I want to emphasis-----as the rest of US middle-class is axed by Wall Street this coming economic crash-----huge numbers of Americans will fall into what is a maze of public services deliberately made too hard to access. When citizens in Baltimore choose to die in the streets than navigate the Baltimore shelter system----THERE IS A REASON.
Get rid of class and race issues-----this effects all. Please Google this article for great graphs on socioeconomic standards today.
WAKE UP-------THIS IS COMING TO ALL FAMILIES!
ALLOWING THEM TO DISMANTLE FDR SAFETY NETS JUST AS THE NEXT GREAT DEPRESSION (RECESSION) IS COMING------
In cities like Baltimore------social service funding was already widely misappropriated-----Maryland is one of the lowest funders of social services----so much of the third world conditions exist because of this.
Report | Inequality and Poverty
U.S. poverty rates higher, safety net weaker than in peer countries
By Elise Gould and Hilary Wething | July 24, 2012
Issue Brief #339Poverty rates in the United States increased over the 2000s, a trend exacerbated by the Great Recession and its aftermath. By 2010, just over 46 million people fell below the U.S. Census Bureau’s official poverty line (according to data from the Current Population Survey). This preview of The State of Working America, 12th Edition puts the U.S. experience with poverty in an international context, comparing the lower end of the wage and income distribution in the United States with that of “peer” countries, largely countries within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) with roughly similar GDP per hour worked as the United States.
Research covered in this publication will be included in the 12th edition of EPI’s The State of Working America, which will be released on Tuesday, September 11. Click here to read more previews from the forthcoming book.The first part of this preview provides a general comparison of poverty and the earnings distribution in the United States and peer countries. Next, it examines the extent to which resources go to the bottom, focusing specifically on the tax and transfer system that redistributes market income and provides a safety net to keep people out of poverty, or to help those who fall into poverty due to unexpected job losses or other reversals get back on their feet.
Poverty and the earnings distribution
One particular point of interest in international comparisons, shown in Figure A, is the ratio of earnings (wages) at the 10th percentile of the earnings distribution to earnings of the median worker. This measures how workers at the bottom fare in relation to the typical worker, with a lower number implying more inequality. As the figure shows, earnings at the 10th percentile in the United States are less than half (47.4 percent) of those of the typical worker. This is the lowest share in the figure and is far below the (unweighted) peer average of 62.0 percent.
Earnings at the 10th percentile as a share of median worker earnings in selected OECD countries, late 2000sNote: Earnings is generally defined as gross earnings (wages prior to tax deductions or adjustments) for full-time, full-year workers.
Source: Authors' analysis of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Distribution of Gross Earnings metadata (data group labelled "late 2000s")
Figure A shows that earners at the 10th percentile in the United States are further from the U.S. median than 10th-percentile earners in peer countries are from their own countries’ respective medians. However, median earnings vary across countries. Thus, the data in Figure A do not directly tell us how well-off workers at the 10th percentile in other countries are compared with U.S. workers at the 10th percentile.
Figure B directly compares the level of earnings (a measure of living standards) of low-earning workers in the United States with the living standards of low-earning workers in peer countries. The figure is scaled such that earnings at the 10th percentile in the United States equal 100 percent, making it easy to identify countries with higher relative earnings by their longer bars.
Despite the relatively high earnings at the top of the U.S. income scale (as illustrated in the forthcoming The State of Working America, 12th Edition), inequality in the United States is so severe that low-earning U.S. workers are actually worse off than low-earning workers in all but seven peer countries. As shown in the figure, the United States ranks 12th out of the 19 peer countries shown.
Turning to an international comparison of poverty rates, we examine the share of the population living below half the median household income in the United States and select OECD countries, a measure known as the relative poverty rate.
Earnings at the 10th percentile in selected OECD countries relative to the United States, late 2000sNote: Earnings is generally defined as gross earnings (wages prior to tax deductions or adjustments) for full-time, full-year workers.
Source: Authors' analysis of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Distribution of Gross Earnings metadata (data group labelled "late 2000s")
Relative poverty rate in the United States and selected OECD countries, late 2000sNote: The relative poverty rate is defined here as the share of individuals living in households with income below half of household-size-adjusted median income. Poverty rates are based on income after taxes and transfers.
Source: Authors' analysis of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Stat Extracts (data group labelled "late 2000s")
According to Figure C, in the late 2000s, 17.3 percent of the U.S. population lived in poverty—the highest relative poverty rate among OECD peers. The U.S. relative poverty rate was nearly three times higher than that of Denmark, which had the lowest rate (6.1 percent), and about 1.8 times higher than the (unweighted) peer country average of 9.6 percent.
