Neoliberalism : U.S. Homeless : 727,304 people nationwide


Richard Moore

Neoliberalism is about abandoning, enslaving, or exterminating people 
who are superfluous to capital - 'useless feeders'.  Here we see 
a total of 2.3 million being so treated in the U.S.:

    That snapshot tally was 727,304 homeless people nationwide,
    meaning about one in 400 Americans were without a home,
    according to a USA TODAY survey of all 460 localities that
    reported results to the Department of Housing and Urban
    Development (HUD) in June. 

From today's posting on slavery in prisons:

    The Justice Department reported in August that there are
    nearly 1.6 million men and women incarcerated in the United
    States -- currently the highest incarceration rate in the
    entire world. 
    ...As 1995 drew to a close, one out of every 167 Americans was in
    prison or jail, compared to one out of 320 in 1985, when the
    crack cocaine trade began to proliferate.



Nation taking a new look at homelessness, solutions 
By Martin Kasindorf, USA TODAY 

Months before Hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck, volunteer
searchers found 6,251 homeless people living in the coastal
areas of Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama. The search
was part of an unprecedented count of the nation's homeless
population that the federal government asked cities and
counties to conduct.

By Jack Gruber, USA TODAY
Posted 10/11/2005 7:12 PM - Updated 10/11/2005 11:35 PM 

Months before Hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck, volunteer
searchers found 6,251 homeless people living in the coastal
areas of Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama. The search
was part of an unprecedented count of the nation's homeless
population that the federal government asked cities and
counties to conduct.

That snapshot tally was 727,304 homeless people nationwide,
meaning about one in 400 Americans were without a home,
according to a USA TODAY survey of all 460 localities that
reported results to the Department of Housing and Urban
Development (HUD) in June. ( Related story: Search produces
wealth of data )

HUD will need six months to add up the local reports, and the
agency isn't planning to announce the total because counting
methods weren't uniform, spokesman Brian Sullivan says.
Whatever flaws the count may have, it is the most ambitious
attempt ever to measure the scope of homelessness in the

Earlier estimates were based on statistical sampling
techniques. A 2000 study by the Urban Institute estimated
444,000 to 842,000 homeless people.

The national figure for homelessness obtained in the USA TODAY
survey was no surprise to those who study the issue. It
"absolutely matches up with the (previous) research," says
Philip Mangano, executive director of the White House's
Interagency Council on Homelessness. "That is certainly well
within the range that the researchers have indicated over the
last several years."

As significant as the tally is, Katrina and Rita multiplied
homelessness along the Gulf Coast as much as a hundredfold and
almost doubled the national ranks. R. David Paulison, acting
director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA),
told a Senate committee last week that 400,000 to 600,000
displaced households in Louisiana and Mississippi alone will
"need to find long-term housing."

Even before the hurricanes, the White House was targeting
homelessness for experiments in "compassionate conservatism"
that focus on housing single adults. The Bush administration's
$4 billion budget request for next year for all federal
programs dealing with homelessness is a record amount.

Recent images of families displaced by the hurricanes are
giving the issue of being homeless greater prominence.
Activist groups such as the Washington, D.C.-based National
Alliance to End Homelessness express hope that sympathy for
hurricane victims will spill over into new policies and
funding to help everyone without a home.

The government's reaction to help Katrina victims puts them in
line for more than $23 billion in housing aid from FEMA.
Homeowners will get most of the cash for rebuilding. FEMA
plans to house thousands temporarily in trailers, motels,
government-owned housing and military bases. President Bush
says Hurricane Rita's victims will get similar assistance.

"The storm victims never, ever thought they would be
homeless," Mangano says. "So you never know what might be the
event that catapults you into homelessness. And that's why
there's this tremendous amount of sympathy for these

New solutions from Katrina

The administration expects quick results from the hurricane
relief money. Mangano predicts that about 23,000 Katrina
evacuees will still be without a home a year from now. If that
estimate holds, Hurricane Katrina ultimately will add about 3%
to the nation's total of homeless.

Are those who were homeless before the hurricanes going to be
overlooked? Not if the public outpouring of aid to help those
along the Gulf Coast can be translated into long-term policies
that help everyone without a home.


The number of homeless people counted earlier this year in
each state and the District of Columbia compared with each
state's rank by overall population.

