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.”

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Most People Ignored This Homeless Man, But Those Who Looked Closer Were In For A Surprise. – Wimp.com

Giving to People Who Give

Big Daws is better known for his Youtube prank videos, like eating junking food at a gym and pretending to know strangers. But this time he decided to do something different. He lives in Tempe, Arizona, and found an interesting way to bring awareness to the homeless population.

According to the Arizona Department of Economic Security, in 2012 there were 22,350 adults and 5,805 children registered as homeless. That was a 12 percent increase over the previous year. The Arizona Commission on Homelessness and Housing (ACHH) was established by Governor Janice Brewer and is a formal state plan designed to end veteran homelessness by 2015 and chronic homelessness by 2016.



Hamill: NYC’s homeless find relief in Mayor de Blasio’s cold-weather shelter guarantee – Richard Harbus for New York Daily News


Richard Harbus for New York Daily News

Jayson Romero, 22, and Shaquka Ingram, 28, with their 9-month-old baby boy, Jaybeon, in front of the New York City homeless intake center at 151 E. 151st St. in the South Bronx Friday. ‘We just need one place to live together long enough to work and save and we’ll lift ourselves out of homelessness,’ Ingram says.

A young couple bent into the 12-degree chill on Friday at 12:35 p.m., pushing a stroller down a ramp at the homeless intake center at 151 E. 151 St. called Preventive Assistance and Temporary Housing (PATH) that sits on a freezing, wind-swept corner of the South Bronx like a fortress of bureaucratic failure.

Mayor de Blasio has inherited the largest homeless population in city history with some 50,000 people in shelters — 22,000 of them children. All of them must pass through this intake center that is a living, wheezing, shameful part of Bloomberg’s legacy.


Last year Bloomberg proved that the heart grows colder with three terms when he ended a guarantee of shelter for anyone when the temperature dropped below freezing.

“One piece of good news out of the de Blasio administration on its second day is a Code Blue Policy of guaranteeing shelter for all families and children when temperatures drop below 32 degrees,” says Patrick Markee of the Coalition for the Homeless.


“That’s a good start,” said Jayson Romero, 22, from Brownsville, Brooklyn, as his 9-month-old son, Jaybeon, slept in a stroller under a plastic hood, swathed in blankets. “I voted for the man. I liked that de Blasio was from Brooklyn. I liked the things he said. I’m glad he’s already putting his money where his mouth is.”

“They told us we can go back to the shelter we were in last night, tonight,” said Shaquka Ingram, 28, the baby’s mother. “It’s a little studio apartment up in the Bronx. Horrible. But it has a stove and a fridge. But they wake you up at 6 a.m. and make you come back down here to stand on line for hours to see if you can go back to the same shelter by 9 p.m. or if they are gonna bus you to another one they pick in any of the five boroughs.”