While the overall relative poverty rate in the United States is higher than that of peer countries, the extent of child poverty is even more severe, as shown in Figure D. In 2009, the United States had the highest rate of child poverty among peer countries, at 23.1 percent—meaning that more than one in five children in the United States lived in poverty (as measured by the share of children living in households with household income below half of median household income). This level is almost five times as high as that of Iceland, which had the lowest level, at 4.7 percent, and over two times higher than the (unweighted) peer-country average of 9.8 percent.
Child poverty rate in selected developed countries, 2009Note: The child poverty rate is the share of children living in households with income below half of household-size-adjusted median income.
Source: Adamson (2012, Figure 1b)
Another useful way to look at the extent of child poverty in the United States relative to other countries is to examine the child poverty gap: the distance between the poverty line (defined here as half of median household income) and the median household income of children below the poverty line, expressed as a percentage of the poverty line. A smaller value means that the median household income of children below the poverty line is relatively close to the poverty line, while a larger number means their median income is further below the poverty line, i.e., that they are relatively more poor. Figure E shows that the child poverty gap in the United States is 37.5 percent, the highest among peer countries. Therefore, not only is the incidence of child poverty greater in the United States (Figure D), but U.S. children living in poverty also face higher relative deprivation than impoverished children in other developed countries.
Child poverty gap in selected developed countries, 2009Note: The child poverty gap is the gap between the poverty line and the median income of children below the poverty line, taken as a share of the poverty line. The poverty line is defined as half of household-size-adjusted median income.
Source: Adamson (2012, Figure 7)
To show how taxes and transfer income affect poverty rates, we can compare poverty rates based on income calculations that include taxes and government transfers (Figure C) with rates based on income calculations that exclude them (“pretax and transfer” poverty rates). While differences in the latter can be attributed to differences in market outcomes (such as the domestic economy but also a country’s minimum wage, level of unionization, and other labor market institutions), the former reflects both market outcomes and variations in the extent of tax and transfer programs for low-income households. Differences between the two poverty rates are solely due to the government safety net.
Figure F plots the differences between pre and post tax and transfer poverty rates in the United States and peer countries. (As with Figure C, the measure used here is the relative poverty rate, the share of the population below half of median household income.) For example, the pretax and transfer poverty rate in the United States in the late 2000s was 27.0 percent, while the post-tax and transfer rate was 17.3 percent. The difference, 9.7 percentage points, is how much the U.S. tax and transfer system reduced the poverty rate. Among the peer countries in Figure F, the United States’ tax and transfer system does the least to reduce the poverty rate. In contrast, tax and transfer programs reduced the poverty rate in France by 25.4 percentage points (from 32.6 percent to 7.2 percent post tax and transfer). France’s redistributive programs lowered poverty by about 2.5 times as much as those of the United States. The (unweighted) average effect of peer countries’ tax and transfer programs is a poverty-rate reduction of 17.4 percentage points—an effect nearly two times greater than that produced by such programs in the United States.
Extent to which taxes and transfer programs reduce the relative poverty rate, selected OECD countries, late 2000sNote: This figure plots the differences between each country's pre– and post–tax-and-transfer relative poverty rate, where relative poverty is the share of individuals with income below half of household-size-adjusted median income.
Source: Authors' analysis of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Stat Extracts (data group labelled "late 2000s")
Social expenditure and relative poverty rates in selected OECD countries, late 2000s* The relative poverty rate is the share of individuals with income below half of household-size-adjusted median income. Poverty rates are based on income after taxes and transfers.
Note: Social expenditure is government expenditure on social programs, such as Social Security and Medicare in the United States. The equation for the trend line is y = -0.2559x + 0.1528 and the R¬¨‚â§ = 0.1266.
Source: Authors' analysis of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Stat Extracts (data group labelled "late 2000s")
While Figure F shows the effect of taxes and transfers on poverty rates, it does not show levels of social spending (for example, government expenditures on Medicare and Social Security in the United States). Figure G shows total social expenditure as a share of GDP for the United States and select OECD countries plotted against their post-tax and transfer poverty rates (from Figure C), providing a clear picture of the relationship between social spending and poverty. Of these countries, the United States stands out as the country with the highest poverty rate and one of the lowest levels of social expenditure—16.2 percent of GDP, well below the vast majority of peer countries, which average 21.3 percent (unweighted). The figure suggests that relatively low social expenditures are at least partially implicated in the high U.S. poverty rate.
Together, Figures F and G demonstrate that peer countries are much more likely than the United States to step in where markets and labor policy fail in order to lift their most disadvantaged citizens out of poverty.
After kabuki theater----as everyone knows simply recovering low hanging corporate fraud could pay off all national debt and end the national deficit problems-----Clinton neo-liberals pretend they have to vote with austerity these several years----so this recent hit to social safety nets is simply compounding damage already done. A balanced budget can be had at all levels of government by simply ending corporate fraud and government corruption.
