Yesterday’s homeless news… not so true

If you didn’t get my skeptcism in yesterday’s post, you might have overlooked this clue: It started with the phrase, “According to the Bush administration.” The  New York Times had reported that chronic homelessness in the United States had gone down 30% between 2005 and 2007.

Thirty percent is a lot. And it’s really a lot in just a two-year span. I thought it best to ask Alan Graham of Austin’s Mobile Loaves and Fishes what he thought of this news. Here’s what he told me in an e-mail:

Absolute unmitigated horse hooey!  If it appears to be too good to be true then that is usually the case. Manipulation of the numbers at best…dishonesty at worst. This is not true anywhere and especially not here in Austin.

Later, when I asked him whether Austin has made much progress in eliminating chronic homelessness, which is part of an official 10-year plan, here’s what he said:

In terms of the chronic homeless population not much.  Our Habitat on Wheels development is really the only significant development designed to tackle this issue of chronic homelessness.  We can say this or we say that but the only real long-term solution is to create PERMANENT housing for this particular population on the housing first model.  I am not aware that any have been created.

Remember MLF’s effort to build those homes and that community for the chronic homeless? Last I heard, the nearby neighborhood had pitched a little fit about it, and the city was re-examining locations and strategies.

Last I heard about homelessness, though, it really wasn’t going away. See today’s blog post from MLF:

What a crazy morning it was. There were at least 50 people in need this morning.  I helped at least 7 new people in my line this morning. All my hot water for Cocoa was gone, of course no more coffee. All cans of soup were taken and no more sandwiches. I had no extra shirts and only a few pants and shorts left over. I am humbled by the need on the streets as weekly the homeless come to me with their needs.

How we wish the news had been true.

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