In Their Own Words: What It’s Like To Survive Homelessness
There are more than 11,000 homeless people living in and around the nation’s capital.
ThinkProgress has dedicated a portion of our coverage on Wednesday, June 29 to elevating their stories, examining the city’s policies toward the homeless, and looking at how people bounce back.
The realities of homelessness often defy rampant cultural stereotypes. There are many different paths into life on the street, as Sasha, Jennifer, and Waldon explained to us, while the road back to stability is deceptively simple.
Housing First Needs Healthcare First, National Institute of Health Finds
A more recent 2015 study by the United States National Institute of Health (NIH) claimed that “mortality rates among Housing First participants are higher than those reported among members of the general homeless population in prior studies.” The study found that those in Housing First programs are more likely to die due to chronic illness than their counterparts in the general homeless population. This data is, in part, a result of the fact that Housing First targets those in most urgent need, which often translates to the oldest and the most ill. However, conclusions from the study are cited by the NIH as potential indications that these programs are in need of “greater integration of medical and end-of-life care.”
Four Countries The United States Can Look To When Fighting Homelessness
Japan, Denmark, Singapore and Canada.
Homelessness is an issue for nearly every country. In recent years, the United States has increased efforts to end homelessness around the country. As the U.S. looks for new methods of handling the homelessness issue, here’s a few examples of how other countries have lowered homelessness rates.
How the Housing First Model Can End Homelessness, in the Words of its Founder
Sam Tsemberis, a nationally recognized expert on solving homelessness, recently told an auditorium of more than 250 social workers and other homelessness providers at Johns Hopkins University’s Montgomery County campus about the housing model he developed, Housing First, and its effectiveness.
Ann Marie Staudenmaier, an attorney who works closely with homeless people in D.C., says police aren’t to blame for the resulting crack-down on encampments. Instead, it’s local lawmakers who are mostly responsible for the criminalization of homelessness by ramping up efforts to dismantle camps in the past year.
Homeless Campers Weather More Cleanups in Foggy Bottom
Department of Human Services (DHS) workers cleared three homeless encampment sites near K and 26th Streets NW on the morning of June 28. The main encampment, sheltered by a Whitehurst Freeway bridge that crosses over the I-66 exit onto 27th Street NW, was the temporary home to two dogs and approximately 12 people.
In a departure from recent encampment evictions, if residents were present to claim their belongings and ostensibly begin taking down their tents, they were not forced to leave the area. However, unattended belongings were discarded, not sorted or stored.
Street Outreach Closes The Gap Between The Homeless And Health Care
Washington, D.C. has more than thirty health clinics and mobile medical programs specifically geared toward the city’s homeless. The need is as huge as it is varied — doctors treat everything from poor vision to heart disease on a daily basis — and the city’s expanded Medicaid program helps smooth out most funding gaps.
But only a portion of the region’s 11,600 homeless residents seek out this kind of medical care.
According to the American Institutes for Research’s National Center on Family Homelessness, there are an estimated 2.5 million homeless children in the U.S. Forty-three percent of homeless youth in Washington, D.C., identify as LGBT with 15 percent saying they were kicked out because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Nationally, there are an estimated 650,000 homeless LGBT youth.
Panel Calls for Action on LGBTQ Youth Homelessness in D.C.
When Darrell Gaston started working as a housing specialist in the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs, there was only one shelter with nine beds for LGBTQ youth in the city. There are now 30. However, many LGBTQ youth still don’t get to a shelter that can meet their specific needs. Forty-four to 50 percent of unhoused youth in D.C. identify as LGBTQ and the city is only beginning to provide services to accommodate them, according to Gaston.
What Happens To Playtime Project After D.C. General Closes?
Details still need to be worked out, but The Homeless Children’s Playtime Project expects to remain involved and is already thinking about ways to adapt to the smaller sites. “It’s been clearly expressed that they desire for us to be involved, and we desire to be involved,” says Playtime Project spokesman Micah Bales. “It is obviously going to be different from D.C. General, where we have relatively large spaces to work with and quite a bit of dedicated space. [In smaller facilities] it tends to be much more intimate.”
Civil Rights Bill for Unhoused to Reach D.C. Council Next Month
This July, a bill aiming to add homelessness to the classes protected by D.C.’s Human Rights Act will be brought to the city council’s Judiciary Committee. … The Human Rights Act of 1977 currently prohibits discrimination based on 19 traits including race, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability and source of income. It was last amended in 2007. “We have one of the most progressive and expansive human rights statutes in the country,” said Stephanie Franklin, Interim Director of Policy and Communications for the D.C. Office of Human Rights (OHR).
But the act still allows employers, law enforcement, private businesses and housing and healthcare providers to legally discriminate against people they perceive as homeless.
For Homeless People In The Nation’s Capital, Voting Is Often A Struggle
Although voter IDs are not technically required in order to vote in D.C., Martin says that every time he’s voted over the past several decades he’s always been asked to show some form of identification. Certain polling facilities in D.C. request to see an ID before the person can enter the building. The D.C. Board of Elections (BOE) told ThinkProgress that they work with these locations to make sure they are accessible as possible to people — like the homeless — who may not have an ID.
No Home, No Papers, No Help: The Plight Of Undocumented Immigrants On The Street
Undocumented homeless immigrants are a daunting population for nongovernmental service providers to help, since federal funding rules and other laws create barriers that make every case a jigsaw puzzle.
Undocumented immigrants are explicitly prohibited from federal programs, thanks to the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA), a major federal overhaul that restricted immigrant access to welfare programs among other federal public benefits, which listed “housing assistance” as such a benefit.
Lawyers Promote Equal Access to Justice at D.C. Roundtable
The term Civil Gideon is derived from the 1963 landmark court case Gideon v. Wainwright in which the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously decided that criminal defendants have a right to counsel. The civil Gideon movement argues that indigent parties should be provided legal representation in civil cases where basic human needs—such as child support, custody and housing—are at stake.
The Basic Necessity Homeless Women Struggle To Afford
Tampons and pads are rarely donated to shelters and can’t be bought with many public assistance benefits like food stamps or Medicaid. Yet women make up a third of all homeless people in shelters.
“Menstrual hygiene products are very personal, everybody has their preference for what they want to use,” Seibert said. “We wanted to make sure that even though we were asking for donations we weren’t just assuming we knew what people prefer.” At one shelter, a big priority was wet wipes given that homeless women don’t always have access to showers. At another it was panty liners so that they didn’t need to wash their underwear as frequently.
Residents and Affordable Housing Activists Rally to Save Their Homes
Since 2013, tenants of 401 K Street NW have been fighting against Bush Companies, which owns their building and plans to demolish it to pave the way for new luxury apartments in its place.
The apartments currently house low-income tenants receiving rent subsidies through the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Section 8 voucher program. It is also one of the last buildings in D.C.’s Chinatown neighborhood that is primarily occupied by Chinese people.
Climate Change’s Growing Impact On People Experiencing Homelessness
Those who lack shelter and even basic resources or support networks are already among the most vulnerable people on the planet, and when those stressors are made worse or more unpredictable by human-caused climate change, organizations struggle to keep up.
Eric Klinenberg, a New York University sociologist who has examined how cities can “climate-proof” their residents, told ThinkProgress the first priority is “protecting homeless people during heat waves, or even in what now counts as ordinary summer weather in places like Phoenix.”
Private-Public Partnership Leads the Way for Downtown Affordable Housing
“Fellowship, partnership, and friendship. What more could you ask for?” said Edmund Delany, Senior Vice President of Capital One Bank and a financing partner of SeVerna on the K, a nearby Bible Way property completed in 2015.