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Archive for April 2008

Charities Forced To Do More With Less – Please Support Your American Veteran Food Assistance Program

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By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) — Ordinary Americans aren’t the only ones being punished by tough economic times. Charities say they need help, too.

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Food bank leaders say they they are facing one of the worst food shortages in decades.

Charitable groups that help the poor — food banks, thrift stores, shelters — say the slumping economy is eroding their ability to help the nation’s needy. They report declining donations and a surge in people seeking help.

Bill Bolling, the founder of the Atlanta Community Food Bank, says he’s experienced several recessions but never seen so many working people visit food banks. Bolling’s charity donates food to 800 nonprofit groups in Georgia.

“This is new for us,” Bolling said. “People are giving up buying groceries so that they can pay rent and put gas in the car.”

National charities like Goodwill Industries International Inc. and The Salvation Army give the same grim assessment — donations are down, needs are up.

At least 1.3 million more people have enrolled in the federal Food Stamp Program compared to last year, says Ross Fraser, a spokesman for America’s Second Harvest, one of the nation’s largest hunger-relief groups. It donates food to at least 200 food banks.

“People who have been in food banking for years say it’s the worst they’ve ever seen,” Fraser said.

People often assume food bank customers are homeless. But several food bank officials across the country say that many of their customers are working-class people and their numbers are increasing.

They are people like Lynette Copeland, who works full-time as a clerk at a rehabilitation center in Atlanta, Georgia. She’s buying a Habitat for Humanity house and drives a car. But she says she doesn’t make enough money to pay her bills.

Copeland says she depends on the Atlanta food bank to feed the four grandchildren she raises alone. She says the high costs of food, fuel and daycare force her to eat meat sparingly and shop at Goodwill.

“Although everything is going up, your pay rate doesn’t go up,” she said.

Lately, Copeland says she has noticed a change in the makeup of the customers visiting her food bank. Instead of the homeless and destitute, people come from all walks of life: the elderly, men in security guard uniforms and mothers with children.

Many are first-timers. Some are too ashamed to ask for food in front of others; so they walk to the side of the food bank where fewer people are gathered to receive food, she says. Video Watch food bank leaders talk about their needs »

“I’m never ashamed to ask for help,” Copeland says. “I don’t care how people look at me.”

Charities blame their struggles on a brutal convergence of factors: rising food and fuel prices, the foreclosure crisis, and a decline in federal donations to food pantries.

Donna Rogers, a spokeswoman for the United Food Bank in Mesa, Arizona, says her group is trying to do more to accommodate the surge in customers. Her bank distributes food to soup kitchens and shelters in Arizona.

They are trying to give more, though, with less. Donations of canned goods are down 35 percent from last year; dairy and frozen meat donations are down by 26 percent, Rogers says.

The decrease in donations is coming at the same time food prices are increasing, she says. The price of macaroni and cheese, for example, increased by 44 percent from last year’s price.

“It’s been the worst case of food inflation of 20 years,” Rogers says.

The amount of surplus food they receive from the federal government is also decreasing.

The federal government donated $242 million in surplus food to food banks, soup kitchens and emergency shelters in 2003. Last year, it donated $58 million in surplus food to the same places, says Jean Daniel, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Agricultural.

The federal government’s food donations didn’t decline because it decided to provide less, she says. It declined because the American agricultural industry is experiencing strong sales and record exports.

The federal government buys surplus food from farmers to donate to charities. Those farmers, though, have less surplus food to sell because the agricultural market is so strong.

A farm bill pending in Congress would increase aid to food banks, but it hasn’t passed yet, says Fraser, with America’s Second Harvest.

“If the farm bill is passed, it’ll give millions of dollars in aid to food banks,” Fraser says.

Even if the farm bill is passed, just getting food to needy people may become a problem. High fuel prices are bleeding charities, several say.

The executive director of one food bank in Orlando, Florida says one of his drivers paid $880 to fill up a tractor- trailer hauling donated food.

It would have cost about $660 to fill up the tank last year, says Dave Krepcho, executive director of the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.

“This is getting really crazy,” Krepcho says. “If those trucks don’t move, the food doesn’t flow.”

People are even turning to charity in unexpected places, says one Salvation Army spokeswoman.