Remember, Obama and Clinton neo-liberals basically ended Federal education and health social programs-----and Obama gutted housing by making HUD about corporate downtown development.
So, in Maryland O'Malley spent several years creating a useless system of non-profits and Baltimore has always outsourced public services to religious programs----AND NONE OF THEM ARE CONNECTED----
A ROCKET SCIENTIST COULD NOT GET AN ELDERLY DISABLED MAN IN A WHEEL CHAIR HAVING SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS THAT WOULD COVER----OFF THE STREET AND INTO HOUSING THAT KEEPS PEOPLE IN THEIR NEIGHBORHOODS.
Senate passes Republican budget with deep safety net cuts
27 Mar 2015 at 07:22 ET Reuters
The Senate passed a Republican-authored budget plan early on Friday that seeks $5.1 trillion in domestic spending cuts over 10 years while boosting military funding.
The 52-46 vote on the non-binding budget resolution put Congress on a path to complete its first full budget in six years. It came at the end of a marathon 18-hour session that saw approval of dozens of amendments ranging from Iran sanctions to carbon emissions and immigration policies.
Two Republican senators who are running or considering running for president, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, voted against their party’s budget plan, which is similar to one passed by House Republicans on Wednesday.
In addition to aiming to eliminate deficits within 10 years, both documents seek to ease the path for a repeal or replacement of President Barack Obama’s signature health care reform law.
But differences between the two documents still need to be worked out and a combined budget passed next month by both chambers. Doing so would allow Republicans to invoke parliamentary rules to repeal “Obamacare” with a simple majority in the Senate rather than a tough-to-achieve 60 vote threshold.
Under the convoluted U.S. spending process, the budgets do not become law, but influence government agency funding bills later in the year. They also showcase the fiscal vision for Republicans, who now control both Houses of Congress for the first time since 2006 and are eager to demonstrate their ability to govern.
“This balanced budget is an important first step to help Washington live within its means, just like hardworking families have to do every day,” said Republican Senate Budget Chairman Mike Enzi.
He added that once a final budget is passed lawmakers would begin to work to find alternate savings that would allow them to ease statutory budget caps on military and domestic programs.
The Senate budget seeks to eliminate U.S. deficits by 2025 without raising taxes through deep cuts to social safety net programs, investments in transportation and education and other domestic programs.
At the same time, it proposes to boost defense spending by adding about $38 billion to an off-budget war funding account, and offers core Pentagon budget increases in subsequent years.
More than 50 non-binding amendments were considered on Thursday and Friday in an open “vote-a-rama” process that allowed senators to promote pet causes or try to force opposition members into votes that may be used in campaign ads.
Republicans passed a symbolic roll-back of the Obama administration’s carbon emissions rules for power plants, while a Democratic proposal to recognize climate change risks for the military won approval.
Another Democratic amendment to let all Americans earn paid sick leave passed with a surprisingly strong 61 votes, with support from 14 Republicans. The Senate also voted unanimously to make it easier to reimpose sanctions if Iran violates any nuclear deal.
Wall Street Baltimore Development and Johns Hopkins has created a network of housing and shelter non-profits all having a goal of moving people to the far city limits where they are also moving health access for the poor----and it is no coincidence that the national charter chain KIPP is out there as well----we all know International Economic Zone development has the poor out at the periphery with global FOXCONN campuses with housing and schools attached. This is why if I take an elderly man to one of the homeless non-profits----they first make the stay at a shelter last for a very long time----and then when housing opens the poor are sent so far away---they do not stay.
I am running into situations where homeless are being led into yet more housing predation since people creating non-profits to help the poor are OFTEN NOT DOING SO BECAUSE THEY NEED MONEY THEMSELVES. So, we hear of the homeless being connected with one room living spaces with the Baltimore City partner taking ALL OF A PERSON'S SOCIAL SECURITY CHECK for the simplest of housing. Remember, Baltimore has a long history of rent fraud by predatory landlords and now this fills our Baltimore City homeless/housing system because it is all outsourced with no oversight and accountability. This non-profit donates for housing and says its money must send homeless out to Reisterstown or further out. Another donates money for housing and says the homeless must go out to White Marsh ------just anywhere but in their own communities.
Then there is the standard in almost all cases these homeless must have ID and Birth Certificate to get housing. IT IS A CHRONIC PROBLEM THAT HOMELESS LOSE ALL THESE DOCUMENTS. The current system has it taking as long as 6 months for Birth Certificates often needed for a Maryland ID. This means a homeless person in Baltimore is often automatically tied to shelter living for 6 months to a year. There are small shelters doing a good job in Baltimore----it is simply the largest are not and the volume of homelessness is too great for what Baltimore City provides.
Below you see every time a watchdog agency from out of the state comes to audit---it always finds no tracking and lots of missing money and yet----these Federal agencies NEVER FOLLOW THE FRAUD. THEY SIMPLY SAY SOMETHING'S UP. This is exactly what is being done with the Wall Street frauds.
