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Homelessness Issues - by Craig Hill


Homelessness Facts and Figures

The following facts and figures are from Homelessness Australia, as reported in Big Issue Magazine:

• On any given night at least 99,000 Australians are homeless (2001 census, Australian Bureau of Statistics).

• Homelessness can be caused by poverty, unemployment, lack of affordable housing, domestic violence, family breakdown, alcohol and other drug use, financial difficulty, gambling and/or social isolation.

• Domestic violence is the single biggest cause of homelessness, involving one in every two homeless women with children.

• Family breakdown is the primary reason why young men and women seek support from homelessness assistance services.

• Families with children form the largest group of people who are homeless.

• One in every 50 Australian children under five years of age will access a homelessness assistance service this year; of these children 20% are Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders.

• Crisis accommodation is especially lacking for families: two out of three children accompanying adults are turned away from homelessness assistance services every day. There are not enough services within these organisations to provide for the specific needs of these children.

• Children experiencing homelessness suffer with health, mental health and well-being issues, as well as from the impact of an interrupted and often incomplete education. They may well go on to become homeless adults.

• There are more young women that are homeless than young men.

• One in every 50 young women aged 18–19 will stay in a homelessness assistance service this year.

• One in five young people living out of their family home are living in poverty. People live in poverty when they do not have enough resources to meet their basic needs, including food, housing, heating and health care. Single parent families have the highest poverty rates.

• Housing stress occurs when 30% of income is spent of housing costs. Acute housing stress occurs when 50% of income is spent on housing. More and more families are experiencing housing stress.


The Australian Government is providing $100,000 to Broome's Traditional Owners, Yawuru, and the Shire of Broome to develop a strategy to respond to homelessness in the region.

The Government will provide $50,000 to Yawuru through the Kimberley Institute to develop a strategy to provide suitable, safe accommodation for Indigenous visitors to Broome. Yawuru will work in partnership with the Shire of Broome to develop this strategy.

The Shire will also receive funding of $50,000 to assess the viability and construction of short term accommodation, as well as ongoing funding sources and the operation of the facility.

This will include an evaluation of whether service providers have the capacity to support people using short stay accommodation and the identification of an appropriate location and the cost and design of any new accommodation.

Many Indigenous people from across the Kimberley travel to Broome to access services.

This leads to a significant increase in short-term visitors who can't find suitable accommodation.

This new funding builds on the Rudd Government's commitment to build a hostel in Broome to accommodate around 24 young people needing stable, affordable accommodation while they go to school or complete training courses.

Reducing homelessness is a shared responsibility that will take a sustained financial effort and a major reform agenda by all levels of government, business, charities and the community.

The Acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Minister for Ageing, Justine Elliot have announced a $3 million grant to Wintringham, a Melbourne-based organisation that provides affordable housing and support services to frail, elderly homeless people.

The $3 million grant will expand the service by assisting with the construction of a 60-place residential aged care facility for homeless older people in Dandenong, Victoria.

Wintringham has been operating for 20 years and now provides aged care and housing services to more than 800 people in Melbourne each night, including nearly 200 people in its residential facilities.

Additional facilities that can offer appropriate services for older people who have been homeless are a real need in Australia.

Aged Homeless

This Government has today committed to funding aged care places and infrastructure for the people that need it most.

The Australian Government has contributed more than $10 million to Wintringham including a $3 million grant to assist in the facility’s construction.

In addition, the Australian Government would provide at least $1.5 million annually to help with operational costs.

The new accommodation to be built in Dandenong will be known as the Eunice Seddon Aged Care Facility. It will provide both high and low care residential aged care services for older people who are homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless.

Wintringham under the leadership of Bryan Lipmann has a proven track record in this field.

Today’s announcement highlights this government’s commitment to aged care and homelessness.

