Published On: Sat, Oct 8th, 2016

Changing Lives For The Homeless

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Changing Lives For The Homeless (7)

We have all heard the phrase “Home Sweet Home,” but little do we know that not everyone gets to say and live it.

Unfortunately, even in today’s modernized and technologically advanced world there are many homeless people in the United States of America, who have nowhere to sleep but the streets. While the nation has exhibited immense economic growth over the past 100 years, the US has failed to provide shelter to much of its homeless population.

The street sleepers are also a matter of security concern for the nation since many homeless have had a record of criminal activity. From petty thieves to serial killers we can find many living on the streets and without a permanent mailing address. Law enforcement agencies have tried to curb sexual predators in troubled neighborhoods but let’s face it these efforts haven’t been very successful.

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A study conducted in 2015 indicates the number of homeless people in the US to about 500,000. Sadly, a quarter of them are children, which is a staggering number for kids to be on the streets without any shelter. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in its 5th annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress estimates around 1.56 million people in the US have experienced homelessness. However, the report also indicted that these people eventually found shelter between October 1, 2008 and September 30, 2009.

Oregon, Portland, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Hawaii have all shown signs of rise in homelessness, and have therefore declared emergencies regarding this situation. Shelters have been established to accommodate this growing number of homeless people in Seattle. However, the number of these shelters is still very less as compared to the number of people living on the streets.

The situation in Denver isn’t encouraging either as there is a growing number of homeless people in Colorado. Hundreds of people are living on the streets in Denver with no solution on the horizon. The number is so big that most have already given hope of finding any shelter.

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The lack of affordable housing, combined with slumping pay at lower end of the U.S. pay scale, has been cited by analysts as a driver of homelessness in a number of U.S. cities.

It is very clear that the government needs to ensure the provision of affordable housing to the masses in order to find a permanent solution to this problem. However, due to the lack of resources, and proper planning and a clear estimate of homeless population things aren’t looking very bright.

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Homeless ex-convicts and military veterans who cannot find decent jobs make up the major proportion of homeless people in the country. Due to their inability of getting proper jobs they are unable to get proper accommodation and therefore are found sleeping on the streets.

Denver needs to increase the number of shelters throughout the area at least to make sure that these people have proper beds and a roof during the night. Provision of food has been reported to be great in Denver, so only the numbers have to be increased.

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In 2005, Denver decided to end homelessness within the next ten years. Today, however, the deadline has passed, and hundreds of people still wake up without a roof over their heads.  The city Road Home (DRH) established in 2005 to help eliminate homelessness in Denver, and the organization has used $72.3 million in public and private funding for this cause in the past 10 years.

Unfortunately, reports of police harassment have been heard as the police has been seen asking these homeless people not to sleep in parks and streets. This has only made life worse for the homeless.

Recent development has been made in this case, when a lawsuit was filed in federal district court on Thursday 25th August 2016, against the city of Denver. The 36-page complaint was filed by the attorney Jason Flores on the behalf of thousands of street people or homeless in Denver, whose rights and self-respect has been repeatedly violated by the city administration and police, he said.

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The city government has clearly passed its instructions for what called “homeless sweeps”. According to Flores, defendants have engaged in a systematic evisceration of thousands of displaced persons’ constitutional rights in order to clear the way for new housing and economic development in the downtown of Denver.

He said “it’s not a right and legal basis to treat this vulnerable class as though their civil rights were non-existent,”

After the lawsuit’s filing situation, I met some homeless people in downtown and upscale areas.  According to them the city is responsible for destruction of homeless people’s property without concern for their civil rights. They call the police raids against them inhumane.

A Homeless guy I met near Coors field baseball stadium said, “the police are taking their blankets and sleeping bags, rather solving our issues they are increasing our problems, I had been out of my home since  I was 10 and now my age is 22. I had been fired from four different jobs. The police destroyed our homes and everything”.

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Another man I met in the next block said, “I have been homeless since my whole life, I am now frustrated, they give shit to what happened to us, but now it’s a high time for this lawsuits”.

Earlier this year, the city cleared homeless people from public spaces near downtown shelters. Orders to move along continue to this day, according to Denver Homeless Out Loud, an advocacy group.

According to Denver7, Jenna Espinoza, a spokeswoman with the Denver Mayor’s Office, said the city has not yet been served with the suit.

“Once we receive the complaint, we will evaluate the claims and respond to them,” Espinoza said in an emailed statement.

In a previous statement, Denver city officials insisted, “We are working to be compassionate in our response to this complex problem and are well within the law.”

 

Thank you Senior Reporter Sally Abdelmottlep and Denver7 (KMGH-TV) for providing me this opportunity to cover this issue.

Courtesy: STV

About the Author

Syed Ammar Alavi

- is Lahore (Pakistan) based journalist & writer with 25-year experience in print, wire and broadcast forms of journalism. His major fields of interest are politics, film,tv,sports, climate change and technology

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