Homeless news updates

from The Guardian

Judgmentalism over giving beggars belief | Letters

Donors have no right to decide how money they give to someone begging in the street should be spent, argues Peter Kaan. Plus thoughts from Peter Haydon and Jeremy Muldowney

It’s just so unbearably judgmental and patronising to decide not to give to a beggar because he or she might belong to the alleged 80% who are trying to fund a drug habit, and because the charities advise us not to do so (On our unruly streets, rich and poor are not so far apart, 17 March). I cannot help feeling that anyone in a position of having to beg, for whatever reason, is in a truly shitty position, so much worse than mine. It’s not up to me to insist on how the begging person is going to use the money I’ve handed over. In the shopping bag I’m carrying back to my warm home there’s likely to be a bottle of wine and maybe some unhealthy snacks and no one’s judging me. Meanwhile, the drug-free 20% (or maybe the drug-using 80% too, depending on where you stand) might still appreciate being accorded some respect and dignity by their fellow citizens, as well as an acknowledgment of their right to handle their money in whichever way they want. Such a position can legitimately co-exist alongside the official charitable and other efforts to tackle these serious problems.
Peter Kaan

• Ian Jack raises the age-old objection to giving money to beggars. To which the correct answer is “so what?” Samuel Johnson put it better though. When asked “what signifies, giving halfpence to beggars? They only lay it out in gin or tobacco”, he replied “and why should they be denied such sweeteners of their existence? It is surely very savage to refuse them every possible avenue to pleasure, reckoned too coarse for our own acceptance. Life is a pill which none of us can bear to swallow without gilding; yet for the poor we delight in stripping it still barer, and are not ashamed to shew even visible displeasure, if ever the bitter taste is taken from their mouths.” I’m with Johnson.
Peter Haydon

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Source: The Guardian: Homelessness

Homelessness minister: I don’t know why rough sleeper numbers are up

Heather Wheeler says she does not believe welfare reform and council cuts are factors

The UK’s new homelessness minister has told the Guardian she does not know why the number of rough sleepers has increased so significantly in recent years. Heather Wheeler said she did not accept the suggestion that welfare reforms and council cuts had contributed to the rise.

On a visit to a housing project in Glasgow, Wheeler said she remained “totally confident” she would not have to act on her pledge to resign should she fail to meet the Conservative manifesto commitment of halving rough sleeping by 2022, and eradicating it by 2027. “We’re going to move heaven and earth to get that done,” she promised.

We have a real problem with people coming over for jobs, sofa surfing … then the job changes and they have a problem

Related: Housing First alone can’t solve the UK’s homelessness crisis | Nicholas Pleace

Related: A night on Bristol’s freezing streets: ‘It’s cold, but I’ve got six sleeping bags’

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Source: The Guardian: Homelessness

50 New Radicals for 2018: how you can make a difference

Every two years, the Observer and charity Nesta give awards to 50 social innovators. Here we launch the third competition – and catch up with past winners

Submit your nomination for New Radicals 2018 here
Read about previous New Radicals winners

When the Observer first joined forces with the innovation foundation Nesta to single out and celebrate 50 organisations “doing radical, useful things, below the radar of the media”, the UK was a very different place from the country it is today.

It was 2012, and the coalition government’s programme of austerity was only just under way. Now, six years on, and local authorities across the country are bursting their budgets. Homelessness rose for the seventh consecutive year in 2017, up 15% on the year before. Britain is preparing to leave the EU, throwing us into the economic unknown. Yet while services are cut, awareness and understanding of issues around mental ill health, gender and sexuality continue to evolve.

Birmingham had all these creative young people but no channel to help them do something positive

Related: 2016 New Radicals: the story behind this year’s winners

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Source: The Guardian: Homelessness

Homeless crisis: how the state pays the rich to exploit the poor

Landlords carving up a home into micro-flats can net £50,000 a year. And it’s taxpayers who foot the bill

Every day 64-year-old former boxer, Ian Ford*, who suffers from crippling arthritis, climbs three flights of stairs to his tiny cell-like flat over a betting shop in south London. “I have to feel my way because loads of times there’s no lighting,” he says. “I’ve fallen a couple of times. If there was a fire I’d never get out.”