In addition Mrs Elliot today further detailed the Rudd Labor Government’s plans to respond to the special needs of homeless older Australians as part of its White Paper on homelessness. The details include:

* Amending the Aged Care Act 1997 to include homeless older people as a “special needs” group to formally recognise their unique requirements;
* Allocating aged care places in future Aged Care Approval Rounds – to allow aged providers with a proven track record in the field of homeless older people to apply for specific beds; and
* Providing capital funds for at least one new specialist facility for homeless older people a year for the next four years to 2012.

The White Paper on Homelessness, The Road Home, was launched by the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, and the Minister for Housing, Tanya Plibersek on December 21.

The White Paper outlines a plan for reducing homelessness in Australia by 2020, with specific goals to – halve overall homelessness; and provide accommodation to all rough sleepers who seek it.

Older homeless people have more complex health needs and requirements as they have been ‘living rough’ and they also do not have the family and social support networks of other older Australians.

The White Paper on Homelessness builds on the Australian Government’s Assistance for Care and Housing for the Aged (ACHA), which helps to link older people who are homeless and those in insecure housing to care and accommodation. Currently, the program helps about 3,000 older people a year.

Over the next four years, the Australian Government will provide funding of $18.4 million to help existing ACHA providers to help more people obtain housing and community care services and for new providers to expand ACHA into new regions.

The average age of people using the ACHA service is 67.

ACHA providers work closely with state government housing authorities to help people receive better accommodation options. ACHA services include:

* Identifying frail older clients with support needs;
* Linking clients to suitable care options;
* Linking clients to housing services; and
* Linking clients to other relevant services, such as Aged Care Assessment Teams.

Building new aged care facilities dedicated to older homeless people is part of the Australian Government’s commitment to halving homelessness by the year 2020.

Australia’s ‘Socceroos’ have thrown their support behind the sixth annual Homeless World Cup, which started on Monday in Melbourne. They urge everyone to show support for the unsung heroes of this life-changing event.

The Homeless World Cup is a world-class international football tournament that has triggered and supports grass roots football programmes in over 60 nations engaging 30,000 players who are homeless all year round. 56 nations are competing in the annual international football tournament, which uses the power of sport to transform the lives of homeless people around the world.

“The Homeless World Cup is not just a tournament - it’s an opportunity for people to change their lives. I urge everybody to get behind the teams, spur them onto victory, and help them give themselves a fresh start,” Socceroos Captain and player for West Ham (England), Lucas Neill said.

Argentine Homeless World Cup Team Melbourne Australia
Argentine Homeless World Cup Team Melbourne Australia

Socceroos stars lending their support to the campaign are Lucas Neill (West Ham FC), Jason Culina (PSV Eindhoven), David Carney (Sheffield United FC), Brett Emerton (Blackburn FC), Scott McDonald (Celtic FC) and Archie Thompson (Melbourne Victory FC). They have all recorded personal messages, which can be viewed on the Big Screen at Federation Square during the tournament and at

Champion Socceroo Jason Culina, praised the international tournament, saying: “The Homeless World Cup unites homeless people from around the globe and gives them the opportunity to play the greatest game in the world – football.”

In addition to a great sporting spectacle, the Homeless World Cup has a long-lasting impact on the players involved. Over 70 percent of players significantly change their lives for the better, including finding homes, employment, coming off drugs and alcohol, reconnecting with their families and even becoming coaches and football players.

Up to 56 nations, including eight all-female teams participating in the first ever Women’s Homeless World Cup, will play a total of 349 matches over the week-long tournament.

Matches will be played on three purpose-built stadiums at Federation Square and Birrarung Marr, in the centre of Melbourne, including a spectacular grandstand with viewing capacity for 2500 people right in the heart of Federation Square.

A majority of EU parliamentarians has signed a declaration stating that homelessness should be eradicated in Europe before 2015. But it seems that there is a long way from the promising words of a declaration to real action.

Within seven years, homelessness in EU member states must be a thing of the past. That is the content of a declaration that 438 out of the European Parliament's 750 members signed before the summer recess.

