This report is listed on NADINE along with the mountain of data used to compile it. 20,000 plus pages and 6,000 photos.
Thursday, August 19th, 2010 4:11 am
Killings of homeless people have risen to their highest level in a decade, with 43 killed last year and many more injured in often brutal attacks that are raising concerns among law enforcement officials, rights advocates, and politicians, says the New York Times. The rise in killings, from 27 in 2008, comes as state and local governments are wrestling with the problem of what to do with the growing number of people forced onto the streets by economic woes. Some states and cities are moving to prosecute violence against the homeless as a hate crime; others are imposing tougher measures to prevent people from living on the streets in the first place.
Cases compiled by the National Coalition for the Homeless showed homeless people doused with gasoline and set on fire, attacked with bottles, metal pipes and baseball bats, and sprayed with pepper spray, often for the sport of it. Because the FBI does not track crimes against the homeless, data from the coalition is considered the most definitive. U.S. Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) plans to lead a hearing next month on the rising homeless problem, including violence against those living on the streets. Criminologists and others who worked on the study said they believed the rise in fatal attacks has been fueled by a combination of factors, including tough economic times, the popularity of amateur Web videos on “bum fights” and on-line games that glorify and trivialize attacks, an increase in gang initiations involving the homeless, and crackdowns on homeless encampments that have bred hostility.
NEW YORK TIMES
The Crime Report
Comment: We have been saying that for years!
Liam Moriarty (2010-05-06)
SEATTLE (KPLU) – When you get out of the hospital, you’re often told to go home and get bed rest so you can recover. But what if you don’t have a home? Or a bed? The death of a homeless man in Seattle last week has made that question real for me.
I first met Robert Hansen in September, 2007. I wanted to do a profile of a vendor for the street newspaper Real Change, as part of KPLU’s series “The Meaning of Work.” I met Robert downtown on the corner of Fourth and Columbia, hawking his papers. He explained to me the sales techniques that made him one of Real Change’s most successful vendors
“So basically, that’s my normal approach,” he said. “I really don’t approach people. I let them approach me Once the people get to know you you got that customer-vendor relationship So a lot of it has to do with the attitude, about being polite, greeting the people, good morning, how are you, stuff like this, y’know.”
Robert had been selling the paper for 12 years. He used it to work his way back from a rough past that had seen him lose his job and his family.
Last week, Robert was found dead in his pickup truck in Seattle’s SoDo district, two days after he’d been released from Swedish Medical Center. Discharge papers from the hospital say he needed to rest in bed for at least a week before scheduled tests for possible bladder or prostate cancer. He’d been referred to the Union Gospel Mission to get that rest, but there’s no indication he ever tried to get into the mission’s extended stay program.
News of Robert’s death hit hard at Real Change. He’d been there longer than almost anybody and was a fixture at the often-hectic office. Tara Moss, Director of Vendor Services at the paper, says Robert was a respected role model among the vendors.
“He’s always smiling,” she said. I can see him in his leather jacket in the middle of summer with a huge can of pop saying, Let’s go! Let’s get this thing goin’! Why are you being’ so slow? Why are you so grumpy?”
Moss says Robert was a respected role model among the vendors.
“He often took new vendors under his wing and tell them where to sell, where there’s good spots and where it’s no so good a place to sell. So he was a mentor as well.”
For Chris Hurley, at Seattle/King County Public Health, the news of a homeless person dying alone on the street is an old and sad story.
“I think that Robert’s death is a textbook case of showing the shortcomings we have in our system of care and housing.”
Hurley heads a program to create more beds for what’s called “medical respite care”; places where homeless people can get off the street and heal after being discharged from the hospital. Right now, she says, there are only 22 medical respite beds in King County. She says the program at Union Gospel Mission offers a place to stay but doesn’t have the professional staffing to be officially considered respite.
Hurley says respite care tends to fall into the cracks between housing programs and medical programs, and that there’s not much money around for expanding it. She thinks that’s short-sighted.
“When you run into a person that’s homeless and really cannot be sustained on the street, you know they’re gonna just bounce back in the hospital, and they’re probably going to lose ground.”
And that means more-costly care in the long run and occasionally, someone dies.
No one knows why Robert Hansen didn’t follow up on the referral to Union Gospel Mission, or whether he’d be alive today if he had. But the death of this funny, well-regarded man — who’d worked hard to get back on his feet after life knocked him down — has drawn attention to a gap in the health care system.
That gap should be a little narrower soon. King County has plans to open a 34-bed respite care facility on Seattle’s First Hill by the end of the year.
Comment by Doc.
Well, Bill, that makes 73 deaths of friends in the last twelve years that have lost their lives. Sadly, Bob would not have died if he had been released to a home. Do the homeless a favor-resign. Homeless should not face your incompetence.
Comment By Doc
A recent and very interesting article by the folks at REAL CHANGE about Bill Block’s Ten Year Plan. We have been saying this all for the past three years. The official legal challenge is now ready for filing.
