the 13th juror
Sunday, June 09, 2013
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Kerry, if you’re out there, come home
Virginia Fisher Murdoch, who lives in Florida, searches for her brother Kerry Fisher, whom she believes is homeless in Las Vegas.
Virginia “Jenny” Fisher Murdoch had a dream a few months ago that her brother is alive.
The signal she’s getting is that Kerry Lee Fisher, missing since the 1980s, is alive and that his presence has something to do with Las Vegas, the place where people get lost and come to get lost.
So after weeks of Internet research, she’s traveled from Florida to Las Vegas to find her long lost brother, hitting shelters and food lines and parks and roadside encampments, armed with a flier of a fairly recent newspaper photo that she thinks shows Kerry, who would be 57 now.
Kerry was the middle of five children who grew up in Dallas and Birmingham, Ala. He was a quiet and sensitive introvert who loved science and rocketry. He enlisted in the Marine Corps. The history isn’t clear, but Murdoch believes something bad happened, that Fisher was a whistleblower of sorts and flamed out. She thinks this episode may have had long-term consequences, including post-traumatic stress disorder. He bounced around for a few years until he went missing around 1988, his last known whereabouts being Washington State, although his truck was found shortly thereafter in the desert Southwest.
If you think you know the whereabouts of Kerry Lee Fisher, age 57, height 6 foot 2 inches, blue eyes, call 813-417-7462 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read the Las Vegas Sun report here.
The real numbers: half of America
The Census Bureau has reported that one in six Americans live in poverty. A shocking figure. But it's actually much worse.
in poverty -- and it's creeping upward
Almost half of Americans had no assets in 2009, and it's even worse three years later.
Putting it in perspective: While food support was being targeted for cuts, just 20 rich Americans made as much from their 2012 investments as the entire 2012 SNAP (food assistance) budget, which serves 47 million people.
There's more. Read the AlterNet report here.
Monday, May 27, 2013
Jacksonville homeless center moving forwardA day center to help homeless people in downtown Jacksonville could open in early July.
Renovations at a 3,000-square-foot building started about a week ago. A “soft opening” is scheduled July 1, though some renovations may still be underway then.
The center would be open Monday, Wednesday and Friday during the daytime -- when traditional shelters are closed -- as a place homeless people can find washing machines, showers and services that might help them line up jobs, homes or other needs.
Advocates say a downtown center could help limit problems with loitering, petit theft and panhandling downtown. Misdemeanor arrests in the core city will be tracked after the center opens to test whether there’s any change, said Dawn Gilman, executive director of the Emergency Services and Homeless Coalition of Northeast Florida and president of the day center.
Read the Florida Times-Union report here.
Sunday, May 26, 2013
The cost of justice denied is more
Reality prevailed over the wishful thinking of legislative leadership in the Florida Supreme Court's ruling that reaffirmed the right of the poor to adequate legal counsel.
than any dollars the Legislature wants to save
The court ruled that trial courts can stop assigning public defenders to new cases when the Legislature has provided so little money that the result is overwhelming case loads.
The case came from Miami-Dade, where public defenders averaged 400 non-capital felony cases a year — twice as many as the highest recommendation of professional legal organizations. The Supreme Court called that a "damning indictment of the poor quality of trial representation" available to indigent defendants.
Read the opinion here. Read the Miami Herald report here.
Saturday, May 25, 2013
Panhandler suspended from general assistance
A panhandler in Maine has been removed from general assistance for 120 days for failing to reveal the income.
for failing to report income
In an effort to control panhandling in Bangor, police and shelter officials are passing the names of known panhandlers to city staff who administer and monitor general assistance, an emergency safety net program. One of the first names police presented yielded results. The panhandler, the only one to receive a sanction so far, has not been identified because he or she has not been charged with a crime.
After meeting with a general assistance staff member, the recipient failed to reveal the panhandling income and was disqualified from the program for 120 days.
Shawn Yardley, the city's director of health and community services, said he thought word of the punishment would spread among the panhandling community and make some think twice about hiding income from the city.