The declaration, signed by several Danish EU parliamentarians, has become a reality under pressure from Feantsa, a European network of organizations working with the homeless. And Feantsa is not going to rest on it’s laurels, if the ambitious goal of the Declaration is to be realised. While it will continue to put pressure on homelessness organisations, there is an imminent risk that the words of the Declaration will remain empty and non-binding. So says Preben Brandt, a specialist in psychiatry and chairman of Project Outside, who works with the homeless on the streets, and has been a member of Feantsa since 1997.

- As a whole, I think it is good that parliament is dealing with some issues, but it is and remains a “hot air” statement, he says.

Danish Flag Homelessness

The EU experts agree with him in. A statement signed by members of the European Parliament may well have a positive effect, but it does not oblige in any way, says Michael Østergård Pedersen from the Danish EU Information Centre:
- It is likely to have a certain effect that a majority of the European Parliament has voted for a declaration such as this. Legally, it is not binding, such as a regulation, directive or law in general. One must assume that such a declaration must first and foremost raise awareness about an issue.

The same tone sounds from Peter Nedergaard, a professor and expert on EU issues at the Copenhagen Business School:
- The value of such a declaration is that it raises awareness of a problem, and it can later press politicians to do something, but it is not legally binding on any party.

Months of lobbying

For the declaration go from being “hot air” to real action working with the homeless, it requires, according to Preben Brandt, a closer cooperation between the organizations within Feantsa.
- The declaration will count for nothing unless we work together in cooperation, for example, in Feantsa auspices. In addition, national and local politicians must also pay an interest in the matter, he says.

The invitation is welcomed in Feantsa’s headquarters in Brussels, where the lobby is far from over with the 438 EU politicians' signatures.
- Although it took months of lobbying, the European Parliament's adoption of this statement is only a start. Now it is for us to follow up to ensure that the problem of homelessness remains high on the political agenda, says spokesperson Charlotta Odlind from Feantsa.

Advising members of the European Parliament, who want to discuss homelessness with politicians, authorities and other stakeholders in the home, and continue to press to hear how the EU Commission and other relevant European institutions will be a positive step for Europe’s most vulnerable .
- Luxembourg has Feantsas member that, among other things, held meetings with MPs, the Luxembourg members of the European Parliament and key representatives from civil society to discuss how the promises of the Declaration can be implemented. In Milan, homelessness organisations based on the Declaration of the European Parliament, asked the local authorities to ensure that their work is directed at the eradication of homelessness by 2015, says Charlotta Odlind.

Facts 1:

The Declaration states:
EU institutions and bodies must work to eradicate homelessness by 2015. EU Commission calls for the development of a European definition of homelessness, and by ensuring that all EU countries collect comparable statistics, the number of homeless can be followed. Finally, it invited Member States to draw up winter preparedness in relation to the homeless.

Facts 2:

Feantsa states
The European Federation of National Organisations working with Homeless receives support from the EU Commission, and aims, among other things through lobbying, to focus on the homeless problem in Europe. 100 organisations from 30 countries are members of the Network.

On there is a link to MEPs statement.

Originally published in Hus Forbi Magazine, Denmark, a member of the INSP:


Norway Street Magazine Seller’s Day

August 19th 2008 09:51
A reporter follows a day in the life of a street magazine seller in Norway, and finds a life of drugs and poverty. But she also finds that Svien is not the stereotype most people associate with streeties and drug users.

Megafon Magazine is sold in Bergen, Norway, and is a member of the INSP. This story appeared in the August edition. The translation has been edited slightly.

Norway Street Vendors Day Homelessness

A completely normal day at work

Friday is a typical day for Svein. He gets up at half-nine. His first task is to hunt for a "friskmelding", a shot of heroin.. He gets it in the park in Bergen at 10 o’clock.. Then, he takes it to Bergenshjemmet, a place for the homeless in Bergen, where Svein gets a little breakfast. After breakfast he goes to his room. There he smokes hash before he goes to work selling Megafon.

