|—||Douglas Rushkoff, Life Inc.: How the World Became a Corporation and How to Take it Back (via probablyasocialecologist)|
Homeless folks have real solutions to the housing crisis
February 27, 2014
When Bill de Blasio took office on January 1, he inherited a broken, bloated and expensive homeless shelter system that cost almost $1 billion to operate in 2013. He also inherited neighborhoods dotted with vacant buildings and lots that represent both potential housing and jobs. For New York’s homeless, there is a Kafkaesque paradigm where so-called affordable housing is in fact unaffordable due to the federal government’s Area Median Income guidelines.
Those who can’t afford housing are the same unemployed, or low-wage workers, seniors, disabled and just poor New Yorkers in the shelter system. On bitterly cold nights this winter, the shelter-industrial complex housed more than 50,000 adults and children — enough to fill Yankee Stadium. That didn’t include those using the domestic violence shelter system and the untold numbers of homeless folks sleeping in churches, mosques and synagogues. Nor does it include the thousands sleeping in trains, public transit facilities or parks. It doesn’t include the hundreds of thousands doubled or tripled up with friends and family hoping for a break so that they don’t have to go into the shelter system.
Real Roots of the Problem
Homelessness has been framed as the result of individual dysfunction and pathology. “Oh, they’re mentally ill, or they need to get a job,” — this mantra has been repeated by politicians and media for two decades. Picture the Homeless encourages the de Blasio administration to look at the big picture, to take into account rising rents and stagnant incomes at the bottom of the wage scale. Forces like gentrification, property warehousing and disinvestment in effective housing programs such as Section 8 have led us to where we are today.
The bottom-line cause of homelessness is the high cost of housing. Real estate development here has been geared to business interests, hotels and high rises, offices and office towers. When there is new housing construction, it’s for the super rich. Banks and landlords keep buildings empty while they wait for neighborhoods to gentrify, and to get rid of protections on rent-stabilized apartments.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg took away the homeless priority for permanent housing solutions like Section 8 and public housing, replacing them with time-limited rental subsidy programs (first Housing Stability Plus and then the Advantage programs) that were doomed from the start.
Past administrations have cried poverty when asked why they don’t prioritize housing for homeless people, but that’s a lie. The money’s there, it’s just being wasted on a politically connected shelter-industrial complex. A billion dollars a year could house a lot of people. Most shelters get two to three times as much money per month for each homeless household as it would cost to pay their rent.
In 2011, we partnered with the Hunter College Center for Community Planning and Development to devise and execute a replicable methodology for how the city could conduct a vacant property census. We found enough empty buildings and lots to house up to 200,000 people, and that was just in one-third of the city. But the city doesn’t keep track of vacant property and the little bit of money that is out there is being used to house people in shelters.
Every homeless person is different, and it’s true that mental illness and substance abuse play a role in some people losing their housing, but plenty of very wealthy people have issues of substance abuse or mental illness. The root issue is poverty. Public policy needs to address the systemic causes of homelessness. No mayor or president can implement a policy to stop people from having mental illness or losing their jobs, but they can make it so that everyone can afford housing.
There are numerous factors that contribute to record levels of homelessness, like how people coming home from jail with a record are excluded from housing, so there’s nowhere for them to go. Banks are still redlining in certain communities. Institutional racism is also a huge problem — over 90 percent of homeless families in shelters are African-American and/or Latino. Predatory lending has been targeting people of color. Ninety-nine percent of the people who go into housing court get no legal representation, so many of them end up losing their homes.
There’s no cohesive overall plan between government agencies that serve low-income people, and that adds up to a lot of resources being wasted. There’s no unity or collaboration between housing courts and the welfare and shelter systems. HRA, DHS, NYPD — it’s a whole lot of alphabet soup that doesn’t add up to anything.
People say homeless people should go get jobs — but people have jobs! The pay just doesn’t match the rental market. Very low wages, including social security and other income forms for folks who aren’t working, plus inadequate income supports, plus high rents, equal homelessness. It’s simple math.
At Picture the Homeless, we don’t just complain about problems. Homeless people know what’s not working, and they know what needs to change. That’s why our organizing campaigns have concrete policy demands of the new administration.
