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Federal appeals court revives homeless lawsuit against Boise over camping

A federal appellate court has revived a lawsuit brought by homeless Idaho residents against the city of Boise over ordinances that bar sleeping and camping in public spaces. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling sends the 2009 lawsuit back to Boise's U.S. District Court for consideration. Click below for a full report from AP reporter Rebecca Boone.

City’s tab for homeless shelter lawsuit could triple

The city of Boise could see its tab for losing a lawsuit over housing for the homeless climb from $1 million to nearly $3 million once attorneys' fees and costs are added, the AP reports. A federal jury ordered the city to pay $1 million to Community House in September, after finding that the city discriminated against homeless women and children and retaliated against the organization when board members complained. Now the attorneys that represented Community House in the lawsuit are asking that their client be compensated for fees and costs — which they say total nearly $1.9 million. Attorneys for the city, meanwhile, are seeking to set aside the judgment or get a new trial. Click below for a full report from AP reporter Rebecca Boone.

City of Boise ordered to pay $1 million in Community House lawsuit

A federal jury has ordered the city of Boise to pay $1 million to an organization that helps homeless people, for discriminating against women and children and retaliating against the organization when board members complained, reports AP reporter Rebecca Boone. The verdict was handed down Wednesday evening in U.S. District Court in the lawsuit brought by Community House Inc. “The city respectfully disagrees with the jury's decision and will be reviewing all its options to reverse this verdict,” Boise city spokesman Adam Park said in a prepared statement released this morning; click below for Boone's full report.

Gookin Asks Longo To Watch Vagrants

Responding to a constituents concern (and photo) re: the increasing number of vagrants, homeless in Coeur d'Alene, Councilman Dan Gookin exchanged emails with Police Chief Wayne Longo (which Huckleberries Online obtained via a public records request). This is the first of those exchanges, sent at 3 p.m. Thursday — from Gookin to Longo: “I'm not happy with this (email attached). Is it 'profiling' to stop a vagrant walking around East Sherman with a parcel in his possession? I would argue, 'Not now.' Also, in the picture, anyone pushing a shopping cart through the streets is guilty of grand theft. I believe stopping someone pushing a cart like this is probably cause, not profiling, and not picking on someone who is 'homeless.' Given that the Post Office will no longer leave parcels at the front doors, it's no longer a choice in my opinion. This situation is not going to look good. I don't believe my constituants moved to Coeur d'Alene so that they could live with this kind of stuff going on. They expect packages to be left on the front porch and not stolen by vagrants. Thank you for your time.”

  • Gookin sent this email to Longo the day before re: crimes of opportunity. Click here.

Question: Are you concerned with possible criminal activity created by the increasing number of homeless and vagrants in the Coeur d'Alene area? And/or: Should Coeur d'Alene police profile individuals who appear to be homeless?

Family Promise Back On Its Feet

Item: Community help lets shelter reopen: North Idaho nonprofit allows families to stay together/Alison Boggs, SR

More Info: After taking a two-month hiatus to raise money, a North Idaho nonprofit organization that shelters homeless families for up to 90 days will be back in business on Sunday. When Family Promise put out the call that a funding shortfall would close its doors, the community responded. Its annual Cardboard Box City fundraiser, in which community members get a small taste of what it’s like to be homeless by staying overnight in cardboard boxes, raised some $12,000. In addition, an anonymous donor kicked in $10,000, and business partners including Coeur d’Alene Mines, Windermere Real Estate, North Idaho Eye Institute and Pita Pit helped out.

Question: Do you think local government and agencies are taking steps to address the homeless situation in Coeur d'Alene/North Idaho?