We know all these funds are being used in pay-to-play outsourcing of what NEEDS TO BE A PUBLIC AGENCY TASKED WITH MEETING THE NEEDS OF CITIZENS IN ONE EASY PROCESS.
It is fine if other non-profits want to operate their own services----but do not allow the entire Baltimore homeless/housing agency be outsourced with no oversight---PEOPLE ARE DYING.
HUD report decries city’s management of homeless funds, but says no fraud found
ANALYSIS: Mostly well-intended homeless providers were kept in the dark until HUD forced the issue with an audit
Mark Reutter March 21, 2014 at 8:34 am Story Link 8
Makeshift tents and sleeping bags under the Jones Falls Expressway in downtown Baltimore.
Photo by: Mark Reutter
Were it not for the United Way of Central Maryland, Baltimore taxpayers could well be on the hook for much more than the $3.7 million that the city agreed to return to the federal government this week.
The full 12-page report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) depicts the Mayor’s Office of Human Services as so inept that it could not properly account for any of the $9.5 million in homeless funds awarded under President Obama’s stimulus act.
The lack of documentation led HUD’s Inspector General to conclude in 2012 that all $9.5 million in grant funds were “unsupported” and needed to be reimbursed by the city. However, a year-long review by HUD’s Baltimore field office found enough documentation in the files of United Way, which served the program’s fiscal agent, to help reduce the level of unsupported spending to $3,756,025.35.
On Wednesday, the Board of Estimates approved this reimbursement, with City Comptroller Joan Pratt saying homeless providers should be asked to repay the taxpayers for not properly keeping records. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake took up the same theme, saying that while the providers had done excellent work, “when they can’t provide the documentation that we need to support those grants, we all are made vulnerable to that.”
HUD’s complete and so far unreleased report – a copy of which The Brew has obtained – provides a more nuanced account of what went wrong with the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing grant.
It also squarely places blame on the mayor’s homeless office for not following basic rules of grant administration, citing failures in five areas that allowed non-profits to spend funds on activities, such as a legal hotline and leafleting, that were not permitted under the grant.
United Way played a limited role in the debacle because the mayor’s office assumed responsibility for monitoring the expenditures of the sub-grantees. The audit, however, found that United Way incorrectly billed the city for $16,391 in indirect costs.
The lack of public information about the grant investigation has led to widely divergent views.
They range from City Hall’s assertion that the program was essentially tripped up by picayune federal rules to conspiracy theories that United Way, the city and unnamed non-profits had pocketed millions of dollars intended for the homeless.
The facts occupy a middle ground of mostly well-intended homeless providers kept in the dark about the rules and regulations of the grant money until HUD forced the issue with an audit of the program.
The full report says it found “no cases of fraud or abuse” in grant spending, but at the same time decries the lack of accounting that made it difficult, and at times impossible, to determine how sub-grantee money was spent.
What Happened at Prisoner’s Aid?
What’s more, the HUD report skirts around the matter of how the Prisoner’s Aid Association spent $270,550 in grant money.
The HUD Inspector General’s report, issued in November 2012, said that the city stopped paying Prisoner’s Aid in June 2011 following claims of fraud. The group’s director reported that “the former executive director transferred participants from the Shelter Plus Care program” into the homeless program “and billed both HUD programs for the same participants.”
Homeless Services also told The Brew in 2011 that the Baltimore Inspector General’s Office was looking into allegations of fraud by Prisoner’s Aid. The IG’s investigations are secret – and no findings by the IG were ever publicly disclosed.
A year later, Prisoner’s Aid was out of business amid a “death spiral” of heated accusations, as City Paper reported.
In the meantime, HUD auditors found that Homeless Services had drawn down $392,981 in federal funds, reportedly for Prisoner’s Aid. This left more than $100,000 in unaccounted-for funds.
Eventually, United Way was able to show that the missing funds had been reallocated to other service providers. In its final report, HUD demands that the city repay the original $270,500 given to Prisoner’s Aid.
In several other cases, the city simply allowed non-profits to use the homeless grants for their existing programs rather than spend the funds directly on homeless or near-homeless clients.
For example, AIRS (AIDS Interfaith Residential Services) used much of its $600,000 in federal funds to develop outreach efforts for youths at risk of homelessness. This included paying employees to distribute thousands of cards to residents in poor neighborhoods in Baltimore.
Ignore the Rules
Only 10% of the AIRS award was spent on providing direct financial assistance to needy clients. Because AIRS was a novice recipient of HUD funds, the city should have monitored its program and made sure the organization understood and complied with the grant’s rules. But it didn’t, the report said.
