"They Want Us Dead & Gone" - Homelessness Surges Across The US

While federal, state and local programs aimed at securing permanent housing for certain groups, such as veterans and the chronically homeless, have helped bring down the number of homeless people nationally, but amid Federal-Reserve-"wealth"-fueled gentrification, WSJ reports many cities are seeing the number of homeless soar. In New York, the homeless population increased nearly 42% to 75,323 from 53,187 and though the roots of the clashes vary, a common theme runs through many: The conflict between established homeless populations and new residents drawn by redevelopment.

As once derelict or sleepy downtown districts in U.S. cities evolve into thriving hot spots, The Wall Street Journal reports, officials are grappling with what to do about homeless populations that have long inhabited them.

The tension is “all over the country,” said James Wright, a sociology professor at the University of Central Florida who has researched the issue. “Its major effect is just to displace them to other places in the city.”

 

 

 

Experts say a variety of factors fuel homelessness. Incomes aren’t keeping pace with rising rents in some high-price markets, and demand for affordable housing far outstrips supply, according to a 2015 study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. In 2013, there were only 34 affordable units in the U.S. for every 100 extremely low-income renters, those earning 30% of the median in the area, the study found.

Cities everywhere are facing this tension between established homeless populations and new residents drawn by redevelopment...

The tension in San Francisco has led to allegations that the city is looking to move its homeless out of trendy areas. That is what “municipalities like to do when they have big events, ... try to create this fairyland where no poor people are present,” said Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director of the city’s Coalition on Homelessness.

 

Christine Falvey, a spokeswoman for Mayor Ed Lee, said the city has no plan for a crackdown and has stepped up efforts to end homelessness by getting people into permanent housing.

 

In Miami, where downtown has become an increasingly vibrant area, the homeless population has crept up since 2013. The city’s Downtown Development Authority, which promotes the area, sparred last year with the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust over how best to tackle the issue.

 

Ronald Book, chairman of the homeless trust, said a DDA plan to provide mats for homeless people at a nearby shelter was merely an attempt to sweep them from the street—a claim Alyce Robertson, executive director of the DDA, denied. As the dispute grew heated, the DDA created a detailed “poop map” showing where human feces, presumably from homeless people, was spotted on downtown streets.

 

Another fight is brewing in Atlanta, where a four-story homeless shelter sits amid a building boom in Midtown and downtown that is drawing new residents and businesses. Mayor Kasim Reed has vowed to shut it down, arguing it is a magnet for drugs, disease and crime and does little to help the homeless.

 

Shelter board members say he is trying to push homeless people out of an increasingly chic area along Peachtree Street, the city’s main drag, at the behest of business leaders. “They want us dead and gone,” said Charles Steffen, one of the board members. Backers of the facility say it is serving Atlanta’s most-desperate people and needs to stay open near the city center so the homeless have access to public transportation and other services.

As once derelict or sleepy downtown districts in U.S. cities evolve into thriving hot spots, officials are grappling with what to do about homeless populations that have long inhabited them. The tension is “all over the country,” said James Wright, a sociology professor at the University of Central Florida who has researched the issue. “Its major effect is just to displace them to other places in the city.”

Oddly no mention of this in Obama's State of The Union?