News in Brief (06.10.2009)

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Indian Gov’t Bulldozers Return ‘Slumdog’ Star to Streets  

Indian authorities demolished the home of “Slumdog Millionaire” child actor Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail, according to a May 15 CNN article that described how his home shanty town was demolished. An official told CNN that the shanties were razed as part of a municipal drive to clear encroachment on public land. According to the official, bulldozers leveled the slum because it was built on a municipal garden.  

According to the report, “Despite the hit movie’s mega-millions in box-office receipts, Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail’s life changed little after he returned home to Mumbai” – and that was before he was made homeless.  


Homeless Americans Flood Banks of Colorado River  

Camps of homeless people are swelling along the banks of the Colorado River, according to a June 2 article in the Grand Junction Sentinel by Mike Wiggins. With shelters filled, city officials report finding and cleaning up more camps, which have “spread beyond river banks, islands, and bridges.”  

One city official reported that municipal workers had discovered over 15 homeless camps on a single vacant parcel of land. “I think we are seeing a steady increase in the numbers and sizes of camps, and we’re certainly seeing it being a little more widespread throughout the community as to where they’re showing up,” she added.  


Michigan Readies $8.4 Million Complex to House Homeless Veterans  

Michigan’s population of homeless veterans is poised to benefit from an $8.4 million apartment complex that will provide them with transitional housing. According to a June 3 report in the Kalamazoo Gazette, the complex is scheduled to open in late summer and the first veterans may move in as early as September 1.  

The completed complex will feature 75 fully furnished units, and will be subsidized by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.  

According to reporter Jeff Barr, veterans will pay 30% of their adjusted gross incomes for the transitional housing, and nothing if they have no source of income. 


Salt Lake City Opens Gates of ‘Paradise’ for Homeless  

Some residents are calling the new Palmer Court, a 200-unit apartment complex for chronically homeless people and families, by another name: “Paradise.” Opened in March in Salt Lake City, the complex calculates rent at a third of each resident’s monthly earnings, while the unemployed pay $50 monthly. According to Matthew D. LaPlante, who reported on the apartments for the Salt Lake Tribune on June 2, the complex cost $21 million to renovate and will cost millions to run.  

Advocates informed him, however, that it is more cost effective to provide services this way because it keeps homeless people healthy and out of emergency rooms.  


Desailly Stars in Run-Up to 7th Homeless World Cup  

French soccer hero Marcel Desailly played in an exhibition match in Rome May 26 to mark 100 days until Milan hosts the 7th Homeless World Cup, according to the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) website. The UEFA-backed tournament uses soccer to mobilize homeless people to change their lives. Afghanistan won last year’s cup. This year, the tournament will involve 500 players from 48 national teams. According to the article, “More than 70 percent of players at the Homeless World Cup experience a significant life change – coming off drugs and alcohol; moving into homes, jobs, education and training; repairing relationships; becoming coaches and players with semi-pro teams or social entrepreneurs.”  


Cambodian Government Sweeps Up Homeless  

Cambodian rights advocates are blasting the government’s detention of at least 25 Phnom Penh residents, many of them homeless, in the days preceding an international summit. According to the Phnom Penh Post, the crackdown included detention of an HIV-positive woman who had her antiretroviral drugs confiscated by district authorities.  

“The authorities … have to clear [these people] in order to make our city more attractive, and we don’t want them to sleep on the street because it can make them sick,” one government official says. Amnesty International’s 2009 global human rights report relates that in 2008, the city’s detention centers saw “at least three” detainees beaten to death and the gang rape of women by center guards. 

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