Several homeless providers (who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the investigation) said Homeless Services staffers told them essentially to ignore the restrictions on the grant funds and use the money to continue their existing programs to serve the chronically homeless.
Adding to the confusion was the existence, at least on paper, of the city’s 10-year-plan to end homelessness called The Journey Home.
The Journey Home was “more of an idea than a program” during the period of the HUD homeless grant, said one provider.
It was envisioned as a quasi-public city agency that would coordinate federal, state and private homeless grants. But without staff or an executive director at the time, the program existed mostly to raise funds through an annual charitable event – and did not exercise any oversight on how the $9.5 million HUD grant was being spent.
Baltimore could of course end homelessness by simply sending money to surrounding communities for development----they don't because the Master Plan does not allow this. So, as homelessness grows-----there are several kinds of processes all working independently of each other with the City not knowing what the heck is going on.
You have major Foundations using non-profit housing as a development tool-----requiring people vacate the city center in order to have housing.
You have the Mayor and City Council using housing in pay-to-play-----giving funds under the guise of homelessness that never make it to actually helping the homeless----
You have Federal funds coming from different agencies ---lots of it with Baltimore's level of poverty------that each time an audit comes-----no one can track the money---IT IS SIMPLY LOST.
This is why citizens in Baltimore have to watch people on the streets of a developed nation dying ----and this was happening for decades of Congress actually sending these funds. Now that Congress is gutting housing funding----this all will get worse.
Meanwhile-----the answer that could have happened decades ago makes all this so immoral--------so unethical ------so illegal-----and it happens in plain view with no one able to stop it because the crony political machines stay in office and Johns Hopkins and Baltimore Development is getting what it wants-----leaving people in constant states of chaos in their lives.
Could Baltimore's 16,000 Vacant Houses Shelter the City's Homeless?
For thousands of people without a stable place to live, perfectly intact but abandoned buildings could become home.
Tony Simmons wants to put homeless residents in Baltimore's vacant houses. Alana Semuel
- Alana Semuels
- Oct 20, 2014
There was gas and electricity but no water, and he kept the lights off so no one would see he was staying there. And no one seemed to mind. So he came back the next night and then the next, using the home to keep warm until spring came, although he’d turn off the gas at night since he was worried about leaks.
“They need to fix up these homes that we have here,” he said, sitting under a highway bridge in downtown Baltimore, a navy-blue hooded sweatshirt snugly covering his head. He now sleeps in a tent under the bridge, alongside dozens of other homeless people, some in wheelchairs, others who have come dragging mattresses or couches upon which to lay their heads. Loitering in a vacant home in Baltimore can get you arrested, and though he misses the warmth, Jeremiah didn't want to take the chance, so he moved out of his adopted home when the weather got warmer.
But one group in Baltimore is pushing to help others do officially what Jeremiah did on the fly: take vacant homes and turn them into affordable permanent housing for the homeless. Housing Our Neighbors, part of the Housing Is A Human Right Roundtable, is made up of labor activists, homeowners, and homeless people. The group is currently surveying Baltimore's McElderry Park neighborhood in order to present the city with a report on the number of vacant homes there. Representatives say the data will show that there are far more vacant homes in Baltimore than the city has previously acknowledged, and they argue that those homes should be turned into affordable housing.
“Clearly there’s a moral crisis when you see so many people in need of homes and there’s such a glut of vacant ones,” said Rachel Kutler, a leadership organizer with United Workers, which works with the Roundtable.
This row of vacants in East Baltimore is slated for demolition. (Alana Semuels)I went with Tony Simmons, who is homeless, on a tour through a neighborhood the group recently surveyed. Simmons, 53, is wiry and energetic, and talks constantly about vacant homes, the project, and his own history. He served in Operation Desert Storm, after which he spent some time as a drug runner, driving cars filled with drugs between cities on the Eastern Seaboard, partially so he could fund the heroin habit that was taking over his life. Now he’s kicked his habit and thrown himself into activism for the homeless, although he doesn’t yet have his own home.
We start at the church where the group meets before it begins its surveys, and walk down an alley where vacant homes have been turned into a community garden. Crossing a busy street, Simmons points out a deflated helium balloon tied around a telephone pole alongside a photo of a smiling teenager marking a spot where the teen had been shot and killed.
Some of the homes we pass seem almost new; others are sagging, their paint peeling. Simmons has an eye for which ones are too far gone to save and which are uninhabited, even if they don't have plywood on their windows and doors.
“This house is perfect—the windows are intact, the doors are intact, the foundation is strong and there’s no leaking in the basement,” Simmons says in front of one home that has gray and tan bricks on its facade and a bright plywood board on the door. “Yet it’s all boarded-up.”
