Where’s the Money? (Excerpt from ‘Fallout in Gaza’) – Vice News Published on Mar 5, 2015


During the devastating 50-day war in Israel and Gaza this past summer, around 18,000 homes in Gaza were destroyed or severely damaged, leaving around 120,000 residents homeless.

Now, with trouble in neighboring Sinai and infighting between Palestinian factions, reconstruction efforts in the beleaguered Gaza Strip are moving slowly. With the UN warning of a growing humanitarian crisis for the people of Gaza, many fear that another armed conflict is imminent.

Six months after the end of fighting, VICE News returns to the region to investigate the progress on reconstruction.

In this excerpt, VICE News correspondent Danny Gold learns of the effects that insufficient aid, coupled with living in temporary or demolished housing, has had on the residents of Gaza.

Trouble in the Tunnel: Fallout in Gaza (Part 2) – Vice News Published on Feb 25, 2015


During the devastating 50-day war in Israel and Gaza this past summer, around 18,000 homes in Gaza were destroyed or severely damaged, leaving around 120,000 residents homeless.

Now, with trouble in neighboring Sinai and infighting between Palestinian factions, reconstruction efforts in the beleaguered Gaza Strip are moving slowly. With the UN warning of a growing humanitarian crisis for the people of Gaza, many fear that another armed conflict is imminent. Six months after the end of fighting, VICE News returns to the region to investigate the progress on reconstruction.

In part two, VICE News correspondent Danny Gold visits the Kerem Shalom crossing with Israel to see what goods are being allowed into the Gaza Strip, and spends time with a resident of Nahal Oz kibbutz, which was attacked by rockets and Hamas soldiers during last summer’s war.

After a War, Still Living in Rubble: Fallout in Gaza (Part 1) – Vice News Published on Feb 24, 2015


During the devastating 50-day war in Israel and Gaza this past summer, around 18,000 homes in Gaza were destroyed or severely damaged, leaving around 120,000 residents homeless.

Now, with trouble in neighboring Sinai and infighting between Palestinian factions, reconstruction efforts in the beleaguered Gaza Strip are moving slowly. With the UN warning of a growing humanitarian crisis for the people of Gaza, many fear that another armed conflict is imminent. Six months after the end of fighting, VICE News returns to the region to investigate the progress on reconstruction.

In part one, VICE News correspondent Danny Gold returns to Shija’iyya, the neighborhood that bore the brunt of last summer’s fighting, and investigates how the closure of the Rafah crossing and demolition of the underground tunnels to Egypt has impacted Gaza’s fragile economy.

VA details plan to eliminate veterans’ homelessness – By GALE HOLLAND Feb 2015


The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs detailed its plan Friday to end veterans’ homelessness in Los Angeles by 2016, pledging to open its West Los Angeles campus to permanent and temporary housing, and to place returning service members and their families in subsidized apartments throughout the county.

A Navy veteran pushes his wheelchair backward in skid row. (Brian van der Brug, Los Angeles Times)

A Navy veteran pushes his wheelchair backward in skid row. (Brian van der Brug, Los Angeles Times)

The VA’s “action plan,” developed as part of a legal settlement, will prioritize severely disabled, mentally ill and women veterans for housing in largely abandoned buildings on its sprawling 387-acre property.

The agency will also develop entertainment and recreation facilities to make it a “place people want to live,” said attorney Gary Blasi of Public Counsel Opportunity Under Law, a civil rights group and part of the team that represented homeless veterans.

Veterans who choose to live elsewhere will receive services from strike teams of social workers, psychiatrists, housing and employment specialists and addiction counselors based on the VA’s West Los Angeles and North Hills campuses, and in offices in West Covina, Hollywood, Watts, Whittier and Carson.

Veterans will live where they want, not where the VA sends them, and the goal will be reunification with family and friends, Blasi said.

“The idea is from the point of first contact … the [housing] process begins and in the meantime they’re not turned back to the street, but basically given a place to stay either on campus or community,” Blasi said.

The plan does not say how much money the VA will spend, or how many veterans it will house, but promises to “allocate available resources as needed.” Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert A. McDonald, on a swing through Los Angeles last month to announce the settlement, said he was sending $50 million and 400 workers to the region.

