New Clear Vision

constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted

Community Support

January 31, 2014 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Economy, Family, Pat LaMarche

‘Housing First’ Doesn’t Work Alone

by Pat LaMarche

Homeless advocates from 36 states are gathering this week at the Beyond Housing Conference sponsored by the Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness (ICPH). Institute President and CEO, Ralph DaCosta Nunez, opened the conference by explaining the agency’s intent when they named the event. Nunez said, “There is a lot of misunderstanding about this issue,” that goes beyond homelessness.

Nunez should know. He served as Mayor Koch’s Deputy Director when New York City first started tackling the issue of homeless families. He explained that the city’s initial approach was a rush to find housing. Families burned out by their homes, or those who lost housing after paying a big medical bill were relatively easy to help. And the numbers were workable. Thirty years ago there were 800 families a year. Nunez said they worked with their re-housing model, but when that number jumped to 5000, they realized the problem wasn’t going to “go away.” It wasn’t even going to “level off.” Additionally, and because of a change in direction the federal government took in the 1980s, the situation of homelessness went from a problem to a catastrophe. Today, there are 12,155 homeless families in New York City. Nunez told the group, “Tonight, 55,000 men, women and children will sleep in shelters all across the city.” (more…)

An Art Form

September 30, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Economy, Pat LaMarche

Homeless Advocates Gather to Promote Cooperation

by Pat LaMarche

The Texas Conference on Ending Homelessness was held last week in Austin. More than 400 homeless advocates — from shelter directors to student liaisons — came together to update their certifications, learn from each other, and recharge their spent fuel cells.

AFTS11 7606 Bennie Mjumbe SorrellsKen Martin, executive director of the Texas Homeless Network, was encouraged by their near record turnout in the face of budget cuts and an increasing demand on overtaxed service providers. The economic downturn over the last half-decade — since the stock market crashed in October of 2008 — has caused an uptick in homelessness all across the nation. Because agencies have to do more with less, Martin and his organization provided free booth space to not for profit agencies hoping to interface with the advocates who attended the conference.

Art from the Streets is one of those not-for-profit groups.

Founded by a couple of artists in the 1990s, Art from the Streets is preparing to host its 21st art show and sale this November. Homeless artists from Austin have been creating and selling their work with encouragement and materials provided by Art from the Streets. Only recently an official 501(c)3 charity, all paper, canvas, and pigment mediums came from donors who hadn’t even gotten a tax break for their contributions. (more…)

Tiny Houses

April 04, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Economy, Guest Author

Living Simply So That Others May Simply Live

by Delo Freitas

It is an interesting time to be looking for a home in America. Though known for capitalism and consumerism, McDonalds and McMansions, emerging counter movements seek to promote sustainable living through the most personal of methods, and the one most tied up with the American dream — the home. Especially in the face of 2008’s economic crisis, more and more Americans are embracing the “Tiny House Movement,” in which each square foot is utilized to its full potential. Living small is, in its own way, a form of subversion: It decommodifies the idea of “home,” promotes a DIY (Do It Yourself) ethic in one the largest sectors of the U.S. economy, and places control back into the hands of homeowners instead of finance capitalists, speculators and the global market. (more…)

Taking Back Our Food

July 21, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Ecology, Economy, Jan Lundberg

Dealing with Hunger and the Land

by Jan Lundberg

The housing crisis — foreclosures, homelessness, renters cutting rents, disappearance of credit, slowdown in construction and home-buying — has gotten much more attention than the food crisis. The growth economy and Wall Street’s “financial instruments” have been more important to corporate media and politicians beholden to their more affluent constituents. And rising hunger can be silent, for a time.

But food is coming on strong as more serious: people can double up in a bed to stretch housing, but a plate of food split two ways means two still-hungry people. One billion people already go without sufficient food daily, a 1-7 ratio. In the U.S. it is 1-6, with record high Food Stamp reliance. One in four U.S. children are “food security at risk” (hungry). Trends indicate things will get worse before they get better: in the U.S., soaring farm values reflect that crop prices have risen because demand for food is growing around the world, while the supply of arable land is shrinking. In Iowa, 25 percent of farmland buyers are investors, double the proportion 20 years ago. (more…)