“They can still panhandle, but they need to disclose their income,” Yardley said.
Read the Bangor Daily News report here.
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Drug overdoses overtake AIDS
Overdoses of drugs, particularly prescription pain-killers and heroin, have overtaken AIDS to become the leading cause of death of homeless adults, according to a study of homeless residents of Boston.
as main cause of homeless deaths
The finding came from a five-year study of homeless adults who received treatment from the Boston Health Care for the Homeless program. But its broad conclusions apply to homeless populations in many urban parts of the United States, the study's author and homeless advocates said.
"This trend is happening across the country, in non-homeless populations too," said Dr. Travis Baggett of Massachusetts General Hospital. "Homeless people tend to experience in a magnified way the health issues that are going on in the general population."
The study found that of those who died, 17% died of drug overdoses, while 6% died of causes related to HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
That is a rough reversal of the trend found in a similar study 15 years earlier, when 6% of deaths were due to drug overdose and 18% due to AIDS.
Homeless people are significantly more likely to die in a given year than their peers in the rest of the population, with those aged 25 to 44 nine times more likely, and those aged 45 to 64 four-and-a-half times more likely to die, the study said.
Read the Reuters report here.
Sunday, November 18, 2012
Bill Cady is goneBill Cady was homeless for more than four years. "Loading what I could in my car, I wiped the tears from my eyes, fired up the engine, and proceeded down a long, dark, gloomy tunnel into a squalid place called Homelessness."
Bill Cady, author of the At My Friend's Place blog, passed away peacefully in Oceanside, California, on November 17.
Since becoming un-homeless 6 years ago, Bill's passion has been to find ways to help those still "out there" and homeless. He never lost the memories of his 4½ years of homelessness. The blog was his way of helping those not as lucky as him and still on the outskirts of society and looked upon as less than a human being.
Bill wrote exactly 900 posts in the blog. You can read the last post (written by his friend Alex) here.
Sunday, January 08, 2012
The high cost of poverty: Why the poor pay moreYou have to be rich to be poor.
That's what some people who have never lived below the poverty line don't understand.
Put it another way: The poorer you are, the more things cost. More in money, time, hassle, exhaustion, menace. This is a fact of life that reality television and magazines don't often explain.
The Washington Post explains it here. Consider this a primer on the economics of poverty.
And check out John Scalzi's wrenching blog post, Being Poor.
Friday, January 06, 2012
Judge says tent city residents can stay -- for nowA judge in New Jersey — saying the government has a responsibility to provide for the poor — refused to evict residents from a makeshift camp that township officials claim is a dangerous public nuisance.
Since 2006, from 25 to 70 homeless people have been living in the communal setting. Lakewood officials want the camp closed, and point to serious injuries suffered by a handful of its residents from exploding propane tanks and the harsh elements.
"This is pure and simple a seizure of property," said Michael DeCicco, an attorney for Lakewood. "The importance of this decision, this case, I cannot overemphasize because in my view a decision allowing homeless individuals to remain on this property indefinitely ... would eviscerate centuries of Anglo Saxon property law."
The Rev. Steve Brigham, who founded Tent City through his Lakewood Outreach Ministry Church, has refused to close the camp, claiming Lakewood and Ocean County do not provide adequate shelter for the homeless.
The county says it provides more than enough resources, all that it can afford, and contends some residents have refused the services offered.
But Jeffrey Wild, an attorney for the Tent City residents, says the county and township’s remedy — paying $100 a night for motel stays — is only a Band-Aid. He says the poor in Ocean County need a shelter and affordable housing. Read his legal brief here.
Judge Joseph Foster said he wanted to hold a hearing to decide whether Lakewood has legal grounds for removing the residents from the wooded area where they live. But Foster also said they could not stay there forever.
"What the parties will have to address here is the ultimate remedy," he told a crowd of more than 30 Tent City residents and supporters crammed into his courtroom.
Read the Newark Star-Ledger report here. And for more details on the court proceeding, check out the Homeless in Ocean County blog.