Drug overdoses overtake AIDS
as main cause of homeless deaths
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.
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
The high cost of poverty: Why the poor pay more
You 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
Judge says tent city residents can stay -- for now
A 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
. And for more details on the court proceeding, check out the Homeless in Ocean County
3 homeless men killed while sleeping
Three homeless men have been stabbed to death in north Orange County, California, in recent weeks, raising alarm in homeless camps as police try to determine whether any single motive links the killings.
The men were all stabbed multiple times as they slept alone. Police posted bulletins at homeless shelters describing the killings as "remarkably similar," but said it was still too early to say whether anything more than the men's homelessness connected their deaths.
Homeless people said the killings have only underscored a rule of life on the streets. "Nobody here sleeps alone," said Sherissa Houston, 49, who lives around Anaheim's La Palma Park. "Nobody here stays alone. Always."
The body of the first victim was found on Dec. 21 at a shopping center in Placentia, not far from a park; he was identified as James McGillivray, 53. One week later, another body was found on the Santa Ana River Trail; he was identified as Lloyd Middaugh, 42.
The body of the third victim was found late Friday afternoon at the bottom of a stairwell behind the Yorba Linda library. He was identified as Paulus Cornelius Smit, 57. Candles still burned for him at a small memorial at the stairwell on Tuesday, next to a man's photo framed by the words, "Rest In Peace Dutch."
Police have declined to release a grainy surveillance video that shows a thin man dressed in black lying in wait and then stabbing McGillivray, the first victim.
Read the Orange County Register
Vacant houses outnumber homeless people in U.S.
There are more than five times as many vacant homes in the U.S. as there are homeless people, according to Amnesty International USA.
About 3.5 million people in the nation are homeless while, at the same time, 18.5 million vacant homes stand vacant.
Since 2007, banks have foreclosed around 8 million homes.
In boom-and-bust Metro Orlando, the number of vacant houses and apartments jumped by more than 80,000 during the past decade, according to U.S. census figures. The number of vacant homes in the four-county Orlando metropolitan area rose from 58,303 to 143,867.
On a typical night in metro Orlando, about 4,515 people are homeless, according to the 2011 Point-in-Time count
Read Amnesty International's blog post here
and the Orlando Sentinel
's report here
Gov. Scott to appeal order barring
drug-testing for welfare recipients
Gov. Rick Scott announced Thursday that the state was appealing a preliminary injunction that stopped the drug testing of welfare applicants.
"It's disappointing – but not surprising -- that the governor has instructed his attorneys to continue defending the indefensible," said ACLU Executive Director Howard Simon.
Read the Orlando Sentinel
. And see previous posts here
Court orders Florida
to suspend drug-testing law
A federal court has ordered the state to temporarily suspend a law that requires welfare applicants to pass a drug test before collecting cash assistance.
Read the ruling here
See previous posts here
Slum Jack is homeless no more!
After more than three years of homelessness, Slum Jack
has a place of his own.
He says this was a direct result of some friends helping him with stunning generosities. "My major benefactors have been persons that became friends with me while
I was homeless, too," he said. "That seriously surprised me."
Read his post here
Occupy Cincinnati claims trouble with homeless
Hours before police arrested several of them
, Occupy Cincinnati protesters said homeless people were taking over their space in Piatt Park.
Some protesters said there have been some thefts and in some cases violence, and they're worried that their message will also be stolen.
"We're not just a homeless camp," said Michael Davis, one of the original Occupy Cincinnati protesters.
He said things are getting out of control. "The homeless have overran us," Davis said. "They're taking stuff that is donated to us. They've been caught trying to sell it a few blocks away. We're running out of supplies. We really need what the homeless are taking."
Davis said sometimes in their meetings, the occupiers are outnumbered by homeless people. He said some have contributed to and even joined the occupation, but others aren't so helpful.
Read the WLWT report (with video) here
Denver may pursue law cracking down
on people sleeping downtown
Some Denver City Council members want to make it illegal for people to sleep overnight in the main business sector.
"We have to stand up for our businesses downtown and our women and children who are afraid to go downtown," said Councilman Charlie Brown. "Are we supposed to just give in?"
Denver in 2005 passed laws to curtail panhandling, including one that prohibits beggars from sitting or lying down on sidewalks from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. No city ordinance prohibits sleeping overnight on sidewalks or in other public places that are not in city parks.
The number of homeless people crowding onto the 16th Street Mall is growing, say city officials, business owners and advocates for the homeless. Many homeless people stay there overnight because they can't find beds in shelters and the mall feels safe because it is lighted and populated, said Councilman Albus Brooks, whose district includes the mall.
"This is a nightmare," Brooks said. "Denver is very sympathetic to the homeless issue, especially during this fiscal time. But that's not the issue. We have predators, sex offenders, folks selling drugs and taking advantage of people and vagrants all pretending to be these homeless folks."
Brooks recently went to the mall at midnight to see the issue up close. He found about 180 people setting up to sleep overnight.
John Parvensky, president of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless
, called the effort to beef up laws "a real step backward" for the city, which has been working to end homelessness through its Road Home
"This is a direct result of the recession, of shelters being closed and lack of mental-health and treatment services that are needed for part of the population. It's not solving homelessness; it's just criminalizing it," Parvensky said. "If the business community is worried about making downtown a better environment for visitors, they ought to use a fraction of their money to build real solutions for the homeless."
Read the Denver Post