For starters, it’s unacceptable that the city has no idea how much property is currently vacant. We have to have conduct an annual citywide count of vacant buildings and lots, so we know what kind of resources are out there to develop new housing — and who’s keeping housing off the market. Legislation that would empower the city to do such a count was stalled for three years in the City Council under Christine Quinn. We were heartened to see it identified as a necessary solution on Bill de Blasio’s campaign website, as well as a priority for the City Council’s Progressive Caucus.
The new administration could immediately utilize a small portion of the Department of Homeless Services’ (DHS) shelter budget (even just 1 percent would be almost $10 million!) and create permanent rental subsidies so homeless people can get out of shelters. That funding could also support a pilot project for innovative housing models like community land trusts, which have the potential to create permanently-affordable, democratically-controlled housing for folks at all income levels, as well as supporting small businesses and incubating jobs that pay a living wage.
The city should take all the property whose owners owe taxes on water or violations, and put it into a land bank and develop it for those who really need it. Property that the city acquires through the Third Party Transfer program should be prioritized for nonprofit housing developers, including community land trusts. And the city should create and expand community land trusts that will be permanently affordable to the people who live there.
The new administration could also limit what is considered “affordable housing” to the city of New York. Right now, “affordable housing” can go to folks making upwards of $80,000 a year, because it’s based on Area Median Income calculations that factor in affluent parts of Westchester and Long Island.
The Koch brothers are quietly seeking to ban new mass transit in Tennessee.
In the 19th century, the father of modern gynecology, J. Marion Sims, conducted his research experiments on enslaved Black women. Sims performed the invasive and torturous procedures without anesthesia. J. Marion Sims’ justification for choosing not to anesthetize his test subjects was that he did not believe Black women felt pain at all. In an 1857 lecture, he stated that it was “not painful enough to justify the trouble”.
The Tuskegee Institute and the Public Health Service began a study of the natural progression of syphilis involving 600 Black men (399 with syphilis, 201 uninfected) in 1932. The infected men involved in the study were never made aware of their condition upon diagnosis and believed they were being treated for “bad blood”. In exchange for their participation, the men received free medical examinations and burial insurance. They were never treated for the disease. These trials went on until 1972 when the study was exposed by The Associated Press. The remaining victims and their family members won a $10,000,000 reparations settlement which guaranteed them lifetime health coverage and burial insurance.
The Pellagra Incident
Pellagra is an ailment commonly caused by a lack of niacin (vitamin B-13) in the human diet. The symptoms include skin lesions, sunlight sensitivity, dementia and ends in death. At the turn of the twentieth century, millions of people in the United States died from this disease. Scientists claimed that the cause of the disease was a toxin found in corn. In 1915, the U.S. Surgeon General ordered government funded experiments on Black prisoners afflicted with pellagra. Poor diet and niacin deficiency was found to be the cause. However, these life-saving findings were not released to the public until 1935 because the majority of Pellagra-induced deaths affected Black communities.
In 1945, African-American Ebb Cade, a 53-year-old truck driver, was secretly injected with plutonium, the substance used to make nuclear bombs. After breaking several of his bones in automotible accident, he was rushed to the emergency room. Unbeknownst to Ebb Cade, he was in the care of doctors that were also U.S. Atomic Agency employees. For six months, he was held in the hospital under the belief that they were treating his injuries. During that time, he was injected with more than 40 times the amount of plutonium an average person is exposed to in a lifetime. The doctors and researchers collected bone samples and extracted 15 teeth to monitor the effects of his exposure. Ebb Cade grew suspicious of his broken-bone treatments and escaped from the hospital. Unfortunately, Cade suffered from the brutal effects of intense radiation until he died from heart failure eight years later at the age of 61.
In the early 1950′s, the United States government conducted an experiment to see if mosquitoes could be weaponized. The CIA and the U.S. military released nearly a half million mosquitoes carrying yellow fever and dengue fever viruses into several Black communities in Florida. In the predominantly Black community of Avon Park, dozens of Black people became ill, eight dying as a result of this government-issued mosquito attack.
In June 1990, more than 1500 six-month old Black and Hispanic babies in Los Angeles were given what seemed to be a standard measles vaccination. The parents were not told that this particular vaccine, Edmonston Zagreb measles vaccine (EZ), was still in its research phase and not approved by the FDA. The EZ vaccine already had a reputation in Senegal, Guinea Bissau and Haiti, triggering an increased death rate among infant girls, most not living past the age of two. The Center for Disease Control would later confess that the infants were injected with an experimental vaccination without their parent’s knowledge. Presently, it is believed that many of these families are still unaware that their babies were used as guinea pigs.
