RIP Nelson Mandela
“Poverty is not an accident. Like slavery and apartheid, it is man-made and can be removed by the actions of human beings.”
Obama: Income gap a 'fundamental threat' to US
President Barack Obama put a spotlight on rising income inequality in a major economic speech, arguing that the disparity is poses a "fundamental threat" to the American dream.
Marshaling both the recent papal exhortation by Pope Francis and a flurry of statistics reflecting a growing income gap between the wealthiest Americans and most others, Obama urged Washington to adopt policies to address the economic divide.
"The combined trends of increased inequality and decreasing mobility pose a fundamental threat to the American dream, our way of life, and what we stand for around the globe," Obama said at a speech in Washington, D.C. hosted by the progressive think tank Center for American Progress.
Obama called for a litany of proposals -- a higher minimum wage, stronger labor laws and a budget which promotes both education and social safety programs -- that he said would provide better economic stability for families in the aftermath of the recession that took hold as he took office in 2009.
Read the NBC News report here
New Mexico’s largest homeless shelter
challenges new HUD report on homelessness
HUD has released its national estimate of homelessness, reporting that the homeless population in New Mexico fell by 18% since 2010, to 2,819 persons in 2013.
"We know from first-hand experience that the number of homeless in Albuquerque continues to grow, and the need for meals and other services are on the rise," said Jeremy Reynalds, Joy Junction
"When you consider the impact these numbers can have on our community's concern, awareness and investment in solving homelessness, it's vital that we discuss these kinds of reports."
Read the Crossmap article here
Church group ordered
to stop feeding homeless on Thanksgiving
Happy Thanksgiving to all, but apparently not for the homeless living at Palm Beach County’s John Prince Park in Lake Worth.
A dozen church members from Acts 2 Worship Center in Loxahatchee showed up with packaged Thanksgiving meals. "We brought our kids out here so they could see what it’s really like for people that are struggling,” said church member Brian Oakes.
A Palm Beach County park ranger came up to the church group and ordered them to stop and leave. The ranger said he was ordered to warn the church members that they were violating county ordinances. When he was asked to cite the specific law that gave him the authority to kick out church members from a public park, he couldn’t do it. So he called dispatch to ask for help.
Dispatch said that feeding the homeless was not a permitted activity by a large group.
Read the 12 News story here
No more home-cooked donations
Mark Rice lines up to get a free meal at Union Station Homeless Services' Thanksgiving dinner. Photo courtesy of Union Station Homeless Services.
at Thanksgiving meal for Pasadena homeless
The Pasadena charity Union Station Homeless Services
will not be serving home-prepared dishes donated by community members at its annual Thanksgiving meal this year. The Pasadena Health Department informed the agency that it could no longer serve food items that were not prepared in approved locations.
Union Station has been offering holiday meals to the homeless in Pasadena's Central Park for 37 years. Part of the tradition has included home-cooked turkeys, sides and desserts that area residents have made and delivered. Union Station officials said that hundreds of people have donated dishes in recent years and that many have called or sent in emails complaining about the decision.
“They’re angry at this ruling. They’re disappointed in us, and they can’t understand why it’s happened. These are people who cook for their families, and they want to participate," said Rabbi Marvin Gross, CEO of Union Station Homeless Services. "I would say there definitely has been some backlash, some pushback.”
The Pasadena Health Department did not return calls requesting comment. Gross said he understood the concerns about safety, but said he had never heard of a single instance of anyone getting sick from the meals.
Despite the loss of donated, prepared food, Gross said the charity would still be able to meet the demand for the massive meal. He said Union Station expects to serve about 5000 meals on Thursday.
Read the Southern California Public Radio story here
Elected official uses sledgehammer
to destroy homeless people’s possessions
A state representative in Hawaii is going around town with a sledgehammer smashing the belongings of homeless people to bits. He is "disgusted" by the homeless, doesn't want to see them, and is so proud of his actions that he happily allows himself to be filmed while swinging the hammer at the meager possessions of the most vulnerable people in our society.
