43Millions On Food Stamps

  • Participation near record levels even as unemployment declines
  • Government waivers, uneven recovery blamed for ongoing need

Wendee Crofoot lost her job as a fundraiser for a non-profit in 2011. After exhausting her savings and giving up her Mountain View, California, apartment she ended up working part-time as a restaurant cashier.

The low pay qualified her for food stamps,so she signed up. “It wasn’t something I imagined would ever happen,” said Crofoot, 46. “There just weren’t any jobs.”

During the 2007-2009 recession, state and federal governments actively encouraged people like Crofoot to take advantage of the aid. Millions did, and many are still claiming benefits. Enrollment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the formal name for food stamps, remains near record levels, even as the unemployment rate has fallen by half.

“When unemployment was rising people said enrollment would fall sharply when things got better,” said Parke Wilde, an associate professor of nutrition policy at Tufts University in Boston. “That hasn’t happened.”

Another economic downturn could send costs to new heights.

foodstamps

About 45.4 million Americans, roughly one-seventh of the population, received nutrition aid last October, the most recent month of data. Unemployment was 5 percent that month. The last time joblessness fell to that level, in April 2008, 28 million Americans used food stamps, and the program cost less than half of what the government paid out last year.

Even though eligibility rules remained unchanged during the recession, annual spending for the program, administered by states with federal dollars, more than doubled in five years to a record $76.1 billionin 2013.

Sign-Up Easier

Several reasons explain the high numbers. Governments have made it easier to sign up for the program. More than 85 percent of eligible food-stamp recipients took assistance in 2013, the most recent year of available data, compared to 70 percent in 2008. The higher sign-up rate among those qualified accounts for 8.6 million more people on food stamps — about half of the program’s total increase.

The uneven recovery has swelled the ranks of long-term unemployed and reduced the number of people working or looking for work, further boosting demand. Even for those with jobs, pay may be lower than in the past: In real dollars, SNAP recipients in 2014 had net incomes of $335 a month, the lowest since at least 1989.

Uneven Recovery

“The economy’s recovery is bifurcated,” said Kevin Concannon, the USDA undersecretary who heads the program. That makes food stamps crucial to “a very challenged safety net,” said Concannon, who previously directed state-level food-stamp programs in Maine, Oregon and Iowa.

Some enrollment-boosting measures, such as the waivers for able-bodied workers, are being discontinued as unemployment declines. But a bigger food stamp program has become part of the U.S. social landscape, as lower-income populations continue to struggle and states use federal aid to support them, said Wilde, the Tufts professor.

“The U.S. is a bit strange among advanced economies in that we don’t like to give people cash,” he said. “SNAP plays a bigger role for low-income Americans because everyone needs food, and it’s an acceptable form of assistance.”

Crofoot’s assistance is ending: She’s found a second part-time job, one she said she hopes will get her career back on track. Her food-stamp benefits stopped last month.

“I called two weeks ago to cancel,” she said. “I’ve lost my savings. All the things you count on for your future, they’re gone.

“But I’m grateful to everyone who helped.”

Before it’s here, it’s on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-02-03/food-stamps-still-feed-one-in-seven-americans-despite-recovery

Billionaires Back Bid to Ban SF Homeless Camps

Billionaires Back Bid to Ban SF Homeless Camps

Billionaires Back Bid to Ban SF Homeless Camps

dsc_6361

The sidewalks of San Francisco will become a battleground for billionaires this election season as a proposition on the ballot, Proposition Q, seeks to tackle the issue of homeless encampments. The measure is sponsored by Supervisor Mark Farrell and supported largely by venture capitalists William Oberndorf, Michael Moritz and Ron Conway according to campaign finance records obtained from the SF Ethics Commission.

Donations to Proposition Q

screen-shot-2016-10-17-at-1-31-08-pm

Oberndorf, a Mill Valley-based investor, spent more than $1.5 million this election cycle in support of Jeb Bush’s race to win the Republican nomination for president.

Moritz, a venture capitalist, drew public attention for his support for and $250,000 donation supporting a 2010 measure that sought to increase city employees’ payments into their generous pension funds……………..

Billionaires Back Bid to Ban SF Homeless Camps

 

The State of Homelessness in America 2016

The State of Homelessness in America 2016

On a single night in January 2015, 564,708 people were experiencing homelessness — meaning they were sleeping outside or in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program.