Rank - State - Pop. rank - Homeless

    1. Calif. 1 195,637
    2. Fla. 4 68,369
    3. N.Y. 3 59,456
    4. Texas 2 39,578
    5. Mich. 8 26,179
    6. Colo. 22 21,730
    7. Wash. 15 17,590
    8. Ill. 5 16,904
    9. Ohio 7 16,165
    10. Ore. 27 15,929
    11. N.J. 10 15,778
    12. Pa. 6 15,112
    13. Mass. 13 14,896
    14. Ga. 9 12,384
    15. N.C. 11 11,065
    16. Va. 12 10,328
    17. Ind. 14 9,670
    18. Nev. 35 9,310
    19. Md. 19 9,048
    20. Mo. 17 8,902
    21. Iowa 30 8,373
    22. Tenn. 16 8,144
    23. Ariz. 18 7,904
    24. R.I. 43 7,814
    25. Minn. 21 7,068
    26. Wis. 20 6,900
    27. S.C. 25 6,481
    28. D.C. 50 6,026
    29. Hawaii 42 5,935
    30. Ark. 32 5,914
    31. Kan. 33 5,513
    32. La. 24 5,504
    33. Conn. 29 5,359
    34. N.M. 36 5,256
    35. Ala. 23 5,047
    36. Okla. 28 4,784
    37. Ky. 26 4,623
    38. Neb. 38 3,268
    39. N.H. 41 3,233
    40. Utah 34 2,738
    41. Alaska 47 2,382
    42. Maine 40 2,304
    43. W.Va. 37 1,665
    44. Miss. 31 1,546
    45. Mont. 44 1,343
    46. Del. 45 1,108
    47. S.D. 46 1,029
    48. Vt. 49 927
    49. N.D. 48 655
    50. Idaho 39 608
    51. Wyo. 51 487
    Total 723,968

"Can we reach into the disaster and pull out something that
will be helpful to historically homeless people? I think the
answer to that is yes," says Mangano, who heads the office
that coordinates 20 federal agencies to reduce or end

Dennis Culhane, a University of Pennsylvania sociologist who
studies homelessness, says that a new federal policy for
people displaced by Hurricane Katrina could be extended to
thousands of other homeless families. FEMA is offering cash
advances of $2,358 to cover three months' rent anywhere in the
nation for hurricane survivors. If they don't readily find
permanent housing, the government help could be stretched to
18 months.

Short-term rental vouchers are "something homelessness
activists have been calling for, for a long time," Culhane
says. "Emergency rental assistance would help the vast
majority of people avoid homelessness altogether."

Bigger fixes may depend on the success of efforts to get storm
victims back into permanent homes. "I have hope that if we do
things effectively - which is a big if - that will show that
you can re-house people fast, even if they have a lot of
complicated problems and are poor," says Nan Roman, president
of the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

Life on the edge

It didn't take the back-to-back Gulf Coast hurricanes to show
that life can be precarious for the homeless. In a July heat
wave, 14 homeless people died in Phoenix. In Los Angeles in
August, two 19-year-old men were arrested on charges of
attacking two homeless men with baseball bats. Many cities are
cracking down on the street homeless. Santa Monica, Calif.,
reduced food giveaways in city parks because of complaints
they attracted more homeless people. Nearly 30% of U.S. cities
ban begging, says the National Coalition for the Homeless, a
group based in Washington.

Many city and county officials are beginning to conclude that
homelessness is a solvable problem, not an intractable social
ill. Cities from Philadelphia to San Francisco show decreasing
numbers of homeless people, in part because of a federal
policy that concentrates on housing homeless adults who are
the most visible to the public.

The president set a goal in a 2002 directive of ending chronic
homelessness by 2012. HUD offers bonus money to cities that
focus on the chronically homeless - adults who live for years
in doorways or shelters. In response, more than 200 cities
have adopted 10-year plans to end chronic homelessness.

HUD defines a chronically homeless person as "an unaccompanied
individual with a disabling condition" who has been
continuously homeless for a year or more, or has had at least
four episodes of homelessness in the past three years.

The USA TODAY analysis of the count done for HUD showed that
these hardest-to-help men and women make up 25% of the
homeless, surpassing previous estimates of 10%-15%. Families
with children make up 42% of the total, according to the

The Bush directive boosted a concept called Housing First,
pioneered in New York City and Los Angeles about five years
ago. It abandons the traditional cycle of moving those who are
down-and-out from the street to a shelter to a detox center to
jail to a psychiatric ward, then back to the street.

Instead, people are guided into apartments with on-site
counseling for mental health problems and substance
addictions. Staffers ensure that residents take prescribed
medications and show up for job training.

