>~More and more Americans are asking where to go to receive social services, says the New York Times. This new group of people experiencing poverty and homelessness is comprised mostly of families whose breadwinners have lost their jobs due to the recession. For the first time, they are having to ask for help and are realizing that they have no idea how to go about navigating both non-profit and government-funded social service programs.
~According to a report by the Brookings Institution, unemployment rates have grown faster in DC suburbs than in the city itself.
~The About Homelessness blog asks “Why are people homeless?” and provides information on the four different types of homelessness that the National Alliance to End Homelessness focuses on.
~We’ve been spotted all over the blogosphere this past week, but we missed the ongoing coverage we’ve been getting on The Slow Cook blog, where both our Gleaning program and the Save our Safety Net campaign have been highlighted. Thanks for reading about, blogging about, and supporting our initiatives!
>~Sharon Feuer Gruber, our blogging Nutrition Initiative Adviser, has been on a spring holiday at the Sustainable Food blog at change.org, producing all sorts of discussions over the Series of Tubes. The subject of her posts are Bread for the City’s Nutrition Initiative–an ongoing effort to improve the health of our community. One of our major efforts has been providing healthy food including fresh produce to all the low-income residents who utilize our food pantry. A series of cooking classes called Fit for Fun, a Health Peer Education Program, gleaning trips to local farms, and much more have come out of this initiative, as well.
~Kathryn Baer let us know
about a report published last week by the Homeless Services Planning and Coordinating Committee of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. The report states
that the number of officially homeless people in the greater Washington area has increased over the past year by 2.4%. Of the 12, 035 people who are reported as “literally homeless” in greater Washington, 6,228 are living in DC. Also important is this statistic: “Twenty-one (21) percent of these persons report severe mental illness; 23 percent have a chronic health problem and 15 percent are physically disabled.” There are currently 1,426 homeless children in DC, up 24% over last year.
>First a word to DC’s many lawyers: Happy Law Day! Started in 1958, May 1st legally became Law Day in 1961. Many groups of lawyers come to DC around this time to lobby Congress for all sorts of things. Our lawyers will spend the day in court as part of the Lawyer of the Day program, through which we take on civil cases when the defendent can’t afford an attorney.
~Speaking of the Lawyer of the Day program, City Desk’s Jason Cherkis picked up on the good news we reported
about civil legal services in DC. Earlier this week, the Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to maintain funding for a host of needed legal services
. As City Desk reported, 98 percent of respondents in cases filed in the Domestic Violence Unit in D.C. Superior Court don’t have representation. They go into court to defend their home themselves
. Thanks to Jason for drawing attention to the importance of civil legal funding to low-income residents in DC.
was, at one time, a client at Bread for the City. Now she has a vibrant fashion column in the Examiner, donates to Bread for the City monthly, and is a passionate advocate for individual giving. You should read her column about her latest charity initiative
~Councilmember Graham has a really interesting interview on The Heights Life
, talking about development, the need to preserve low-income housing, and how he loves to party at Wonderland.
~The CKP Blog
, run by the non-profit Campus Kitchens, has a good discussion about trying to reduce waste. Considering they deliver meals, this is no small feat. Right now many Campus Kitchens are using styrofoam clamshells because they’re cheap and efficient. But one of their Kitches has come up with another solution–tupperware! Liz Whitehurst tells us that the kinks are still being worked out, but this is a perfect example of how direct-service non-profits are responding to the national call to reduce waste. Good work, Campus Kitchens!
~DCFPI’s blog says
the Youth Employment Program needs to heighten accountability if it is going to truly help young people. With 21,000 participants and 23 million in funding, accountability structures must be a mind-numbing thought.
>~The New York Times is reporting that newspapers created and sold by the homeless population are receiving wider circulation despite the recession. There are a number of newspapers all over the country–providing jobs for homeless residents either writing content or collecting cash as vendors. The skills learned from these positions are easily transferred to other areas, and the news stories often deal with the underbelly of homelessness that rarely makes its way into mainstream media sources. In fact, your author is an unabashed admirer of DC’s own newspaper for the homeless, Street Sense! On their blog, Street Sense is reporting that, like so many non-profits, their support from foundations is drying up even as demand for their service increases. They’ve been forced to limit their print edition to fewer pages, and use paper that is not as pleasant to the eye.
~DCist and Washington Grantmaker’s Daily both picked up the WaPo story earlier this week that DC has seen a 15% increase in homeless families over last year. As expected, the three major perpetrators appear to be unemployment, the high cost of housing, and foreclosures.
~According to the Examiner, The Treasury Department is reporting benefit payments from the unemployment trust fund totaled $44.6 billion so far this budget year, up from $19.4 billion last year.
