Racial & Economic Justice

Homelessness discussion on Saturday

Guest Post by Billie Guthrie

Below is some information about the upcoming Roundtable Discussion on Homelessness in Orange County.

A broad coalition of community groups and government officials will sponsor a second Roundtable Discussion on Homelessness on April 30th at New Hope Elementary School located at 1900 New Hope Church Road in Chapel Hill from 9am to 12pm. Registration and a continental breakfast will begin at 8:30am. All interested members of the community are invited to attend.

The goals of the event are:

1. To educate the community by dispelling myths and putting a face on the homeless,
2. To develop a long-term plan to end homelessness in Orange County
3. To encourage personal responsibility by inviting the community to address this issue individually.

Housing and Homeless Program Targeted for Cuts

This in from the Interfaith Council:

The House and Senate are getting ready to pass budget resolutions that will profoundly affect how much funding is available for housing and homelessness programs next year.

Contact your Representative and Senators Dole and Burr TODAY!

Tell them the Budget Resolution is going to hurt our successful efforts on ending homelessness in North Carolina.

Contacts:

Senator Dole's Office: 202/224-6342 staff: Al Garesche, if not available, ask for Amanda Nealy

Senator Burr's Office: 202/224-3154 staff: Drew Elliot

To find contact information for your Representative, go to www.house.gov and enter your zip code

What if I don't know very much about the federal budget?

It doesn't matter! Members of Congress need to know that you are paying attention to the federal budget process and that you expect them to prioritize the needs of homeless and low-income people and families. How much detail you go into is up to you. A simple call from you tells them that their vote on the resolution impacts North Carolina.

Chapel Hill Supports Collective Bargaining for Public Employees

Those who hold out the hope that local government can have a progressive impact beyond its immediate and often parochial borders must have been pleased with last night's Town Council meeting.

At Sally Greene's initiative, the Council placed the repeal of GS 95-98 on its legislative agenda. This is the unfortunate law that prevents collective bargaining by public employees.

This is not a case of liberal Chapel Hill taking a stand on its own. While Chapel Hill is the first, UE-150 is taking its campaign statewide and expects other communities to also stand up for the repeal. It make take years to prevail on this issue but a growing NC labor movement may ultimately succeed.

Bill Strom also deserves credit for encouraging UE-150 on this issue. He, along with Greene, was a member of the worker's rights board that took testimony at December 4 hearing on the union's International Worker Justice Campaign.

Addressing chronic homelessness

The annual regional tally of homeless folks has been completed and it does not look good. According to the Chapel Hill Herald, "In Orange County, the survey counted 230 homeless people. That number included 38 children and 70 chronically homeless." They found that the Triangle (Orange, Durham, and Wake counties) has higher than average rates of chronic (repeated or on-going) homelessness.

These results were announced along with a 10-year regional initiative to "end homelessness." Now, I am all about the continuum of care that is needed to address the many complex layers of poverty - from short-term shelters and food pantries to transitional housing and long-term counseling. Having sustainable affordable housing and jobs that pay a living wage are also keys to not having families fall over the edge financially.

Bush Spending Cuts Will Squeeze Local Budgets

IFC Director Chris Moran is circulating an article from the Chronicle of Philanthropy (President's Budget Seeks to Cut Many Programs That Subsidize Charities) that explains some of the impact of the Bush budget on social services.

This proposed budget is a serious local concern. If we wish to maintain responsible levels of social services, the pressure will increase on the local budget and on local taxes.

Here are a couple of examples of cuts given in the article:

The Community Development Block Grants program, through which local governments give money to charities and other groups for housing and economic development, would be eliminated. Grants for that program totaled $4.7-billion in 2005.

All money for vocational education, which totaled $1.2-billion in 2005, would be eliminated.

On the other hand, some items are getting increases:

The Compassion Capital Fund -- which provides grants to local charities, including programs run by religious groups -- would get $100-million, nearly double the 2005 figure.

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