HUD reported that as of January 2014, the chronically homeless numbered some 84,291, with 63 percent of those individuals living on the streets. HUD says this number has declined by 21 percent, or 22,937 persons, since 2010
@Harpers - Number of homeless people in Tokyo for every 10,000 residents: 1 ... In New York City: 67
The number of homeless children in the United States surged by 8% in 2013 to nearly 2.5 million... The revised total suggests that one in every 30 children in the U.S. experienced homelessness in 2013.
Homes with indoor plumbing up from 55% in 1940s to 99% now
This year's Children's Defense Fund report finds roughly 1.2 million public school students were homeless in 2011-2012, 73 percent more than before the recession. More than one in nine children lacked access to adequate food in 2012, a rate 23 percent higher than before the recession.
@amprog - Housing a homeless person costs $21,000 less than doing nothing
Videos of micro apartments
Take Part - The Mobile Factory, founded by 73-year-old Dutch business consultant and sustainability specialist Gerard Steijn, is what the organization describes as a transforming technology housed inside two shipping containers. It crushes construction debris within its walls, churning out Lego-shaped building blocks that can be easily stacked and snapped into place to build temporary housing in less than a day. Steijns goal: to dispatch these small factories around the world so locals can rebuild their communities using debris and waste thats been left behind in the wake of man-made or natural disasters. Advertisement
Steijn created the Mobile Factory in 2007 after researching waste production in the construction industry for a major Dutch engineering firm. His work brought him to sites around the world, where he witnessed neighborhoods and communities destroyed by earthquakes, war, development, and urban growth.
My research taught me that 85 percent of the victims of disasters live under the poverty line, says Steijn. And I felt that the responsibility for that rested on the construction industry.
First Look - In the last couple of years there has been a significant increase in homelessness around Los Angeles. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the city, with its Mediterranean climate and 300 days of a sunshine a year, is second only to New York City when it comes to its population of people without homes. Since 2013, the number has increased by at least 12 percent across Los Angeles county, according to a biannual count conducted by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. In the areas served by the authority, 41,174 people are homeless, only a third of whom live in shelters or transitional housing. In the city itself, 9,535 people are homeless.
Theres clearly a crisis, said Maria Foscarinis, founder and executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C. It is not one confined to Southern California. Nationally, according to her organization, at least 2.5 to 3.5 million Americans sleep in shelters, transitional housing, and public places not meant for human habitation each year; another 7.4 million Americans have lost their homes and are living precariously, doubled-up with family or friends. On any given night, at least 578,000 people sleep on the street, according to federal numbers....
These figures are sobering, but in Los Angeles advocates for the homeless point to an even more disturbing trend: the increasing criminalization of people without homes. Public officials and business leaders are looking for a quick fix, Foscarinis told me, and while imprisoning a homeless person may cost more than securing his or her housing, hauling someone away and out of sight creates the appearance of doing something. On June 16, the city council voted 14-1 to make it easier to confiscate the possessions of homeless people, reducing the three-day notice currently required to 24 hours (and subjecting bulky items, such as mattresses, to immediate removal). The move was finalized a week later, with the support of Mayor Eric Garcetti, though on July 22 he called for these measures to be enforced compassionately. Responding to the complaints of property owners in Venice, the city is also looking to reinstate a ban on living in vehicles.
The de facto policy on homelessness in L.A. is enforcement and criminalization, said Eric Ares, an organizer with the Los Angeles Community Action Network, a group on skid row that advocates for the homeless. Ares sees the mayors call for compassion as empty rhetoric that distracts attention from what the city could be doing. At this point its no secret what the solution is: its housing and services, Ares said. But what were seeing is and this has been going on for at least 10 years, particularly in the gentrifying parts of Los Angeles a blank check for policing.
