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Hungary Outlaws Homeless People

Hungary outlaws homeless in move condemned by charities

BBC News, today

First you get warned, then fined $600 (USA equivalent) or jailed. I wonder how many homeless people in Hungary have the equivalent of $600 handy.

This law was passed, this article says, because people were “fed up” with the homeless.

In other news, anything anybody doesn’t like is now being made illegal everywhere…


A Day Off For The Homeless, 1987

I posted this first on Daily Kos, and then reposted it there later, another year.

Now, having been banned from Daily Kos, for reasons never directly stated to me – I can only repost it again here.

The holidays are upon us, and this is a story about one such holiday, in my distant past, and the person who helped me make it the fine event it was. He got lost, a long time ago, so this is for him. He may still be out there somewhere. You may even meet him sometime. He could be anywhere. Say hi for me, if you do.

In 1987, I was living with my then-boyfriend (we’ll call him Zeke), in a small ghetto in a central Californian city. The little house we lived in was a beach cottage that had been upgraded and moved to its current location. It had a bedroom, a kitchen, a hole of a bathroom and bad wiring. We lived there with two dogs and, eventually, six cats.

The ghetto, like all ghettos, had street people; homeless people. It also had a lot of broken cars, which no one ever seemed to see fit to demand be removed. One elderly gentleman lived in such a car, just down the street us. He was a mechanic by trade and a junkie by avocation. A neighbor told me he’d been living in that car for 20 years. Surely an exaggeration, but still, the sort of thing one remembers.

Across the street there was a little triangular park, formed by the intersections of three streets. It was maybe a couple of thousand square feet in area, if that. It had several planter boxes in it, filled with dirt and trash, and cement sidewalks. There were no trees, and no benches.

The park was popular with the street people, though, because you could sit on the edges of the planter boxes. And sit they did, and drink from bottles in little paper bags, swap lies, fight sporadically, and watch the neighborhood.

I have been fond of gardening since I was a small child, and as I gardened away in our landlord’s side yard, I would look across at this sad park and feel that need you feel, when you are a gardener and there’s unused dirt sitting around (and in planter boxes even!). Since no one else seemed to have any interest, I decided one day to plant it.

I hauled over steer manure and I put in some annuals. I’ll admit that they had a hard time over there. It was an uphill battle, with the kids and the exposure and the inevitable traffic and abuse such a place attracts. They wouldn’t have survived at all, though, if it wasn’t for the planter box guards. I had a whole cadre of street people police over there, fiercely admonishing anyone who might attempt to deface my fragile efforts at neighborhood beautification.

Eventually this all attracted the attention of the homeless attenders, though; the people who would come down on Sundays and exchange needles, hand out condoms in colors, and give sermons of a sort. They moved in and took over, and soon the planter boxes were turfed in grass. More power to them; they had more resources than I did.

Now that I had established this sort of quasi-relationship with these feral humans, it occurred to me later that year that with the holidays approaching, I might make them dinner. It would be a nice thing to do, I thought. Gardening was always my department, but Zeke was seriously invested in homeless issues as well, having been there himself, and he wanted to contribute shelter to this proposed soiree, as our two tiny rooms were hardly sufficient for entertaining a few dozen people. Shelter, Zeke believed, was much more easily obtainable than the powers that be would like us to believe, and he considered a demonstration model to be in order.

We obtained permission from our landlords and the day before the party, Zeke invested in rocks and cement, and 4 mil plastic tarp, and built a large tent, compleat with smoke hole and fireplace, in the back yard. I issued invitations, which were graciously accepted, and embarked upon making a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for 20.

I had never actually roasted a turkey before – didn’t bother to learn about basting or tin foil (we didn’t have the Internet back then, and I was not long on cookbooks either) but I am good with vegetables, and none of the guests were anything but well-mannered and appreciative. Dinner came off otherwise without a hitch, the tent fireplace worked splendidly, and after many hours of reasonably good-natured carousing, a few folks rolled up their sleeping bags and spent the night.

The next day, we picked up the trash, and took apart the fireplace and the tent, and life went back to what passed for normal in our little neighborhood.

The next year, I broke up with Zeke. We each took one of the dogs, and the cats wound up with some other acquaintances.

We kept in touch for about five years, and in the early 1990’s I hired him to work for me for a number of months at the little health food store I was managing. He was living in his van (which was, however, running) and becoming increasingly marginalized. I was living in a garage, and doing much of the same, pretty much living for my job and taking care of my dog. But it was nice to see him, though hard on him since we didn’t want the same things from each other.

Somewhere along the line, he peeled out of California and out of my life. The last time I spoke to him, he called me and told me his life had fallen apart and offered me the other dog back. My last chance, he said.

