NP č.468 > SvětozorState of emergencyINSP

In October, Hawaii became the third US jurisdiction to declare a state of

emergency over homelessness, following similar moves in Los Angeles and

Portland, Oregon.

 

This unprecedented trend makes it easier for
cities and states to free up more housing and
funds, as local governments struggle to combat
rising rates of homelessness. On 16 October,
the governor of Hawaii signed an emergency
proclamation on the state of its homeless population.
By signing this document and assigning
$1.3 million for this initiative, Hawaii became
the first U.S. state to declare an emergency to
address homelessness.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Hawaii's
population is approximately 1.36 million.
While it may be a tropical paradise, Hawaii has
the nation's second highest rate of homelessness
after Washington D.C.
The funding will initially be used to expand
housing in neighboring islands, and will help to
speed up the process of getting individuals and
families into permanent housing. Morishige added
that the funding will also assist people with
their first month's rent and security deposits.
There's still much work to do. The alarming increase
in unsheltered individuals and families
over the past two years is particularly significant
on O'ahu [the island home to the state capital,
Honolulu],“
he added.
Los Angeles city council was the first to declare
a state of emergency over homelessness
on 22 September when it announced plans to
appropriate $100 million to fund initiatives
such as housing subsidies, and to keep the
city's winter shelters open for an extra two
months. In Los Angeles, the number of people
living on the streets has steadily increased in
recent years. At a press conference, Mayor Eric
Garcetti announced plans to release nearly
$13 million for short term housing initiatives.
He added that the bulk of that money will be
dedicated to housing homeless veterans.
Skid Row, located in downtown Los Angeles,
has often been coined the homeless capital of
the country. Los Angeles city council estimates
that approximately 50% of Skid Row's population
lives under the poverty line. For the rest
of the country, Skid Row elicits thoughts of
trash, tents and shopping carts, but there's a lot
more to it. Against the backdrop of the large
skyscrapers of Los Angeles, just a few blocks
away, is a neighborhood that is „home“ to the
homeless. The contrast in the two populations,
as well as the two drastically different sets of
privileges the two groups enjoy, is striking.
Connie Llanos, spokesperson for the Los Angeles
mayor's of f ice stated, “An estimated
26,000 Angelenos are homeless today, which is
why Los Angeles was the first city in the country
to declare a state of emergency on homelessness.

On 23 September, shortly af ter Los
Angeles declared a state of emergency, the
mayor of Portland announced a state of emergency
for housing and homelessness in the
city, setting aside a budget of $30 million.
According to a press release, Mayor Charlie
Hales wants more money, more shelters, and
more homeless people off the streets.
Ron Arp from the Portland Rescue Mission stated,
“Our perspective is that we're delighted to see
additional focus being placed on the challenges
surrounding homelessness. Portland leaders have
placed a strong priority on housing over the past
decade, so we are particularly appreciative of the
expanded focus to include emergency shelter and
recovery programs. The latter two are where the
nonprofit, Portland Rescue Mission, has focused
its energies for the past 65 years.“

Arp believes that Portland Rescue Mission is
capable of serving more than 350,000 hot,
nutritious meals this year. The organization
provides emergency beds and transitional support
for about 150 men and women and has the
capacity to serve another 150 men, women, and
children through their long term life-restoring
programs. Portland Rescue Mission is privately
funded by approximately 30,000 donors and
hundreds of volunteers.
The actions taken in Portland, Los Angeles
and Hawaii to address homelessness reflect
the seriousness of a widespread crisis across
the U.S. that can no longer be pushed to the
sidelines. Megan Hustings, interim director of
the National Coalition for the Homeless, said,
“Homelessness has been an emergency for thirty
to forty years now. The cost of housing is increasing
at a rate that people can't keep up with. The
National Coalition for the Homeless appreciates
the cities and the states that are taking an initiative
to seriously address homelessness.“

However, Hustings stated that the root causes
of homelessness need to be identified and addressed.
She said, “In the short term, the emergency
declaration is a reasonable solution. However,
long term solutions need to be put in place.“

***

 Slovníček:
state of emergency - výjimečný stav
elicit - vyvolávat
put in place - zavést

 


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