In the year 2000, Federally funded researchers from John Hopkins University, the EPA, HUD, The Kennedy Krieger Institute and Department of Agriculture spread sludge from a sewage treatment plant on the lawns of nine low-income families, and a vacant lot in Baltimore and East St. Louis. The families and residents were told the sludge was safe and not informed about the toxic mixture of human and industrial waste the sludge contained. The research was conducted to see if the toxic waste absorbed into the water supply could effectively reduce lead levels in children.
In December 2012, at least 500 children in Gouro, Chad were forcibly given the MenAfriVac during school resulting in dangerous side effects including convulsions, and paralysis. Parents were not notified of any plans to vaccination their children at school and parental consent was never requested. The forced vaccinations were part of an aggressive healthcare initiative sponsored by several internationally revered organizations including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Health Organization and UNICEF.
STONY BROOK, N.Y. (AP) — Days after biology major Gillian Carll arrived at Stony Brook University last fall, she encountered a young woman on a bench outside her dormitory who said she had nothing to eat. “I was just like, ‘Oh, my gosh!’ …
STONY BROOK, N.Y. (AP) — Days after biology major Gillian Carll arrived at Stony Brook University last fall, she encountered a young woman on a bench outside her dormitory who said she had nothing to eat.
"I was just like, ‘Oh, my gosh!’ I didn’t know kids could afford to go here but couldn’t have mac and cheese or something like that," said the Livonia, N.Y., freshman. "It was kind of unbelievable."
Carll got the student some food from her dorm room and later volunteered at Stony Brook’s new food pantry — one of dozens cropping up at colleges across the country in recent years as educators acknowledge the struggles many students face as the cost of getting a higher education continues to soar.
"The perception is of college students that if you are able to go to college and you have an opportunity to go to college, you’re part of the haves of this country, not part of the have-nots," said Beth McGuire-Fredericks, assistant director for college housing at the Stony Brook campus on eastern Long Island and a co-founder of the pantry.
"How can someone who’s in college be someone who has a need like food?"
Tuition alone has become a growing burden, rising 27 percent at public colleges and 14 percent at private schools in the past five years, according to the College Board. Add in expenses for books, housing and other necessities of college life and some are left to choose between eating and learning. Also, most students enrolled in college at least half time are not eligible for food stamps.
"A lot of schools are coming to the realization that this is important," said Nate Smith-Tyge, director of the Michigan State University Food Bank and co-founder of the College and University Food Bank Alliance, which represents about 50 college food banks across the country.
Most of them started in the past four or five years and are run by the colleges or student groups. Smith-Tyge estimates there may be another 50 food pantries on campuses that have yet to join his organization.
"That doesn’t surprise me at all," said Richard Vedder, director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, a research organization that has linked the trend of rising college tuitions, in part, to higher personnel costs.
Vedder said it was a “little bit hypocritical” of colleges to say they are helping their students. “They wouldn’t need pantries if they hadn’t raised prices,” he said.
Clare Cady, a co-founder of the Food Bank Alliance and head of the Oregon State University food bank, said the profiles of recipients vary from undergraduate students who have opted for cheaper meal plans that give students fewer dining options to people dealing with unexpected economic hardships to students raising children while struggling to pay tuition.
"Some of these students are deeply committed to earning a degree and are making very difficult choices," Cady said.
At Stony Brook, where the average cost for an undergraduate residential student — tuition, fees, room and board — is $19,358 a year, officials opened the food pantry last year after learning that students had started a website sharing information about campus events where free food was being offered.
"We were hearing rumblings around campus that said students were running out of meal points at the end of the semester," said Casey McGloin, a food pantry co-founder.
"We wanted to serve both the students who were hurting in that they didn’t have enough to eat period throughout the day and also the students who could only afford to buy pizza or ramen," she said.
When the doors opened last September, more than 50 students were waiting to be helped. The pantry, which is located in a dormitory basement, is open two nights a week. The pantry provided more than 500 bags of staples like pasta, fruit, vegetables, tuna, breakfast bars and other items in the first semester, McGloin said. Some students have opted to hand back some of the items in the bag, telling volunteers they only need a can of soup or other item to get them through the night.
Greeshma Johnson, a 19-year-old health science major from Queens Village, N.Y., said she opted for a less-expensive meal plan at Stony Brook to save money and uses the food pantry to supplement her dining options. “The food pantry allows us to have something extra in case you get hungry,” she said. “Every year, tuition gets a little higher.”