Center on Budget & Policy Priorities - Housing Choice Vouchers are the most effective tool to help homeless families with children find and keep stable housing, a major new study from the Department of Housing and Urban Development concludes. These findings should spur Congress to fund more vouchers for homeless families, as the President has proposed, by restoring the 67,000 vouchers cut due to sequestration and targeting a large share of them to homeless families.
The 12-city study randomly assigned families living in homeless shelters to receive one of several types of assistance, including housing vouchers. The report, detailing the impacts for families 18 months later, shows that vouchers greatly improved family well-being. Compared to families in homeless shelters that received no extra help under the study, families given vouchers were:
less likely to experience another episode of homelessness;
Families with vouchers also had 16 percent fewer absences from school or child care for their children.
LA Times - "Housing First," [is] a novel effort by Utah to attack an intractable social ill. The state provides apartments to the chronically homeless and worries about addressing the underlying causes, such as drug abuse, later. By allowing bodies to rest and heal, housing officials say, emotional health will probably follow.
Last month, officials announced that they had reduced by 91% the ranks of the chronically homeless defined as someone who has spent at least one year full-time on the streets and are now approaching "functional zero."
In 2005, when state officials began placing people in permanent housing, they counted 1,932 chronically homeless. Today, with 1,764 people housed, that number has plummeted to just 178 statewide. And officials have their sights set on those remaining.
The program contrasts with approaches elsewhere. Police in Tampa, Fla., for example, arrest those caught sleeping or storing property in public. Philadelphia bans the feeding of homeless in city parks. A study by UC Berkeley Law students found that California has more anti-homeless laws on average than other states, punitive local ordinances targeting the homeless for standing, sitting or resting in public.
The median new house size in America has dropped ten percent in three years. . .And front porches are back
But not in Florida where high speed rubber stamping of foreclosure is underway.
WHAT A REAL STIMULUS MIGHT LOOK LIKE
- Reduce credit card interest. As one politician once put it, "I'd frankly like to see credit cards rates down. I believe that would help stimulate the consumer and get consumer confidence moving again.'' Another politician responded by offering a bill in the Senate to cap credit card interest at 14%. The Senate voted for it 74-19. The first politician was that radical president, George Bush, in 1991. The other politician was that well known progressive, Alfonze D'Amato. Why are Obama and the Democrats more conservative than Daddy Bush and D'Amato?
- Start a movement to nationalize banks. Progressives led by Robert LaFollette did this in the 1930s, giving FDR cover for his more moderate solutions. Today, all the political pressure is coming from Wall Street, which tilts policies in that direction.
- All measures must put the interest of the ordinary citizen first. Neither the GOP nor the Democrats are doing that.
- Deemphasize tax cuts. They are far less effective than many think.
- Emphasize programs that will cheer people up and where they can see things changing for the better. Among the Wall Street bailout scam's many faults was that no one could tell what was happening as a result. Good economies need optimism.
- Use revenue sharing. It's a quick way to get money down to the states and cities and to the people who live there. Sure, some of it will get corrupted but far less than is already happening with the phony stimulus packages. The upside is that citizens have a better idea of what is being done on their behalf and have some say in how it is done.
- Fund public works project that have large spin-off benefits and which will be heavy in blue collar employment. These would include new mass transit service and a massive growth of America's rail system. It would deemphasize fixing up existing systems because the spin off benefits are far less. Would it include the much discussed new energy projects? We haven't seen any serious discussion of this. What is the blue collar employment potential of such projects?
- Institute a shared equity program for homeowners in distress under which the federal government buys a portion of the mortgage, renegotiates interest rates with the lenders and then gets its part of the equity back when the house is sold. A similar program could be used for building new homes.
- Decentralize decisions and negotiations on foreclosures and real estate interest rates, using local courts and similar bodies as was done in the 1930s.
- Give the government preferred stock in companies it aids. At one point in the New Deal, the Reconstruction Finance Corporation owned bank shares that would be worth at least $20 billion today.
