Audio The Takeaway - How Local and Federal Policies are Criminalizing Homelessness (1 Viewer)

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wardorican

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A recent Supreme Court decision upheld a lower federal court's ruling on civil rights for people experiencing homelessness. The Trump administration has assigned a new "homelessness czar." And President Trump is mulling over an executive order that may empower local police to get rid of homeless encampments.

Against the backdrop of all these developments at the federal level, there has been a trend of cities passing ordinances that criminalize homelessness.

The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty tracked 187 cities and their laws, and found that 72 percent of them have at least one law restricting camping in public. The Law Center also documented that a person experiencing homelessness is up to 11 times more likely to be arrested than a housed person.

To help us make sense of all this, The Takeaway is joined by two guests:

Will James, a reporter with KNKX in Seattle, Washington.

And Sara Rankin, the director of the Homeless Rights Advocacy Project at Seattle University School of Law.
So, why are we seeing a rise in homelessness? Basically, a rise in rents, especially in the west coast. Wages are high, economy is booming, but it is too expensive. Also substance abuse, and childhood traumas, but the reality is rising rents and high competition for limited housing stock. They get into sheltered homelessness (couch surfing, staying with friends or family) vs unsheltered homelessness.

They talk about their views of Martin V Boise and the SCOTUS not hearing it, as well as Trump's "homelessness czar", who Sara doesn't seem to have a high opinion of, but didn't seem to go for any attacks.

And some background.
 

Archies Ghost

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I don't think we can apply high rent as a blanket causal factor for homelessness nationwide. It certainly is a factor in urban areas with high property value and no low cost alternatives. What you term "sheltered homelessness" applies as young people looking to start good careers often do so in cities where rent is prohibitively expensive for entry level careerists.

I live in an area with plenty of low cost housing and the homeless here are attracted by the relatively mild weather and city policies that allow camping and panhandling. The majority of the homeless in my immediate area are substance abusers, mentally ill or have chosen homelessness for reasons other than economic. Efforts to house them are generally unsuccessful. They generally choose to camp as close as possible to the corner they work here.

Houston started an advertising campaign encouraging people to stop giving panhandlers money, donating instead to homeless charities organizations. Houston also criminalized feeding the homeless without city permission which was not very popular with the groups who were doing the feeding but it is still in effect.

I don't have any sort of a real answer to homelessness.
 

The moose

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I don't think we can apply high rent as a blanket causal factor for homelessness nationwide. It certainly is a factor in urban areas with high property value and no low cost alternatives. What you term "sheltered homelessness" applies as young people looking to start good careers often do so in cities where rent is prohibitively expensive for entry level careerists.

I live in an area with plenty of low cost housing and the homeless here are attracted by the relatively mild weather and city policies that allow camping and panhandling. The majority of the homeless in my immediate area are substance abusers, mentally ill or have chosen homelessness for reasons other than economic. Efforts to house them are generally unsuccessful. They generally choose to camp as close as possible to the corner they work here.

Houston started an advertising campaign encouraging people to stop giving panhandlers money, donating instead to homeless charities organizations. Houston also criminalized feeding the homeless without city permission which was not very popular with the groups who were doing the feeding but it is still in effect.

I don't have any sort of a real answer to homelessness.

I would start with the mental health care in this country being a huge problem.

The stigma of needing a bit of mental health care needs to go away.

The corporate America making junkies for profit is another huge contribution to the problem that does not get enough blame.

We could also talk about the stagnation of wages in America but nobody wants to hear that one either. When people net 80 buck a day you can't pay rent anywhere in the nation without starving.

We can continue with the lazy excuse if ya want.
 

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I would start with the mental health care in this country being a huge problem.

The stigma of needing a bit of mental health care needs to go away.

The corporate America making junkies for profit is another huge contribution to the problem that does not get enough blame.

We could also talk about the stagnation of wages in America but nobody wants to hear that one either. When people net 80 buck a day you can't pay rent anywhere in the nation without starving.

We can continue with the lazy excuse if ya want.
A little basic math.