There are more than 16,000 vacant homes in Baltimore, according to the city. About 30,000 people in the city will experience homelessness over the course of a year, 3,000 on any given night. That’s partially because Maryland, one of the richest states in the union, has some of the least affordable housing in the country. A minimum-wage worker in Maryland would have to work 138 hours a week to afford a two-bedroom unit at fair-market rent, according to the National Low-Income Housing Coalition.
As central parts of Baltimore get trendier, housing there is expected to get more expensive. Earlier this year, Baltimore put forth a plan that would sell 40 percent of the city's affordable-housing stock to private developers so they could rehab it, a move that advocates worry could exacerbate the housing shortage extremely low-income people face. In a report last spring, the Urban Institute estimated that Baltimore had 29 affordable units for every 100 extremely low-income households.
Even in the gutted streets of McElderry Park, where drug dealers still sell on some corners, Simmons and others have noticed green signs posted on the buildings lately. “For Sale: Finished, The Homes at Griffon Station,” they say, even though they are posted on plywood-covered doors and burnt-out houses. Simmons says he suspects the signs are related to nearby John Hopkins University, which is constantly expanding its footprint in the city.
Some homes in Baltimore are too far gone to save, Simmons says. (Alana Semuels) Baltimore closed the waiting list for Section 8 housing vouchers 11 years ago, though it's purging the list and reopening it this year. Adam Schneider, of the Baltimore group Health Care for the Homeless, estimates that 25,000 people are in homes through the Section 8 program, and 25,000 more need the vouchers. It’s not just Baltimore: There are 7 million fewer affordable housing units than are needed in the country, Nan Roman, the president of the National Alliance to End Homelessness, told me.
“Most people are homeless largely for economic reasons,” she said. “If there’s not enough affordable housing, people who have additional barriers are not going to be competitive in the market and they’re going to lose out.”
“Why can't somebody live here? The house is perfectly intact."That’s why the roundtable wants to turn the vacants of Baltimore into affordable housing. Its goal is to create a community land trust—a nonprofit that will hold the title to the land and ensure it is permanently affordable. Structures on the land can be bought and sold, but the trust owns the land forever. A community land trust essentially takes the “market” part out of the housing market, allowing people to buy homes but restricting their resale value in order to make them affordable for the next buyer.
It's an approach that has worked to protect low-income residents from gentrification in places like Austin, Texas; Albany, Georgia; and Albuquerque, New Mexico.
“We know that part of what’s created vast inequalities in society has to do with the for-profit housing system,” Kutler told me. “If we just create more market-rate housing out of the vacants, it just sort of defeats the purpose.”
People who currently live in the neighborhood don't seem concerned about the idea that they could soon have homeless people as neighbors; that could be because people are often squatting in the houses anyway. Shemeika James and her brother Darryl Owens just moved to a rowhouse in the neighborhood. When I asked whether they’d mind if a group fixed up the houses and put homeless people in them, they didn’t even pause. They’d welcome it, they said.
“There’s a lot of people without homes, and it’s about to get cold. There’s hella homeless people living downtown,” James said. “It’s not right.”
Another neighbor, Deborah Barry, said she had been independently talking with her landlord about turning some of his vacant properties into a shelter. It's the only way people will be able to move into them, she said.
“They just want too much for homes in this neighborhood,” she said. “It’s not affordable.”
Although these Baltimore homes are abandoned, signs have recently appeared listing them as for sale, which makes residents fear that gentrification is coming. (Alana Semuels)There are obvious problems with taking over privately owned properties and giving them to the needy. But the homes aren’t being used, and they’re dragging down the values of the occupied homes nearby, Simmons argues. And many are city-owned: Out of the 300 homes the Roundtable has surveyed, about 80 are owned by the city, property records show.
Cities like Baltimore and Philadelphia have targeted some owners of privately owned vacants for code violations, forcing them to sell the houses at auction or donate them to the city. But those then often become unaffordable for low-income people: A program called Vacants to Value in Baltimore gives buyers $10,000 in assistance if they buy a formerly vacant home, but some of the homes cost much more than that. And buyers have to prove they have the resources to rehab a home in a year.
A few cities have had success with turning vacants into affordable housing. New York City spent $20 million to turn some stalled condo developments into housing for low- and middle-income residents. The Women’s Community Revitalization Project in Philadelphia has used land trusts to create affordable housing for low-income women. And a few cities have taken advantage of a law that allows vacant federal buildings to be turned into housing for the homeless.
Still, Kutler said, developers aren't exactly excited about the idea of giving up housing stock for the people sleeping on the streets of Baltimore. Because the housing market in the city is weak, developers are more focused on gentrifying neighborhoods and preventing more abandonment from happening. But community land trusts don't have to stand in the way of gentrification, Kutler told me.
"Community land trusts and our permanently-affordable-housing efforts are actually a revitalization tool," she said, pointing to cities like Minneapolis where neighborhoods have been gentrified in part because of land trusts.