Americans have been slowly transferring ownership of their homes to the banking system over the last 50+ years. These figures would look much worse if the roughly 1/3 of homes owned "free and clear" (mostly by seniors) were removed from the data, but you can see the trend is toward less equity and more debt. This is not a sign of a prospering middle-class.
CLINTON-BUSH HOUSING BUBBLE BIGGEST IN A CENTURY
Sam Smith, Progressive Review - According to a study by Yale economist Robert J Shiller cited in his book, "Irrational Exuberance," between 1890 and 1990 the sale of the average existing house (not new construction) rose no more that 25% over the inflation corrected value for 1890. In the 1990s, beginning in the Clinton years, that changed dramatically. Between 1997 and 2006 the typical house doubled in value of over the 1890 average. In other words, the Clinton-Bush housing bubble was greatest in over a hundred years. The bright side is that if the average house drops by 50% we'll be right back where we were in 1997.
Throughout the preceding century, houses varied from 85-125 percent of the 1890 average value with the exception of the depression, which for housing actually began during World War I. By 1920,housing prices were down to about 65% of 1890 levels and then began to slowly rise. By 1940 they were back to the 1890 figure. In other words, housing devaluation can be a harbinger of worse to come
PRIMING THE SUBPRIME CRISIS
JAMES MCCUSKER, EVERETT HERALD, WA - In the wake of the 1929 stock market crash and the subsequent global economic depression, Congress, among other actions, passed the Glass-Steagall Act which prohibited banks from engaging in securities underwriting. There was money to be made in securities, though, and after a suitable period of penance for their contributions to the crash and depression banks began to agitate for relief from this restrictive law.
The banking industry's whining about Glass-Steagall eventually paid off. . . Few people spoke out against the idea, which was endorsed by America's top banking regulator, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. It is tempting to say that his enthusiasm for the idea, and Congress' action, made sense at the time, but that was not so. In fact, it made no sense then, and makes none now. . .
Banks eagerly bought up low-quality mortgage loans, packaged them up and sold them as securities -- all the while using "three-card Monte" accounting constructs to keep the transactions off their balance sheets. . .
The Federal Reserve, the president and Congress have their hands full at this time. Their first priority is damage control, and that is as it should be. Eventually, though, the economy will right itself, with or without Washington's help, and the president, the Federal Reserve and Congress will have time to consider what got us into this fix in the first place.
If we had to pick a single event that set off this economic stink bomb, it would have to be Alan Greenspan's decision to support the expansion of bank activities into securities underwriting. While the Congress has a mind of its own, it is extremely doubtful that they would have approved this expansion in the face of his objections. He was at the height of his powers then, and his support for the idea made it bullet-proof, politically.
As soon as possible, Congress should extend its damage control operations to put banking back on solid ground, and reconstruct the wall between banking and stock-market gaming.
43% OF FIRST TIME HOMEOWNERS LAST YEAR PUT NO MONEY DOWN
NOELLE KNOX, USA TODAY - As housing prices soared last year, an eye-popping 43% of first-time home buyers purchased their homes with no-money-down loans, according to a study released Tuesday by the National Association of Realtors. The trend is potentially ominous. The real estate market is cooling in some areas, and rates on adjustable-rate loans are creeping up. As a result, some no-money-down buyers could owe more than their homes are worth. The median first-time home buyer scraped together a down payment of only 2% on a $150,000 home in 2005, the NAR found. Already, home prices in many areas are declining, and the "For Sale" signs are hanging in front yards longer. There's now at least a 50% risk that prices will decline within two years in 11 major metro areas, including San Diego; Boston; Long Island, N.Y.; Los Angeles; and San Francisco, according to PMI Mortgage Insurance's latest U.S. Market Risk Index. . .
Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research says that if housing prices fall at least 10%, it could be even more damaging than the collapse of the high-tech stock bubble in 2000. . . Baker and other economists are concerned that many lenders have pushed a series of creative but potentially dangerous loans to help more Americans afford a home.