The time is 11.55:

–I am a little wasted right now, for I have smoked me a fjodde, "said Svein. In other words, hash. Svein does not specifically rapture, and we believe it when he says that he is ready to sell magazines. He has just arrived at work, and starts with 10 Megafon magazines. It's good weather in Bergen, and he aims to sell magazines on Torgallmenningen, in the middle of the centre.

We are no more than fifty metres from retail outlets in Sverresgate before Svein run into a friend outside the theatre.
– Hello, you want some goods? someone asks. He can provide cocaine, but Svein doesn’t take it.


On Torgallmenningen we notice a tattoo on his hand.
– I was a child on the wrong side when I did that. We got it done on the spur of the moment I ended up in an institution, he explains unsolicited.
Svein was placed in child care at the age of two years. His father picked him instantly out again, and he lived with his father until he was 7 years. Then he moved back and forth between his father, mother and aunt until he again ended up on the institution. When he was 10 years old he tried hash for the first time, along with some older children, for a laugh. From when he was 15 years old he began to really rapture on the drugs. He was moved around the country. Oslo, Te Kaha, Øygarden, Moss, and Bergen are a few of the places where Svein visited
– I can not remember all the places.
It is no more than two minutes before Svein is impatient. He has not sold even a leaf, and decides to try his luck in Marken.


Now Svein is trying to sell on Torgallmenningen, in Marken, outside the train station and on Bystasjonen. He has not sold a single sheet yet. But most of the time have been helped to go from place to place. Outside the Bystasjonen he hears a laugh as he sits drinking coffee. Svein’s friend offers him a smoke, and they smoke together, "he says no to a second one.
– That was an old friend of mine. We did a lot of drugs on ungdomskolen. He is not dopehead, and I have to take care of the friends I have, "said Svein.


Svein has yet to sell a magazine. He has tried dozens of people he has stopped and talked with. They are talking largely about who has the good drugs. One was talking about rusfrihet. Svein had to buy Temgesic pills of him. It is a heroin substitute, like Methadone.


Svein has not yet sold a single blade. He is tired, and decides to head home on Bergenshjemmet to eat lunch. He uses twenty minutes there.
– I think it is good to live in Bergenshjemmet, for the flow of drugs in the neighborhood. I get everything I need without having to go in the park, and this is very dangerous. A trip to the park, like I did in the early days, is only in an emergency
– But, it's really quite meaningless. Social Security pay 12,000 kroner a month for me to live here, in a room the 5-6 feet square. I would rather have an apartment.
We are talking about heroin. Svein began by smoking it, but now only uses a syringe.
– I use the spray because it is what gives effect. I've been using heroin so much and long that I no longer receive any special effect from smoking it.
Svein is surprisingly open about his drug use, he says straight out that others in his situation try to hide it, or prefer not to talk about.
– I choose not have to go and hide it. I am who I am. As I see it, it's not my fault that I have ended up here, it’s my childhood. I have always been completely honest with my parents and with all others. I should really teach myself to keep a little more straight around mom, so she doesn’t worry so.


Svein starts to feel bad. He will soon need a hit of "medicine". He goes back to Torgallmenningen to sell magazines.
– I would like to work with the digging. Dad has worked with the digging, and I have had a desire to follow his footsteps since I was three years.
He says no more about it. We are back at Torgallmenningen. Svein knows that he must obtain money pretty quick now.


Svein get today's first Megafon-sale.
– Now I am going. In general, it is a little slow in the beginning, but stay with it for a little while.
In the course of a half-hour, he sold magazines for 200 kroner. In addition, he received 40 kroner from a laugh (a tip from a customer).


Svein has 240 kroner. It is just enough for a bag of heroin, so we have gone back to Bergenshjemmet. Svein intends to buy heroin from someone who lives near him.
– You can not join us in here. If I go in with a reporter and a camera, there will definitely be trouble,"said Svein. We wait outside.
– He had nothing. We have to go to the park. Shit in other words, it's not often I have to go in the park twice in one day. It's just an emergency in other words.