Spokeswoman Melissa Temme, said a Salvation Army shelter in one of the most affluent counties in Kansas recently reported it was filled to capacity with a waiting list.

The 13-year-old center has never been full before, she said.

Salvation centers across the country are reporting similar stories, she says.

“Some areas had more people coming to them and other areas had the same number of people but the extent of their need increased,” Temme says.

Copeland, the Atlanta food bank customer, says she can’t envision a day when she won’t have to depend on charity for survival. Her bills are too much and her pay too little.

And, she says, her faith helps her through these tough times.

“If you don’t have a strong spiritual foundation, you cannot survive what’s going on today,” she says.

“I get through with a lot of prayer.”

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Written by americanveterannewspaper

April 24, 2008 at 2:35 am

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Jack Davis Restaurant Law

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FCHonline.org

 


Florida Coalition For The Homeless
606 W. 4th. Ave. Ste12 Tallahassee, FL 32303 • 1.877.205.0021

“The Jack Davis Florida Restaurant Lending a Helping Hand Act” is on its way to become law!

Yesterday, the Florida House of Representatives unanimously passed the “Jack Davis Florida Restaurant Lending a Helping Hand Act” which was also passed by the Florida Senate on March 13. Yesterday’s House vote was on CS/SB 276, which was substitute for HB 99 to ensure the bill passed by both chambers were identical.

The new law will take effect on law will become law on July 1, 2008 (barring a veto from the Governor which is not expected).

THANK YOU to everyone who took the time to contact your elected officials and showed your support of this bill. YOUR VOICE does make a difference!!!

This law is important to our homeless and near homeless neighbors as it clearly allows restaurants to provide prepared food, with limited liability, to non-profit organizations and homeless shelters who will then hand out the food to our hungry neighbors.

Many restaurants and public food service establishments have expressed a desire to donate food to homeless service providers/shelters, however most have been reluctant to do so because of the liability that may result.

This bill would amend the current statue which, has generally been interpreted to mean individuals or groups, not food service businesses, and extends the current protection from criminal and civil liability to a good faith donor or gleaner of any canned or perishable food apparently fit for human consumption to a charitable or nonprofit organization for free distribution to include all foods that have been prepared at a public food service establishment licensed. Any donor operating under the provisions of this bill must comply with laws regulating health or sanitation. Additionally, this immunity from criminal penalty or civil damages does not apply if an injury is caused by the gross negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct of the donor or gleaner.

Jack Davis, a middle-school student from South Florida contacted his local lawmakers, Representative Ari Porth and Senator Nan Rich to see what could be done to allow restaurants to donate food to nonprofit organizations to provide to hungry people in the state.

Lesa Weikel
Community Relations Manager
PO Box 360181
Tampa, FL 33673-0181
O: (813) 223-6115
F: (813) 223-6178

 

Written by americanveterannewspaper

April 23, 2008 at 2:40 am

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President Bush Signs H.R. 1593, the Second Chance Act of 2007

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President Bush on Wednesday said, “Our government has a responsibility to help prisoners to return as contributing members of their community. But this does not mean that the government has all the answers. Some of the most important work to help ex-convicts is done outside of Washington, D.C., in faith-based communities and community-based groups. It’s done on streets and small town community centers. It’s done in churches and synagogues and temples and mosques.” Click here to read full remarks.

 

Fact Sheet: Second Chance Act of 2007

The Second Chance Act (H.R. 1593) will help transform lives and build safer communities by helping prisoners who are returning to society break cycles of crime and start new lives. The legislation formally authorizes key elements of the successful Prisoner Reentry Initiative (PRI), announced by the President in 2004, to help prisoners effectively reintegrate into the community.  Additionally, the Second Chance Act enhances drug treatment, mentoring, and transitional services for ex-offenders through partnerships with local corrections agencies and faith-based and community organizations. Full Fact Sheet.

