New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


Archive for the ‘Family’

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…)

A People Rise

January 23, 2014 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Family, Robert C. Koehler

Beyond Our Broken Dreams

by Robert C. Koehler

Every night gunshots lullaby me to sleep
In ruins of abandoned buildings
the broken glass is
where we bottle up all our broken dreams….

Hold the dream with me, as it breaks loose from Jameale Pickett’s poem. Something beyond the insane dance of crime and punishment is happening, at least this year, this moment, in Chicago’s high schools. Young people are getting a chance to excel and become themselves, as more and more schools find and embrace common sense, also known as restorative justice.

The funding is fragile, precarious, but some schools in struggling communities are figuring out how to break the school-to-prison pipeline, even though the system as a whole remains wrapped up in suspensions, expulsions, zero tolerance and racism.

“The Obama administration on Wednesday urged school officials to abandon unnecessarily harsh suspension and expulsion practices that appear to target black students,” the Chicago Sun-Times reported recently. (more…)

Revisiting Reentry

January 07, 2014 By: NCVeditor Category: Family, Politics, Victoria Law

New Books Explore the Challenges of Coming Home from Prison

by Victoria Law

“Reno hadn’t wanted to stay in prison, but she wasn’t ready for the streets. Wasn’t half the way she remembered.” — Sin Soracco, Edge City

California’s prison system has continually made news this past year. Over 30,000 people rocked its prison system with a mass hunger strike that lasted nearly 60 days.  News about coerced sterilizations in its women’s prisons shocked and outraged prisoner rights and reproductive justice activists, leading to legislative hearings. At least two prison sites were found to be toxic. People sentenced under California’s Three Strikes continue to languish in prison and the numbers of prisoners aged 55 or older have increased by over 500% between 1990 and 2009. To top it off, Governor Brown continues to resist the 2011 Supreme Court order to decrease prison overcrowding.  (more…)

A Christmas Story

December 20, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Economy, Family, Pat LaMarche

What Would Mary Do?

by Pat LaMarche

The Black Friday numbers came in a week or so ago. Shopping’s down, spending’s down and the per capita expenditures are down. Retail spin-doctors cite a whole host of reasons the numbers might be headed south. Nestled in among the, “Gee Virginia, don’t depend on Santa Claus,” rallying cries is the supposition that it might just be because — according to the National Retail Federation — “consumers report they expect to have tight budgets this year, despite a recovering economy.”

Tight budgets? I’ll say.

An April 2013, My Budget 360 report entitled, “US Household income continues to fall in midst of recovery,” states that over the past five years or “since the recession started, household income is down 7.3 percent.” And the cost of living over the same period went up about the same. Heck, according to Bloomberg News, the cost of living went up 2.3 percentin 2012 alone. So as resources get ever dearer and purchases outstrip consumers’ grasp, it’s likely more and more people in the United States will find it difficult to play Santa at all this year. (more…)

Herculean Efforts

November 26, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Family, Pat LaMarche

Honoring Commitments to the Homeless, and Ourselves

by Pat LaMarche

I’m not homeless, but every now and then I take to the streets in some far-flung part of the United States and live in a fashion similar to the one lived by many people experiencing homelessness.

Like many folks without a home, sometimes I travel alone, but I’m often with others.  Two weeks ago I shoved off on my latest trip with my dear friend, Diane Nilan.   Nilan’s an advocate for homeless kids and the executive director of Hear Us, a charity she started 9 years ago hoping to shed light on our nation’s greatest shame.

I love Diane Nilan.  She’s selfless and that’s an amazing thing to watch.  She’s held body and soul together — living on the road in an RV all these years — for the same reasons the flight attendant tells you to put the oxygen mask over your own face before you attempt to help somebody else. (more…)

Spoiler Alert

November 21, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Family, Missy Beattie

Reality Is No Stranger to Fiction

by Missy Beattie

Laura and Erma had a solution for my anxiety. “We’re calling a moratorium on reading news articles after dinner. Start The Walking Dead.”

Pillow-propped in bed, I’ve watched the series on my laptop, via Netflix.

In two frenzied installments, I zipped through Season 1, saying, “Just a little more,” and I’d click another episode as soon as the previous ended, seduced by each cliffhanger ending. I finished Season 2 and then 3, ahead of Laura and Erma.

I had a couple of panic attack symptoms, racing heart for one, and had to talk myself down with, “This isn’t real.” I was without discretion. Because this horror story is frightfully entertaining. Plus, it is plump with metaphors. If you’ve seen The Walking Dead, now in its 4th season, you know this — all those existential questions of morality. (more…)

Strangers in a Strange Land

November 19, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Devon G. Pena, Family, Politics

Recent Study Focuses Attention on Deportees

by Devon G. Peña

While the Obama Administration continues to make news by breaking the record number of deportations, the U.S. and Mexican publics actually know very little about the demographic background, socioeconomic status, and living conditions of the deportees. I just returned from a lecture tour to San Diego and what I learned is very troubling.

It has been infuriating to witness the unfolding of the Obama Administration’s deportation policies, which have been driven by a monthly quota system established back in 2009 and designed to serve the demands of private correctional and prison corporations for a steady stream of bodies to fill the 34,000 beds in the nondescript and semi-secret detention centers built across the country since the end of the Bush II years. We first reported on this activity in October 2010 — see Detaining Profits — and will revisit the privatization of prison and detention institutions in a forthcoming post. (more…)