Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Cities Of Hope

The Obama administration has inadvertently coined a new term for tent cities. These are not outdoor homeless shelters. Oh. No. These are Cities of Hope. I suppose it could be worse. They could have been called Tax Havens.

Tent cities and shelters from California to Massachusetts report growing demand from the newly homeless. The National Alliance to End Homelessness predicted in January that the recession would force 1.5 million more people into homelessness over the next two years. Already, "tens of thousands" have lost their homes, Alliance President Nan Roman says.

The $1.5 billion in new federal stimulus funds for homelessness prevention will help people pay rent, utility bills, moving costs or security deposits, she says, but it won't be enough.

"We're hearing from shelter providers that the shelters are overflowing, filled to capacity," says Ellen Bassuk, president of the National Center on Family Homelessness. "The number of families on the streets has dramatically increased."

Pinellas Hope, the tent city run by Catholic Charities here since December 2007, has been largely for the chronically homeless, some of whom suffer from mental illness or struggle with drugs or alcohol.

About 20% of its 240 residents became homeless recently because of the economic downturn, says Frank Murphy, president of Catholic Charities, Diocese of St. Petersburg.

"We're seeing a change in the population. … We're seeing a lot more that are just plain losing their jobs and their homes," says Sheila Lopez, chief operating officer of the charity. "A lot are either job-ready or working but have lost their home because they were laid off, or their apartment, and now can't go to work because they're not shaven, they're not clean, they're living in a car, or they're living on the street."

The charity plans to expand the tent city and build an encampment in a neighboring county, an idea that has drawn objections from nearby homeowners and businesses.
It seems insane that we have an excess of homeless people and an excess of housing. How do we match the two? We look at a supply demand curve. Lowering price increases demand. The current effort to prop up the hosing market is the opposite of what is required to correct the imbalance.

With Obama's Plan to make used cars unaffordable for these very people I can see more misery in store for those who wind up in this situation.

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