Could A.I. help get homeless youth off the streets?

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By identifying patterns in successful rehousing, a research team in L.A. is working to make the housing system more efficient

In Hollywood, nestled between a strip mall and a recording studio where bands like the Rolling Stones have recorded, the residents of a small homeless encampment greet passers by with a friendly “Hi, hello, how are you doing?”

Some people respond in kind; others seem nervous and terse. But according to one of the most outgoing people here, Cedric — who didn’t want to give his last name — they simply hope that if their neighbors see them as friendly and nonthreatening, they won’t call the cops and have their tents removed. L.A. police and the Bureau of Sanitation have become increasingly strict about the “cleanup” of homeless encampments, even though most residents here have nowhere to move to.

Los Angeles has the second largest homeless population in the U.S. after New York, with an estimated 52,765 homeless individuals in 2018. The numbers are compiled by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), a city agency that helps get people off the streets — and LAHSA says the number of people experiencing homelessness for the first time is increasing.

In an initiative started in January 2018, LAHSA is now sharing data from the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) with researchers at the Center for Artificial Intelligence in Society (CAIS) at the University of Southern California. The researchers are using the data to build a system that can identify behaviors and outcomes, and allocate the type of housing with the greatest statistical chance of long-term success, while also reducing racial discrimination in the system. The project — Housing Allocation for Homeless Persons: Fairness, Transparency, and Efficiency in Algorithmic Design — brings together researchers from both the engineering and social work schools.

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The homeless crisis is getting worse in America’s richest cities

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A toxic combination of slow wage growth and skyrocketing rents has put housing out of reach for a greater number of people.

Daniel Olguin, 28, works on his computer in the front of his van, while his wife, Mary, 26, checks on their almost-2-year-old child in the back. The couple, who have a band called Carpoolparty, have traveled around the U.S. since 2017, playing gigs with their electronic pop music whenever they can. Daniel, who was recently diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, says his parents kicked the couple out on Christmas Day a few years ago, but they have since reconciled. The two musicians have been in Los Angeles for about five months, and use the quiet and safety of the Safe Parking L.A. lot in the Koreatown section of the city to work on their music and sleep. According to a 2018 count done by Los Angeles County, there are more than 15,700 people living in 9,100 vehicles every night. These vehicle dwellers represent over 25 percent of the homeless population in L.A. County.

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Report: The Number of Homeless Dropped 2% in 2009

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Homeless people still struggling to survive

The recession continued to take its toll as more families with children became homeless for the second straight year, a U.S. government report shows.
The number of families in homeless shelters increased 7% to 170,129 from fiscal year 2008 through fiscal year 2009, a report released today by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development found. At the same time, the overall number of homeless people in shelters fell 2% to 1.56 million.
“As the nation’s housing and job markets show encouraging signs of recovery, there are still far too many families who are on the brink of becoming homeless or have fallen into our shelter system,” Secretary Shaun Donovan said in a statement.
The annual report counted the homeless in two ways. The first was a census in cities and counties, where volunteers fanned out one night during the last week in January to count those living on streets and in shelters. That count found 643,000 people were homeless. The chronically homeless dropped 10% from 2008 to 111,000.
That decline stems from more local and federal efforts to find the chronically homeless permanent housing and social services, said Nan Roman of the National Alliance to End Homelessness.
The second method of counting involved a year-long study of shelter data in 334 communities. It found more families in shelters rented or lived with family before becoming homeless. Families also are staying longer in shelters, from 30 days in 2008 to 36 in 2009.
A 2008 study by the Alliance found 800,000 families were living with extended family, friends or other people because of the economy.
“Probably those are the families that were becoming homeless in 2009,” Roman said.
Dennis Culhane, a University of Pennsylvania professor who studies homelessness and is one of the researchers of the report, said he expects homelessness to drop in 2010, reflecting in part the $1.5 billion in federal stimulus money spent by communities to prevent homelessness.
In New York City, the report found that 30% of homeless families in 2009 were first-time homeless.
Family homelessness declined this year as the city gave more rent subsidies and helped parents find jobs, said Seth Diamond, commissioner of the city’s Department of Homeless Services. There were 8,348 homeless families in city shelters in May, down 7% from October, he said.

The recession continued to take its toll as more families with children became homeless for the second straight year, a U.S. government report shows.

The number of families in homeless shelters increased 7% to 170,129 from fiscal year 2008 through fiscal year 2009, a report released today by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development found. At the same time, the overall number of homeless people in shelters fell 2% to 1.56 million.

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Introduction to Poverty Included in Private School’s Curriculum

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Gonzaga student takes part in a school tradition: lending a hand with what’s needed at the McKenna Center, a Catholic-run shelter on Gonzaga’s Washington campus.

During his freshman year at Gonzaga College High School, John Sullivan hurried by the panhandlers and homeless people he passed on the streets. They made him feel uneasy, unsafe.  The teen also was intimidated when he started volunteering at the Father McKenna Center, a Catholic-run shelter on Gonzaga’s Washington campus where homeless men can get a free hot lunch, addiction counseling, and other help.

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Mobile Homeless Shelter

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A forward thinking design for homeless folks.

Phil Elkins’ has created other devices in the past, but recently he turned his attention to creating a portable shelter for the homeless. The result weighs 225 pounds and has a tiny bed, kitchen, and bathroom:

Elkins wanted his design construction to be a simple, light weight, water tight insulated box on wheels, built with an area for displaying and selling handmade wares.[…]

The roof acts as a rain catcher. When it starts raining, a valve is turned to stop the flow of water to the collection tank to allow debris to be flushed from the roof. After a minute of this cleaning process, the valve can be turned back on and collect free water. When the tank is full, it has an overflow feature which allows excess water to drain to the ground. (Pics)

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Growing Numbers Of Americans Landing In Shelters Due To Foreclosure

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Sheri West lost her home in Cleveland last year and had to sleep in her car

The first night after she surrendered her house to foreclosure, Sheri West endured the darkness in her Hyundai sedan. She parked in her old driveway, with her flower-print dresses and hats piled in boxes on the back seat, and three cherished houseplants on the floor. She used her backyard as a restroom.

 

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More Americans Having Power Shut Off

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More Americans are having their power shut off as the weak economy makes it harder to pay bills.”We see record numbers of households becoming disconnected or in danger of disconnection,” says Mark Bixby, energy director of Rockford, Ill. Five years ago, his office distributed federal funds annually to about 300 households that had their power cut off. Last year, it was 1,834 households, and the number is likely to go up this year, he says: “It’s families that can’t find work.”

 

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