Svein has begun to sweat a lot, and says that he is starting to go off.
– Are there drugs here? He shouts to people passing by and they shake their heads. There is no one who sells heroin in the park today.
– I don’t know what to do. I’ll walk up and down and see if there’s any to be found.


Svein disappear with a friend. They go out of the park. We are given permission to meet him at the Grieghallen. We go down there and wait.


Svein comes back. Now he has acquired what he needs, and we are moving towards his room on Bergenshjemmet.


– I warn you. This is a real shithole, "says Svein before he unlocks the door to the building where he lives.
We go up a narrow flight of stairs, through a kitchen and into a little room of perhaps six square meters. One bed, a table, two chairs and a shelf can just fit in the room. On the table is an aluminium pot to heat the heroin, a bunch of food from McDonalds that Svein has taken with him when he was the rapture of the pills, and a bloody syringe. On the floor there's a bucket of water, and a bottle that Svein uses to smoke hash. In the corner is a bloody paper, and an alarm clock ticks. On the shelf stands a cup that Svein has used as ash-tray. On the blank wall hang a single poster. "Sin City" it says on it.
– Just sit down. I guarantee there are no syringes in the chairs.
Svein rolls up both sleeves. He would begin with heroin and a little water. Boiling it up with a lighter.
– Now I will pretend as if you are not here, "said Svein. I nod, and it is completely silent. The alarm clock is ticking loudly, while Svein heats the drugs with a lighter. He fills the syringe, and puts on the tip.
He tries first to set the sprayer on the inside of his arm. There is no vein. He is clearly stressed, and tries to tighten a rope around his arm. He gives up trying to injecting there, and make a new attempt on the outside of the forearm, almost all the way down by his hand. Blood flows into the syringe. Svein forces the heroin out. He finds paper, take out the syringe, wipes the blood and wash it with methylated spirits. Everything takes place clean and tidy. Then he sits on his bed and smokes.
– I am not one so that goes all the way down into the ground. There is currently no buzz, "says Svein after a few minutes. He's been a little slow, but far from what we associate with heroin users. After even a few minutes he starts to clean up.
– I can smell myself.
Svein has decided not to sweat, he has decided not to stress and smiles
– Everything is much better after I get cleaned up. Success, cramps in the legs are gone, sweat disappears.


Svein is on the phone laughing. We're going over to kompisen to smoke hash, but it is a long way to go.
Svein says more about his childhood, about the institutions he has been in, about the various places he has lived. In contrast to other people in his situation he is not bitter at all. He speaks, laughs and smiles all the time. He calls Bergenshjemmet the "happy".
– I am happy in my daily life. I have experienced so much grief in life, and when you appreciate the little things. If you can not smile, there is no point getting up in the morning.


We go to find Svein’s buddy. We have to go down a small flight of stairs to get to his room. They have bought hash from someone. There is tension, when we join Svein’s buddy in a small bedroom. They take out a hashpipe. His friend has a box with four different types of hash in.
– It’s OK didn’t I tell you this guys OK? He has more than one type of hash here, "said Svein. His friend’s phone rings regularly. People want to buy hash from him. Sometimes he answers the phone, sometimes not.
They use an old and dirty plastic bottle to smoke the drug. They smoke and pass "the stack" between them. The room fills with smoke.


His friend,, takes the phone when it rings this time. He asks if we can all go out, and Svein says yes. We're going to meet someone outside.
They leave, and it turns out that it will be up in the park again. Work is over.
Svein’s working day usually ends at six o’clock. Then he goes back on Bergenshjemmet, sees movies or talks with some of the other residents. He is not sleepy, because it is noisy where he lives
This Friday is perhaps not entirely normal, however. This is in fact the last Friday before Svein goes into rehabilitation. He travels to his mother in the country to keep himself away from trouble in Bergen, and to keep himself clean as long as possible. He has done so with success before, but the relapse has always come.
– The goal now is to keep me clean, and hope I get the chance to get some education. I think I am going to fall back to heroin use, but we never know. I am still young, and anything can happen.

