Advocates Say Homeless Need Protection

Group Argues That Crimes Against The Homeless Should Be Hate Crime

The number of attacks on the homeless seems to be down, but the violence of the attacks are going up. Advocates say these attacks should be counted as hate crimes.

Advocates for the homeless say that attacks on the visibly homeless may not be on the rise, but they are getting worse. California and Florida share a dubious distinction among the states by being home to the most attacks on the homeless. California had 30 and Florida had 22. Other states trail in the single digits. The statistics have been kept since 1999. Advocates for the homeless say that the homeless are being attacked because of who they are, and that makes it a hate crime. These advocates say that while the attacks may be on the rise, they are getting more violent and the offenders are getting younger. Younger offenders greater intensity of crimes.

Attacks On The Homeless By The Young

Michael Stoops, Executive Director for the National Coalition of the Homeless, says the economic downturn is making the homeless more visible. In California, anti-vagrancy laws make it difficult for the homeless in California to gather in parks. Stoops tells the Sacramento Bee:

“There’s just absolutely no place in California you can go without coming upon a visible homeless population unless you’re in the parks.” He also says, “attacks are getting more serious, with more bodily harm…People think they can hurt a homeless person because no one will care, and they won’t fight back.”

The homeless are also somewhat wary of dealing with police because of anti-vagrancy laws. The very homelessness that makes them vulnerable could put them in violation of the law. The enforcement of anti-vagrancy laws has been stepped up in recent years.

The attacks in California vary in type and intensity. Some of the attacks include being pelted with objects to burnings. One man was blinded by young people with a paintball gun. These attacks are often perpetrated by people in their 20s and younger. Some of the attacks have even been filmed by the attacker. Advocates say that homeless are entitled to special protection because of their vulnerability.

Making Attacks On The Homeless A Hate Crime

This past legislative session, US Representatives Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas and Robert Wexler, of Florida both Democrats. The legislation would add homelessness as a category in keeping hate crimes statistics. The National Coalition for the Homeless says in a flier promoting the law:

“The Hate Crimes Against the Homeless Statistics Act is important legislation to monitor hate crimes against homeless people. Unfortunately, current legislation does not monitor crimes against people experiencing homelessness, a population group of victims that are also experiencing a pattern of intentional bias-based selection.”

The flier also asks people to report such crimes to their lawmakers.

Alcohol Awareness Month

Alcohol Awareness Month is observed in April. This presents an opportunity to raise awareness of the abuse of alcohol and to encourage people to think for their health and make safe choices.

Alcohol Awareness Month, observed in April, serves as a time to educate the public on alcohol and its dangers while encouraging people to make wise decisions.

Alcohol, a Very Dangerous Drug

Alcohol and alcoholic beverages are grouped under drugs called depressants. Depressants are drugs which alter the function of the central nervous system by affecting neurons there. This results in symptoms such as drowsiness, lack of facial expression and slurred speech among many other things. Alcohol itself has many detrimental effects on the body. Long term effects of alcohol abuse include pancreatitis and liver disease.

Although alcohol can be so harmful, it is still one of the most abused legal drugs in the world. It is therefore fitting that the public is made aware of the consequences of alcohol abuse during Alcohol Awareness month. Alcohol affects everybody, be it directly or indirectly. It is necessary then, that everyone is knowledgeable of the problems brought about by alcohol abuse, as well as the solutions to those problems.

Facts about Alcohol Abuse

Many people are aware that alcohol is dangerous but do not know exactly how much danger alcohol already poses to society. Here are some statistics according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism(NIAAA) and The Alcohol and Drug Addiction Help Center:

  • Almost fourteen million Americans, that is one in every thirteen adults, are alcohol abusers. Less than 25% of these get necessary treatment every year.
  • Approximately one in four children who are younger than eighteen have been exposed to alcohol abuse.
  • People who are starting with drinking before being 15 years old are 4 times likely to be dependent on alcohol in comparison to people who begin drinking at the age of twenty or older.
  • Underage drinking is more likely to kill young people than illegal drugs. About five U.S students die each day as a result of alcohol-related injuries.
  • Alcoholism is the third leading cause of preventable death in America, causing the death of about 85 000 Americans every year.
  • About seventy-five percent of abusive husband or wives have been drinking prior to or at the time of the abuse
  • Fetal Alcoholic Spectrum Disorders(FASD) are the leading preventable cause of birth defects in the U.S.
  • A quarter of all admissions to the emergency rooms, a third of all committed suicides and more than half of all homicides or any kind of incidents including domestic violence are alcohol-related.