This vigilante isn’t just some random citizen -- he's five-term State Rep. Tom Brower
“I want to do something practical that will really clean up the streets,” he explained to Hawaii News Now
as he showed off his property destruction skills while sporting an Armani Exchange hat.
Not content to just destroy homeless people’s items, Brower is also on a mission to wake those he finds sleeping and tell them to sleep somewhere else. “If someone is sleeping at night on the bus stop, I don’t do anything, but if they are sleeping during the day, I’ll walk up and say, ‘Get your ass moving,’” he said.
It’s no stretch to assume that if Brower were found roaming middle-class neighborhoods and smashing items in people’s homes, he would find himself both out of office and behind bars. But segments of society view homeless people as less important and undeserving of the dignity of having their possessions kept safe.
Read the Hawaii News Now
One giant lie
The Republican war on food stamps is based on one giant lie.
Ask any Republican on Capitol Hill about the proposed cut of $39 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, otherwise known as food stamps, and they'll say that the billions we spend each year on the SNAP program are a waste, and that the program is hurting our economy.
The Republican story couldn't be any further from the truth.
The 13.6% boost in food stamp aid in the 2009 Recovery Act helped to lift more than half a million Americans out of food insecurity, and millions more out of poverty. Food stamps lifted 4.7 million Americans out of poverty in 2011 alone, and when Americans are lifted out of poverty, the entire economy benefits.
As Christopher Cook over at Mother Jones points out
, "extensive research shows food stamps are a highly effective investment delivering big returns for all Americans, not just the poor. SNAP not only provides an economic and nutritional lifeline for low-income Americans, it also creates a significant boon to the wider economy."
In other words, the billions of dollars the government spends each year on food stamps are being reinvested in the economy, and acting as a giant government stimulus.
According to the Department of Agriculture's Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, for every $5 spent on food stamps, up to $9 is generated in economic activity.
Read the Truthout
8 immoral ways the government shutdown
is hurting the needy
“Many of us have been dismayed by media coverage of the government shutdown, which has too rarely focused on its impact on already struggling families in our nation," writes Sister Simone Campbell.
"Instead, media outlets have chosen easy visuals such as barricades in front of parks and monuments, along with disappointed tourists. Only a tiny percentage of segments broadcast by news outlets the first week of the government shutdown mentioned its effects on people already struggling at the economic margins," writes Sister Simone, who is the executive director of NETWORK
, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, and leader of the "Nuns on the Bus"
campaigns for economic justice and immigration reform.
"As media obsession with political brinksmanship continues, we must refocus their attention on how real people are being badly hurt. That this is happening in the richest nation on earth is both morally wrong and shameful.”
Read more in the post in the Washington Post
's "On Faith" blog here
Boulder homeless turned away at Red Cross shelter
Collin Vanderharr near his sleeping spot, which is underwater because of the floods in Colorado. Photo by Cecelia Gilboy of Boulder Weekly.
Many homeless people slept outdoors in Boulder during the flood -- even though the American Red Cross had set up an emergency shelter at the YMCA.
“They turned us away at the YMCA,” says John Morrow, who normally camps in the foothills. “There were about 40 of us.”
Tim Kosick and Black Wolf say they were turned away, too.
Although the Red Cross shelter’s decision to not admit the homeless was eventually reversed, tensions linger in a city whose homeless population already feels embattled.
Read the Boulder Weekly
For want of a toilet,
a life will be lost
Did you ever have a moment when something you already understood intellectually suddenly lands on an almost cellular level?, asks Amy L. Freedman, executive director at Bethesda Cares
The reasons that people experiencing homelessness are tremendously medically vulnerable are both physical and psychological, the factors quite complex.
But there is that solution to the equation: Housing as healthcare.
She had long understood
that. After a conversation with a client, now she gets
Read her story here