Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Americans guarding their right to be poor

Perhaps there should a national lobby to zealously guard the right to be poor in the world’s richest nation. A federal appeals court thinks so.
Cities throughout the nation do not like the poor on their doorsteps, and pass laws to hide them. Such laws prevent homeless people from living on streets.
The US Court of Appeals in San Francisco says Los Angeles has gone too far by barring people from living in their cars.
Supporters of such laws say the issue is complicated because such people can become a public safety issue. Sometimes they may become threats police will not be able to respond too before crimes are committed.
Tristia Bauman, senior attorney at the Washington, D.C.-based National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, told the Los Angeles Times the ruling would affect any city in California with a vague ban similar to Los Angeles.
"We're seeing a dramatic uptick in these type of laws. Cities have a goal of reducing visible homelessness rather than taking constructive actions,” she said.
There is no doubt that the lack of a fixed abode, to use a legal term, becomes a problem. That puts it in with mental illness as a problem that is going to ignored or dealt with haphazardly. Some poor people do not want to be inside, in some cases because they have mental problems. It is not an easy problem to solve.
Trying to find the source of the problem goes against the grain for many governments, and not just in the United States.
Los Angeles Civil rights attorney Carol Sobel said urban areas need to find new strategies.
"Honestly, these policies are bad,” she said. It raises questions about what that Hollywood sign above the city stands for.
Denver maintains it is trying. It has been a center for homelessness for decades, since the days Jack Kerouac [Unlink] was “On the Road,” because it is the largest metro area between the West Coast and Midwest. The city’s phone answering system is set up to connect the homeless with people who can help.
But in most cases it is only a makeshift solution that does not end the problem.
It may surprise people to know that Denver has found that a third of the area’s homeless have jobs.
The 9th Circuit said the Los Angeles response in barring people from living in cars was far too broad.
"The City of Los Angeles has many options at its disposal to alleviate the plight and suffering of its homeless citizens," wrote Judge Harry Pregerson. "Selectively preventing the homeless and the poor from using their vehicles for activities many other citizens also conduct in their cars should not be one of those options."
Los Angeles Times
Denver Homeless Plan
National Coalition for the Homeless

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