the extremely low-income cutoff for a family of four is $21,950. There are about 7,000 safe, affordable rental units to meet the needs of these poor Austin families. But there are more than 48,000 extremely low-income families living there.

The Urban Institute’s research shows how the number of extremely low-income households around the nation has grown since 2000. At the same time, federal housing-assistance programs have grown, but not nearly enough to keep up with need. The difference in the availability of affordable housing between 2000 and 2013 is immediately apparent from the maps, especially in states in the South (namely Alabama, Kentucky, and South Carolina), the Midwest (Ohio and Illinois), and the West (Nevada).

Map 3

Atlantic Cities

Strike federal support from the map—as many members of Congress might like to do—and the picture grows considerably bleaker. Extremely low-income households increasingly rely on assistance from HUD: More than 80 percent of affordable rental homes for extremely low-income families are provided through assistance from HUD. (This figure is surging: It was 57 percent of households in 2000.)

The Urban Institute’s interactive map shows just what a dire situation the nation would face without federal housing assistance. In Pulaski County, Arkansas, for example, some 15,000 families met the criteria for extremely low income in 2013 (earning no more than $18,650 for a family of four). Without federal assistance, none of these poor families in Little Rock would have access to affordable housing: zero. As it stands, only 24 extremely low-income families out of every 100 can find safe, affordable rental housing in Little Rock.

Article continues:

http://www.businessinsider.com/every-single-county-in-america-is-facing-the-same-crisis-2015-6

The surprisingly simple way Utah solved chronic homelessness and saved millions


A man in a wheelchair makes his way to the homeless shelter in Salt Lake City as a major storm blows into Utah. (Tom Smart/Associated Press)

The story of how Utah solved chronic homelessness begins in 2003, inside a cavernous Las Vegas banquet hall populated by droves of suits. The problem at hand was seemingly intractable. The number of chronic homeless had surged since the early 1970s. And related costs were soaring. A University of Pennsylvania study had just showed New York City was dropping a staggering $40,500 in annual costs on every homeless person with mental problems, who account for many of the chronically homeless. So that day, as officials spit-balled ideas, a social researcher named Sam Tsemberis stood to deliver what he framed as a surprisingly simple, cost-effective method of ending chronic homelessness.

Give homes to the homeless.

Tsemberis’ research, conducted here in the District and in New York City, showed this wouldn’t just dramatically cut the number of chronically homeless on the streets. It would also slash spending in the long run. In the audience sat a Utah businessman named Lloyd Pendleton. He had just taken over the Utah Housing Task Force after a successful run in business. He was intrigued. “He came over to me and he said, ‘I finally just heard something that make sense to me,’” recalled Tsemberis in an interview. “‘Would you be willing to come to Utah and work with us?’”

That conversation spawned what has been perhaps the nation’s most successful — and radical — program to end chronic homelessness. Now, more than a decade later, chronic homelessness in one of the nation’s most conservative states may soon end. And all of it is thanks to a program that at first seems stripped from the bleeding-heart manual. In 2005, Utah had nearly 1,932 chronically homeless. By 2014, that number had dropped 72 percent to 539. Today, explained Gordon Walker, the director of the state Housing and Community Development Division, the state is “approaching a functional zero.” Next week, he said, they’re set to announce what he called “exciting news” that would guarantee an “even bigger headline,” but declined to elaborate further.

The chronic homeless rate in Utah is nearing a “functional zero.” (Courtesy of the Utah Homeless Task Force.)

How Utah accomplished this didn’t require complex theorems or statistical models. But it did require the suspension of what had been conventional wisdom. For years, the thought of simply giving the homeless homes seemed absurd, constituting the height of government waste. Many chronically homeless, after all, are victims of severe trauma and significant mental health and addiction issues. Many more have spent thousands of nights on the streets and are no longer familiar with home-living. Who, in their right mind, would willingly give such folk brand new houses without any proof of marked improvement?

Article continues:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2015/04/17/the-surprisingly-simple-way-utah-solved-chronic-homelessness-and-saved-millions/?tid=sm_fb

California cities fight homeless rights bill – by Renee Lewis April 7, 2015 5:00AM ET


An influential league of California cities is opposing a bill that would allow people to rest in public areas — a position that homeless activists argue is consistent with the group’s history of supporting abuses against marginalized groups.

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The Right to Rest bill, which moves to a state Senate hearing on April 7, would allow homeless individuals to sit, stand, eat or rest without it being a criminal offense.

Municipal laws in California targeting these behaviors have skyrocketed in past years, a recent report showed, with researchers identifying over 500 restrictions in California municipalities — nearly nine laws per city, on average.

The League of California Cities, an association of California city officials that work to influence policy decisions, drafted a petition last week against the bill, arguing that it doesn’t provide a solution to homelessness and would “undermine the ability of all others to access clean and non-threatening public spaces.”

For rights advocates, that’s tantamount to calling the homeless dirty and threatening.

The League “hides or puts a veil over the race and class issues that are really behind this … but it always seeps through,” said Paul Boden, executive director of the Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP).

“Bottom line,” Boden said, the League is saying, “‘We don’t want to see these people, and we want to preserve our authority to pass and enforce these laws, so if too many come around to make us uncomfortable, we can use these laws to get rid of them.’”

The homeless are not the first marginalized group targeted by the League in its over 100-year history, according to documents provided by the Western Center on Law and Poverty (WCLP), an organization that works on the behalf of low-income Californians.

Past League targets for the removal from public space or even entire municipalities include Chinese, Japanese and African Americans, as well as “any person who is diseased, maimed, mutilated, or in any way deformed so as to be an unsightly or disgusting object,” according to the documents.

To counteract the League of California Cities’ opposition to the bill, WRAP, WCLP and other social justice groups sent a letter to Jim Beall, chairman of the California Transportation and Housing Committee, who will oversee this week’s hearing on the bill. In it, the advocacy groups placed the group’s resistance to the Right to Rest bill into a long history of antipathy toward the downtrodden.

Article continues:

http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/4/7/California-League-homeless-SB608.html

Indianapolis passes law to protect homeless as movement gains steam – by Renee Lewis March 6, 2015 1:47PM ET


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Indianapolis became the first U.S. city to pass a Homeless Bill of Rights measure this week — the latest success for a national campaign to end criminalization of the homeless.

Indianapolis’ proposal, passed on Monday and awaiting a signature from the mayor, would protect the rights of homeless people to move freely in public spaces, to receive equal treatment from city agencies, to obtain emergency medical care, to vote and to maintain privacy for personal property, Indy Star, a local newspaper, reported.

The bill would also require the city to give a homeless person 15 days notice before requiring them to leave a camp, the newspaper said. Authorities would be required to store any displaced person’s property for 60 days as well as refer them to nonprofit organizations that could provide services and transitional housing.

“It is much more cost-effective to provide support services and assistance to those experiencing homelessness in our city than to arrest them,” Indianapolis councilman LeRoy Robinson said. “Sadly, our city had chosen the latter.” Robinson is the sponsor of the legislation in the city council.

Activists are pushing for similar protections in other cities, including Washington, D.C.; Madison, Wisconsin; and Duluth, Minnesota. The laws would guarantee the rights of the homeless to carry out basic human functions such as sitting, standing, eating and sleeping in public areas. Duluth’s city council has passed a measure identifying the need for such a bill, and advocates are working on a bill in for the city of Madison, according to Michael Stoops, director of community organization for the National Coalition for the Homeless. Legislation to add homelessness to Washington, D.C.’s anti-discrimination law may be introduced this spring, Stoops added.

Article continues:

http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/3/6/us-cities-consider-homeless-rights-legislation.html