In Vancouver, Canada, the homeless are allegedly being targeted by uniformed security guards, hired and paid for by a city sponsored organisation. This is apparently in an effort to hide the city’s homelessness problem when the Winter Olympics is run in 2010.

This story was originally run in Megaphone Magazine, Vancouver, Canada August edition, a member of INSP.

Megaphone Canada Homelessness

Ambassadors sued: Poverty activists claim security guards harass homeless (Megaphone Magazine, Canada)

The Vancouver Ambassadors, clad in red and black outfits that invoke both the RCMP and municipal police, walk and bike through the downtown streets every day. They’re equipped with cameras to record criminal activities they see, maps to assist tourists with directions and cell phones so they can act as a quick link between emergency situations and the people who can help resolve them.

But three groups who work with the city’s marginalized population are alleging that the Ambassadors program is systematically discriminatory and are lodging a complaint with the BC Human Rights Tribunal.

The charge is against the DVBIA (Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association), which runs the Ambassadors program with Genesis Security, under the guidance of Geoff Plant. Pivot Legal Society, VANDU and the United Native Nations are bringing the complaint forth on behalf of the city’s street homeless population.

“Our constituents have had some concerns about the program for a while,” said Pivot lawyer Laura Track in a statement.

David Dennis, vice president of the United Native Nations, said, “aboriginal people and disabled people are targeted by this program disproportionately.”

The alleged discrimination involves telling certain people to leave public spaces while they are sitting or sleeping and stopping individuals from searching for cans and bottles in garbage cans. The charges also claim that the Ambassadors have been “identifying particular individuals as undesirable and telling them that they are not allowed within a particular geographic area (“no go areas”) and following or taking notes and photographs of individuals identified as undesirable,” a statement from Pivot said.

The complainants ask the Tribunal to award $20 to individuals negatively affected by the Ambassadors, up to a maximum of 1,000 people and they seek an amendment in DVBIA policy to prohibit any discriminatory behavior. The complaint also seeks an order to establish a policy for dealing with grievances raised about the Ambassadors conduct.

In response, the DVBIA said in a press release that it is “confident its well-respected, eight-year-old program will pass the test of scrutiny.”

The complaint comes a week after an announcement that the privately run Ambassadors program secured $186,124 in taxpayer dollars to strengthen their presence in six other neighborhoods, including the West End, Cambie Village and Yaletown.

With the Olympic Games approaching, the city’s attempts to hide homelessness are becoming more obvious. When the Games were granted to Vancouver, the city made promises that increased help and stability for the city’s poorest would be a legacy of the 2010 Olympics.

However, while the city has added some social housing units, little is being done to actually improve and solve the root problems like drug addiction, mental illness and the lack of affordable housing that force people to live on the streets in the first place.

The Ambassadors’ mandate is “to address ‘quality of life’ issues such as panhandling, litter, illegal vending, and graffiti with the understanding that these issues not only affect the general quality of life in the downtown but also the overall crime rates.”

The Human Rights complaint claims the Ambassadors are concerned with the quality of life for those who already enjoy a comfortable standard of living – tourists, private business owners and patrons.

For those whose standards of living are already unacceptably low, being asked to leave the only space available to them increases the poverty gap and lessens their visibility, making it easier to ignore. With no solutions-based approaches, band-aid solutions are more easily justified, but not effective for the long-term.

By Elecia Chunik

Reprinted from Megaphone Magazine

Homeless Man Wins £2.6 million

August 9th 2008 09:45
After five years at Sainsbury’s as a warehouseman, Herbert Plant lost his job in 2006, and ended up living on the streets. In June this year, Herbert won £2.6 million with a lottery ticket he bought from the same store that sacked him.

The 49 year old, from Blackpole, Worcester, UK, said he would continue to work as a cook at St Paul’s Hostel for the Homeless, which took him in after he lost his home and his job.

He planned to spend the money buying a car, and paying off his older son’s mortgage, and buy a house for his younger son. He also said he would like to take in a match in Elland Road, and go on a holiday.