At any rate, Simmons, Kutler, and other activists are particularly saddened when homes are demolished. It seems such a waste so many people have been forced onto the streets.
Simmons shows me one long block of row housing in McElderry Park where every single house is vacant and boarded-up. The city commissioned an artist to paint a mural, and now the 35 houses are covered in bright-purple and white letters that spell out “Forever Together.”
He goes up to one across the street and fingers the plywood covering the door.
“Why can't somebody live here? The house is perfectly intact,” he says, shaking his head. “Because it’s cheaper to let developers buy them out, that’s why.”
I want to be clear-------it is Clinton neo-liberalism joining Republicans that tie these policies to getting help in homelessness making it impossible for people to move forward -----and it starts when you outsource all the low-income housing to private or non-profit---and you do not have public emergency housing sources where all these requirements can be circumvented. When I ask why an aged disabled man with Social Security has NO SOURCES OF EMERGENCY HOUSING as could easily happen as the article above states----you have a breakdown in municipal leadership. Make no mistake---it is not City Hall behind all this-----Baltimore Development Corporation does not want services for poor and low-income---and this is why chaos exists.
The homeless must deal with outsourced housing----outsourced employment placement----outsourced health care-----it is not that some agencies are not doing good. It is that very few people are covered by these few agencies.
People in poverty have forever been unable to keep up with documents. It happens to everyone in these conditions. Any city must have a public system in place for citizens that does not require IDs----
Without ID, many homeless are unable to get help or into shelters
Posted: Jul 19, 2014 12:12 AM EDT Updated: Jul 19, 2014 2:39 AM EDT
By Mileka Lincoln
Homeless camp in Kakaako
For many homeless, a major challenge to getting off the streets is not having an ID. Without one, most can't get the help they need.
"It's often you can't get into shelter. You can't get any kind of government benefits -- so any kind of general assistance, medical coverage, food stamps, social security disability benefits -- you have to usually prove that you're a citizen or a legal permanent resident in order to get services," explained Janet Kelly, a senior attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii who specializes in helping the homeless.
There are a lot of reasons the homeless don't have ID's. Some are lost or stolen, others are seized when crews enforce city ordinances. Concerns have also been raised that ID's are being thrown out when a homeless person goes to jail, but officials with the Department of Public Safety say its policy has always been to hold on to identification and return it when an individual is released.
"What can you do if you don't have an ID? Just think about all the stuff you wouldn't be able to do. You can't cash a check. You can't get a bank account. You can't get mail," described Joy Rucker, the Director for Community Services at Waikiki Health.
Officials says many shelters require ID so they can do background checks. They say the policy is meant to keep people safe, not keep people out.
"We have to check for violent criminal history, sexual predators -- so that's why we require an ID," explained Rucker.
Waikiki Health is one of the outreach providers that helps pay to get people birth certificates so they can replace their ID's, but it's no easy task.
"The system has created so many obstacles for people -- so it's not just their own problems, we've created a system that keeps the barriers up for people. It's not an easy system to access," Rucker said. "If people don't have a place to live and all their stuff organized -- it's a nightmare. It's just a nightmare."
Legal Aid Society of Hawaii works to get the homeless the documents they need to get back on their feet.
"The birth certificate, depending on the state, can take anywhere from two to four months to get," Kelly said.
Tack on another few weeks for a social security card and factor in the time it takes for an ID to arrive once you apply at the DMV -- and officials say, on average, people wait nearly half a year.
"The Real ID law is meant to prevent terrorism, but it actually makes it a lot more difficult for people to access services and to get off the street or to get into housing," Kelly said.
Many documents require proof of residency and a legal address -- nearly impossible for most.
"If you're living on the street it's very difficult to keep ahold and keep your documents safe. It's not uncommon for me to see somebody two or three times to get a replacement birth certificate because they've lost it," Kelly said.
"We'll ask everybody if they want us to keep a copy of all their identification or if they want us to keep the original -- not everybody wants to, but some people do," Rucker explained, adding the policy has helped to cut down on wait time for individuals who need ID's replaced.
29-year-old Russ says he's been struggling for several months while waiting to get his ID replaced.
"I dropped my wallet, realized about three minutes later, went back to where I was at -- and it was completely gone. My birth certificate, everything was in it," Russ said.
He's been living on the streets since November.
"You can't get jobs without an ID, so you don't get no money or income and you can't get out of here. It's impossible to do anything," Russ said.
"I think many people are homeless because the system that we've set up is not conducive to helping people get off the street," Rucker said.
"If they could have some sort of temporary government ID or have some of the rules changed so that people can get in -- assuming that they're applying for their birth certificate -- then maybe we could bend the rules a little bit to get people housed quickly," Kelly said.
Service providers say they're their best to help as many people as they can under the circumstances.
