Daily Archives: March 23rd, 2014

“Utah is Ending Homelessness by Giving People Homes”

In eight years, Utah has quietly reduced homelessness by 78 percent, and is on track to end homelessness by 2015.

How did Utah accomplish this? Simple. Utah solved homelessness by giving people homes. In 2005, Utah figured out that the annual cost of E.R. visits and jail stays for homeless people was about $16,670 per person, compared to $11,000 to provide each homeless person with an apartment and a social worker. So, the state began giving away apartments, with no strings attached. Each participant in Utah’s Housing First program also gets a caseworker to help them become self-sufficient, but they keep the apartment even if they fail. The program has been so successful that other states are hoping to achieve similar results with programs modeled on Utah’s.

It sounds like Utah borrowed a page from Homes Not Handcuffs, the 2009 report by The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty and The National Coalition for the Homeless. Using a 2004 survey and anecdotal evidence from activists, the report concluded that permanent housing for the homeless is cheaper than criminalization. Housing is not only more human, it’s economical.

From Nation of Change, full article here.

Austrailia’s domestic violence/child custody law doesn’t work, and this is the law the UK government is seeking to copy

The Family Law Act is failing to protect children from ongoing trauma at the hands of abusive and violent fathers, a new study has found.

The act’s aims of protecting children from violence and giving them “meaningful involvement” with both parents was being resolved in favour of contact even in cases of severe domestic violence, the study reveals.

Lesley Laing, senior lecturer in the faculty of education and social work at the University of Sydney, and author of the report, said more thought needed to be given to what formed a “meaningful relationship” when a parent had traumatised a child through exposure to domestic violence.

“At the present there is no requirement that a parent who has harmed a child in this way must demonstrate they can offer a safe and meaningful relationship,” she said.

The report is based on interviews with 22 women, contacted through domestic violence services, who were negotiating parenting arrangements in the family law system. It is the first study that has allowed women experiencing domestic violence to speak about the impact of the 2006 legal changes that put greater emphasis on shared parenting while still maintaining protection in cases of violence.

While the sample is small, Dr Laing said the women were those whose children were supposed to be protected by the law.

The women describe a situation where they are discouraged by legal advisers and others from raising issues of violence in the Family Court for fear of being labelled as an “unfriendly” or “alienating” parent unwilling to support contact with the father.

“Anything that you do to try and advocate for your children is somehow twisted into being high conflict and parental alienation,” one woman said. “So you are basically silenced. And the children are silenced.”

Another said she had agreed to the children having sleepovers at their father’s place because she felt she had no choice. Her lawyer had convinced her that if she objected the judge would give him even more contact.

Dr Laing said some women felt guilty they had escaped violent men but their children had not. “Forty years ago some women could only escape domestic violence by leaving the children behind, and they were pilloried,” she said. “Now there is a new form of child abandonment, at least part-time. It’s a terrible thing we are asking women to do.”

From the Sydney Morning Herald in 2010 (full story here). In 2012 the Guardian reported on government plans to change the UK law to be more like Australia, despite warnings from organisations such as the NSPCC, and Rights of Women; as far as I can work out, the bill is still being debated in the House of Commons.

We live in a rape culture

If a woman has (the right to abortion), why shouldn’t a man be free to use his superior strength to force himself on a woman? At least the rapist’s pursuit of sexual freedom doesn’t (in most cases) result in anyone’s death.

Maine Representative Lawrence Lockman

(Reported by Mike Tipping, Bangor Daily News)