Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Crime Reports From The Key Alliance

Crime Reports
The Key Alliance is the website for the Nashville Metro Homelessness Commission. This commission, created by the Mayor of Nashville, is charged with ending chronic homelessness in Nashville Tennessee. They are working towards that goal by creating alternatives to homeless care that are not currently being implemented, but have been proven effective in other cities. The best practice of the Housing First model takes homeless people off the streets and into small apartments that come with an array of supportive services that help the person overcome the problems that caused their homelessness.

The Housing First model has been proven cost effective. Still, few people have stepped up to the plate financially, to get the program up and running. In an attempt to convince the city that Housing First works, the commission has provided the following information.

It is important to note that these arrests are for petty crimes, such as obstructing a sidewalk (because many homeless people keep all their personal possessions with them), or trespassing (sleeping at night in the door way of a business downtown), or disorderly conduct (since it is illegal to arrest someone for panhandling, the police just label it "disorderly conduct" instead), etc.

Tuesday, August 4 Arrest Report:

* 14 homeless individuals were arrested costing the city $1,120 for just one day in jail. Most arrestees will stay an average of 10-15 days.
* If homeless individuals were in housing with supportive services through case management, it would have cost the city $689.22, a savings of $430.78 a day.

Monday, August 3 Arrest Report:

* 45 homeless individuals were arrested costing the city $3,600 for just one day in jail. Most arrestees will stay an average of 10-15 days.
* If homeless individuals were in housing with supportive services through case management, it would have cost the city $2,215.35, a savings of $1,384.65 a day.

Friday, July 31 Arrest Report:

* 32 homeless individuals were arrested costing the city $2,560 for just one day in jail. Most arrestees will stay an average of 10-15 days.
* If homeless individuals were in housing with supportive services through case management, it would have cost the city $1,575.36, a savings of $984.64 a day.

Thursday, July 30 Arrest Report:

* 23 homeless individuals were arrested costing the city $1,840 for just one day in jail. Most arrestees will stay an average of 10-15 days.
* If homeless individuals were in housing with supportive services through case management, it would have cost the city $1,132.29, a savings of $707.71 a day.

Wednesday, July 29 Arrest Report:

* 24 homeless individuals were arrested costing the city $1,920 for just one day in jail. Most arrestees will stay an average of 10-15 days.
* If homeless individuals were in housing with supportive services through case management, it would have cost the city $1,181.52, a savings of $738.48 a day.

Tuesday, July 28 Arrest Report:

* 13 homeless individuals were arrested costing the city $1,040 for just one day in jail. Most arrestees will stay an average of 10-15 days.
* If homeless individuals were in housing with supportive services through case management, it would have cost the city $639.99, a savings of $400.01 a day.

Monday, July 27 Arrest Report:

* 30 homeless individuals were arrested costing the city $2,400 for just one day in jail. Most arrestees will stay an average of 10-15 days.
* If homeless individuals were in housing with supportive services through case management, it would have cost the city $1,476.90, a savings of $923.10 a day.

Friday, July 24 Arrest Report:

* 24 homeless individuals were arrested costing the city $1,920 for just one day in jail. Most arrestees will stay an average of 10-15 days.
* If homeless individuals were in housing with supportive services through case management, it would have cost the city $1,181.52, a savings of $738.48 a day.

Thursday, July 23 Arrest Report:

* 21 homeless individuals were arrested costing the city $1,680 for just one day in jail. Most arrestees will stay an average of 10-15 days.
* If homeless individuals were in housing with supportive services through case management, it would have cost the city $1,033.83, a savings of $646.17 a day.

Wednesday, July 22 Arrest Report:

* 24 homeless individuals were arrested costing the city $1,920 for just one day in jail. Most arrestees will stay an average of 10-15 days.
* If homeless individuals were in housing with supportive services through case management, it would have cost the city $1181.52, a savings of $738.48 a day.

Tuesday, July 21 Arrest Report:

* 10 homeless individuals were arrested costing the city $800 for just one day in jail. Most arrestees will stay an average of 10-15 days.
* If homeless individuals were in housing with supportive services through case management, it would have cost the city $492.30, a savings of $307.70 a day.

Monday, July 20 Arrest Report:

* 44 homeless individuals were arrested costing the city $3,520 for just one day in jail. Most arrestees will stay an average of 10-15 days.
* If homeless individuals were in housing with supportive services through case management, it would have cost the city $2,166.12, a savings of $1,353.88 a day.