Prisoner Reentry Program Highlighted During FBCI Anniversary

On January 29, 2008, President Bush celebrated the seventh anniversary of the Faith-Based and Community Initiative (FBCI) by touring the Jericho prisoner reentry program in Baltimore, MD.  Jericho is a grantee of the Prisoner Reentry Initiative (PRI), which the President proposed in 2004 as a signature program of the Faith-Based and Community Initiative. Fact Sheet: FBCI – A Quiet Revolution

FBCI National Summit on Prisoner Reentry Issues, Los Angeles

Last November, the OFBCI hosted the first-ever White House Prisoner Reentry Summit in Los Angeles, CA.  White House OFBCI Director Jay Hein and Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao were joined by more than 1,000 individuals from 47 States, including Federal, State and local corrections officials, academics, and nonprofit leaders.  Two days of training and workshops centered on replicable models for government partnership with community- and faith-based organizations to reduce crime and break cycles of recidivism.  Fact Sheet: Prisoner Reentry

Written by americanveterannewspaper

April 11, 2008 at 3:32 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Senate McKinney Appropriations Letter

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Seeking Signatures on Senate McKinney Appropriations Letter
 
Advocates are urged to ask their Senators to sign a letter led by Senators Reed (D-RI) and Martinez (R-FL) to the Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (T-HUD) Appropriations Subcommittee in support of including $2 billion for HUD’s McKinney- Vento Homeless Assistance Grants in the fiscal year (FY) 2009 appropriations bill.ACTION NEEDED:

* CONTACT YOUR SENATORS’ OFFICES.

  • Ask the staff person who works on housing issues if their boss will sign this letter. (We can help provide phone numbers and staff email addresses.)
  • Let staff know if he/she signed a similar letter last year (Click here for a list of last year’s signers).
  • Describe the success of a local McKinney-funded program and what you could do with more resources.

 

 

* ACT FAST. PLEASE CALL BY WED., APRIL 9.

  • This type of request typically takes a few days for approval. We need plenty of time to get an answer from staff.

 

 

* REPORT BACK.

  • Please report responses from Congressional staff to Sarah Kahn (skahn@naeh.org / 202-942-8259) by Wed., April 9.

 

 

 

Letter Details
 
Click here for a copy of the letter to the THUD subcommittee.
Click here for a copy of the letter from Senators Reed (D-RI) and Martinez (R-FL) seeking signatures from their Senate colleagues. These documents include information about McKinney funding to help craft your message to Congressional staff.
 

Background
 
A funding level of $2 billion for McKinney Grants is $364 million above the President’s FY 2009 budget request and $414 million over the FY 2008 level for this program.HUD estimates that the cost of renewals alone will be approximately $1.5 billion (including emergency shelter grants). Therefore, $2 billion will renew existing projects while providing new resources for communities to address unmet housing and service needs.

It is up to the Appropriations Committee and Subcommittees to decide on the details of the appropriations bills. The Appropriations T-HUD Subcommittee will mark up (consider) the appropriations bill as early as April. This letter to the T- HUD Subcommittee is a critical step in ensuring that McKinney funding is significantly increased.

For more information, please contact Sarah Kahn (skahn@naeh.org 202-942- 8259.)

 

 

Written by americanveterannewspaper

April 4, 2008 at 4:49 pm

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Rural Homeless Initiative

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Spotlight On…

Rural Homeless Initiative of Southeast and Central Ohio

For the past two years, the National Alliance to End Homelessness has worked collaboratively with the Osteopathic Heritage Foundations and seventeen rural counties in Ohio on the Rural Homeless Initiative of Southeast and Central Ohio, or the RHISCO Project. These efforts resulted in sixteen communities adopting and beginning to implement plans to end homelessness. The process of creating those plans is detailed in a report, Rural Homeless Initiative of Southeast and Central Ohio: A National Model for Planning to End Rural Homelessness, that provides an extensive discussion of the RHISCO Project, the issue of rural homelessness, and the nature of the participating counties. The report also highlights the cross cutting findings, promising practices, and challenges and opportunities that emerged from the RHISCO Project. This report will be a useful tool for all rural communities looking to develop ten year plans to end homelessness and working to advance better approaches to address the issue.

Rural Homeless Initiative of Southeast and Central Ohio: A National Model for Planning to End Rural Homelessness

 

 
 

HUD Publishes FY 2008 NOFA and General Section

On March 19, 2008, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) published the NOFA Policy Requirements and General Section to HUD’s FY2008 NOFA for Discretionary Programs. This notice provides prospective applicants for HUD competitive funding with the opportunity to become familiar with the General Section of HUD’s FY2008 NOFAs, in advance of publication of any FY2008 NOFAs. The expected publication data of the NOFA will be no earlier than July 1, 2008. Although the application timeline will be delayed in 2008, HUD expects to make an on-time announcement of awards.

