CONFERENCE ON HOMELESSNESS-Andrew Stelzer

10/05/04

This week, advocates for the homeless gathered at the Doubletree hotel on Westshore Boulevard for the 9th annual Statewide conference on Homelessness. This morning, people living in and fighting poverty detailed what people can do on a local and notional level to try and stop the rising numbers of homeless people in Florida and around the country.

ACT ‘This week marks on year since I was sleeping o the street in st Pete.

Fox Cunningham, works with ACORN, he talked to about 200 people at the spoke about the need to vote yes on Amendment 5, which would raise the state minimum wage from 5.15 to 6.15 an hour.

ACT-fox ‘No one can live off of 10,000 year, we are just looking for 1 dollar, just one, a dollar, I’ve been homeless and that because of what me and my friends cal winky dinky dog, and it does not help anybody, it perpetuates homelessness…winky dink dog has gotten smart because you need a college degree and we wonder why are so many people homeless, a college degree to get 6 or 7 dollars an hour.�

Karen Woodall, from Floridians for Patient Protection, spoke about some other initiatives that will be on the November 2nd ballot, and how they relate to people struggling to get out of poverty.

ACT—Woodall “One of the reasons we see more initiatives because people are frustrated by legislators not taking actions.�

She urged people to vote no on amendment 3, which limits the amount a lawyer can make in a case where their client sues a doctor for medical malpractice—Woodall said Amendment 3 would also limit the liability of companies which pollute the environment and are sued by citizens because of resulting health problems, and it will make it harder for poor people to et attorneys who are willing to take their cases. She said insurance reform is needed, not medical malpractice reform. Woodall also urged people to vote no on amendment number 2, which would make it harder for citizens to get an issue on the ballot. She said that amendment 5, which would raise Florida’s minimum wage, would not have been able to make it to the ballot with these new rules. According to the Department of Children and Families' there are 52,500peopel in Florida who do not have a place to sleep every night—the definition of homelessness.

ACT-priya “You’re taxing the poor unfairly, you’re cutting the programs and you are stopping them in the path to recovery.� Priya Sempath works with Florida CHAIN, she said that despite Florida not falling into the national recession of the last few years, The federal debt has resulted in either cuts of a freeze in federal funding for programs that help people out of poverty, such as medical insurance, low income housing.

ACT-Priya ‘We really didn’t have a crisis such as other states have…balance sheet looks good, but the peoples lives do not.
Between one third and one half of babies born in Florida are covered by Medicaid when they are born. 1 in 3 Floridians are uninsured. Priya said that Caps in Medicaid are coming, either o # of people who can sign up, or limit to amount each person can spend. Priya blamed the states tax structure for the fact that many of Florida’s families are stuck in poverty, on the brink of homelessness for years on end.

ACT-Priya ‘Florida’s sales tax are really regressive, that means that poorer peoples are taxed higher. The tax burden on the poor is highest here…those who make the lowest income pay 14,4 percent of their income in taxes, it leaves them with about 800 dollars for the entire year. But the richest one percent pay only 3 percent of their local income, just in terms of our state . so were starting in terms of

Andy Bloom, from the department of Health and Human Services spoke to the conference about how they can help the federal government prevent human trafficking.

ACT-bloom ‘The problem is identifying these folks, when congress identified—5000 t-visa a year, we’ve got 600, we need your help with law enforcement, or by identifying them, this is why you all can help because you’ve seen these people, they show up in clinics or shelters or in the most needy bottom rung of our social service ladder, and we need to reach out to you in information, and what you can do when you find one. Florida’s has been …targeted as a point area for RESCUE AND RESTORE

and Brad Paul, with the National Policy and Advocacy Council on Homelessness, advocated for the National Housing trust fund, which they are trying to get congress to vote on. The trust fund would enable the federal government to produce, rehabilitate, and preserve 1.5 million units of housing over the next 10 years.

Paul also said the bringing America home act would help create a system where homeless people would be identified and reduce the chance that they got lost in the system as they try to transition from shelters to temporary housing, to job training and finally self-sustainability.

ACT ‘It would align HUD and the dept of eds definition of homelessness, the second thing it would do would be to authorize 1.5 mil section 8 vouchers,--were protecting what’s out there, and are not whittling away those waiting lists. And health and labor things..BAHA it will change federal policy…�

For more information on amendment 5, log on to www.floridiansforall.org

TO learn about the bringing America home act, log on to www.bringingamericahome.org/

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