News in Brief (04.29.2009)

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Homeless Afghans Forced to Live in Caves  

Former residents of Afghanistan’s town of Mulayan, their homes destroyed by the Taliban, are living in centuries-old caves hollowed out by Buddhist monks long before most Afghans converted to Islam. According to an April 20 Reuters article by Emma Graham-Harrison, these residents of the fertile Bamiyan Valley were left destitute when the Taliban swept through, razing houses and the local bazaar. “Life is much more difficult than when we were young,” a 27-yearold father of six told the reporter. “I would prefer to live in a house, but we don’t have any money.”  

Federal Gov’t Targets Housing Aid to Detroit  

America’s recession has hit Detroit especially hard, with tens of thousands of people left homeless. But according to news channel WJBK Fox 2, the federal government is providing Detroit with millions to prevent homelessness and help those already on the streets. An April 21 article by Amy Lange notes that the government assistance is coming in the form of $15.2 million to establish the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Rehousing program. “This is an attempt to keep people in their homes, to keep renters in their homes and to prevent persons from being put on the street,” Detroit director of planning and development Robert Davis told WJBK.  

Demolitions in Philippines Leave 400 Homeless  

Some 400 Filipinos are homeless after the demolition of over 60 houses in Cebu City. Unrest followed authorities’ efforts to serve an eviction order for a plot of land owned by the Bank of Cebu and occupied by almost 400 urban poor settlers, according to an April 21 article in the Cebu Daily News by Chito O. Aragon and Fe Marie D. Dumbac. At least eight people, including two policemen, were hurt in clashes. Women from a militant group used their bodies and bamboo to protect the homes. Juliet Abing, 35, a resident since 1978, said this was the third time their houses had been demolished.  

Sacramento Tent City Residents Shun Relocation  

Sacramento municipal workers and police have begun dismantling a tent community of some 150 people that has been in existence for more than a decade, according to a report by Cynthia Hubert in the Sacramento Bee. The April 14 article recounts that Mayor Kevin Johnson’s $1 million plan to unite homeless agencies, churches, and others to move the campers to “safer, more sanitary” quarters had encountered resistance. The majority of the tent city’s residents, who make up only a fraction of the overall Sacramento County homeless population, have so far simply moved their belongings from public to private property nearby.  

Homeless World Cup to Gather International Talent  

Over 500 players from 48 countries will meet in Milan September 6-13 for the seventh Homeless World Cup. The 48 teams will include talents from Argentina to Brazil, England to Germany, Australia to Cambodia, and Ghana to Malawi, according to an April 21 article in the New York Times by Jack Bell. “The Milan 2009 Homeless World Cup is set in one of the most football-passionate cities and nations in the world,” said Mel Young, the tournament’s founder. The most recent tournament, played in Melbourne, was won by the team from Afghanistan.  

Street Papers Showing Grit, Gains During Crisis 

Despite the recession, the circulation and sales forces of many newspapers produced and sold by homeless people across the US are growing, according to an April 12 article in The New York Times. Managers and vendors told reporter Janie Lorber that the papers provided them with freedom, a sense of personal responsibility, and the confidence needed to rejoin the mainstream work force. While the recession has hit the revenues of some street papers, it has also heightened interest in their “offbeat coverage” and boosted vendor recruitment. According to Lorber, the papers “offer a survival strategy for those who, for the first time, are checking into shelters, relying on friends’ couches or struggling to pay rent.” 

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