HiddenDE
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HiddenDE

Homeless in Delaware’s beach towns

Originally published on July 28, 2018

This is part of the #HiddenDE campaign, which seeks to reveal the hidden issue of family homelessness in Delaware. 1 in 30 kids experience homelessness each year in Delaware — sign up to learn more.

Here are three recent news articles that caught our attention:

Via The Daily Times of Salisbury

Homelessness is a hidden issue in Delaware’s resort towns

Resort areas often don’t support their workforce with affordable housing,” reports Taylor Goebel in The Daily Times of Salisbury. In places like Delaware’s beach towns and Ocean City, Maryland, homelessness increases during the summer, since “rentals are cheaper in the winter.”

Local organizations also report seeing a “large increase in families” experiencing homelessness. This predominantly affects people in the service industry, yet there’s been an uptick in homelessness among “folks in regular professions — ambulance drivers, school teachers and policeman who have been priced out of the market here.”

“I am the new face of homelessness,” said Casey VanCleve, a resident of Ocean City. “It’s not the idea that America has of homelessness — you think of someone who hasn’t bathed, or they don’t want to be housed. There’s a lot of people in this country that are homeless because they missed a paycheck.”

Via the Los Angeles Times

A hidden trend in L.A.: “Huge increase in arrests of homeless”

In Los Angeles, arrests have overall decreased by 15% since 2011 — yet arrests of people experiencing homelessness increased by 31%, according to Gale Holland and Christine Zhang in the Los Angeles Times. To put it another way: “In 2011, 1 in 10 arrests citywide were of homeless people; in 2016, it was 1 in 6.”

Though L.A.’s “quality-of-life” citations — which outlaw sleeping on the sidewalk or living in a car — do not carry prison time, people may end up going to jail if they rack up enough unpaid tickets. This catches “homeless people in a revolving door of debt and arrests that can disqualify them from housing and jobs and prolong their homelessness.” Even though “L.A. officials have denounced ‘criminalizing’ homelessness,” UCLA professor Kelly Lytle Hernández said that “policing of houseless people is becoming a larger share of what the LAPD does.”

“It was demoralizing. It felt like they were trying to break my spirit,” said Reed Segovia, who was arrested after the police “discovered an unpaid ticket for sleeping on the beach.”

Via CityLab

Who counts as “homeless”?

Finally, a story that gets to the core of our HIDDEN campaign: “While popular portrayals of the homeless typically feature individuals living on the streets or in shelters, advocates say there’s a growing crisis of family homelessness in the U.S., one that’s been rendered invisible by HUD’s refusal to count those in need who are living in motels or doubling up with others,” writes Rachel Cohen in CityLab.

HUD — the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development — uses a definition of homelessness that “effectively exclude[s] those not living in shelters or on the streets from qualifying for homeless assistance.” Now, there’s a bill in Congress that would change this. The CEO of Family Promise® national, Claas Ehlers, said that “if we can really fully understand what homelessness looks like, we can draw in a lot more private-sector resources, we can create more awareness, more public will, and highlight the real economic costs of family homelessness.” (Family Promise® of Northern New Castle County is an independently operated affiliate of Family Promise® national.)

This bill is contentious even among homelessness advocates. Steve Berg, the vice president of programs and policy at the National Alliance to End Homelessness VP of programs and policy, said that the bill would “expand assistance eligibility for people who are living in relatively stable situations, not in emergency crisis points.” On the other side, Barbara Duffield of SchoolHouse Connection, a youth homelessness organization, said that “I think HUD’s data is extremely flawed, not only because of their definition, but the way they count homelessness annually is absurd — it’s about the worst method you could use. … We have bad policy that’s coming home to roost, and it’s affecting a lot of people.”

Click here to get email updates like this from the #HiddenDE campaign. Follow the campaign on Instagram (@HiddenDE) to reveal hidden messages about family homelessness. Want to take action? Click here to see how you can end family homelessness.

Presented by Family Promise® of Northern New Castle County, a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to ending family homelessness in Delaware. For more information, contact Ryan Catalani at ryan@familypromisede.org.

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Ryan Catalani

Ryan Catalani

Fighting for justice through advocacy, storytelling, and community-building.