The plan in a nutshell: The cure for homelessness is a home.

"Don't give them just a blanket and a bowl of soup," Mangano
says. "Give them housing and services, and eventually that
person goes out and gets a job."

Success stories

Cities that rely on Housing First include New York,
Philadelphia, Miami, Hartford, Conn., and Portland, Ore.
Success stories:

*San Francisco counted 8,640 homeless people citywide in 2002.
This year, the count was 5,404, a 37% drop. The downtown
street-homeless population, a turnoff for tourists, declined
41%. Mayor Gavin Newsom credits efforts to move longtime
street dwellers into special housing.


Locations reporting the largest homeless populations: 

Rank - Location - Homeless

    1. Los Angeles County 88,345
    2. New York City 48,155
    3. Orange County, Calif. 22,784
    4. Detroit 14,827
    5. Houston 14,000
    6. Tampa/Hillsborough County 11,023
    7. Denver metro area 10,157
    8. San Diego County 8,789
    9. Santa Clara County (San Jose), Calif. 7,646
    10. Seattle 7,315
    11. Contra Costa County, Calif. 7,092
    12. Atlanta 6,832
    13. Chicago 6,680
    14. Philadelphia 6,653
    15. Washington, D.C. 6,026
    16. Dallas 5,898
    17. Boston 5,819
    18. San Francisco 5,404
    19. Des Moines 5,331
    20. Fort Worth 5,278
    21. Miami-Dade County 5,160
    22. Alameda County (Oakland), Calif. 5,129
    23. Las Vegas 5,106
    24. Portland, Ore. 5,104
    25. Punta Gorda/Charlotte County, Fla. 4,783

Source: USA TODAY analysis of numbers reported to U.S.
Department of Housing and Urban Development by cities and

"We have more than 1,000 people who were on the streets housed
in dozens of residential hotels, not slumlord hotels," he
says. "Rooms have doors, keys, locks, bathtubs and cable
hookups. There is a 24-hour case management desk. There are
roving behavioral-health teams."

*In New York City, the number of people in shelters has
dropped to 32,000 from 39,000 in March 2004, says Linda Gibbs,
city commissioner of homeless services. That's in part because
more than 3,500 Housing First units with social services have
been built or are under construction. Mayor Michael Bloomberg
has called for 12,000 units in all.

*Philadelphia has moved 120 of "the highest users of our
system" into apartments with special services, says Rob Hess,
a city housing official. It's one factor in a drastic
reduction of the number of people living on downtown streets
to fewer than 100 last winter compared with 824 five years

The hurricanes showed a different face of homelessness:
families who suddenly lost everything. The storms could
pressure HUD to expand its definition of the chronically
homeless to include families who lose their housing for long

Fastest-growing group

Families with children are the fastest-growing segment of the
homeless, says Christine Riddle, director of the Michigan
Coalition for the Homeless. "In a low-wage, service economy
with manufacturing declining and rents soaring, people can't
afford housing," she says.

On Fifth Street in downtown Los Angeles, "it was rare to see a
woman on Skid Row five years ago," says Mitchell Netburn,
executive director of the Los Angeles Homeless Services

"Now it's common to see a long row of children getting on
school buses" there, he says.

Rita Markley, executive director of the Committee on Temporary
Shelter in Burlington, Vt., says Bush's emphasis on helping
single men and women has shortchanged families. She
acknowledges that single adults who are homeless - often
disheveled and carrying their possessions in a shopping cart -
are more visible and prompt public demands that politicians do

"It's disturbing to see somebody mentally ill wandering the
streets. You don't know you're standing in line behind a
homeless family at the grocery store," she says.

Destitute families often run into bureaucratic walls.

"HUD will not pay for permanent housing for families who are
just poor," says David Raymond, the top homelessness official
in Miami-Dade County.

"They need to have a disability like mental illness, substance
abuse, HIV. So we use $10 million a year of our own 1%
beverage sales-tax money to fund things HUD won't."

Mangano defends the administration's focus on helping single
men and women with disabling conditions. They are "the most
vulnerable, most likely to live on the street and most likely
to die on the street," he says.

Mangano is optimistic that the outpouring of compassion for
hurricane survivors will benefit other homeless Americans.

"The heart of this country is now open as it never has been
before," he says, "and there's an opportunity that the heart
will remain open for all homeless persons."

Contributing: Justin Dickerson 

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