Strictly Stasi
by Anthony Stasi
Jun 23, 2009 | 2908 views | 0 0 comments | 61 61 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The House of Representatives recently passed the Hearth Act (Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing). This legislation was the brainchild of the late Congresswoman Julie Carson of Indiana's 7th District. The purpose of the act is to enhance the McKinney Vento Act, which is the largest and main source of federal funding for homelessness in the United States.

HEARTH's main purpose is to address certain populations that do not fall under the current criteria of being homeless, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. It's a way of addressing people who are about to become homeless, and not just those already homeless. Congresswoman Gwen Moore of Wisconsin added an amendment that allows people to be eligible for help 14 days before they lose their home (it was originally 7 days).

People will look at this legislation and think that there are government assistance benefits going to people who are not even homeless yet. And when you think about it, there are a lot of people we know who are within 14 days of losing their place to live who wind up finding a place.

The reason for these Repaid Re-Housing programs is to keep people from getting swallowed up in the cycle of chronic homelessness (people that become homeless and cannot pick themselves up).

Why would this be good fiscal policy at a time when the country is already in the red financially? By trying to address homelessness for people who are "at-risk" on the front end, we might be able to keep them from getting sucked into the chronic homeless cycle.

When people are chronically homeless (most of the street homeless you see are in that category) they gobble up an enormous amount of taxpayer money. They go to emergency rooms often, for example. So, by not acting on this legislation, we run the risk of paying for it later. Rapid Re-Housing is a relatively new kind of homeless policy.

This legislation means new programs can start up with some of the stimulus money that is coming in. But that money is limited. In a few years, any new programs created will need to get their funding through the federal government - or some place else - in order to keep operating. It's fair to believe that when the economy rebounds and housing stabilizes, fewer people will need the help so we can re-think these programs. For now, however, it might be money well spent.

All homeless programs that are federally funded need to be compliant with the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) - which means people entering homeless programs have a basic standard of information logged into a database. This helps to see where people are seeking help. The HEARTH Act is the latest effort to modernize policy in accordance with changing times, and it's the biggest adjustment to federal policy in at least ten years.

1979

I hated 1979.

I was eight years old, and I can remember the Iranian Revolution as I saw it on television. I had my own black-and-white television set in my room, a gift from my grandfather who rewarded me for getting good grades in school. I remember the protests, and I remember asking my mother "Can't the cops stop it?" It was the first time I had realized that there are some things that are not as easily controlled, and that some people are not afraid to break the law. This was scary for Americans, seeing our embassy overthrown and our people taken as hostages.

The weeks following this last Iranian election remind me of what happened in 1979. The one thing the Iranian people proved in 1979 is that they were able to change their government. They were living under an oppressive regime at the time. Right or wrong, they proved that change was possible. Now, one of the disciples of the 1979 revolution, the current Iranian President, stands to be dethroned - or at least unsettled - by the same kind of public sentiment. Oh what a difference 30 years and a little westernized television can do to an authoritarian state.

Iran has a young population, and we would be right to leave the electoral dust to settle, and then try to see who among them is willing to talk peace. We are seeing something in Iran that is very interesting and historical. The same type of movement that ushered a change in 1979 might bring forth a more democratic government in 2009. But regardless of what happened in 1979, losing Yankee catcher Thurman Munson in a plane crash is still the most shocking and sad memory of that year.

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