Hurricane Katrina changed the landscape in which we work, with approximately 360,000 families--at last count--experiencing homelessness. This massive increase requires immediate response to both emergency and longer-term planning needs, and NLCHP is at the forefront.
In this issue of In Just Times, we highlight the many fronts on which Hurricane Katrina impacts America and our work to end homelessness, including a new section of our website with resources for service providers, advocates, policy makers and the media.
Visit our website at www.nlchp.org/katrina and send us your stories, ideas, and recommendations for action at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Over 372,000 children have been displaced, and their enrollment in school is a top priority for NLCHP. We are responding directly to requests for help from around the country to help local school districts comply with the McKinney-Vento education provisions.
Yet, we're extremely concerned about Education Secretary Spelling's recent statement that she will not enforce the law in some areas while Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson has proposed legislation to suspend the law's provisions and the rights of homeless children and youth. For more on this topic, go to http://www.nlchp.org/FA_Education/OpenLetter.pdf.
Access to disability benefits, food assistance, health care and jobs must be streamlined and ensured. Documentation requirements must not be barriers. These issues are crucial to the newly homeless,just as they are to those already homeless.
Housing is critically important and must be ensured without displacing those who were already homeless. Emergency housing responses must be planned to make sense for the long-term with the intent of preventing the newly homeless from becoming permanently homeless. Instead of shelters, resources should go to permanent, adequate, stable housing.
In one small but important victory, the Interagency Council on Homelessness announced a proposed new rule to allow vacant federal properties to be used for permanent supportive housing, an issue on which NLCHP has worked tirelessly.
Now more than ever we need unity on common principles for immediate and longer-term solutions to homelessness. Never before has the reality of the human disaster that is poverty in America been so vividly exposed. The issues we work on every day are at the forefront of national attention.
Please take a moment to support NLCHP by visiting our website at www.nlchp.org/katrina/Donation.cfm or click on the Donate Now link below. Never before has our work been more needed.
With the nearest Social Security office closed and in some cases under water, recipients and applicants in the affected areas must find new ways to obtain assistance. In response, SSA has dispatched representatives to select locations to issue replacement checks and provide assistance. Local SSA offices can also issue replacement checks. To find the location of the nearest SSA office or FEMA site with an SSA representative, call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).
As new students arrive everyday, state departments of education and local school districts are tirelessly working to provide services to those affected by Hurricane Katrina and get kids in classes. The National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, National Center on Homeless Education, and NLCHP have produced a brief guide for those serving the educational needs of students affected by Hurricane Katrina.
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, many homeless children and youth will experience barriers in trying to enroll and attend school. Yet, these young people do have federal legal rights that assist in removing barriers.
NLCHP and other homeless education advocates in a free training on Thursday, September 22 at 3PM EST, will address common questions about students affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Ophelia, including information about student rights and what to do if the Act is not being followed in your community.
Many evacuees of Hurricane Katrina fled with few personal belongings and no identification. To assist people affected by the hurricane, some Gulf Region states are making special and temporary accommodations to accelerate the process of obtaining ID.
NLCHP wants to hear from you - tell us your story. Are you a service provider experiencing new issues as a result of the hurricane? Did your clients relocate? What is your state doing to assist people affected by Katrina?
Email us at email@example.com!
For over ten years, NLCHP has worked to convince the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to broaden its interpretation of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act to allow surplus property to be used for permanent housing. Now, NLCHP can claim victory.
In a meeting of the full Interagency Council on Homelessness, HHS Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), Dr. Michael O'Grady, announced that HHS will begin to consider permanent supportive housing as an eligible use of federal surplus property.
The lack of permanent housing is the single greatest contributing factor to homelessness. Advocacy organizations and service providers across the country welcome this long awaited change in HHS policy, which will be detailed in a Federal Register notice of proposed rule change in the next 60 days. Providers and advocates should support the change, but at the same time, urge HHS to drop the requirement that the permanent housing must be supportive housing. Homeless individuals and families across the country need a permanent place to call home, and HAS should allow surplus federal property to be used for permanent housing for all homeless people, those who need supportive services and those who do not.
In recent years, city officials have expressed concerns surrounding panhandling in the downtown areas of their cities. Atlanta recently joined the ranks of those cities that have placed restrictions on panhandling through the use of criminal penalties and fines. While cities may think such ordinances will rid their cities of panhandlers, these laws instead punish poor people and do not address the root causes of poverty.
Maria Foscarinis, "Banning Panhandling," on The Kojo Nnamdi Show, September 6, 2005, Interview
"Don't punish poor people," by Maria Foscarinis and Tulin Ozdeger in USAToday, August 25, 2005, Editorial/Opinion
Tulin Ozdeger, Civil Rights Attorney, quoted in "Cities try to contain panhandling problem," in Atlanta Journal-Constitution, August 15, 2005, Article
"When one door closes: Shuttered military bases offer new opportunities for the homeless" with pro bono help," by Maria Foscarinis, in Legal Times, Vol. XXVII, No.32, Article
Corporation for Supportive Housing, http://www.csh.org/index.cfm? fuseaction=Page.ViewPage&PageID=3591&
National Alliance to End Homelessness, http://www.endhomelessness.org/do/katrina.htm
National Association for the Education of Homeless http://www.naehcy.org/katrina.html
National Center on Family Homelessness, www.familyhomelessness.org/
National Coalition for the Homeless, http://www.nationalhomeless.org/
National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, http://www.nchv.org/news_article.cfm?id=176
National Health Care for the Homeless Council, http://www.nhchc.org/
National Low Income Housing Coalition, http://www.nchv.org/news_article.cfm?id=176
National Network for Youth, http://www.nn4youth.org/site/PageServer
National Policy and Advocacy Council on Homelessness, http://www.npach.org/
Volunteers of America, http://www.voa.org/