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Archive for June, 2009

I’ve written previously about what can happen to someone who is renting a property that goes into foreclosure. Now there is a new law that basically ensures that the renter must be given 90 days notice prior to eviction. Read all about it here.

Patrick

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Tonight, in this country, more than 1.5 million people under the age of 17 will try to cope with the fact that they don’t have a safe place to sleep. Do not glaze past that number: 1,500,000 plus (‘plus’ because this is a pre-recession number). Some are runaways. Some are with their families living in shelters or on the streets. Others got kicked out of the house for being gay. Homelessness and poverty have devastating effects on every facet of a child’s life. Anyone looking to debate that particular statement needs to just turn and walk away, because it’s really not worth the time for either of us. Long after ‘the economy’ recovers, this will still be a crisis. And while many of us are waiting for that ‘recovery’, the crisis is only getting worse.

David Ashby is trying to do something about that. David is 14, and attends Lee Middle School in Orlando. He has two brothers and a sister, lives with his mom, and enjoys video games. That’s about it for ‘typical’. His bio is pretty amazing, as 14-year-olds go. Last year, as part of a school project, he learned that 70 of his schoolmates were, in fact, homeless. Rather than chalk that factoid up as an interesting tidbit in his academic pursuits, David decided to learn more about child and youth homelessness, and more importantly, to do something about it. Now, he could have volunteered at a shelter, or raised money at his school and donated it, or any number of things. But David wanted to really raise awareness around this issue, beyond filling an immediate need in his immediate surroundings. So, he spent several months planning an 1,100 journey from Orlando to DC…a journey that he intends to *walk*. And as if that wasn’t ‘different’ enough, he decided to stay in shelters along the way, meet with children staying in those shelters, and share their stories via social media. He formed a website, started a blog, and (probably grudgingly) agreed to let his mom follow him in a van.

There are, of course, people who think it’s a stunt, that he’s all about self-promotion, and he’s just doing it for media coverage, etc. Okay, sure, haters, I don’t think doing something like this is going to hurt his chances of being successful later in life. But the difference here is that he’s doing ‘something’ for someone else that may help him down the road. [And if you’re trying to raise awareness about something and highlight it for everyone to see…isn’t ‘promoting’ it or seeking all sorts of media coverage kinda the point?] He wants the story to be about those 1.5 million young people and children, their experiences, their stories. Let’s hope the media cooperates.

In the meantime, keep up with him. The trip started earlier in June, and he’s had to stop in order to deal with a family medical emergency. But he’s hoping to get back on the road shortly!

Patrick

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You might be thinking to yourselves, “Rural homelessness?…What the…?”

But I’ve been thinking about this for a while now, for a couple of reasons. First of all, issues such as homelessness and poverty aren’t restricted to Seattle any more than pickup trucks and country music cease to exist when you leave the Puyallup city limits. Second, and more importantly, I think some of us sometimes forget about that fact. We can talk for days about ‘liberal’ Seattle vs. ‘conservative’ Bellevue/Eastside/the-rest-of-the-county/state, or who can be blamed for what and why, or why a statewide income tax would be good or bad (good, good, good)…cuz let’s face it, it’s fun.

But it’s not so fun when we endlessly politicize an issue that affects every single one of us, such as homelessness. Because then it becomes more about winning or losing, and we stop caring so much about what actually works. And so not to confuse anyone, by “works”, I mean that which actually makes someone who *is* homeless into someone who is *not*.

A recent Seattle Times article about rural homelessness pointed me towards a study from Maine (a relatively split political scene, as far as New England states go) which sought to “help individual communities better understand the financial impact of homelessness on their resources and to assist our public officials by providing data to be used in the difficult task of how to allocate limited resources.” Now, read that quote again, please, and ask yourself if it sounds familiar…and also notice: not one mention of a particular group of ‘public officials’.

The study looked at 163 people living without shelter, 97% of them suffering from some type of mental illness, and tracked costs for services provided for 6 months before and after being placed into PERMANENT SUPPORTIVE HOUSING (aka, Housing First). And guess what? It works [ed note: refer back to previous definition].