Mr Plant, who also divorced after losing his job and home, bought a ticket in the Lotto using a Lucky Dip purchase.

England Homeless Lottery Winner

He said he had popped into the Worcester store where he used to work to chat to old work colleagues. He only bought the Lucky Dip ticket for the evening’s National Lottery as an afterthought.

The irony of the Sainsbury ticket was not lost on Herbert, who said “What a compensation package.”

For the last two years I’ve been working part time as a chef at the hostel, earning £200 a week, so money has been really tight.

Herbert celebrated his win with a meal of faggots and chips, and also planned to buy a Leeds United season ticket.

Brazil Street People’s Christmas

August 7th 2008 09:32
From Boca de Runa, Porto Alegre, Brazil, June 2008 edition comes the Brazilian magazine’s street vendor’s own stories of what Christmas means to them, and how they spend it. These stories show that, no matter what the circumstances, homeless people have the same basic values and hopes that everybody shares. These stories could have been written by homeless people anywhere in the world, and just goes to show that the homelessness problem is universal.

Boca de Runa is a member of the INSP and Porto Alegre (“Joyous Port”) is Brazil’s 10th largest city, with a population of 4,100,000 people.

Brazil Flag Homelessness

Even without a home or a family, homeless people also celebrate

Like people with a home, Christmas can also be a day of joy and celebration for those who live on the streets. 41 year-old André Oliveira dos Santos has been homeless for 18 years. He says that, as well as encountering mean-spirited people, there are also plenty of kind-hearted people around. “There are a lot of good people who come and share a bit of their celebration with us, bring a plate of food, talk to us and thank us for having them.” For Andre, Christmas means another year of life, another year of wisdom, forgetting the past and facing the present.

There are people in need. Luís Carlos do Rosário spent three Christmases on the streets without ever receiving so much as a “Merry Christmas”. Many homeless people are okay with not getting anything for Christmas; others expect something. But there are also many people who have a home and come and spend Christmas on the streets, because they like it better.

22 year-old Éderson da Rocha, who has been homeless for 6 years, spends Christmas on the streets and prefers it that way. He says he thinks Christmas on the streets is okay, but he misses his mum and his son. For him, Christmas means joy, peace and love.

31 year-old Alexandra Lúcia Nascimento has been on the streets for 6 months. She has never spent Christmas on the streets; she prefers spending it at home so she can be with her two daughters. This Christmas will be different for Alexandra because one of her daughters was taken into care. The gift she wishes for most is to have a life with her daughters again.

“My happiest Christmas was…”

When my mum woke me up at midnight with a big hug and a loving kiss. It was the last Christmas I spent with my family and I will never forget it. (Marcelo Guedes – Mimi)

“The first Christmas I spent with my whole family was great fun because we played Secret Santa and there was a lot of laughter. Then my cousins smashed eggs on my head because it was also my birthday. At midnight, sharp, the blowout began, and then there was a birthday cake that my mum always baked for me.” (Robson Quadros dos Santos)

“Christmas means a lot to me. Some of us who live on the streets don’t even have a family. We just have homesickness. But we’re not that sad, we have to live life the way it is.”

“For me Christmas is good and always has been, because every Christmas is a year gone by and things always change. For the better.” (Bocão)

“Christmas is especially good for me because it’s the birthday of my second mum, my gran.” (Adriano)

Pingüim Restaurant and a Bald Santa

The following story happened to a group of homeless people one Christmas day:

They were around Parque da Redenção when this guy and a few other people came to wish them a Merry Christmas and give them several gifts. The items included a roast chicken, ten 2-litre bottles of pop, a big cake, Russian salad and 4 bottles of champagne. A whole meal. Imagine how happy they were. If the guy wasn’t skinny and bald, he would probably have been mistaken for Santa Claus. Actually, his beard was black, but who knows, maybe he dyed it…

They carried the bags all the way to Lima e Silva, by the restaurant Pingüim, where they used to hang out. They spread a cloth on the floor like a picnic blanket and asked the restaurant manager if he could chill the champagne. He agreed. A while later a waiter came by with a tray full of cold beers: “The clients sent these for you”. It was the icing on the cake. It really was Christmas.