Ford’s flat – which at 19 sq metres falls below the government’s minimum space standard of 37 sq metres for one-bedroom flats – is covered in blooms of dark mould. “It’s disgusting. I keep wiping it down but two days later it’s back,” he says.

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Source: The Guardian: Homelessness

Ilford M&S to help build pop-up hostel for local rough sleepers

Marks & Spencer shop had been criticised for using high-pitched alarm to drive homeless away

A Marks & Spencer store that was criticised for driving homeless people away with a high-pitched alarm has helped to launch a new initiative to tackle rough sleeping.

Last July the Guardian revealed that the Ilford, Essex, branch of M&S was using an alarm at intervals throughout the night to deter a group of people who had been regularly bedding down behind the store.

The fact that in one of the world’s richest countries the average age a rough-sleeping man will die is 47 is just not ​OK

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Source: The Guardian: Homelessness

On Britain’s unruly streets, rich and poor are not so far apart | Ian Jack

Once, the UK had beggars only in quantities small enough to make them exotic. Not any more

Recently in the streets of Padua in northern Italy, I gave a euro or two to an insistent African man who, when I said I spoke only English, disappointed me by saying that he spoke English too: “I need money to eat.” A moment later an eccentric-looking Italian woman, who wore a fur coat and wheeled a bicycle, came up beside me to say I’d been foolish: the African man didn’t need food or shelter. “He wants money to buy drugs,” she said, “only drugs.” In a London pub a week or two later, a similar incident earned a similar reprimand. A plump young man slipped through the door and went quickly from table to table before the staff could notice. I gave him a pound. My companion, who had once worked in a charity for homeless people, refused. “They’re just lying about needing food and a bed for the night,” he said. “They’ll buy drugs.”

Before the 1970s, Britain had neither drugs nor beggars – or at least had them only in quantities small enough to make them exotic. They belonged in other countries or in novels. Anyone who asked for money on the street usually offered something in return. The drunk in Glasgow wanted to carry your suitcase; the Irish girl and her little sister gave you a sprig of white heather; “Son, gie me ten shillins and I’ll gan wi’ ye,” said the ageing prostitute smiling up at you in a poor part of town. The closest to pure beggary came from the old soldier – regiment named, war service specified – who wanted sixpence for a cup of tea or the bus fare to see his sister somewhere plausible. All such encounters were rare enough to be memorable, and all involved a wordier solicitation than, “Spare change!”

It was a shock when street beggars began to appear again in the 1980s to sit passively with a paper cup at their feet

Related: Every rough sleeper is the product of political decisions. Stop criminalising them | Dawn Foster

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Source: The Guardian: Homelessness

'America's new Vietnam': why a homelessness crisis seems unsolvable

Despite approving billions in funds to fight the problem, Los Angeles has seen its homeless population continue to grow. Is there anything politicians can do?

In Los Angeles, the more the politicians push to solve the city’s festering homelessness crisis, the worse it seems to get.

The city leadership has taken one bold step after another: restructuring the budget to free more than $100m a year in homelessness funding, sponsoring one voter-approved initiative to raise more than $1bn for housing and backing another regional proposal to raise the sales tax and generate an estimated $3.5bn for support services over the next decade. And yet the tent cities continue to proliferate, in rich neighborhoods and poor, by the beach, the airport, the Hollywood Walk of Fame and within view of City Hall itself.

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Source: The Guardian: Homelessness

'This is the house that we built': homeless people on their makeshift residences

As the US homelessness crisis reaches new heights, we speak to people in LA, Oakland and Seattle about their shelters

I was a certified sales assistant. I used to work for AT&T. And my wife, she was a securities supervisor for a large company since she was 18. We ended up getting put out of our apartment because they said we were nuisances, because we were putting in manager requests to fix it up. After that, we ended up here.

Related: Bussed out: how America moves thousands of homeless people around the country

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Source: The Guardian: Homelessness