Support from the college community has been overwhelming; a food drive organized by student varsity athletes brought in more than 100 pounds of food last semester. The pantry has actually had to turn away some donations.
"We had to say we can’t accept any more; we didn’t have the space," McGuire-Fredericks said. "We’ve had so many departments, organizations and clubs saying, ‘Let us know when you’re strapped again.’
My polling place is not accessible (the line to vote goes up an enormous staircase), so I have to use the “special” accommodations instead of voting like everyone else.
But if I didn’t know about that option, I would’ve just turned away. And what about all the people that don’t consider themselves disabled and wouldn’t ask for accommodations but also can’t stand in line for HOURS at a time, either because of their knees or their hearts or their kids or their jobs?
Not to mention these absurd “voter ID” laws that require people of color, poor people, old people, students, and disabled people - disproportionately - to stand in line at the DMV for hours on end just for the “privilege” <ahem shouldn’t it be a right> to vote.
The paradox: masculinity is strength, power, and dominance… but femininity is terrifying. Gender rules insist that men must avoid association with the feminine at all costs because, if they do not, they are weak. They are pussies, bitches, women, girls. Femininity is weakness and yet, oddly, it has the power to strip men of their manliness. It is as if, as sociologist Gwen Sharp once put it, “masculinity is so fragile that apparently even the slightest brush with the feminine destroys it.”
Let’s be clear. The reason he’s afraid of femininity is because it’s reviled. It makes you a woman, which makes you worthless. Which is fine for the ladies, but dudes are advised to avoid personal denigration if at all possible.
Thanks Summer’s Eve, you make my job easy.
Hey Friends - I have a comp exam at the end of the month, so I won’t have much time to queue things up for the next few weeks. Take care and stay sociological!
Men who engaged in domestic violence consistently overestimated how common such behavior is, and the more they overestimated it the more they engaged in abusing their partner in the previous 90 days, according to new research conducted at the University of Washington.
Those men overestimated by two to three times the actual rates of seven behaviors ranging from throwing something at a partner to rape, according Clayton Neighbors, lead author of a paper to be published in a spring issue of the journal Violence Against Women.
The research looked at 124 men who were enrolled in a larger treatment intervention study for domestic violence. The men, all of whom had participated in violence against a partner in the previous 90 days, were asked to estimate the percentage of men who had ever engaged in seven forms of abuse. These included throwing something at a partner that could hurt; pushing, grabbing or shoving a partner; slapping or hitting; choking; beating up a partner; threatening a partner with a gun; and forcing a partner to have sex when they did not want to.
Data on the percentage of men who actually engaged in these abusive behaviors were drawn from the National Violence Against Women Survey, funded by the National Institute of Justice and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In every case the men vastly overestimated the actual instances of abuse. For example, the participants on average thought 27.6 percent of men had thrown something with the intent of hurting a partner while the actual number is 11.9 percent. Similarly, they believed 23.6 percent of men had forced their partner to have sex involuntarily compared to 7.9 percent in reality.
"With sexual assault the more a man thought it was prevalent the more likely he was to engage in such behavior. If we can correct misperceptions about the prevalence of intimate partner violence, we have a chance to change men’s behavior. If you give them factual information it is harder for them to justify their behavior," [Clayton] Neighbors said.
University of Washington, "Male batterers consistently overestimate rates of violence toward partners, study finds." March 11, 2010.
Seven years ago, a pair of scholars released a study of NBA referees (pdf) that found white officiating crews more likely to call fouls against black player—and, to a lesser degree, black officiating crews more likely to call fouls against white players. The study drew broad media attention and caused a small stir in the league. Then-Commissioner David Stern, questioned its validity in the New York Times, and players weighed in on sports-talk radio and ESPN .
The same scholars, Justin Wolfers of the University of Michigan and Joseph Price of Brigham Young University, returned to the subject of racially biased referees in a working paper released in December with an astounding result. Once the results of the original study were widely known, the bias disappeared. “When we conduct the same tests for own-race bias in the period immediately following the media coverage,” they wrote, “we find none exists.”
“Men gain by having sex with women, but women lose by having sex. Men feel a sense of ownership over the women they sleep with. That’s where phrases like “sloppy seconds” and “left-overs” come from. It is in this environment, this landscape that the perpetrator can operate with impunity.”