It is with tremendous sadness that we must convey
the news that Steve Gilliard, editor and publisher of The News Blog,
passed away June 2, 2007. He was 42.
To those who have come to trust
The News Blog and its insightful, brash and unapologetic editorial
tone, we have Steve to thank from the bottom of our hearts. Steve helped
lead many discussions that mattered to all of us, and he tackled subjects
and interest categories where others feared to tread.
Please keep Steve's friends and family in your
thoughts and prayers.
Steve meant so much to us.
We will miss him terribly.
photo by lindsay beyerstein
blksista: "The Shame of America"
Thanks to blksista for this great cross-post - THANK YOU!
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimated there were 754,000 homeless people in 2005, including those living in shelters, transitional housing and on the street. That's about 300,000 more people than available beds in shelters and transitional housing.
Of course, HUD admitted that they undercounted in 2000. That report, from the last year of the Clinton Administration, showed only 171,700 homeless. The Urban Institute, in 1996, used Census tabulations to find that there were between 600,000 to 840,000 homeless Americans.
Among the findings for people in shelters and transitional housing:
Nearly half were single adult men.
Nearly a quarter were minors.
Less than 2 percent were older than 65.
About 59 percent were members of minority groups.
About 45 percent were black.
About a quarter had a disability, though experts said the percentage is probably much higher.
Add to this that many of these homeless are addicts and/or are mentally ill. But these people could be assisted and redeemed, if local, state and Federal governments truly exercised the will to solve this continuing problem.
Emergency shelters are more than 90 percent full on average nights, said a recent report sponsored by the Urban Institute. Overcrowding would occur were it not for seasonal shelters (especially during this crazy winter) taking up the slack. By comparison, homeless families occupy less than three-quarters of transitional housing.
I would not be surprised that of the disabled, many may be veterans, veterans of the first Gulf War waged by Bush senior. No doubt, if patterns continue, their number will swell with junior Bush's war on vets: long on platitudes about supporting the troops, but way short on continuing benefits, physical and mental health care.
If minors are on the street, they are a part of families headed by single mothers. The number of homeless families are said to be markedly higher in rural areas than in cities. If not, they are children who have been kicked out of their homes because they are gay or 'unmanageable.'
But get this. The number arrived at doesn't even touch those still homeless from the ravages of Hurricane Katrina, which two years ago displaced another 750,000 people. There is no true accounting of how adequately the survivors are housed, in or immediately outside of New Orleans or outside the state of Louisiana. While there have been published stories of individuals and families being placed in favorable circumstances, many thousands have not been as lucky.
Worse, those who are already homeless in other cities and towns have to compete for services with those who are trying to recover from the disaster. This is something I witnessed when the Oakland Hills brushfires displaced many upper- and middle-class residents in the late 1980s. Interestingly, the residents refused to call themselves homeless, yet certainly availed themselves of generous short-term benefits from the city fathers and other charities before the insurance money kicked in. Meanwhile, scores of other homeless people were dramatically shortchanged, and wondered why they couldn't have the same assistance and concern for their plight.
One notorious Katrina homeless camp in Baker, Louisiana, just outside Baton Rouge, Renaissance Village, could classify as a 21st century Hooverville. Dozens of underage children are still roving about unsupervised, truant or unregistered in local schools. Some parents use older children to safeguard what belongings and food remain, or to take care of younger siblings while the adults work.
It has been a very difficult year for these people. Their relocation to Renaissance Village has not been easy. Getting the children enrolled and attending school has been difficult. The number of teenagers not going to school is alarming. The school district appears overwhelmed and ill prepared to deal with these children from New Orleans. Two therapists from our team spent a separate week working hard to enroll the children and dealing with some of the difficulties involved. The day care center, teen center and Head Start facilities donated by RFAK over eight months ago are still not opened due to construction delays and the complexities of working with governmental entities. There are no computers for the people to access their e-mail or to do research. The bus service has been severely reduced. The food service closed. So many of these people have lost everything and lack the means, strength and skills to rebuild their lives and many of them are reluctant to accept the help that is offered through agencies . Their mental health needs are overwhelming. This displaced population has been traumatized. As reported by the New York Times: "Among children fourth grade and beyond, affected by the storm, 49 percent met the threshold for mental health clinical referrals." This is a generational problem that is not being treated. The Red Cross and members of the community report that our team of art therapists and volunteers has offered the most consistent and effective mental health services for the families of Renaissance Village. Yet we work there only every other month and have no future trips planned.
The RFAK website has not been updated since November, 2006. Must be that the Rosie-Trump feud that gets better headlines.