INW News: Fighting Cancer Homeless

Alicia Ponce-Myers, 12, has spent the past month in a Sacred Heart Children's Hospital room recovering from cancer. Alicia and her family, from Tonasket, Wash., are homeless and lived in a tent. (SR photo: Dan Pelle)

AM: Neighbors Fight Fresh Start

Cherie McCabe, left, talks with neighbor Melody Turner on Friday in her home near Fresh Start in Coeur d’Alene. McCabe is one of 89 homeowners in the area surrounding Fresh Start in the 1500 block of East Sherman Avenue who have signed petitions against the homeless drop-in center. SR story by Alison Boggs here. (SR photo: Kathy Plonka)

Blankets needed

The blog got a call from the Outlaw Cafe (5012 N. Market Street) today saying that there's been an increase in homeless people camping and sleeping around Hillyard. It rained a lot last night, and the nice folks at The Outlaw took in a wet, cold, pregnant and homeless woman this morning. Calls are being made to get her some permanent help, but in the meantime the cafe is asking for donations of clean, whole blankets, tube socks and hats. Drop off donations during opening hours - or bring blankets to donate on Saturday, during the Hillyard Hop.

Homeless Man Is Online Sensation

Ted Williams olds a sign advertising his smooth radio voice near a highway ramp in Columbus, Ohio. Williams, who is homeless, became an online video sensation when the Columbus Dispatch posted a video of him speaking in his deep baritone voice on its website this week. The Cleveland Cavaliers contacted him on Wednesday to offer him an announcing job. You can see YouTube here. (AP Photo/Columbus Dispatch, Doral Chenoweth III)

Question: Do you have a good voice for radio?

A bleak sign of the times: Bill to protect people living in their RVs…

In a sign of the times, Washington’s House of Representatives recently passed a bill that would ban cities and counties from barring recreational vehicles from mobile home parks.

“Mobile home parks are often a last refuge for these people to live,” Rep. Larry Springer, D-Kirkland, said in a press release.

His House Bill 1227 would also prevent cities and counties from requiring the RVs to be moved out of the parks when the vehicles are used as a primary residence. As things stand now, he says, people living in RVs are often forced into more-expensive RV parks, or to trying to find spots beside the road.

“This bill provides them with an alternative to homelessness,” said Springer. “They have endured enough throughout this recession.”

Brown, Chopp say they’ll fight for GA-U funding…

From the print paper this morning:

A few years ago, a homeless woman named Lee Ann Winters was nearly run over by a car while walking across a downtown Spokane intersection. She yelled at the driver, saying she was in a crosswalk and had a green light.

“What does it matter?” she recalls the driver yelling back. “You’re homeless!”

Now 52 and living in her own apartment, Winters is worried that the homeless will be dismissed the same way by state lawmakers looking to cut spending.

A program called General Assistance for the Unemployable that once provided Winters a critical lifeline – health care and $339 a month – is among budget cuts that state officials are considering.

GA-U now benefits about 21,000 people statewide, including about 1,400 in Spokane County, who are deemed too physically or mentally disabled to hold a job. The program is intended to provide short-term help for people transitioning to long-term and largely federally funded assistance programs.

In December, Gov. Chris Gregoire suggested that state lawmakers eliminate the program, which would cost taxpayers $411 million over the next two years, saying the state must solve its budget mess without raising taxes…

 

(snip)

…As the Legislature tries to write a budget for the next two years, GA-U has two key allies in Olympia: Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown and House Speaker Frank Chopp, the two most powerful lawmakers in the state, both with roots as anti-poverty activists.

“We’re going to make it a high priority to preserve that funding,” said Chopp, D-Seattle. “It is a matter of life and death in many cases.”

Brown, D-Spokane, says it would be foolish to throw people off the program only to see them on the streets and turning up for expensive last-resort care in emergency rooms, shelters and jails. There may be reductions, she said, but “we’ll try to moderate it.” She’s floated the idea of saving money by changing the way the health coverage is administered.

The big question, however, is whether the state’s budget problems will override legislative leaders’ hopes to keep the program going. November’s state revenue forecast stunned lawmakers, slashing nearly $2 billion from what was expected. Similar forecasts are scheduled for March, July and September.

Click on the link above for the complete story.

Homeless agency fires Illinois first lady

From MSNBC:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28792259/

“The wife of impeached Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was fired from her $100,000-a-year job as a Chicago homeless agency’s chief fundraiser.  Patti Blagojevich is not accused of wrongdoing and has not spoken publicly since her husband’s arrest… .”

Does this make sense to you, that a homeless shelter would pay someone $100,000 a year to raise funds for the homeless shelter???

~JeanieSpokane~