May 5, 2010, Vol: 17, No: 19
Sixteen outreach workers are not enough to help the nearly 2,000 people who sleep on the streets of Seattle each night. There’s also a lack of coordination among the 12 programs they work for and, when people they make contact with do want to get off the street, there’s often no place to take them and no money to help obtain housing, even if there was enough affordable housing in Seattle to begin with.
No small problems, but at a time when the city is facing budget cuts, it’s not likely it can do much about the findings, which were presented to the City Council’s Housing, Human Services, Health and Culture Committee on April 28 by staff from the Human Services Department. The analysis was requested by the council last fall after Councilmember Tim Burgess proposed a now-defeated panhandling law and called for more beat cops and homeless outreach.
Of the 12 outreach programs surveyed, HSD says in the report, the city funds only three and only one of those – the REACH program of Evergreen Treatment Services – specifically engages homeless adults. REACH and HOST, a program of the Downtown Emergency Service Center that focuses on the mentally ill, can offer people shelter, but some programs have no housing, the report says, nor is there much in the way of funding to help someone rent a room or apartment.
Because shelters do not allow people to store belongings or come and go as they please, some alternative form of temporary housing is needed to give people options to come inside, Judy Summerfield, the city’s Survival Services Manager, told the committee that is one of the report recommendations that Human Services plans to work on, along with improving coordination among programs and with police. Unlike Seattle, the report says, officers in Denver, Philadelphia and San Diego are directly involved in homeless outreach efforts.
In Redmond, says Bill Kirlin-Hackett, director of the Interfaith Task Force on Homelessness, officers who find a homeless person can call an outreach worker contracted by the city – a model, he says, that Seattle should adopt. The report comes as no surprise, he says: What it shows is that homeless outreach in Seattle has been left largely to nonprofit and church efforts that are haphazard and unsupported in the county’s 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness, which he says is heavily weighted to constructing housing.
“The 10-Year Plan doesn’t address the function of getting off the streets,” Kirlin-Hackett says. “There really is no outreach plan.”
Bill Block is Full of Crock!
To:LAC, BCC; Seattle
Subject: Legal Claims-City of Seattle and CEH Deadlines
As decided in the video conference between myself and the Board of Directors on 09 Apr 2010, the following deadlines have been re-established because of the proposed legislation on panhandling.
- Civil Liberties Claims will be turned in to the attorney’s of record by Monday, 21 Jun, 2010 so that they can be submitted to the city attorney-the following day.
- Civil Rights Claims will be turned in to the attorney’s of record by Wednesday, 9 Jun, 2010 so that they can be submitted to the city attorney-the following day.
- Significant Challenges against the CEH will be turned in to the attorney of record by Wednesday, 9 Jun, 2010 so that they can be submitted to the County attorney that same day.
- Petition for Emergency Injunctory Relief to United States District Court; 9th Circuit and the Court of Appeals no later than 17 Jul, 2010 by 7:30 am PDT. Filing will be that same day.
- All evidence mutually agreed upon by the attorney’s of record including DVD and CD Rom to be posted on the Internet will be shipped-registered mail or certified UPS overnight delivery to my central Tennessee address by 1 Jun, 2010, as they will be posted on “twuseatoo” for public inspection within two working day’s and will be re-distributed throughout “black net”.
CEH Governing Board and Bill Block;
Jackie MacLean (King County Dept. of Community and Human Services)
Alan Painter (City of Seattle Human Services Dept.)
David Ramsay (City of Kirkland)
Karen Bergsvik (City of Renton)
Emily Leslie (City of Bellevue)
Adrienne Quinn (Seattle Office of Housing)
Rhonda Berry (City of Tukwila)
Lynnette Hynden (City of Federal Way)
David Okimoto (United Way of King County)
Michael Brown (Seattle Foundation)
King County Housing Authority Stephen Norman
Seattle Housing Authority Tom Tierney
Lynn Davison (Common Ground)
Bill Hallerman (Archdiocesan Housing Authority)
Paul Lambros (Plymouth Housing Group)
Bill Hobson (Downtown Emergency Services Center)
Sue Sherbrooke (YWCA)
Jim Theofelis (Mockingbird Society)
Mike Heinisch (Kent Youth and Family Services)
Marléna Sessions (Workforce Development Council)
Clark Kimerer (Seattle Police Department)
Tom Carr (City of Seattle, City Attorneys Office)
Kathy Van Olst (Adult and Juvenile Detention)
Dr. Charissa Fotinos (Public Health–Seattle & King County)
Dennis Brown (Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs)
Nancy Sherman (Consumer Advisory Council)
Marilyn Mason Plunkett (Hopelink)
Barbara Langdon (Eastside Domestic Violence Program)
Faith Richie (Valley Cities Counseling & Consultation)
Dini Duclos (Multiservice Center)
Seattle-King County Coalition on Homelessness Humberto Alvarez (Solid Ground)
From an Crosscut article:
December 29, 2009
Unexpected ‘news’ from Nickelsville
Tell a hopeful story! Worthy causes such as ending homelessness need positive messaging.