$80 x 20 = $1600

1 bedroom apartment in Houston $300-$500/month
USDA monthly grocery cost Thrifty scale $360/month 19-50 year old single adult

$540 -$740 per month left over
 

The moose

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A little basic math.

$80 x 20 = $1600

1 bedroom apartment in Houston $300-$500/month
USDA monthly grocery cost Thrifty scale $360/month 19-50 year old single adult

$540 -$740 per month left over

Ok so in the huge city of Houston has apartment rent in the 300 dollar range? Really? Is it a shipping container on a lot?

That is amazing third world countries cost more.

So let's get back to the problem here so since you bring up Houston that is what like what 600 square miles how is the transportation system? Because even on the low side of your estimates that I don't buy one bit take utilities out and any transportation would have to be bus or bike.

On a side note in New Orleans ten years ago I rented my driveway and part of the garage for 650 a month to a guy with a food truck operation oh and he split the electric bill with me. He spent over 10k a year to park and keep a couple freezers at my place.

So the Houston thing is crazy. Hell a friend of mine gets 1100 bucks for less than 500 SQ feet here and it is not a great place at all and in the hood.

Sorry if I don't buy the cheap rent thing in Houston. Is that trailer park pricing?
 

samiam5211

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Ok so in the huge city of Houston has apartment rent in the 300 dollar range? Really? Is it a shipping container on a lot?

That is amazing third world countries cost more.

So let's get back to the problem here so since you bring up Houston that is what like what 600 square miles how is the transportation system? Because even on the low side of your estimates that I don't buy one bit take utilities out and any transportation would have to be bus or bike.

On a side note in New Orleans ten years ago I rented my driveway and part of the garage for 650 a month to a guy with a food truck operation oh and he split the electric bill with me. He spent over 10k a year to park and keep a couple freezers at my place.

So the Houston thing is crazy. Hell a friend of mine gets 1100 bucks for less than 500 SQ feet here and it is not a great place at all and in the hood.

Sorry if I don't buy the cheap rent thing in Houston. Is that trailer park pricing?


Looks like there may be one or two apartments in Houston at that price. So i guess as long as you find work within walking distance of one of the two places that had apartments available for under 500 dollars, you're golden.

If Houston has more than a dozen or so homeless people we may run out of low cost apartments.
 

The moose

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Did a search found one in the entire city of Houston for apartments one at 345 on an apartment listing web site.

Found two at 500.

2k at 700 a month.

10k at 900 a month

22k at 1200 a month.

Ok so I think if you are a landlord you seriously need to raise the rent! But the 2.5 million people in Houston pay way more than 300 bucks.

If not you need to pay more attention to your city and yes yours is dirt cheap compared to mine.
 

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Did a search found one in the entire city of Houston for apartments one at 345 on an apartment listing web site.

Found two at 500.

2k at 700 a month.

10k at 900 a month

22k at 1200 a month.

Ok so I think if you are a landlord you seriously need to raise the rent! But the 2.5 million people in Houston pay way more than 300 bucks.

If not you need to pay more attention to your city and yes yours is dirt cheap compared to mine.
There is a big difference between City of Houston and the Houston Metropolitan area.

And if you start including multiple bedroom apartments then you need to count the second income of the second adult.

In my area, there are plenty of cultures represented that put multiple generations in the same house and manage to pile up the money in the bank account.

Would it be difficult for a single parent earning only $80 net per day? Certainly, but that should be the exception, not the norm.
 

The moose

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There is a big difference between City of Houston and the Houston Metropolitan area.

And if you start including multiple bedroom apartments then you need to count the second income of the second adult.

In my area, there are plenty of cultures represented that put multiple generations in the same house and manage to pile up the money in the bank account.

Would it be difficult for a single parent earning only $80 net per day? Certainly, but that should be the exception, not the norm.

The city of Houston is 669sq miles. The second largest city by size in the country and you have to go outside of that to find the unicorn of the cheap place to live?

Yep I get the single guy living with two others so he can have some other things in life. I have friends that do that now.

