NLCHP News: "Homelessness Unacceptable"; Resolution on Children's Right to Housing
||A publication of the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty
|Lawyers Working to End Homelessness
||Vol. 8, No. 4
||From Maria's Desk
At his press conference last month, in
response to a question about a new report by
the National Center on Family Homelessness
showing that one out of every 50 U.S.
children is homeless, President Obama said he
is heartbroken that even one child is
homeless in America, and that homelessness is
unacceptable in a country as wealthy as ours.
to read the President's comments.
NLCHP applauded this statement and called on
the President to take specific actions to
prevent and end homelessness in America.
to read the original letter we wrote together
with 15 other national advocates to the
President outlining our agenda.
Our letter called for $15.6 billion to be
included in the stimulus legislation to stop
the rising tide of homelessness caused by the
current recession. Although the Stimulus, as
enacted, included only a tenth of this money
for homelessness prevention through the new
Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-housing
program, it will benefit many of the families
at greatest risk of becoming homeless.
Earlier this month, together with our partner
the National Alliance to End Homelessness,
NLCHP sponsored a webinar on the new $1.5
billion program in the President's recently
enacted stimulus package. The call, which
had to be limited due to technological
capacity, drew over 800 participants from
across the country. Click here
for the archived content.
There is clearly great interest in the funds,
which will assist people and families at
imminent risk of homelessness with short- and
medium-term housing, for a period of up to 18
months. This is much needed, especially
given the surge in homelessness as a result
of the foreclosure crisis and economic
downturn. The amount of money appropriated
is significant. But will it end homelessness
in America? No.
Homelessness is unacceptable in a country as
rich as ours, and ending and preventing it is
essential. But, as outlined in our coalition
letter, doing so will require a serious
investment in permanent affordable
housing. It will also entail ensuring living
wage employment for those who are able to
work and adequate support for those who are
unable, as well as education, health care and
other necessary services. A change of
attitudes is also crucial, as the President
noted: it should include the recognition that
housing is a human right for all.
||Congresswoman Waters Commits to Right to Housing for Children
On March 28, 2009, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA)
held the first in a series of national
Congressional field hearings on the crisis in
affordable housing in Los Angeles. In a
victory for NLCHP, Rep. Waters committed to
introducing a resolution proclaiming a right
to housing for children, drafted in large
part by NLCHP.
NLCHP has been working with Rep. Waters'
office for many months to arrange field
hearings on the crisis in affordable housing
and resulting homelessness, together with our
national and local partners as part of the Campaign
to Restore National Housing Rights.
NLCHP submitted written testimony to the
hearing in Los Angeles, and our community
partners -- the LA Coalition to End Hunger &
Homelessness, Beyond Shelter, and the USC's
School of Social Work -- all presented oral
testimony to a packed house.
NLCHP has also been working with our local
partners in L.A. to address the increasing
problem of children being separated from
their families due to loss of their housing.
For a country that supposedly prizes family
values, our housing policies fail to value
families - removing children to foster care
when their parents become homeless, even
though studies show that it is cheaper and
better to provide housing for the whole
family. At the hearing in L.A., Rep. Waters
made a sweeping statement from the podium
condemning the practice of separating
families due to homelessness, and vowing to
introduce the resolution developed by NLCHP,
USC, and Beyond Shelter to proclaim a right
for families to be housed together.
NLCHP will continue to work with our partners
and Rep. Waters' office to hold additional
field hearings across the country as the
housing crisis deepens, and to promote the
passage of the resolution on children's right
NLCHP thanks the US Human Rights Fund and
the Butler Family Fund for support of its
Human Rights Program.
||Changing Laws, Changing Lives: NLCHP at Work
"Casey," a young teenager, was being verbally
abused by her parents, who kicked her out of
the house with nothing but a t-shirt and
shorts in the middle of winter. She tried to
return once, and her dad threw her out again,
pulling her out of the house by her hair.
She doubled up with a friend in the next
district and the school wanted to enroll her,
but her father then demanded that she come
back home and continue school there.
The new school was reluctant to enroll her
without her parents' consent, fearing its
legal liability for doing so, but NLCHP
drafted a letter letting them know Casey's
right to enroll herself under the
McKinney-Vento Act. Casey's father then
proceeded to call the school to un-enroll
her, and although she re-enrolled the next
day, it appeared this would be a difficult
ongoing situation. NLCHP wrote a new letter,
noting that under state law, Casey's dad had
to un-enroll her in person, putting the
burden on him. The letter also stated that
youth Casey's age in that state can establish
separate residences from their parents
through a simple school board approval
process. Casey is now doing well in her new
school because of NLCHP's intervention.
||Homelessness Wiki is Expanding
NLCHP's Homelessness Wiki continues to grow
as a central resource of legal tools for
housing and anti-poverty advocates across the
country. NLCHP has expanded the advocacy
manual to include a Foreclosure section and
another section containing resources
pertaining to the American Recovery and
Reinvestment Act. The news page now contains
news articles related to foreclosures and
updates in homelessness policy. New partners
are beginning to contribute to the Wiki as
well, and we encourage interested
organizations to email email@example.com if you
have expertise to add to the content!
The Wiki is a collaborative online resource.
It includes an advocacy manual consisting of
fact sheets, Q&A, statutory materials,
litigation documents, model programs,
policies and legislation, and in-depth
articles. The site also provides a central
location for advocates and organizations to
post training sessions and events, as well as
offering the latest news from partner
organizations and ways to get more involved
in the effort to end homelessness.
||Office Space Sublet Available
NLCHP regularly sublets its extra office
space at its 14th and K Street offices in
downtown Washington, DC. Three fully
furnished offices, which are sufficient for
two people each, are available for sublet
beginning immediately. These offices are
grouped together at one end of the suite and
are ideal for a small organization. Each
office includes two phone lines and free
internet service. Tenants will share use of
a kitchen, conference room, copier, postage
machine and fax machine. NLCHP offices are
convenient to the metro system and major bus
lines. Contact Vibha Bhatia at
firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
||Deadline Approaching for Children's Art Contest
Time is running out to mail your submissions
for NLCHP's annual artwork contest for
homeless and low-income children!
Each year, NLCHP selects one winner and two
runners-up whose artwork will be displayed at
the McKinney-Vento Awards ceremony, along
with other selected artwork from this and
previous years' contests. The winning
artwork will also be used on the four awards
that will be presented to honorees at the
event, as well as other NLCHP outreach
materials. The top three artists will also
receive a prize for their outstanding work.
Submissions will be accepted from children in
the DC area who are enrolled in after-school
programs or art-related organizations serving
homeless and low-income children, or who are
currently residing in shelters. Entries in
the contest must meet all criteria listed in
the guidelines, and must also include the
entry & release form, signed by a parent or
legal guardian. The winner will be invited
to attend NLCHP's awards dinner in September,
along with his or her parents.
The deadline for submissions is June 15,
2009. Visit the NLCHP website
for more information.
||Seeking Personal Achievement Award Nominations
Do you know someone who has overcome
homelessness and is willing to speak in front
of an audience about their experiences at the
2009 McKinney-Vento Awards ceremony?
Nominate them for our Personal Achievement Award!
Each year, NLCHP seeks nominations to
recognize and honor a formerly homeless
individual for his or her personal
achievement in conquering adversity. We
welcome nominees in any of our program
categories: Civil Rights; Children and Youth;
Human Rights; Housing, Income and Services;
Base Closure and Surplus Property; or
Domestic Violence. Share a story of success!
For more information visit our website
email Jessica Libbey at email@example.com.
NLCHP is a 501(c)(3) organization. Contact us at (202) 638-2535 or email us at
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