New Report Shows Denial of Social Security Benefits Perpetuates Homelessness
Today, the Law Center released Improving Access
, a new report on how bureaucratic barriers are preventing thousands of homeless Americans from accessing Social Security disability benefits that could help them get off the street.
Social Security benefits, including Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), are critical to keeping people with disabilities in stable housing through income support and health services. Unfortunately, the application process is cumbersome and freezes out many eligible homeless people. While up to 40 percent are potentially eligible due to physical or mental disability, only 14 percent actually receive benefits.
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Senate Votes to Reauthorize Violence Against Women Act
On April 26, the U.S. Senate voted to reauthorize
the Violence Against Women Act. The bill, passed with bipartisan support, includes new housing provisions advocated for and drafted in part by the Law Center. Key among them are:
- Expanding protections to all federal housing programs;
- Extending protections to victims of sexual assault;
- Broadening the definition of "immediate family member," so that tenants are not evicted due to violence against a relative; and
- Requiring housing providers to immediately transfer survivors to new housing if their abuser poses a continued threat.
While the Law Center applauds the Senate's work, this is not the end of the process. Attention turns now to the House of Representatives, which is considering parallel legislation. We urge the House to act with the same decisiveness and bipartisan spirit. Preventing homelessness for domestic violence survivors is a goal we all share, regardless of ideology.
Rescheduled Webinar on the Rise of Tent Cities in the United States
On Tuesday, May 22, the Law Center will be hosting a free webinar previewing its upcoming report, "Welcome Home: The Rise of Tent Cities in the United States." Due to technical difficulties, the previous webinar on this subject was rescheduled.
With homelessness and poverty at record levels, there have been increasing reports of homeless encampments emerging in virtually every state in the country.
The response of municipalities has varied. Some have shut down camps, often arresting residents and destroying their property. Others have regularized the camps, allowing residents to build more permanent structures in place of tents. And some, commendably, have chosen to address the underlying issue - lack of housing - by helping residents access supportive housing.
The Law Center has partnered with the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic at Yale Law School to produce a report examining a few representative tent cities, with the goal of shedding light on why the camps exist, sharing stories of their residents, and demonstrating common ways communities have responded to the trend. The report also identifies the major human rights implications of forced evictions and offers best practices for municipalities.
Law Center Executive Director Interviewed at Marquette University Pro Bono Exchange
On April 20, Maria Foscarinis, founder and executive director of the Law Center, was interviewed before an audience of students, faculty, and members of the legal community at Marquette University Law School's Posner Pro Bono Exchange. The interview, conducted by journalist and Marquette professor Mike Gousha, covered Maria's personal decision to leave a corporate law firm and dedicate herself to ending homelessness, current trends in the issue, and the Law Center's unique role in the national cause. Following the interview, students who had performed 50 or more hours of pro bono service during their law school careers were recognized and inducted into Marquette's Pro Bono Society.
"I was impressed and inspired," Maria noted afterward, "by the interest and commitment to public service by the school as a whole -- the Dean, the faculty, the students -- and by Josh Gimbel of the Posner Family Foundation, whose generous support made the event possible."
About the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty
The Law Center is the only national legal advocacy organization dedicated to ending and preventing homelessness in America. It fights in the halls of power for laws and policies that protect homeless people's rights and help them rise out of poverty.