  • In total, 33 states and the District of Columbia (D.C.) reported decreases in overall homelessness, while 16 states reported increases. The states with decreases in homelessness were concentrated in the South and Midwest.
  • Despite a national decrease in unsheltered homelessness, only 18 states reported decreases in the number of people living in unsheltered locations, including the street, cars, and abandoned buildings. The national decrease in unsheltered homelessness was driven in large part by decreases in unsheltered homelessness in Florida, Texas, and Georgia.
  • The national rate of homelessness in 2015 fell to 17.7 homeless people per 10,000 people in the general population from 18.3 in 2014. The rates in individual states ranged from 111 in D.C. to 7 in Mississippi.
  • The rate of veteran homelessness continued its descent of the past several years to 24.8 homeless veterans per 10,000 veterans in the general population. The rates in individual states ranged from 145 in D.C. to 9 in Virginia.
  • The majority of states had decreases in every major subpopulation: family homelessness (33 states and D.C.), chronically homeless individuals (31 states and D.C.), and veteran homelessness (33 states).

The map below shows the percent change in the total homeless population and various subpopulations by state from January 2014 to January 2015.

http://www.endhomelessness.org/library/entry/SOH2016

portlandcamp

Overlooked in the elections, Portland’s homeless are organising their own camps on their own terms, but fear evictions.

FAST FACTS: HOMELESSNESS IN PORTLAND

  • There are at least 4.000 homeless people sleeping on the streets of Portland on any given night
  • But the true number could be much higher as the city only records the homeless on one night of the year
  • Between 2014 and 2015, Oregon witnessed an 8.7 percent growth in homelessness
  • This came after a 20.5% rent rise

Sources: Portland Housing Bureau, National Association of Realtors Found, Database Zillow

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2016/10/homeless-camps-offering-lesson-democracy-161031095907084.html

Hidden Lives in Homeless Camps in Mobile

homelesscampmobile

They live in camps across Mobile from the woods behind restaurants and shopping centers to spaces beneath bridges.

http://www.al.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2016/01/hidden_lives_in_homeless_camps.html

8182016homeless_takeoverseattle

Chaos, trash and tears: Inside Seattle’s flawed homeless sweeps

http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/chaos-trash-and-tears-inside-seattles-flawed-homeless-sweeps/

 

article-0-1baf8cb600000578baltimore

Baltimore’s people of the woods: Inside the hidden homeless camps made of milk crates, wooden doors and tarps on the outskirts of town

  • Photographer Ben Marcin’s series ‘The Camps’ captures makeshift settlements near railway lines, gas stations, Walmarts and bridges
  • He said many of Baltimore’s homeless feel safer in the woods than in shelters
  • While most homes are made from tarps, some more elaborate constructions use milk crates and wooden doors

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2564858/Baltimores-people-woods-Inside-hidden-homeless-camps-milk-crates-wooden-doors-tarps-outskirts-town.html#ixzz4PIjq6CI2
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2564858/Baltimores-people-woods-Inside-hidden-homeless-camps-milk-crates-wooden-doors-tarps-outskirts-town.html

Hello Hollywood…

Dow Jones VS Downtrodden #2.

Film entertainment is big business in the United States. It is expected that the film entertainment business will generate 35.3 billion U.S. dollars in revenue by 2019. (https://www.statista.com).

The other side of life… The darker side..

Column

‘It’s almost like a death watch’: Severely ill homeless people are at risk of dying on the streets of Hollywood
la-1477757140-snap-photo

Steve Lopez

http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-1030-lopez-hollywood-homeless-20161028-story.html

Raquel was the one who got to me.

Not that it was easy to forget all the other people I saw while touring Hollywood in the pre-dawn hours Friday.

hotographer Francine Orr and I were traveling with Anthony Ruffin and Rudy Salinas of Housing Works, a nonprofit that steers homeless people into housing and services. Ruffin and Salinas were hoping to use the forecast of rain to talk people into shelter, or into hospitals, depending on the need.

Housing Works is one of the many supporters of Measure HHH on the Nov. 6 ballot in Los Angeles. It would raise $1.2 billion for housing, with the county expected to provide needed services for residents. Salinas said the current critical housing shortage is a killer. Even when Housing Works manages to persuade sick, resistant homeless people to move inside, there’s nowhere to put them.