Friday, July 10 Arrest Report:

* 33 homeless individuals were arrested costing the city $2,640 for just one day in jail. Most arrestees will stay an average of 10-15 days.
* If homeless individuals were in housing with supportive services through case management, it would have cost the city $1,624.59, a savings of $1,015.41 a day.

Thursday, July 9 Arrest Report:

* 24 homeless individuals were arrested costing the city $1,920 for just one day in jail. Most arrestees will stay an average of 10-15 days.
* If homeless individuals were in housing with supportive services through case management, it would have cost the city $1,181.52, a savings of $738.48 a day.

Wednesday, July 8 Arrest Report:

* 21 homeless individuals were arrested costing the city $1,680 for just one day in jail. Most arrestees will stay an average of 10-15 days.
* If homeless individuals were in housing with supportive services through case management, it would have cost the city $1,033.83, a savings of $646.17 a day.

Tuesday, July 7 Arrest Report:

* 14 homeless individuals were arrested costing the city $1,120 for just one day in jail. Most arrestees will stay an average of 10-15 days.
* If homeless individuals were in housing with supportive services through case management, it would have cost the city $689.22, a savings of $430.78 a day.

Monday, July 6 Arrest Report:

* 89 homeless individuals were arrested costing the city $7,120 for just one day in jail. Most arrestees will stay an average of 10-15 days.
* If homeless individuals were in housing with supportive services through case management, it would have cost the city $4,381.47, a savings of $2,738.53 a day.

Thursday, July 2 Arrest Report:

* 31 homeless individuals were arrested costing the city $2,480 for just one day in jail. Most arrestees will stay an average of 10-15 days.
* If homeless individuals were in housing with supportive services through case management, it would have cost the city $1,526.13, a savings of $953.87 a day.

Wednesday, July 1 Arrest Report:

* 21 homeless individuals were arrested costing the city $1,680 for just one day in jail. Most arrestees will stay an average of 10-15 days.
* If homeless individuals were in housing with supportive services through case management, it would have cost the city $1,033.83, a savings of $646.17 a day.

Sheltering L.A. County's homeless could save taxpayer money, study finds | L.A. NOW | Los Angeles Times

Finding permanent housing for Los Angeles County's homeless population rather than allowing them to continue living on the streets could save taxpayer money, according to a study released today by the United Way of Greater Los Angeles.

The four-year study followed four homeless people while they lived on the streets and later as they found stable housing. Researchers concluded that taxpayers could save $20,000 a year per person in public services. There were an estimated 73,000 homeless in L.A. County last year.

Sheltering L.A. County's homeless could save taxpayer money, study finds| Los Angeles Times

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Monday, October 5, 2009

Project Homeless Connect - Nashville

NOTE: There has been a correction to the time and date of this event.


The Metropolitan Homelessness Commission in Nashville will once again host Project Homeless Connect. This event will be held from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. December 9, at The Municipal Auditorium.

Project Homeless Connect brings together a comprehensive array of services for the homeless at one convenient location. Homeless people, and those at risk of becoming homeless, will be able to receive much-needed help with things like: housing and job applications; official State I. D.s required for employment; medical, dental, eye, and foot care; haircuts; clothing; and more.

According to the March 2009 issue of the Homeless Commission's newsletter, during its previous Project Homeless Connect 1,078 participants received over 5,500 services. Twenty-nine chronically homeless people began the process of obtaining housing, with a total of 68 housing units being pledged for homeless people by area service providers. A total of 110 people began the screening process for housing, and 300 people applied for federally subsidized Section 8 housing.

Additionally, more than 600 people received medical treatment, 160 received dental screenings, 217 received eye exams, and 350 people received haircuts. Also provided were AIDS/HIV screenings, breast exams, hearing tests, and information on health insurance. Legal services were also available, and Judge Angelita Blackshear Dalton kept the General Sessions Court open that day to hear any cases referred through the event.

Project Homeless Connect began in San Francisco five years ago, in response to the growing homeless population there. Since then, The United States Interagency Council on Homelessness has determined Project Homeless Connect to be a “Best Practice” in helping to end homelessness. With the help of the USICH over 220 communities have held Project Homeless Connect events. The USICH web page provides information on how to organize a Project Homeless Connect event, and gives information about upcoming events in other communities.

