News in Brief (03.04.2009)

A photo of newspapers with an orange light filter applied

Photo courtesy of user Jon S via Flickr.

Compiled from other previously published reports.

Foreclosures Push Retirees Towards Homelessness  

Miami’s homeless population has swelled amid a wave of foreclosures, according to a March 1 AFP article. “Because of the foreclosure situation we had increased six times our protection programs for people affected in different ways,” David Raymond, director of Homeless Trust in Miami Dade, told the agency. Carolina Lombardi, a senior housing attorney at Legal Services for Greater Miami, told AFP that there were multiple reasons for the number of seniors seeking help. “Unfortunately, many … did not understand the terms of the loans that they took out,” she told AFP, adding “Some of the elderly were tricked into finding mortgages that they could have never qualified.”  

Eastern Europeans Ending Up on London Streets  

Many Eastern Europeans who migrated to the United Kingdom for work are ending up homeless, according to a February 12 article by Lucy Proctor in the Hounslow Times. Thousands moved to the UK seeking seemingly limitless construction jobs and a strong currency when the European Union added the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia in 2004. But according to Proctor, the jobs have long since disappeared and Eastern and Central Europeans are now estimated to make up 20 percent of London’s homeless population.  

According to Nico Effiong, coordinator of the Feed the Hungry Heart project “We have seen a new influx of Eastern Europeans … [E]verybody is asking us for work and we are finding young Asians are in the same position. There are some who are drinkers and into drugs, but many of them are young, happy and bright – but they are needing jobs.”  

Donated Pens Help Homeless Egyptian Kids Learn to Read and Write  

Egyptian children living around garbage dumps have received over 2,000 pens for their studies, thanks to the work of the Coventry City Council in the United Kingdom. According to a Febrary 19 article in the Coventry Telegraph News, project workers are using the pens to help teach the children basic reading and writing skills. A project trustee told the Telegraph that the pens had been a great success.  

She described “shanty huts thrown up round a small area filled with pigs and dogs … Yet in the midst of this nightmare are women teaching the children basic writing and reading skills, often with their mothers sitting next to them, trying to learn with them.  

Attack on Homeless Indian in Italy Spurs Official Condemnation  

Italy’s president has condemned xenophobia and racist violence in the aftermath an assault on an Indian man near Rome. According to a February 4 article in The Times of India, Navtej Singh Sidhu, a homeless construction worker, was critically injured when attacked while sleeping at a train station near Rome. Police have arrested two adults and a minor, who have confessed to pouring gasoline on Sidhu and setting him on fire. President Giorgio Napolitano condemned the attack, calling it one of many such “horrifying episodes” in Italy.  

In October, a Chinese immigrant was beaten up by teens in Rome, and a student from Ghana was beaten by Parma traffic police who mistook him for a drug pusher.  

Actors Portray Realities of Homelessness from California to Kentucky  

An acting troupe comprised of homeless and formerly homeless people, the Seldom Seen Actors, is performing plays that delve into addiction and homelessness on the streets of Oakland. For more than three years, the Seldom Seen Actors have reenacted their life stories on the stages of churches and high schools around the San Francisco Bay Area, according to a March 2 article in the Christian Science Monitor by Jocelyn Wiener. The actors write their own scripts, and at their first show, in December 2006 at the Oakland Museum, the audience of 200 people gave them a standing ovation.  

Last fall, the actors flew to Kentucky to perform for the national convention of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.  

Homeless Sacramento Crack Addict Becomes Professional Cyclist  

Chad Gerlach, 35, has overcome homelessness and drug addiction in Sacramento to sign with a pro cycling team in Italy. According to a February 16 McClatchy Newspapers article by Blair Anthony Robertson, Gerlach spent five years homeless and addicted to crack after fumbling a promising start in the sport. In 2007, a friend contacted the TV show Intervention. Gerlach appeared on the program, agreed to treatment, and was flown to a rehab center in Florida.  

As one opponent in a recent race exclaimed, “Good grief, this guy was in the depths of depravity and panhandling and abusing his body, and he’s come back in such a short period of time.” 

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