Alcoholism is quickly destroying society. Thankfully, there are many advocates who promote and alcohol-free society such as the Alcohol and Drug Addiction Center, NIAAA and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). These people and organizations try their best to create public awareness, especially during alcohol awareness month, of the threat of alcoholism and the ways by which it can be stopped.


For the Homeless There’s No Place Like Shelter

Homelessness Needs a Solution, Volunteers are Part of It

A nice fire, hot cocoa, popcorn and a DVD on TV – these are the reasons many people enjoy winter. Yet, for homeless people, winter is a time of extreme hardship.

There are three main types of homelessness: chronic, temporary or transitional, and episodic. This article focuses mainly on temporarily homeless and how to help homeless charities.

Common Misconceptions About the Homeless

During the downturn of the U.S. and world economies, catastrophic events have resulted in more and more middle-class citizens living out of their cars. Contrary to popular belief, many homeless people have jobs. They may have maxed-out credit cards and checking accounts but cannot afford to pay a deposit plus the first month’s rent that most landlords require.

Temporary homelessness is more common than chronic homelessness which is often a result of a mental illness like psychosis or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Transitional or temporary homelessness can result from many situations including:

  • loss of a job
  • divorce
  • family issues (especially with runaway teens)
  • medical issues and the ensuing costs
  • death of a care provider

It’s not just the rich who fancy warmer climates when the cold winds blow. Thousands of homeless people migrate south each winter. Workers in the social services network of San Diego, a city with year-round moderate temperatures, complain about the influx of transient homeless people. Because of the temperate climate, there’s often a shortage of funding for homeless housing during the colder months.

What is Being Done to Help Homeless People?

Under bridges, on sewer vents, riding a bus or subway, near electrical transformers – in freezing weather, homeless people look for any place that is a bit warmer or protected from the wind to try to sleep. The lucky ones get a bed — sometimes no more than a mat on a cold floor — inside a building. Across the country, churches, hospitals, government institutions, and former military barracks provide housing to distressed people needing shelter.

Seattle staff members at Operation Nightwatch, a charity that helps the homeless, beg providers for additional bed space for cold clients. This year the need is greater but cash donations have been down. Rick Reynolds, the executive director, tells what his organization does in only twenty words! “We get people off the street, into a shelter, and started on the path of recovery every night of the year.”

Pastor Rick, as he is called by the street people he serves, is a master of understatement. His blog tells many homeless stories.

How Can One Individual Person or a Family Help Solve the Problem of Homelessness?


There are many ways one person can make a difference. Pooling the resources of many people and helping homeless charities which are already helping the homeless increases their effectiveness. Volunteers are the lifeblood of non-profit organizations. Local churches and social organizations often have food pantries and clothing cupboards to help needy people. Unpaid workers are needed to help receive, inventory, and distribute donations.

Donate good used items like shoes, clothing, and blankets. If there isn’t a charity for the homeless that can use your donation, give it to a non-profit thrift store where it is turned into cash. Remember to make an itemized list of the donations and get a receipt. Cash (check) gifts are always welcomed. Check with a tax expert to verify the deductibility of any donation.

In San Francisco, St. Anthony’s Foundation provides three meals a day for the needy people in its community. Guests are not required to be homeless, just hungry. St. Anthony’s celebrated serving more than 35 million meals in 2009 but it would not have happened without volunteers. Workers there can always use another pair of hands helping in the kitchen or dining room. Older children are welcome to assist also.

Allowing children over the age of ten or twelve to help charities can be a character building experience. It teaches young people far better than words that not everyone has the advantages and blessings that they enjoy. Regular volunteer work with a parent can become the highlight of a child’s month giving them a sense of adding value to their community. Many organizations are less concerned with the volunteer’s qualifications than their willingness to get involved.

Many people feel inclined to help during the holidays, but donations and volunteers are needed year ‘round. One shelter worker said, “After the apathy during the rest of the year, the holiday influx of do-gooders is often overwhelming for our clients.”

No matter how a person chooses to become involved in solving the problem of homelessness, it helps. Working towards a solution to a social problem of such magnitude is proof of the truth of the old maxim, “Many hands make light work.”