I’d managed to move out of the garage in the meantime, but had lost my dog and given up my job in the process, and was pretty screwed up about the whole thing. So no, I could not rescue my old dog we shared, or Zeke either. I’d barely managed to rescue myself, and that only with help.

Shortly after that, Zeke went seriously crazy. He turned up on the doorstep of his brother’s family in Los Angeles, threatening them with acts of violence, and they told him to leave or they would call the cops. The brothers’ parents had died, and there had been money. Much of Zeke’s part was gone – stolen by bandits? Burned up when the van caught fire? Hard to say. He didn’t have any on him at the time; he was on foot. And on foot he made it back to central California, where the bank was where the rest of it was deposited, about $60,000; which he withdrew and left with, and as far as I know was never seen or heard from again.

I called his brother every year to check, for several years. So I guess he’s dead, but I hope not. I hope he’s out there somewhere, maybe on the street somewhere. It wouldn’t be surprising. He was pretty crazy at times, but he was tough and he was smart. I used to look for him on the streets of Los Angeles. It gives you a whole new perspective on the homeless when there’s always the possibility that someone you cared for might be one of them. You look at them much more carefully. You do not avert your eyes.


Sorry, Thanksgiving is Canceled

Yet another story about people being forbidden to feed the homeless unless they are set up like a freaking restaurant.

Homeless ministry says Dallas food ordinance restricts their religious freedom

So you have to have a church and protest about your religious freedom being interfered with in order just to feed people?

This kind of thing is so vicious, so transparently NIMBY. “If we make it hard for kind people to feed homeless people, then they’ll go be homeless somewhere else and stop being such eyesores” is what’s really behind it.

For shame, City of Dallas.


Homeless News-3

Prison Inmates and Homeless Wrestle It Out At the Chelsea Flower Show

Headliner Watch

This year’s Chelsea Flower Show would see a garden done by some of the prison inmates who would fight the top position with the fellow contenders, coming from an orphanage against a luxury designed spa featuring a swimming pool in the most popular flower show conducted in London.

Around 6,000 exhibiters are expected to be at this Flower Show along with more than 150,000 garden lovers to witness this magnum opus. Though, the designers are finding it tough to fight out for quality flowers in this unseasonable frost, just before the contest week. This situation has lead to the apprehensions if the 2010 contest would be less colorful than the previous year.

But organizers of the Royal Horticultural Society has made their worry too light by taking in a pair of giant seeping lock gates, swimming pool with submerged bar seats and a section of wrought iron bridge all vying for the judges’ attention. The exhibitor has been since the whole last week putting in the final touches to the contest. They were seen busy brushing up the hundreds of exhibits, 15 show gardens and 21 small gardens.

Hate Crime Laws Now to Protect Homeless

South Florida Gay News

On Thursday, May 20, 2010, Governor Charlie Crist (R) signed a bill into law (HB11) that adds homeless persons to the list of protected classes in Florida’s Hate Crime legislation and another bill (Jeffrey Klee’s Law) that lifts the statute of limitations on wrongful death claims. Wrongful death claims are most commonly referred to as the “civil suit” that results from a murder.

“I would like to thank the families because it was their courage that made sure the right thing happened in Tallahassee,” said Crist. He then turned to extend his appreciation to State Senator Nan Rich (D) for co-sponsoring the latter bill but she was absent from the signing. However, State House Rep. Ari Porth (D) who sponsored the bill in the House was present.

Crist shook hands with Simone Manning-Moon as he signed HB11 into law. Manning-Moon is the sister of the late Norris Gaynor – a homeless man who was savagely beaten by teenagers with baseball bats in Broward County back in 2006. The incident was caught on security cameras and soon became a national media headline.

Los Angeles homeless blog transforms into an online poverty site

Dallas Examiner

Back when online journals were just becoming a fresh communications tool for teenagers wanting to make their diaries public, and passionate advocates using the written word to change public perception and policy, a small blog created in Los Angeles started in hopes of covering the contentious social issue known as homelessness.

Six years later, with nearly a million hits, and a following from advocates, policy makers, and media who are still concerned about the human tragedy on this country’s streets, LA Homeless Blog is re-branding itself into www.PovertyInsights.org.

For years, this unique blog has tracked violence against homeless persons around the country. It has told the story of the man beaten by a couple of Florida teenagers with a baseball bat, or the Los Angeles man torched on the streets of this city of angels.

College district rules leave Green Hive homeless

Daily Breeze (Los Angeles area)

Last spring, a couple of beach cities residents with a devotion to sustainable building and “green” practices were excitedly promoting their vision.

They planned to open a unique resource center for homeowners, city planners and commercial builders to get hands-on learning about eco-friendly design.

They called it The Green Hive.