"People who are homeless have multiple issues. It's complicated. It's not just that, oh those people don't want to be in housing or those people are using drugs and alcohol. It's very complicated and what I'm learning as I'm working in this field here --everybody is waiting for somebody else to do something and nobody wants anything in their backyard. We're never going to tackle this problem unless the entire community gets behind it," Rucker said.
"I would just ask that the stereotypes be put aside because I've done this work for over 12 years now and I've seen every type of person, every former type of job. I've seen therapists, I've seen case managers, I've seen doctors and lawyers being homeless and in programs trying to recover -- so I don't think any one of us is untouchable from homelessness. I would just ask that we be compassionate and try to help people as best as we can to get back to independent living," Kelly said.
Copyright 2014 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.
When you see the new craze----social benefit corporations-----this means that what used to be public housing or in this case emergency housing for the homeless-----is now being outsourced often to predatory landlords as I pointed out with the homeless man I am trying to help. Taking an entire SS monthly check comes when a city agency outsources housing to private individuals able to do what they want.
What you see below is a Federal action against fraud----but it is directed at properties harmed by the poor-----not the widespread defrauding of the poor. This is what has filled Baltimore's low-income and homeless housing sector AND IT IS WHY BALTIMORE CITIZENS ARE CHOOSING TO DIE ON THE STREETS IN WINTER'S COLD---RATHER THAN WORK WITHIN THE SHELTER/HOUSING SYSTEM.
Now, as I work to address this----I deal with the frontline----the lowest level employees simply doing what they are told---not wanting to make this difficult---but doing so in order to have a job. Often they are employees of non-profits not earning enough to live themselves. The problem starts with the Mayor of Baltimore----the Baltimore City Council------the religious and larger justice organizations that know all this is going on.
This article is from UK----but in the US this private landlord as providers of public housing is soaring -------and with it predatory landlords and as this article shows----tenets subletting and luring the neediest into bad deals.
In the US public housing is being closed and control of public housing outsourced to private and non-profits that are basically creating a new public housing model similar to this below.
accommodation provided by the state for renting
What you need to know about the new social housing fraud act
The new act comes into force today to crack down on the estimated 100,000 social housing properties subject to fraud
Under the new act, people convicted of social housing fraud can face up to two years in prison. Photograph: Dan Chung for the Guardian Dan Chung/Guardian
Tuesday 15 October 2013 09.35 EDT Last modified on Friday 4 July 2014 13.35 EDT
At least 100,000 social housing properties are the subject of housing fraud, according to government estimates. In response to this, the government has introduced the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act and made £9.5m available to tackle the issue. The act has seen tenancy fraud become a criminal matter – and local authorities will have the power to prosecute those who unlawfully sublet their social housing. But how does the act work for those dealing with the issue of subletting and prevent people from profiting from the scarce resource that is social housing?
Two new criminal offences
The act applies to social housing tenants and introduces two new criminal offences. Firstly, where the tenant sublets or parts with possession of a property or ceases to occupy knowing that it is a breach of tenancy. The second, more serious offence, is where a tenant dishonestly, in breach of tenancy, sublets without consent and ceases to occupy the property as their only or principal home.
The first offence only requires knowledge that the tenant sublet their home in breach of their tenancy agreement, the second requires proof this was done dishonestly.
The maximum penalty for the first offence is a fine of £5,000. The second, more serious, offence is punishable by a two-year jail sentence and/or a fine of up to £50,000. The court will also have the power to make "unlawful profit orders" that require the tenant to pay back any profits "the court considers appropriate".
There are various defences a tenant can use in their defence. For example if a tenant is not occupying the property due to actual or threatened violence towards them, or a family member residing with them for the same reason; if the landlord has consented to the subletting; or, where the remaining occupier (not the tenant) can apply to court for a transfer of the tenancy (under family law legislation, for example).
Going to court
Prosecutions may be brought by local authorities and must be started within six months from when the local authority has gathered enough information to begin legal proceedings, but prosecutions cannot be brought later than three years from when the offence was committed.
The Housing Act (1988) has also been amended so that where an assured tenant parts with possession or sublets the property, they lose status as lifetime assured tenants for good. Regulations will also be introduced to allow housing fraud investigators to obtain information about tenants and occupiers from third parties such as utility suppliers.
However, it is not clear whether the act will help registered social landlords, such as housing associations, deal with issues of tenancy fraud. A number of questions remain and the answers will need to be found out the hard way. For example, as the local authority has to begin legal proceedings, will cash-strapped councils prosecute on behalf of housing associations? Will local authorities require housing associations to seek possession before taking criminal proceedings so they can rely on the finding of the civil court? However, where a conviction is obtained by an local authority, a housing association will be able to rely on that conviction to prove "beyond reasonable doubt" the tenant has committed fraud – and so in theory making the possession claim reasonably straight forward.