“We’ve been told … we will have the resources and personnel to get the job done,” said Mark Rosenbaum, the director of the Public Counsel Opportunity Under Law.

The plan also calls for the VA to hire an urban planning firm to draw up a master land use plan for the West Los Angeles property and appoint a special assistant reporting to McDonald to run the effort. The VA will conduct a homeless count in January to gauge its progress.

“This plan demonstrates what can be accomplished for our nation’s veterans when we come together as a community — everyone working together toward the higher goal,” McDonald said in a written statement.

 

Who counts as ‘homeless’ depends on how you ask – by Joanna S. Kao  , E. Tammy Kim , Haya El Nasser  January 31, 2015 5:00AM ET


LOS ANGELES — About two dozen volunteers gathered in a room Wednesday night for their instructions: Don’t shine flashlights at people. Don’t talk to them. Use your judgment when you see a recreational vehicle or makeshift tent. Do not get out of the car alone.

 Clyde Heimer (left) and his friend Bill (who did not give his last name), volunteered in the Los Angeles homeless count Wednesday night. They themselves are homeless and said the tally underestimates the number of people living on the streets.Haya El Nasser / Al Jazeera America


Clyde Heimer (left) and his friend Bill (who did not give his last name), volunteered in the Los Angeles homeless count Wednesday night. They themselves are homeless and said the tally underestimates the number of people living on the streets.Haya El Nasser / Al Jazeera America

It was day two of a three-day homeless count in Los Angeles, the U.S. city with the largest population living on the streets. About 6,000 people had signed up to help. Each was required to attend a 30-minute training session, then paired with another volunteer and provided a map, tally sheet and flashlight.

Leah Hubbard, a graduate student, canvassed a 0.89-square-mile area of the city’s Westchester neighborhood. “Most people think homelessness is confined to Skid Row,” she said. But on the count, she and her teammate looked for homeless people along far less infamous areas.

Counters in some 3,000 cities and counties across the country helped quantify the nation’s homeless population this month. It’s a massive ritual overseen by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD.

Yet critics warn against relying solely on this “point-in-time” method and its underlying definition of homelessness. Last January, HUD counted 578,424 people on the streets and in shelters in the U.S., down 11 percent from 2007 — while the Department of Education, or DOE, which uses a different, more expansive methodology, reported that child and family homelessness doubled over the last decade.

Advocates concerned about this discrepancy are pushing for a legislative fix. On Wednesday, a bipartisan bill meant to enlarge HUD’s concept of homelessness was introduced, for the second consecutive year, in both houses of Congress. The Homeless Children and Youth Act, or HCYA, would force HUD to align its definition with those used by federal programs for low-income families and vulnerable minors and reduce the requirements for proving homeless status, backers say. Esoteric perhaps and, in the context of a new legislature, an unlikely priority. The Obama administration, meanwhile, has stuck by HUD’s current definition and emphasized services for adults. The president’s Opening Doors plan promises to eliminate veterans’ homelessnessby the end of December, chronic homelessness by 2016, and homelessness among children, families and youth by 2020.

This timetable puts a focus on adult homelessness, said Barbara Duffield, director of policy and programs at the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth and an architect of the HCYA. “HUD has essentially forced communities to prioritize adults over kids.”

Article continues:

http://america.aljazeera.com/multimedia/2015/1/who-countsas-homeless-depends-on-how-you-ask.html

11 myths about homelessness in America – Updated by German Lopez on January 15, 2015, 1:20 p.m. ET


A homeless person.- Oli Scarff / Getty Images News

Myth #1: Homeless people are lazy and don’t want to work. About 44 percent of homeless people around the country did some paid work during the previous month, according to a comprehensive 1996 Urban Institute survey. A 2013 US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) study found 17 percent of homeless adults in families, who share different characteristics than homeless individuals, had paying jobs, and 55 percent had worked during the previous year.

Myth #2: Getting a job will keep someone out of homelessness. The National Low Income Housing Coalition found a full-time minimum wage worker would have to work between 69 and 174 hours a week, depending on the state, to pay for an “affordable” two-bedroom rental unit (the federal government defines affordable as 30 percent of a person’s income). A full-time minimum wage worker couldn’t afford a one- or two-bedroom apartment at Fair Market Rent, a standard set by the federal government, in any state.

