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Columbia South Carolina – A Dubious Victory

 

Since the last issue of STREET SHEET, and with the attention of the national media focused squarely on the issue, the city council of Columbia, SC reversed its unanimous approval of legislation that would, for all intents and purposes, have outlawed homelessness in the downtown business district of the state’s capital city. The plan required that that all homeless people be bused to a shelter on the city’s outskirts, and then not be allowed to leave that shelter to return downtown. This was to be achieved by stationing police officers outside the shelter and along the return route to arrest anyone trying to escape their illegal incarceration.

Thanks to the outrage expressed by communities from coast to coast, the huge outpouring of support for Columbia’s homeless community, threats of lawsuits, and the refusal by Columbia’s own Chief of Police to enforce their illegal mandate, the city council, once again by the same unanimous vote, reversed its position.

Now the issue is whether this reversal represents a victory for homeless and poor people or simply an attempt to divert attention.

Columbia Residents protest the Plan to evict Homeless people from downtown by showing up at a downtown store en Masse to "loiter"

Columbia Residents protest the Plan to evict Homeless people from downtown by showing up at a downtown store en masse to “loiter”

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LGBTQ Connect

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In San Francisco, housing is the #1 unmet need of the HIV population, and the LGBT community is nearly two and a half times as likely to be homeless as the general population. The National AIDS Strategy has identified housing for people with HIV as a national priority, and, according to HUD, San Francisco ranks last in the nation in meeting the housing needs of people with HIV/AIDS.

  • According to the 2013 San Francisco Biennial Homeless Point In Time Count and Survey, which collected data on sexual orientation for the first time, nearly one-third (29%) of the San Francisco’s homeless identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.
  • In July 2013, a report issued by the LGBT Aging Policy Task Force formed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Addressing The Needs of LGBT Older Adults in San Francisco, found that 40% of LGBT older adults were living in poverty, compared to 30% of the general population, that 24% needed housing assistance, and two-thirds (66%) are concerned they will not be able to remain in their homes, yet 42% of housing assistance service users feel unsafe obtaining assistance as an LGBT person.
  • The LGBT Aging Policy Task Force and the federally mandated Ryan White CARE Council have both identified an emerging crisis need for rental subsidies to keep disabled seniors in their homes when their employer-sponsored long-term disability policies expire as they reach retirement age.
  • The HUD-mandated Analysis of Impediments to Access to Fair Housing identified a need for increased access to rental assistance to remove barriers to fair housing for senior and disabled individuals.

This data supports a needs-based increased investment in culturally competent homelessness prevention and rapid rehousing services targeting the LGBT community, today.


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Palo Alto’s Vehicle Habitation Ordinance

Bad Policy – But not a reflection of the whole community

As reported in an earlier issue of STREET SHEET, the Palo Alto City Council, on August 5th, approved an ordinance making it illegal to live in a vehicle. When such legislation is passed, it’s easy to paint an entire community as biased and mean-spirited. This isn’t always the case as the following E-mail exchange between two Palo Alto residents clearly illustrates.

On Fri, Sep 13, 2013 at 10:20 AM, Brian Good wrote: 

Back in the 70s a friend of mine lived in a low-rent rooming house in North Palo Alto because that’s what he could afford on his pay as a janitor.  I’m not sure if the house is still standing, but I saw one recently that might have been it offered for sale at $2.4 million.

For 40 years, the City Council has aggressively pursued policies to facilitate kicking low-income people out of rooming houses so that rich people can occupy multi-million dollar homes. The agents who are offering this property are college-educated, and have skills that might allow them to help make the world a better place. Instead, aided by the Palo Alto City Council, they are engaged in the trivial pursuit of providing nicer housing to rich people who already have nice housing.

We’ve all heard about the Greatest Generation, that fought the Nazis and made the USA great. I’m disgusted with my generation, the S**ttiest Generation, with its lazy cynicism and selfishness that has made this crumbling world the way it is. Continue reading


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San Francisco General Election