~Hunger in America’s Greg Plotkin is writing about fixing our food system, and though he’s talking about California, his post could just as easily be about Greater Washington. We’ve got some ideas of our own, and food insecurity is something we’ll continue to talk about until healthy and affordable food is available to all DC residents.
>~Bread for the City recently came out in support of the Bag Bill, a measure that would put a five cent fee on plastic and paper bags at grocery stores. As we discussed, Councilmember Wells came to our Southeast Center to discuss the specifics of the legislation, and also take suggestions from our staff on how to implement the program in a way that didn’t disproportionately affect low-income residents. A number of helpful measures were built into the bill, but on top of that reusable bags will be available for Bread for the City, public agencies, and other non-profits to distribute free of charge. Greater Greater Washington, And Now, Anacostia, The River East Idealist, and Congress Heights on the Rise have also come out in support of the measure which we believe will help drastically reduce contamination of the Anacostia River.
~The AFRO started a series to document what homelessness really means in the nation’s capital. The first article by Joseph Young follows Myra Diggs, a 43 year old woman whose bipolar disorder was misdiagnosed.
~TPM had a nice write-up about how Bread for the City is handling the weak economy, the Poverty & Policy Blog continued our discussion of how TANF needs to be given a cost of living adjustment (among other things), and renewshaw has a helpful, condensed list of all the changes (including Bread for the City’s expansion) that are slated to take place in Shaw.
>~Bread for the City had a groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday!!! All of the specifics of the new, bigger facility are on this old internet here along with some of the remarks from our friends. DCist was kind enough to cover the event, as well as the Washington Post. Thank you to all of our readers who moseyed over, and especially those who flagged me down to say hello. It was nice to see so many people come out to support us. Michael Blue, a long-time patient of Dr. Randi, gave a speech about the need for a bigger clinic that is now up on this blog.
~Kathy Kretman, Director of Georgetown University’s Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership, praised our Executive Director George Jones in the Washington Post this week. Kathy says that, “George Jones and the Bread for the City staff set an example of how to handle this economic crisis with grace and dignity. They are true leaders.” Thank you, Kathy. That’s a really nice thing to say.
~MPNnow, the leading news source for suburban Rochester and the Finger Lakes, picked up a story about one of our volunteer groups!! The group, which was down from Rochester on a mission trip, came through the Youth Service Opportunities Project, a non-profit organization that warms my heart by linking us over 200 volunteers per year. Thank you to our friends in Rochester—you’re welcome back anytime!
~The number of homeless residents in DC jumped by 3 percent this past year to 6,228 residents. Of that, 2,294 people are in homeless families—a sharp 25% increase over last year.
>~The New York Times says that New York City is seeing an influx of volunteers as people who are laid off get out of the house and do something with their free time. Unfortunately, they also write that the increase in volunteers is coming just as donations are going down and programs are being forced to scale back their efforts. An interesting problem to have, and one we are also dealing with here in DC.
~Remember last year when “Forced Out,” a series by Washington Post reporters Debbie Cenziper and Sarah Cohen, brought to light some of the tactics used by DC landlords to evict low-income tenants? We do too, and we’re happy to hear that they recently won the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Journalism! Debbie Cenziper does a great recap of the series that is very insightful.
~One Saturday a month, volunteer lawyers from local firms partner with the DC Bar Pro Bono Program to run advice and referral clinics out of Bread for the City’s two locations. Since I’m always here on those Saturdays with my own volunteers, I see the outstanding work they do. People flood into Bread for the City for all kinds of legal needs. The Pro Bono Program’s website has an incredible story this week about how they helped a teenager who recently lost her mother.
~We have a new friend! Martha’s Table launched their blog, “Tidbits from the Table,” today! They have a really nice-looking site and pictures of adorable kids. Who doesn’t love that stuff?
~Former Majority Leader Tom Daschle wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post about how he is not essential to health care reform. His main point is that reform will happen this year no matter who is in the position of HHS Secretary because the climate is right for it. Well, that’s certainly good news for the uninsured, but reform takes a number of different forms. Ultimately the type of reform we get will depend a great deal on who has a seat at the drafting table, and that’s where I think Mr. Daschle’s argument falls apart. For many, many years Mr. Daschle supported plans to expand the community clinic infrastructure–a specific plan that will save money while increasing care in underserved communities. He also called current community health centers a godsend, emphasizing the need to champion primary care. A true “reform” in health care will mean more than getting insurance cards into the hands of citizens. It will mean giving them a place to go once they have it, and that’s where I think Mr. Daschle showed his stars. Though not essential, I still maintain he certainly would have been helpful.