I did participate in Nashville's Project Homeless Connect last year, although I had not planned on attending. I had met up with other homeless people on the street when a church van pulled up. The driver got out and asked us if we would like a ride to the event. A team of several people were canvassing the greater Nashville area, offering free rides to anyone who wanted to go. At his prompting I decided to check it out. The atmosphere was festive. Live music was playing. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. Although I had arrived late in the day, the volunteers working the event greeted me warmly, escorted me though the initial process, and helped me find the people I needed to see. Of all that happened that day, the most memorable thing for me was in receiving a new pair of shoes. My old pair had become rather tattered from the many miles I had put on Nashville's city streets. I still have those shoes. And now that I have a home, I should be able to keep them for quite a while still.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Approached By A Panhandler


He is dirty, smelly, and intoxicated. And though no one openly acknowledges his presence, he makes it known with his incessant requests for money. It is a scenario that plays out on an endless loop in cities all across America. Yet most people have no idea how to respond.

As a self-proclaimed advocate, I field a lot of questions about homelessness. More than any other subject, people want to know how to deal with panhandlers and if they should give to them. My short answer is no, do not give them anything. While this may not sit well with some homeless people, nor with some homeless advocates, I have my reasons.

Within the total homeless population, panhandlers are a small minority. And of all panhandlers, not all of them are homeless. Even the homeless who do not panhandle find panhandlers to be a nuisance. Panhandlers are just as likely to panhandle other homeless people. And the non-panhandling homeless know that they are often judged negatively by the actions of panhandlers. Of the panhandlers with homes, most are usually living in less than desirable conditions. But that does not mean they panhandle as a means of improving their situation.

Nearly every act of panhandling is inspired by an overwhelming desire for drugs or alcohol. In all likelihood the money, food, and whatever else is given to panhandlers, will only go towards aiding and abetting the illness of addiction. Often called “a slow suicide,” addictions can kill. And I, for one, do not want to contribute to anyone's untimely demise. I do not think any sane person would.

Panhandlers have more contact with the general population than any other segment of the homeless population. And, it is the panhandler you will find most often publicly intoxicated, urinating and defecating on sidewalks, yelling and fighting in parks, and committing other acts of anti-social behavior. Most of the stereotyping and other negative impressions of homeless people come by way of panhandlers.

Additionally, the act of panhandling is degrading and humiliating. Putting one's self through such a demeaning exercise, day after day, must develop within panhandlers a great deal of self loathing, which could easily turn into a total disregard for all people. It seems a natural digression that panhandlers become the most anti-social homeless people. Yet, when sober, if only because their panhandling efforts fail, they behave not unlike other civilized people.

In desperate times I have considered panhandling. Yet, I was never able to bring myself to do it. My needs were never significant enough to debase myself in that manner. But I do have empathy for those who have. And I do all I can to encourage panhandlers to get the help they need. That begins with saying no.

(Photo by: Jeff Kubina)

Winterize Your Homeless Now


The autumnal equinox has passed. Days are now shorter, nights are colder, and fall leaves are turning their wonderful seasonal colors. Soon the holidays will be upon us. With our heads full of plans for these coming celebrations, it would be easy for us to forget the more mundane tasks of preparing for winter. Though we would like to put them off, now really is the best time to winterize our homeless.

Though the harshest weather is still months away, the change of seasons, and drop in temperatures, can have a terrible impact on the homeless, triggering allergies, colds, and worse. According to the Canadian Safety Council, (I imagine they know a thing or two about cold weather), hypothermia can occur in temperatures as warm as 50°F. A look at the national weather map shows that much of our country is already experiencing these cool temperatures, and more. For people living outside, especially for those who have only this past summer's fashions to protect them, the change in seasons can be dangerous. Yes, it may be thematically agreeable to wait until closer to Christmas to be generous towards the less fortunate, but the need for items to help the homeless survive the weather is now.

The following items can be easily obtained and distributed to the homeless. Links are provided only for your convenience, nothing is endorsed here. It is recommended that you search for items appropriate for the climate in your area. These items can go a long way towards helping the homeless survive, if just for one more season. Sometimes, that's all it takes for a life to change. This is by no means a complete list, but it is a start.
  • Jackets, and coats with hoods. (As with many items, you need only look in your closets for unused, but usable, items).
  • Blankets: the silvery emergency blankets may work well, but are rarely used by homeless people because of its highly reflective material.
  • Fast food gift certificates: for the opportunity to go inside the restaurant and get warm, as well as to eat.
Some people may wonder why they should bother helping homeless people who purposely live outside during the winter, and who purposely reject the idea of leaving homelessness. Most homeless people, even the chronically homeless, eventually leave homelessness for a better life, returning to a more productive role in society. But it sometimes takes years before that happens. It would be sad, if not tragic, if they died from the elements before this transformation took place. I know I would not have survived my years of homelessness without the considerable help from others.

(Photo by: tinali778)