Salt Lake City’s Housing First initiative has reduced chronic homelessness by 72 percent. Now other cities are giving it a try.
Kilee Lowe was sitting in a park when cops picked her up and booked her into jail overnight.
After she got out the next morning, she returned to the park. The same officer who had thrown her into a cell not 24 hours before booked her again. It was back to jail for Kilee.
Kilee has been cycling in and out of the criminal justice system for years. After three and a half years in prison, she’s been homeless for a little over a year now.
“Just because I don’t have a credit card in my pocket,” she says, “does not make me a criminal.”
Kilee lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. It’s one of hundreds of American cities that have criminalized homelessness. Sometimes the “crime” is loitering. Sometimes it’s panhandling. In 2014 alone, one hundred American cities have banned sitting or lying down in public places. Wherever it happens, the fallout is frustratingly similar.
Not having a roof over your head means living in a continual crisis. The stress of not knowing where you’ll sleep at night, whether your family will be safe, and if you’ll be able to eat can suck up all your energy and your will. Regular stints in jail can only make it more difficult to find stability.
Not only that, but they drain tax dollars that could be put to much better use.
Salt Lake City crunched the numbers. And the prescription was clear. The city was spending $20,000 per homeless resident per year—funding for policing, arrests, jail time, shelter, and emergency services. Homelessness was not going down. Instead, for $7,800 a year through a new program called Housing First, the city could provide a person with an apartment and case management services.
And more importantly, chronic homelessness has dropped 72%.
In the latest video in the OverCriminalized series – produced in partnership with Brave New Films and The Nation – we spoke to people whose lives have been greatly improved by the Housing First program. One man told us that homeless people are often homeless because they are running from problems. Sometimes it’s abuse. Sometimes it’s addiction. He had been molested as a child and struggled with drug addiction as an adult. Recovery was hard and other programs would throw him back on the street if he relapsed, continuing the destructive cycle. After moving into stable housing, the unending stress of being homeless has dissolved. He’s been able to focus on sobriety and recovering. It’s worked.
Housing First hasn’t reached everyone like Kilee but that doesn’t mean the program isn’t improving people’s lives. But more could be done to reach out to the very people that desperately need programs like these.
For the last forty years, this country has continually ratcheted up the number of people behind bars and expanded the reasons we put them there. Social problems — like homelessness, drug addiction, and mental illness — have been sucked into a criminal justice system ill equipped to handle them. The problems haven’t been solved. Instead, we’ve locked too many people away and wasted money that could have been spent on interventions that could actually change the course of people’s lives. And as has always been the case with excessive correctional control, communities of color have been hardest hit.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. America can safely reduce our reliance on incarceration – several states have reduced their prison populations while crime rates have dropped.
Salt Lake City’s Housing First program is an important step in the right direction, a much more humane and fiscally responsible approach than criminalization. Other cities should follow suit. It’s time to end mass criminalization.
Article by Kara Dansky for The Nation.
Posted by Gypsy Chief
Published in Talking Points Memo on October 23, 2014. Written by Sahil Kapur.
Glenn Beck doesn’t think it would be “all that bad for the country” if Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) loses reelection to Alison Lundergan Grimes (D).
Less than two weeks before Election Day, the nationally syndicated talk radio host told his army of conservative listeners on Thursday that even though Grimes is “gonna be worse” for America, making her a senator could be worth the price of ousting an establishment Republican whom he suggested has added “poison” to Congress.
“It’s horrible for the country, but I’m not sure that it’s all that bad for the country,” Beck said. “I’m really not sure it’s all that bad to lose somebody like Mitch McConnell. … I don’t think it’s terrible.”
Beck’s beef with McConnell was on display during the Republican primary when he supported challenger Matt Bevin. But the general election is obviously a different beast. His argument that a McConnell defeat would be acceptable to conservatives is unhelpful to the GOP leader, who is unpopular in Kentucky and has faced questions of voter enthusiasm behind his reelection bid.
Below is the audio, followed by a transcript (with emphasis added), of Beck’s conversation with radio co-host Pat Gray.
GRAY: How amazing would [McConnell losing] be after they — after the establishment Republicans worked so hard to get rid of Matt Bevin, would have been a tremendous candidate.
BECK: It’s horrible for the country, but I’m not sure that it’s all that bad for the country. I’m really not sure it’s all that bad to lose somebody like Mitch McConnell.
GRAY: Yeah, I know. I don’t think it’s so bad.
BECK: I don’t think it’s terrible.
GRAY: She would be worse.