On Gower Street, near Hollywood Presbyterian Church, Salinas jerked his car to the curb when we saw what looked like a scene out of “Mad Max.”

A razor-thin urchin popped up though a manhole, then disappeared back underground. When he surfaced again, Daniel Martinez, 30, said he’d been homeless for seven years. He claimed he was trying to retrieve a ball that had gone down a storm drain and into the sewer, but we all wondered if there might be a subterranean village down there. In the U.S. homeless capital, who could be shocked?

On Sunset we met up with Eddie “Snake” Carter, 65, a wheelchair-bound double amputee. Carter is on a list called the Hollywood 14, the most chronically ill people in the neighborhood. Ruffin had managed to find housing for him recently, but Carter was a street dweller for 15 or 20 years, and after that much exposure, normal living is what’s scary for some people. It takes time.

Ruffin saw that Carter’s hands and eyes were badly puffed. The last time he was like that, Ruffin said, it turned out to be a staph infection, and he underwent his second amputation. On Friday, Ruffin managed to persuade Carter to accept a ride to the hospital.

No such luck with Rachel “Raquel” Phillips.

She lay asleep on the sidewalk in her usual spot at Highland and Franklin, one of the busiest intersections in Hollywood. Phillips was curled on her right side, facing a hedge. Sometimes she sits and stares at that hedge for hours.

It’s a little intimidating to stand there and watch headlights curving down the hill on Highland. Ruffin and Salinas were worried that if it rained, a car could skid out of control, jump the curb and take Raquel out.

A urine stain ran from Raquel all the way down to the gutter. The pavement is permanently discolored because Raquel has been there, in that same spot, for 15 years.

Fifteen years.

Standing at her side, I felt a mix of anger, sadness, shame. It couldn’t be any more obvious that she’s too incapacitated to act in her own best interest, and if the law doesn’t put her welfare and our duty first, it has to be changed.

“There’s dozens of people like this, all over L.A.,” said Ruffin.

Ruffin and others, including members of the Hollywood First United Methodist Church, have tried desperately to help. The Rev. Kathy Cooper Ledesma said she supports civil liberties, but Raquel is so gravely ill, it’s unconscionable that she be given the right to slowly deteriorate.

“It’s a crime for any decent society to have children and the elderly and mentally ill folks living on the street. It’s just a sin,” said Cooper Ledesma.

She said she usually refrains from recommending how her congregants should vote, but she hasn’t been shy about sharing her support for Measure HHH. It might not help someone like Raquel, who seems to need hospitalization more than housing. But given the huge homeless population — more than 43,000 in Greater Los Angeles — Cooper Ledesma fears more people will end up like Raquel if they don’t get into supportive housing.

“We need to put an intentional focus on the least and the lost, which is what Jesus did,” she said.

Once, Ruffin managed to get Raquel hospitalized, but she was back out quickly. On more than one occasion, Ruffin said, county health workers have determined she was not sick enough to meet the legal requirements for an involuntary psychiatric commitment.

Ruffin was praying for rain. If it came down hard enough, he would call the county and ask if they’d come see if Raquel could be hospitalized for her own health and safety.

“All I can do is wait till it rains,” he said. “It’s almost like a death watch.”

Indeed, three people on the Hollywood 14 list have died since 2013.

It didn’t rain hard enough for Raquel’s benefit. Ruffin got down on the pavement, looked into her eyes and asked her to please accept some help. She told him her mother would be coming by to write a check so she could stay in a motel.

Ruffin got back to his feet.

“Her mother’s been dead for years,” he told me.

It wasn’t all gloom and doom Friday. I met up midmorning with L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, who’s been stumping for Measure HHH, arguing that in some cases, supportive housing can cost less than all the public safety and hospitalization costs associated with homelessness.

Garcetti was visiting a woman we met together in May while touring a Hollywood drop-in center. The mayor’s staff helped get Natalia Franco off the streets, and since mid-August she’s been living at Step Up on Vine, a heralded nonprofit that provides housing and mental health services.

Franco said she’s still adjusting to her new life indoors, but it’s good to be “out of the weather.”

Later in the day, I heard back from Ruffin, who said he’d make another attempt on Monday to get Raquel to a hospital.

“It’s like a waiting game, waiting on her to get really sick or die,” said Ruffin. “And you’ve got people like this all over L.A.”

Get more of Steve Lopez’s work and follow him on Twitter @LATstevelopez

ALSO

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times