Oh and that 80 a day net is almost twice the minimum wage. Take home on minimum wage is a bit over 50.

So I guess you can come up with something else? You are in one of the cheapest cities in the nation and it does not add up.

The wage stagnation is a problem and only compounds when you add drugs and mental health issues.

So are the people that make 80 a day supposed to pay north of a 100 to get some psychiatrist to help them?

I tell ya what if my place was not paid for I might think Houston it is stupid cheap.
 
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wardorican

wardorican

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A little basic math.

$80 x 20 = $1600

1 bedroom apartment in Houston $300-$500/month
USDA monthly grocery cost Thrifty scale $360/month 19-50 year old single adult

$540 -$740 per month left over
What causes homelessness is often failure to pay rents. So rising rents, has people kicked out of housing. It wasn't my terms or stats, it was the people speaking. I guess I can look up what reports they were using as a basis. Perhaps later.

Once you are homeless, and unable to stay with a friend or family member (different than someone's child living at home for a while and working.. ) I look at it more like my friend who lost his good job, couldn't find a new one at what he was skilled for, then got a DUI, lost his license, totaled his car, couldn't pay rent, eventually evicted. He was living with friends for like a year, taking an Uber to the job he eventually got (long days, not much pay). He wore that out, then had to crash with other friends. Now I think he had to move out again. He's sheltered homeless to me.

But, once you're homeless and unable to do all that, it's hard to rent a new place, even if you find one on the cheap. (probably away from anywhere that they could work or get to easily) The reason is that a landlord will likely get more than one offer for a place that cheap, and they'll be picker about who they allow to rent. Are you going to pick the homeless person without possibly a steady job, or an older person working as a bus boy for 15 years at a local diner, or a young couple both working, or going to school? You'll take the best tenant who you feel will treat the place well and pay on time. This also ignores first month's rent up front, deposit, and a lot of places also want the last month's rent up front. So, that $300 turns into $900, or more.

Even making $8/hr, which is over federal min wage, working a full 8 hour day is only $64 pre tax.. closer to 50ish post tax.

You'd have to make $10/hr without tax to make that $80/day.

And it's somewhat ironic that you posted what the city of Houston did.. make feeding homeless without a permit a crime. So, it's not a direct criminalization on the homeless, it's indirect, by hurting the folks who are trying to help. Yes, I get that there are sanitary issues at hand, but if there really isn't a viable option, then it's just mean. Can the shelters take all of them in?

And I do realize that mental health and substance abuse are major factors..they were talking about the uptick. There are always a group that will remain homeless no matter what. But the growth is due to rising rents, and economic desperation.

I don't think anyone taking home $400/week, unless they live in the inner city, is homeless. I don't think your numbers reflect the reality.
 
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wardorican

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Also, in your small suburb or Houston, how many homeless do you have there?

I'm in the burbs of Ft. Lauderdale, and I don't know what the cheapest rents are, and I'm in the 3 bedroom market, vs 1.. but finding a 3 bedroom apartment under $1600 is difficult, in any moderate school district.. not even good. Just not bad. Even the bad ones are expensive.
 

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At least here in Nashville there are enough resources to get people out of homelessness fairly quickly if they are willing. The problem is identifying some of those people and directing them to the right resources. Often the people who would most benefit from resources are ones who are embarrassed of their situation and think they can get out of it themselves, so they live in their car in between staying at friends or family. Sometimes they wind up in the street or in a shelter in part due to "trespassing" and getting their car towed and the like.

There are a lot of homeless who are there by "choice" - although I am not sure how much true choice there actually is with certain mental problems and drug abuse. I had a good friend who was one of those. Stayed homeless for years despite have many friends and family willing to help him.

I have not listened to what Ward posted,but another aspect - those shelters are, for the most part, nasty and horrible. Even the better ones that try to create nice, humane conditions, have conditions that are worse than jails - which are really nasty.
While I completely understand a city's and public's desire not to have homeless sleeping in public spaces it also seems wrong to force people into these shelters with the threat of criminal charges.
 

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