  • The average social services cost per participant for 6 months prior to entering permanent housing: $18,629. Avg cost for the 2nd six months after entering permanent housing: $17,281, including the cost of the permanent housing ($4,577). That’s an average tax dollar savings of $1,348 per person.
  • Placement in permanent supportive housing reduced service costs by 99% for shelter, 14% for emergency room care, 95% for incarceration, and 32% for ambulatory care.
  • 59% of participants had a source of income prior to entering permanent supportive housing. Six months after entering permanent supportive housing, 83% had a source of income.
  • There’s more there about improved family relationships and nutritional behaviors, but you get the picture.

    I don’t care if you voted for McCain or Obama. I don’t care if you drive a Dodge Ram or a Subaru. And I don’t care if your range of preference involves ‘shooting’ or ‘driving’. I do care, like many of you say you do, about what my tax dollars pay for, and I want them to pay for things that *work*. The Housing First model works, in Seattle, in other urban areas, and in rural conditions.

    Patrick Kelley

    PS–An interesting article in latest version of the Atlantic.

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    Here’s one of Mark Horvath’s interviews on invisiblepeople.tv from his visit to Nickelsville last week. Listen to James talk about his community, and think about if you feel this connection to your own neighbors…and be sure to check out the links in my previous post about Mark’s presentation!

    Patrick

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    Here are links to some of the videos that Mark Horvath (invisiblepeople.tv) used during his presentation in Seattle last week. Taken out of context, the one about volunteering in New York might seem strange, but the message is appropriate: Listen. Act..

  • Cecilia & Juliana
  • Dontwalkby.org
  • Beth’s Story
  • Patrick

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    Last night, I had the privilege to meet a hero that I didn’t even know I had. Mark Horvath, founder of a project that I’ve blogged about previously called invisiblepeople.tv, was in Seattle this week as part of a national tour to talk about the project. There’s a lot I’d like to write about based on his presentation and the discussion that followed, but I’m still sorting through my thoughts. I’m a thinker, it’s what I do. But here are few things:

  • Mark previously worked as an executive in the TV industry for a variety of shows, all of whom I’d heard of, but can only remember “21 Jumpstreet” right now for some reason.
  • Fifteen years ago, he was homeless in Hollywood.
  • He currently has no income, and started this project in November of 2008 with nothing but an iPhone.
  • Mark also talked about Housing First, the model I’ve referred to numerous times before on this blog, as the best available idea to help chronically homeless individuals get off and stay off the streets. It saves money!
  • Mark also had a chance to visit Nickelsville while he was in town. Check out the blog at Change.org. The video is enlightening.
  • Mark used several powerful videos in his presentation, and I’ll see if I can post those later.

    Patrick

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    Or maybe it’s just me. That is a definite possibility.

    I admit my tired little brain shuts off just a little bit more when I attempt to weave my way through the maze of financial whackiness that apparently led to the end of the world as we know it. But then I read articles like this one in the New York Times, and see quotes like this:

    “One of the criticisms is the Fed’s failure to stop the sale of subprime mortgages and other dangerous home loans that helped cause the financial crisis.”

    And I keep reading (always a mistake), and learn that the Fed, in fact, did not have oversight capability for companies like Bear Stearns, AIG, or Countrywide Financial.

    So, these lawmakers mentioned in the article–Senator Dodd and Congressman Frank (who happen to be Democrats)–are criticising the Fed for failing to stop something that it may or may not have been actually empowered to stop in the first place. And they’re using that as an argument against President Obama’s plan to increase the oversight responsibilities of the Fed as part of reforming our financial system. (??)

    The ‘failure’ doesn’t lie in the Fed’s inability to stop the sale of these products. It lies in the sale of these products in the first place, and the system in place at the time that allowed it to happen. And THAT, it seems to me, is a situation where some of the responsibility (aka, blame) could be placed at the feet of the Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee (Senator Dodd) and the Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee (Congressman Frank).

    To quote a friend of mine, “‘I’m not sayin’ anything…I’m just sayin'”. Or another favorite of mine from a different friend: “Change is coming. Get ready, or sit your a** down.”

    Patrick

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