Then the district pulled the plug.

In April, Kimble and Robinson were told that the project could not move forward. They were stunned.

After spending more than two years and their own money creating The Green Hive, they face a shutdown of their business in a matter of weeks.

Undie runners leave 1,760 pounds of clothes behind

The Lantern

By Lauren Hallow

Thousands of half-naked Ohio State students stripped to their skivvies and ran through the streets Thursday night to support local homeless during the OSU AXE Undie Run Challenge. Through the clothes shed and other donations, AXE collected 1,760 pounds of clothing for the Columbus Coalition for the Homeless.

“I thought the event was a total success,” said Jake Schnall, a third-year in marketing and logistics and an organizer of the run. “We collected a ton of clothes, everyone had a blast and no one was injured. I think this might become a tradition at OSU.”

Schnall estimated 2,000 people were at the run, which started in front of O Patio & Pub at the corner of 15th Avenue and High Street. The runners ran east on 15th, north on Indianola Avenue, west on Woodruff Avenue and then south on Pearl Avenue to the finish line at 15th.

iHobo: No 1 on the street

The Guardian

It sounds like a sick joke but in just one week iHobo – an iPhone application that allows you to interact with your very own homeless person – shot to the top of the iTunes download chart. At the end of last week, 210,000 iHobos had been downloaded. But the thinking behind it, the app’s creators claim, is as serious as it is provocative.

“The challenge was how to grab attention without falling back on the traditional route of creating a high-impact, attention-grabbing TV or poster ad,” explains Tom Ewart, an executive creative director at the ad agency Publicis, which came up with the idea for Depaul UK, a youth homelessness charity. “People have grown bored of the shock tactics marketers in the charities sector have come to rely on.”

Step forward, then, iHobo – an otherwise nameless youth who, when you activate the free app, “lives” on your mobile, making a series of direct and increasingly desperate appeals for help, knocking on the screen for attention at any time of day or night.

Begging on the streets of love

Australia/National Times

What do people on the streets asking for money, asylum seekers, burqa-wearing Muslim women, Jews, gypsys and the disabled who lived in Nazi Germany have in common?

All these groups have suffered and been exploited or persecuted by being characterised as other and, therefore, less worthy. They have also been mercilessly used to advance political power and advantage.

During the years of the Pacific Solution, as with the current wave of arrivals, political opportunism fanned flames of resentment towards the “boat people” and our compassion was largely dormant until the human stories hit the media. And when the words and faces of current asylum seekers being processed off-shore find their way to the mainland, the compassion that is a necessary precursor to genuine humanitarian action, will be revived and do its work.


Female Veterans Getting Short End of the Stick

a href=”http://www.sacbee.com/2011/03/06/3452876/transition-to-civilian-life-challenging.html”>Transition to civilian life challenging for female veterans

Sacramento Bee, Mar 6

Reeder, 46, spent nearly 20 years in and out of homelessness after she was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army in 1987. The return to civilian life was difficult for Reeder, who said she struggled with the psychological effects of a rape while she was in the military. She became an alcoholic and drug addict, had trouble holding down a job and distanced herself from family.

“We’re supposed to come back and be daughters and mothers and sisters and go back to work. Some people can,” Reeder said. “The problem is how do I detach myself from being a soldier?”

Though women are still a small percentage of homeless veterans, they’re at much higher risk of homelessness than their male veteran counterparts, and their numbers are growing, according to a joint report by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Veterans Affairs released Feb. 10.

This disturbing article also notes that many female veterans do not identify as such, that services for female veterans are not equal to those for male veterans, and that homeless shelters catering to veterans often will not accept women, especially women with children, who are the fastest-growing sector of the homeless veteran population.

Genevieve Chase is quoted in the article. Ms. Chase is the founder and executive director of the American Women Veterans Foundation.


Russian Mayor Wants To Shoot Homeless

Russian mayor laments that he can’t hunt down the homeless

Moscow News, 2/24

Mikhalev’s dramatic solution to the problem dogging his remote Siberian outpost came as he answered questions at a meeting of the city council.

“Unfortunately we do not have a license to shoot the homeless, and other legitimate ways of coping with them are not available today,” he said.

And he called for an official definition of a “parasite” to be created to free up much-needed space in social shelters.

This guy is the mayor of Chita, a “remote Siberian outpost”.

I figure this is what Republicans in the USA want to say, but the social climate isn’t quite there for them. Not yet, anyway.

(h/t to FrumForum)


Is Feeding the Needy a Constitutional Right?

Fight over feeding homeless goes to court — again

Orlando, 2/14

This case is going to court on Tuesday.

The arguments before the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals come more than four years after the Orlando City Council restricted how often people may feed large groups in parks around downtown. Businesses and residents had complained that frequent group meals at Lake Eola Park drew the homeless into the neighborhood.