Translated from Portuguese by INSP volunteer, Fernanda Roxo.

Reprinted from Boca de Rua, Brazil


From the Austin Advocate, Texas, Summer Edition, comes the news that the Texas Senate refused to pass a bill that would protect the homeless from violence and death. The proposed legislation called for vilification of a person simply because they were homeless to be classified as a hate crime, but the Senate didn’t agree the homeless have the same rights as other minority and marginalised groups.

The Austin Advocate is a member of the INSP, and is sold by street people in Austin Texas.

Austin Texas Advocate Homeless Hate Crimes

Texas Hate Crimes Bill to Protect the Homeless Falls One Vote Short in Senate

The National Coalition for the Homeless just issued its 6th report on Hate Crimes citing 142 violent crimes directed at people experiencing homelessness. The number of violent acts is up 65% since last year with 20 of these attacks resulting in death. On February 20th Eddie Berniece Johnson in the House of Representatives from Dallas TX introduced a National Hate Crimes Bill.

Texas has also had its share of the heinous crimes. "Homeless man beaten by teens"-El Paso, "Homeless woman beaten with tire iron"-San Antonio, "Up to Eight suspects Set Sleeping Man on Fire"-Corpus Christi, Homeless man, Curtis Ray Wilson, beaten to death"-Austin. In Texas the list goes on and on. Clearly, Texas has had enough! This legislative session, Texas legislators Elliot Naishtat in the Texas House and Senator Royce West in the Senate introduced our own versions of Hate Crimes legislation.

We brought in a national expert and House the Homeless, brought 25 people experiencing homelessness to a TX Senate Hearing. We presented the 2006 National Hate crimes report, the Texas Hate Crimes Report and a DVD of "60 Minutes" called Bum Hunting produced by the late great Ed Bradley just before he died. Supporting our testimony was Ken Martin with the TX Homeless Network, the NAACP, the Austin Area Homeless Task Force, lots of folks from across TX and of course House the Homeless. When all was said and done, the room was silent. We held our collective Breath. We walked out of there with a 5-0 vote to advance our cause! Yahoo! We had just passed out of one of the toughest Senate committees-Criminal Justice and Jurisprudence...unbelievable!

From the Senate Hearing Committee we headed to the floor of the Senate. We would need 21 votes to get an open discussion and vote needed to send the bill to the House. We were all very hopeful and Senator West and his expert support staff (Lauren Doss was our contact), started to get Senators to sign on their support. Republicans and Democrats both signed on. We got 18 sign-ons before things started to slow down. We contacted everyone we knew and encouraged them to support the TX Hate Crimes bill that would enhance a punishment if it could be proven that the perpetrator had committed a crime against a person for no reason other than because the victim was homeless. We repeatedly wrote to our friends and homeless service providers seeking their help. I contacted our wonderful friend and supporter Sara Hickman (musician). I even contacted The TX Baptist Commission and Senator Kirk Watson. We got 20 votes. One more vote to go! I encouraged all the homeless folks to call a pool of ten Senators in hopes that ONE of them would support us. We operated under the premise that we are homeless (and at-large) and therefore we are the constituents of all TX Legislators.

While we had to get 21 votes to have the bill read and voted on in the Senate, we really only need a simple majority of the 31 member Senate to pass it. We felt confident that we could then move the bill in the Texas House. But every remaining Senator also new that the last vote was the single most important one. Out of the remaining Senators, we could not get one to support us. They were all Republicans and they may have viewed this as a Democratic initiative. I do not know the exact reason for not supporting us. We tried to convey this as a human issue NOT a political one.
In any event, the bill stopped there but not before we used every ounce of energy that we had. We will go again in the next Legislature two years from now, and we will work on the national level to pass a National hate Crimes Bill. Thank you all for your tremendous support!!

In Unity There is Strength
Richard R. Troxell


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