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15 Minutes to Leave: Denial of the Right to Adequate Housing in Post-Quake Haiti

March 2, 2015 Comments off

15 Minutes to Leave: Denial of the Right to Adequate Housing in Post-Quake Haiti
Source: Amnesty International

Five years on from a devastating earthquake in Haiti, tens of thousands of people remain homeless as government policy failures, forced evictions and short-term solutions have failed many who lost everything in the disaster.

The new report, “15 Minutes to Leave” – Denial of the Right to Adequate Housing in Post-Quake Haiti, documents worrying cases of people being forcibly evicted from temporary, make-shift camps. The report also explores how the influx of development aid that came in the wake of the disaster failed to be transformed into long-term, secure housing solutions.

According to the latest data, 123 camps for internally displaced people (IDPs) remain open in Haiti, housing 85,432 people. While the number of those in camps has reduced significantly since 2010, more than 22,000 households are still without adequate housing.

Conditions in many IDP camps are dire. A third of all those living in camps do not have access to a latrine. On average 82 people share one toilet.

Forced evictions from camps are a serious and ongoing problem. More than 60,000 people have been forcibly evicted from their shelters in makeshift camps since 2010. The vast majority were not offered any alternative locations where they could resettle, pushing them again into poverty and insecurity.

Audit of VHA’s National Call Center for Homeless Veterans

February 5, 2015 Comments off

Audit of VHA’s National Call Center for Homeless Veterans (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General

Veterans Health Administration’s (VHA) National Call Center for Homeless Veterans (the Call Center) is VA’s primary vehicle for communicating the availability of VA homeless programs and services to veterans and community providers. OIG has assessed the effectiveness of the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans in helping veterans obtain needed homeless services.

We determined that Homeless and at-risk veterans (Homeless Veterans) who contacted the Call Center often experienced problems either accessing a counselor and/or receiving a referral after completing the Call Center’s intake process. Of the estimated 79,500 Homeless Veterans who contacted the Call Center in fiscal year (FY) 2013: Just under 21,200 (27 percent) could only leave messages on an answering machine—counselors were unavailable to take calls; almost 13,000 (16 percent) could not be referred to VA medical facilities—their messages were inaudible or lacked contact information; and approximately 3,300 (4 percent) were not referred to VA medical facilities, despite having provided all the necessary information.

Referred Homeless Veterans did not always receive the services needed because the Call Center did not follow up on referrals to medical facilities. Of the approximately 51,500 referrals made in FY 2013, the Call Center provided no feedback or improvements to ensure the quality of the homeless services. We noted that 85 percent of the 60 veterans’ records we reviewed lacked documentation to prove the veterans had received needed support services.

Finally, the Call Center closed just under 24,200 (47 percent) referrals even though the VA medical facilities had not provided the Homeless Veterans any support services. In total, we identified 40,500 missed opportunities where the Call Center either did not refer the Homeless Veterans’ calls to medical facilities or it closed referrals without ensuring Homeless Veterans had received needed services from VA medical facilities.

We recommended the Interim Under Secretary for Health stop the use of the answering machine, implement effective Call Center performance metrics to ensure Homeless Veterans receive needed services, and establish controls to ensure the proper use of Call Center special purpose funds. The Interim Under Secretary for Health concurred with our recommendations and provided responsive action plans. We will follow up on these actions.

New Report: The Criminalization of Food-Sharing Practices

November 19, 2014 Comments off

New Report: The Criminalization of Food-Sharing Practices
Source: National Coalition for the Homeless

On Tuesday, October 21, Fort Lauderdale Commissioners will vote on a proposed ordinance that will severely limit the capabilities of groups to distribute food to people experiencing homelessness. According to our research, over 30 American cities that have tried to introduce similar legislation in the past two years.

The new report, Share No More: The Criminalization of Efforts to Feed People In Need, documents the recent known cases of food-sharing restrictions throughout the country. Since January 2013, 21 cities have successfully restricted the practice of sharing food with people who are experiencing homelessness while at least ten others have introduced ordinances that are pending approval.

These restrictions primarily come about in three different forms; the first is by restricting the use of public property. In this scenario, individuals and organizations are generally required to obtain a permit, often for a fee, to share food in a park or in another public space. 12 cities have recently passed legislation that imposes this type of restriction.

The second type of legislative restriction is to require groups to comply with city/county/state food-safety regulations. Since January 2013, four cities have passed legislation that required individuals and organizations to comply with their food-safety regulations when sharing food with people experiencing homelessness.

America’s Youngest Outcasts

November 19, 2014 Comments off

America’s Youngest Outcasts
Source: National Center on Family Homelessness

America’s Youngest Outcasts documents the number of homeless children in every state, their well-being, their risk for child homelessness, and state level planning and policy efforts. Using findings from numerous sources that include well-established national data sets as well as our own research, we rank the states in four domains, and then develop a composite of these domains to rank the states from 1 (best) to 50 (worst). A page about the District of Columbia is also available.

Education for Homeless Children and Youth: Consolidated State Performance Report Data — School Years 2010-11, 2011-12, and 2012-13

September 30, 2014 Comments off

Education for Homeless Children and Youth: Consolidated State Performance Report Data — School Years 2010-11, 2011-12, and 2012-13 (PDF)
Source: National Center for Homeless Education (U.S. Department of Education)

This September 2014 report provides a summary of the 2012-2013 state data collection required by the U.S. Department of Education of the McKinney-Vento Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) Program. The 2012-2013 data also are presented in comparison to the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 data collections, as applicable.

Report to Congress on the Runaway and Homeless Youth Program Published

September 17, 2014 Comments off

Report to Congress on the Runaway and Homeless Youth Program Published
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Family & Youth Services Bureau)

The Family & Youth Services Bureau is pleased to announce the release of the Report to Congress on the Runaway and Homeless Youth Program for fiscal years 2012 and 2013.

The report documents FYSB’s commitment to the national goal of ending youth homelessness by 2020. For 40 years, the Bureau has worked closely with its non-profit partners across the country to make sure young people have somewhere to turn when their homes no longer offer safety or support.

In FY 2012 and 2013:

  • Each Street Outreach Program grantee got an average of 151 youth off the streets and into shelter for at least one night.
  • Each Basic Center Program grantee provided emergency care and counseling to an average of 114 youth.
  • Each Transitional Living Program grantee provided intensive, long-term support to an average of 18 transition-aged young people.
  • The National Runaway Safeline handled an average of more than 263 calls a day from youth, parents, and allies.

Homeless LGBTQ Youth

September 12, 2014 Comments off

Homeless LGBTQ Youth
Source: Urban Institute

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, or Questioning (LGBTQ) youth are over-represented among the homeless youth population. Researchers and practitioners are working to improve data on homeless youth, especially LGBTQ youth, across the country. This brief summarizes the findings on LGBTQ homeless youth counted during the 2013 YouthCount!, a federal interagency initiative that aims to improve counts of unaccompanied homeless youth. The brief also shares best practices on how to improve counts of LGBTQ homeless youth, and areas where policymakers can act to improve LGBTQ youth outcomes.

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