HUD Secretary Jackson Resigns

On March 31, U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Alphonso Jackson announced his resignation. Jackson will be stepping down on April 18, 2008. Jackson cited a need to focus on personal and family members as the reason for his resignation.
His resignation follows a letter from Senators Chris Dodd (D-CT), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and Patty Murray (D-WA), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD), to President Bush calling for Secretary Jackson’s resignation. The letter was in response to hearings before their respective Committees during which Secretary Jackson continually refused to respond to questions, including ones in regards to allegations of impropriety in awarding contracts that he is currently under investigation for.
Secretary Jackson first joined the Bush Administration in June of 2001 as HUD’s Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer. The Senate unanimously confirmed Jackson as Secretary of HUD on March 31, 2004. He is the only HUD Secretary to run a public housing agency and serve as chairman of a redevelopment authority.

Second Annual Homeless Report Released by HUD

During a six month period from January to June 2006, 1,150,000 persons used emergency shelter and/or transitional housing, according to The Second Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress (AHAR 2), published in March 2008 by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The total includes 838,000 persons in households without children (73 percent) and 313,000 persons in households with children (27 percent). The six-month estimate (January to June 2006) is 2.5 times the one night sheltered count (January 2005) and 1.6 times the total number of sheltered homeless persons over a three-month period (February to April 2005) reported in the first AHAR. According to the report, “These estimates suggest that… a three month count cannot be doubled to produce a six-month count.” The data reveals an important pattern of homelessness, where the length of time people spend homeless dramatically affects annual estimates. For instance, persons in families, who tend to stay in shelter or transitional housing for longer periods than single adults, will make up a smaller proportion of the homeless population over the course of the year.
While AHAR 2 cannot yet look at HMIS data to measure trends in homelessness, the report includes estimates from local point-in-time counts, including a state by state look at the numbers. Additionally, AHAR 2 provides information on the characteristics of people who experience homelessness, our nation’s capacity for sheltering people, and how homeless persons use emergency shelter and transitional housing.

In the Media: Female Homeless Veterans

Last week, Medill News Services asked the question, “Will more women vets become homeless?” The article highlighted The Prince Home, which opened February 25 and is the first state-run treatment program for homeless veterans with disabilities in Illinois. Deanna Mackey, director of the homeless and disabled program at The Prince Home, said they accepted their first female veteran into the program two weeks earlier, but that she regularly gets calls from female veterans seeking assistance. The article also reviewed several studies that focused on female homeless veterans. In July 2003, the American Journal of Public Health reported that although female veterans make up approximately 4 percent of the homeless population, they are four times more likely than female civilians to become homeless. According to the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Center for PTSD, this may be because women tend to have more access to resources early on, like closer social networks and food stamps for their family, but by the time they become homeless, their mental health issues are more severe than those of homeless men. Overall, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs estimates that 39 percent of the women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan will have some sort of mental health disorder, such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Katherine Dong, a women’s veterans program director at the North Chicago VA, stated that, for women, PTSD can come not just from combat trauma, but also from sexual violence experienced in the military. The story concludes by stating that although progress has been made, there are currently only 11 homeless programs nationwide that deal specifically with female veterans.

Ann Compton to Host Alliance’s 2008 Annual Awards Ceremony

On Wednesday, April 9, Ann Compton, White House Correspondent for ABC News, will host the Alliance’s 2008 Annual Awards Ceremony. The event will be held at the Terrace Theater of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. The Alliance will honor four awardees:

  • Public Sector Achievement Award: Commissioner Gail Dorfman, Hennepin County , Minnesota;
  • Nonprofit Sector Achievement Award: Central City Concern, Portland, Oregon, accepted by Richard Harris, Executive Director;
  • Private Sector Achievement Award: Martin Dunn, President of Dunn Development Corp., Brooklyn, New York; and
  • John W. Macy Award: Horace Sibley, Atlanta, Georgia. (The John W. Macy Award is given for outstanding individual achievement.)

More Information About How to Attend

The Second Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress (AHAR 2)

Jackson Steps Down as HUD Secretary

More Information

 

Written by americanveterannewspaper

April 3, 2008 at 5:07 pm

Posted in Uncategorized