February 24, 2017
Housing Advocates Oppose Criminalizing Homelessness
A January 9th, 2017, New York Times article explored the attempts of several cities to issue citations for homeless people living on public lands, and the backlash that can cause among advocates for the homeless. At issue is whether policies such as citations are criminalizing homelessness. The article features a video of police taking away tents and sleeping bags from homeless individuals living outdoors in the city.
While homelessness is declining overall nationwide, some cities – particularly in the Western U.S., are seeing increases in homelessness due to soaring housing prices and the lack of affordable or subsidized alternatives. In some cases, homeless individuals do not wish to stay in shelters because of the conditions there.
Challenges for housing the homeless abound, but Cleveland recently provided a powerful demonstration of what is possible by securing housing for 103 homeless youth in 100 days between September 9th, 2016 and December 18th, 2016. Cleveland’s effort was led by A Place 4 Me is a cross-sector initiative that harnesses the strengths and resources of its partners to prevent and end homelessness among young adults age 15 to 24 in Cleveland/Cuyahoga County. A Place 4 Me is a collaboration led by a steering committee consisting of the YWCA Greater Cleveland; Cuyahoga County Department of Health and Human Services, including the Division of Children and Family Services and the Office of Homeless Services; FrontLine Service; the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative; and the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland. AP4M secured housing for 103 homeless youth by using a “by-name” list to track and evaluate the needs of homeless youth, deploying team of 12 navigators to work directly with youth, creating a resource guide to help youth connect to needed services, expanding the pool of age-appropriate options, and ensuring that youth leaving the foster care system receive extra support.
Advocacy & Communication Solutions, LLC (ACS) partnered with A Place 4 Me (AP4M) on maximizing media coverage for the 100-Day Challenge. The 100-Day-Challenge work in Cleveland was reported in a number of local media outlets, including News 5 Cleveland, Cleveland Magazine, ideastream, and Cleveland.com. Learn more about ACS’s work with non-profits, government agencies, and foundations here.