BECK: Probably, but… [crosstalk]
BECK: She’s gonna be worse. But I’m tired of playing — I don’t want the poison to come from our own people. I’d rather get rid of all of our own people. Let the poison come from them so we are clean hands and we can say, “We didn’t have anything to do with that. We didn’t have anything to do with that.”
Posted by Gypsy Chief
In the first and likely only Kentucky Senate debate, Mitch McConnell continued to offer his nonsensical word salad when it comes to Obamacare and his state’s implementation of it, Kynect. Calling Kynect, just “a website,” McConnell reiterated his position that Obamacare should be repealed.
“Kentucky Kynect is a website. It was paid for by a two-hundred-and-some-odd-million-dollar grant from the federal government. The website can continue but in my view the best interests of the country would be achieved by pulling out ObamaCare root and branch,” McConnell said in a debate with Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democratic candidate for Senate.
How generous of him to allow the website to continue. The problem, as McConnell well knows but refuses to acknowledge, is that the program is not just a website. Without the federal law, there is no Medicaid expansion and there is no funding for subsidies to help people purchase insurance. And there are 520,000 Kentuckians who would lose their coverage if McConnell had his way, which Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes was quick to point out, saying she’d “stand up for half a million Kentuckians” who have insurance for the first time. She blasted McConnell as being in a “fictional fantasy land” on the issue.
“One is a federal bill, one is a state bill, one’s an amendment to the state constitution with a number of other implications. They are different, they are not the same.”
— Cory Gardner, trying to explain his Personhood pretzel to the Durango Herald.
Anyone who has followed Colorado’s Senate race knows about Rep. Cory Gardner’s problem with the Personhood issue (which seeks to ban abortion by changing the definition of life as occurring at “conception”). But for those needing an introduction, here’s a brief summary: Not long after he announced his bid for the U.S. Senate in March, Gardner abruptly declared that he was no longer a supporter of the Personhood issue in Colorado, which is on the ballot for a third time in 2014 after getting pummeled at the polls twice before. Gardner remains a co-sponsor of federal legislation called “The Life Begins at Conception Act,” which is basically the same thing as the ballot measure in Colorado (don’t take our word for it — this has long since been proven to be true).
Now, because Gardner has declined to remove his name as a co-sponsor of the federal Personhood bill, he has quite the messaging problem on his hands: How do you convince people that you are opposed to Personhood when you are officially listed as a supporter of a Personhood bill in Congress? Gardner’s strategy has been to tell every reporter who asks that “there is no federal Personhood bill,” apparently hoping that if he says this often enough, it will magically come true. In an interview with Fox 31 that aired on Sunday, Gardner repeatedly repeated his mantra that “There is no federal Personhood bill” to flabbergasted reporter Eli Stokols. If you missed the clip from that interview, you should definitely take a moment to check it out in all of its absurdity. Gardner has repeated this same line to numerous reporters, from 9News to the Denver Post to MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” (this morning, in fact), and he has done it so often that it is tarnishing his credibility on any issue; you can’t repeatedly lie about something that is easy for people to research themselves, and then hope that nobody looks at those lies as a very real character flaw.
Perhaps it was inevitable, then, that Gardner would attempt to take his ridiculous Personhood message to new heights of silliness. As Peter Marcus of the Durango Herald writes, Gardner’s Personhood story has gone completely off the rails:
Even sponsors of the Colorado personhood effort equate the federal bill to personhood, and Gardner told The Durango Herald, “We wholeheartedly support both.”
FactCheck.org said voters should be aware that Gardner still supports a federal bill that would prompt the same concerns over birth control.
But Gardner insists that he has remained a sponsor of the federal bill because they are different policy proposals.
“They are two different pieces of legislation. Different from a procedural standpoint; from a legislative standpoint. So, they are not the same, and they are completely different,” Gardner told the Herald on Tuesday.
When pressed to highlight the policy differences, Gardner answered, “One is a federal bill, one is a state bill, one’s an amendment to the state constitution with a number of other implications. They are different, they are not the same.” [Pols emphasis]
You can almost picture Gardner as a talking robot with a broken circuit: They are different, they are not the same. They are different, they are not the same. They are different, they are not the same.
At this rate, Gardner is going to start telling reporters that the two Personhood measures are written in different types of font. He’s really got nothing left. One is written in Times Roman, one is written in Arial. One is printed on plain copy paper, one is printed on a heavier paper stock. Why can’t you understand the difference?!?
The scary thing for Gardner supporters is that his weirdly repetitive responses are transcending the actual issue. He’s taken this one issue and used it to define himself as a candidate and a politician – if he were a poker player, this would be Gardner’s “tell.” You don’t even need to understand Personhood to see that Gardner is not being honest, and if he’s lying about this…
Source: Colorado Pols
Posted by Gypsy Chief