Category Archives: Homelessness

Freezing to death in a parking garage

screenshot-2017-01-13-15-54-52Karen Batts (that’s her on the right of the photo), 52, of Portland, Ore., was evicted from subsidized housing for not paying her rent (she owed $338). She moved into a parking garage, where she froze to death on Saturday, becoming Portland’s fourth person who is homeless to die on the streets just this year.

Ms. Batts had been diagnosed with schizophrenia.

There are no words to describe this, other than to say: This should never happen. Ever.

Meanwhile, Connecticut’s Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced yesterday that the state is now able to match every person who has been verified as chronically homeless to permanent housing.

According to Journey Home:

One challenge we still face in our region is that on average, about 11 people per month are becoming chronically homeless in Greater Hartford.  In addition, Journey Home has identified a number of people who appear likely to be chronically homeless, and thus, we are continuously working with our partner agencies on completing the documentation necessary to verify their chronic homelessness.


Homelessness is not a crime

homeless-child-300x199I wrote this for the New England News Collaborative, with funding from the Melville Charitable Trust.

It may read a little wonky (I have that habit) but honestly, read the story at the beginning and the end. It’s good for what ails ye.

I saw Jesus under a bridge


So yesterday, I went out with the Hartford homeless outreach team, which included my old friend Dave “Big Dave Vega” Duverger, and my new 82nd Airborne Ranger friend, Carlos Martinez, who served in Vietnam about the same time as did my father.

Things were unusually busy, but in addition to climbing beneath bridges, we were stopping people on the street who were pushing shopping carts full of cans and bottles. That included Sister Butler, a woman of an uncertain age who promised to make me a peach pie.

I love peach pie.

Pictured above is Paul. He said that we’d interrupted his morning devotional when we walked up with blankets, gift bags and backpacks at his flop beneath a bridge. By “flop” I mean a bare mattress covered with blankets. And there Paul sat, beaming, next to someone he said was named Noel — fitting, right? — but Noel didn’t roust while we were there, so we covered him with a blanket and left bags for him.

Paul, too, was of an uncertain age, and he was talkative. God woke him up this morning, he said, gently, like a light touch on the thigh. And God told him life is wonderful. God is good, he said.


Want to be a part of CT’s annual Point In Time Count?

homelessEvery year, states that receive federal aid conduct a census of people who are homeless in their state.

Connecticut’s census — a Point In Time count — is scheduled for Jan. 24, and volunteers are needed. This is an awesome way to learn more about homelessness, and you’ll be conducting an important task in the push to end homelessness as we know it in the Nutmeg State. These aren’t just numbers. These are people for whom the state’s recent incredible push hasn’t worked. Yet.

You’ll receive training, and you’ll be performing an incredible task.

To volunteer — and learn more — go here.


How are we doing on getting to zero on homelessness in CT?


Australia’s prime minister dropped a bill in a poor man’s cup…

20Turnbull_xp-master768…and all hell broke loose.

Last week, a photo was circulated of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull placed the U.S. equivalent of $3.80 into the cup of a man who is homeless in Melbourne.

Was he being stingy? Should he not have given that money? Was it just a simple, humane gesture? Some of the commentary centered on Turnbull’s party policies, that appear to have created a ripe environment for homelessness, though I’m only going on what Australian writers are saying, not from any personal knowledge.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: I give when someone asks. I give what I can, and though I’m not always walking around with a roll of $20s, but I give. Would that more people gave, but more to the point, would that more people in power looked at the way the system is gamed against so many people. And would that they fixed that. Yes, the poor will always be with you, but do they have to sink so far down that they need to beg?

To end homelessness, focus on women

download (1)From Amy Sawyer, of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness:

At its core, Opening Doors, the federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness, is powered by an understanding of people’s strengths and experiences, and the need to provide them with the right housing and services opportunities at the right time. This nuanced approach to ending homelessness is key to meeting the unique needs of everyone in the community at risk of or experiencing homelessness. To truly end homelessness for everyone, we must understand and fully respond to the many experiences, needs, challenges, goals, and ambitions of all women experiencing homelessness or a housing crisis.