By Judy Lightfoot
About 60 people attended a public meeting last week at Nickelsville, currently being hosted by New Hope Missionary Baptist Church on 21st Avenue near Yesler. Announcements of the meeting in early December billed it as a “press conference,” but in a crowd swelled by tent city residents the only reporter I saw was from Real Change, an event co-sponsor along with SHARE/WHEEL.
The announcement of the event may have extinguished media interest instead of sparking it. The mass email arrived at Crosscut and elsewhere in the form of a broadside that ridiculed Danny Westneat for a Seattle Times column noting a decline in the demand for shelter beds during the winter’s first cold spell and hazarding the possibility (among others) that the King County Committee to End Homelessness (CEH) might be making progress. Although I share the righteous indignation that must be felt by many individuals living in Seattle tents and by people concerned about those who do, the invective dampened my enthusiasm about the meeting. Still, I’m glad I went.
In the keynoter’s “Declaration of a State of Emergency in 2010,” some of the information was as chilling as the muddy ground under my shoes and stung like the smoke from the burn barrel. For example, according to a mid-November statistic cited from the King County Medical Examiner’s office, the average age of homeless individuals in King County who have died so far this year is only 48. Such a waste of life. But the speeches and handouts that day also divided the people present into opposing camps (“We are unwelcome in your public spaces, and are harassed by your police…”), and they called CEH’s 10-year plan to end homelessness “a fraud.”
It made me recall what Saul Alinsky, who launched modern community organizing along with the Industrial Areas Foundation, said about the place of anger in confronting injustice. The emotion can provide some of the fuel people need to engage in long struggles for change, but the vehicles it powers shouldn’t attack like tanks with guns ablaze. Alinsky taught his organizers to work with cold anger — with coolly strategic energy aimed at achieving well-defined goals.
Strategic, clear goals are what 10-year-plan leaders chose. CEH project director Bill Block emailed the following reply to my query after the meeting: “By the end of the year the number of units opened (new construction, rehab or dedicated vouchers) will be around 3,300, with another 700 in the pipeline. Every one of those has taken people from emergency shelter or the streets or time-limited transitional housing. It is the equivalent to creating that number of new emergency shelter beds, but with much better outcomes.” Block added, “There are many people in desperate need out there, but a staffed shelter bed costs almost as much as a housing voucher, so we have chosen to focus on long-term housing. I just wish we had more resources so we could house even more people. The advocates are correct when they say that everyone should have the opportunity to have safe, affordable housing.”
New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof offers advice different from Alinsky’s to groups working for social justice. Citing current social psychology research Kristof writes that the general public responds to need “not because of stories of desperate circumstances but when we can be cheered up with positive stories of success and transformation.” He adds that the hopeful stories should each “focus on an individual, not a group.”
Just one individual. In an experiment Kristof cites, people were asked to donate to a hungry girl or boy. “In each case, research subjects were quite willing to help and donated generously either to Rokia or to Moussa. But when people were asked to donate to Rokia and Moussa together, with their photographs side by side, donations decreased.” According to a researcher Kristof consulted, “our empathy begins to fade when the number of victims reaches just two. As he puts it: ‘The more who die, the less we care.’” This hard truth, Kristof concludes, means it’s counterproductive to “make people feel guilty if they don’t help, rather than good if they do. … The challenge is to acknowledge both the desperate needs and also the very real progress …, the prospect of improvement in real people’s lives if the help goes forward.”
As I said, I’m glad I went to the press conference. I got to see my old Nickelsville friends Richard and Damien, who told me that Bruce and Donna, a married couple I last talked with months ago at the tent city when it was located in South Seattle, now have an apartment in Shoreline. At the bus stop afterward I met Rob, a young man living in TC3 who is taking classes in dealing craps, virtually guaranteeing himself future casino employment at $26 per hour or more. “I used to drive Blue Star buses,” Rob told me, “but $11.50 an hour wasn’t enough for a Seattle-area apartment.” He became homeless when he and his ex split up, but now besides getting trained in a marketable skill he is taking a course in how to buy a foreclosed house when he saves up enough of his future wages.
Like the Florida ex-convict “George,” the subject of “A Nickelsville saga with a happy ending,” and like my friend Gus, now a paid resident caretaker at a University District church, Rob and many others use tent cities as temporary quarters while they build better lives that include homes for themselves. Would a hopeful story about Rob, or about one formerly homeless individual now housed as a result of the 10-year plan, make Seattle more generously responsive to the homelessness emergency than would a hard-hitting “Declaration of Emergency”? Based on Kristof’s argument and on the opinion of Al Poole, division director for Homeless Intervention at Seattle Human Services, the answer is yes.
The Committee to End Homelessness’s September progress report is available online, and the December update, with data that Block references above, will be added soon. Video taken at the Dec. 21 Nickelsville public meeting is posted at YouTube.