Myth #3: Homelessness is long-term problem. The most common duration of homelessness is one or two days, according to University of Pennsylvania researcher Dennis Culhane. Nearly one in six homeless people were classified as chronically homeless — people with disabilities who have been homeless for a year or more, or experienced at least four episodes of homelessness in three years — by HUD’s 2014 survey.

10 cities where an appalling number of Americans are starving – SATURDAY, JAN 10, 2015 1:00 PM UTC


If Republicans have their way with anti-hunger programs, it’ll get a lot worse before it gets better.

10 cities where an appalling number of Americans are starving
This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

AlterNetHunger is a concept that is often connected with poor developing countries, but it has also become increasingly common in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 49.1 million households experienced food insecurity at some point in 2013. On December 11, the U.S. Conference of Mayors released its 32nd Annual Report on Hunger and Homelessness. The report covered 25 American cities: 71% said the number of requests for emergency food assistance had increased in the last year, while only 25% said that requests for emergency food assistance had decreased. And 84% of the cities surveyed expected emergency food requests to increase in 2015, but many food banks may not have the resources to meet those requests.

Helene Schneider, mayor of Santa Barbara and co-chair of the Task Force on Hunger and Homelessness, warned in the report that Congress will increase hunger in U.S. cities if Republicans defund federal anti-hunger programs; the report found that in eight of the 25 cities, at least 20% of the emergency food being distributed came from federal funding (in Los Angeles, it was 51%). Here are 10 U.S. cities where an appalling number of Americans are going hungry.

1. Memphis

In 2010, a study by the Food Research Action Center declared Memphis to be the hunger capital of the U.S. and found that 26% of its residents had suffered from food insecurity at some point during the previous 12 months. Four years later, Memphis had the worst hunger problem of the 25 cities examined in the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ new report: 46% of the requests for emergency food assistance in Tennessee’s largest city—almost half—were being unmet. Food pantries in Memphis are overwhelmed with requests, and according to the report, they are having a hard time “securing funds to purchase the food needed to meet the need.” Unemployment, low wages and poverty were cited as the main causes of hunger in Memphis, where the official unemployment rate is 7.5% and 26.2% of its residents are living below the poverty line. The Conference of Mayors noted that in 2015, “city officials expect requests for food assistance to increase moderately and resources to provide food assistance to decrease moderately.”



2. San Antonio

In the Conference of Mayors’ report, there is both good news and bad news where San Antonio is concerned. The good news is that requests for emergency food assistance in San Antonio have “decreased over the past year by 18%.” But the bad news is that 38% of the requests for emergency food assistance are still going unmet in that Texas city, where the Conference said that the number of homeless families “increased by 19 percent” over the past year. For 2015, city officials expect a “moderate” increase in food requests combined with a “moderate” decrease in the resources to meet them—and almost half of the San Antonio residents facing food insecurity next year are likely to be the working poor. The Conference found that 46% of the people requesting emergency food assistance there were employed.

3. San Francisco

San Francisco has long been one of the most expensive cities in the U.S. Extreme gentrification in the Northern California city has gone from bad to worse in recent years, making it even more difficult to stay afloat without at least an upper-middle-class income. The U.S. Conference of Mayors reported that of the 25 cities analyzed, San Francisco is among the worst for hunger: 37% of the requests for emergency food assistance in San Francisco went unmet in the last year (compared to 15% in Denver or 10% in Charlotte, NC). Food pantries in the Bay Area are working hard to meet the heavy demand for food assistance: the Mayors Conference reported that the San Francisco/Marin Food Bank Pantry Program feeds, on average, 30,000 households every week and distributed an impressive 30 million pounds of food through its pantry network in 2013. It also fights hunger in San Francisco with an aggressive food stamp outreach that includes special “SNAP in a day” events in which the poor can receive EBT cards the same day they apply for them. But in a city with such a high cost of living, the San Francisco/Marin Food Bank Pantry Program needs a lot more funding. The Conference of Mayors predicts that in 2015, the need for emergency food assistance in San Francisco “will increase substantially” while funding for the city’s anti-hunger programs “will decrease substantially.”

Article continues:

http://www.salon.com/2015/01/10/10_cities_where_an_appalling_number_of_americans_are_starving_partner/