After years of legal wrangling, the case has been condensed to a single question: Whether sharing food with homeless and hungry people in a public park is “expressive conduct” protected by the constitution. Expressive conduct is an act or behavior that’s equivalent to free speech, like burning a flag or wearing a black armband to protest a war.

Members of the group Orlando Food Not Bombs argue that by feeding the homeless, they are spreading the message that society should ensure no one goes hungry.

I admire the tenacity of these activists more than I can say.


Homeless People Need Technology Too

Increasingly, the Homeless Log On When They’re Down and Out

End Homelessness
Oct 21


Regardless of the intent of those who recently posted images of homeless men using laptops, a discussion has emerged around the more-common-than-one-might-think bewilderment at how a homeless person could possibly (1) acquire a technological device and (2) benefit from one.

To many, a homeless person with a laptop might evoke the assumption that the laptop was acquired through illegal means (stolen, purchased on the black market, etc.). But Moore’s Law would suggest otherwise. The exponential rate of technological improvement has yielded $50 cell phones and $150 laptops — and that’s just retail price. In addition to charities that give away electronics, wholesalers and secondhand stores often sell used computers and other items for pennies on the dollar. (Of course, computers and other gadgetry can also be among what little is “left over” for people who were recently housed.) Beyond being affordable, technology can even provide an income stream for the homeless.

Technology’s benefits to the homeless are even more apparent than its affordability. The advent of email, cellular phones and blogs has helped improved the plight of many homeless individuals as they attempt to move off of the streets and into permanent housing. Although providers of homeless services sometimes furnish mailbox and/or telephone services to their guests, email allows homeless individuals to have a permanent means of contact no matter their housing situation. Free computer and internet access at local libraries allows for reliable, written communication even without a permanent address (just ask some bloggers and commenters on this site). For things like obtaining food stamps, inquiring about housing, and understanding other essential services, cell phones have proven to be extremely useful tools.


Homeless News

Homelessness up 50% in NYC over last year

At one of New York’s homeless shelters, RT witnessed a lottery, but it was not a lottery to win some money. Dozens of people were patiently waiting to find out if they would “win” a roof over their heads for the night.

They were not criminals and they were not drunks. Their “flaw” was that they didn’t have a home. The shelter they were hoping to get into for the night was packed.

Lately, the chances of getting a bed in New York City have been slimmer than ever. Homelessness in the city has sky-rocketed by 50 per cent.

Well, the obvious solution is to lock them up.

Homeless park dwellers refuse city’s assistance

SF Examiner, 10/14

“I can tell you there are fewer homeless people, but does that mean we have cleaned up the park? No,” said police Officer Bob Ramos, who is part of the morning outreach-team sweeps. “It just means that the people we cited realize we are coming back again and they have hidden deeper.”

The lingering homeless residents tend to fall into two categories — they are mentally ill or they are substance abusers who are chronically cited, but never appear in court, said Dariush Kayhan, the mayor’s adviser on homelessness.

Kayhan said the outreach team is working with the Public Health Department to be more aggressive in placing the mentally ill homeless residents into a conservator program where they are brought into locked facilities and given involuntary treatment under the watch of the courts.

Take the solstice back from the Christians!

Homeless Memorial Day Resolution Introduced to Congress

National Coalition For The Homeless

On or around the longest night of the year, December 21, the National Coalition for the Homeless and National Health Care for the Homeless Council hold memorial services for homeless individuals who have died from causes related to their homelessness. Throughout the state of Florida, this important day is being recognized, along with over 200 other local municipalities, organizations, and statewide organizations throughout the United States. With the support of the National Coalition for the Homeless, National Consumer Advisory Board, and National Health Care for the Homeless Council; National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day brings attention to the tragedy of homelessness.

Gotta wonder how many of the below are ex-Mormons

15,600 considered homeless in Utah this year

Of those who are homeless statewide, 43 percent are people in families, which is the fastest growing segment of the homeless population.

Almost 12,000 school-aged children statewide are considered homeless, according to the State Office of Education.

“This is the highest concentration of homeless school children observed in the past five years,” according to the report.

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any weirder..

Blood-sucking ‘vampires’ arrested for attacking homeless man with knife in Arizona, police say

Aaron Homer, 24, and Amanda Williamson, 21, allegedly stabbed Robert Maley, 25, last week in their apartment.

Maley, who was also arrested over a probation violation, told police Homer and Williamson were into “vampire stuff and paganism,” and he had allowed them to drink his blood in the past.

On the night of the attack, police were called to the couple’s home and found a trail of blood leaving the apartment.



h/t End Homelessness & Invisible People.