What Is a Street Paper?

Through the International Network of Street Papers (INSP), I found there was a way to impact the homeless population in a positive way in addition to getting these stories out to the public, the housed, the employed, the financially stable members of society. By exclusively distributing the StreetPaper through Street Vendors that must be currently or recently or at risk of being homeless.

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What is a StreetLight?

I chose the name StreetLights because of all the people I have met that have a story to tell, a story of hope, of struggle, success, tragedy and everything in between. Each one of these people were Lights on the Street full of hope, inspiration, and compassion.

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Poverty can be overcome

The Numbers Tell Their Own Story

The number of homeless people living without any kind of shelter has almost tripled since 2014, while the number of those living in some sort of shelter has dropped by 1,500. These numbers have increased over 22% just since 2018

6614

# of Phoenix Homeless 2019

3188

average unsheltered every night

3426

in Temporary Housing

500000

Homeless in USA

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Our Team of StreetLights

We are contributors, catalysts, advocators, fundraisers, authors, and so much more!

  • kymberley at work

    Kymberley

    Just a Girl with a Purpose

  • Cleopatra Talks

    Cleopatra

    Resident Dog

    • Inspiration
    • Counselor
    • Therapist
    • Entertainment
  • Laura Zaki

    StreetLights Contributor,  

    Positive Spirit Enhancer,   

    Founder of PeaceLoveHope Foundation

  • Julian Apodaca

    Julian

    Co-founder, Fellow crazy person who thinks we can change the world, Advocator, Helper Outter, Staff Photographer, Videographer, and I am hoping he will head up the vendor management and training part of the business model.  So, please be very nice to him.

The Struggle is Real

Latest Posts

California’s Homeless Population is growing exponentially…..

….They Welcome Their PIT Count!

Two other factors repeatedly come up in discussions about homelessness in California: Gov. Ronald Reagan signing the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act in 1967, which ended the practice of admitting patients into psychiatric institutions against their will, and Gov. Jerry Brown reducing the prison population after a federal three-judge panel ordered the state in 2009 to cut the inmate population by 46,000 people.

Alicia Victoria Lozano
Alicia Victoria Lozano is a Los Angeles-based digital reporter for NBC News. 

A few days ago, NBC posted an article by Alicia Victoria about the rise of homeless people in California. She discussed growing numbers all over Los Angeles County, not just in the City of Los Angeles. Santa Monica talks of the draw of the ocean landscape for those experiencing homelessness.

In this limited article she briefly uncovers some of the causes of homelessness. This is one of the few articles I have read recently that points to specific actions that have caused this exponential growth. Alicia states the most obvious cause of living without a permanent shelter is the rising cost of housing and the simultaneously decreasing affordable housing units available. It is in the next paragraph though that I see as a very important and often overlooked cause of homelessness.

Two other factors repeatedly come up in discussions about homelessness in California: Gov. Ronald Reagan signing the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act in 1967, which ended the practice of admitting patients into psychiatric institutions against their will, and Gov. Jerry Brown reducing the prison population after a federal three-judge panel ordered the state in 2009 to cut the inmate population by 46,000 people.

Alicia Victoria Lozano
Alicia Victoria Lozano is a Los Angeles-based digital reporter for NBC News.

Now the article I am citing is written in California about California but I would like to take this information and question other states about similar causation. I wonder what year it was that Arizona stopped forcing hospitalization of those suffering mental health issues and what year did they start releasing non-violent inmates to reduce their prison population. Do those years point to the exponential increases in the homeless numbers we are seeing here in Phoenix?

Alicia mentions that mental health and reintegration services did not increase as a result of the new laws. I think this is very important in beginning to tackle this problem. We will be reporting on Arizona’s Mental Health Laws in future issues of StreetLights Street Paper.

We will be asking and hopefully answering questions like What is Title 36, 19 and 21? What is a RHBA and what is it’s purpose? What does Arizona legally require regarding mental health services for Insurance Companies, Service Providers, and more? How does Arizona care for it’s population of people suffering serious mental health issues? What does SMI stand for and what does it mean to have that designation? What kind of Mental Health services are available to the general population? This article will be updated with links as the articles are posted.

Another topic Alicia mentions is the PIT Count – Point In Time Count. We here at StreetLights posted an article about this annual count of Homeless people on the streets and in temporary shelters. She states that although the process has it’s flaws, the count is something Los Angeles embraces.

Los Angeles was an early adopter and proponent of this count, they assemble a large group of volunteers and do this count over the course of three days in comparison to Arizona and most other areas that do the count in one night. Arizona utilizes several hundred volunteers for its count across the state.

Los Angeles and many other regions coordinate with churches and other social service providers to hold free events that would draw the homeless in to be counted. As of this time, I haven’t been able to find any here in Phoenix and wonder if this might be something officials would want to add. It makes sense to have an event that offers services or other benefits to the homeless on this night to bring out many who would normally refrain from this count.

Here is a link to Alicia’s Article on the Point in Time Count in Los Angeles. And our article on Arizona’s Point in Time Count. I would love to hear your thoughts on these topics. Please let us know in the comments below.

by Kymberley

A list of her articles can be found on That Water Chick Journal

Number of Homeless in Phoenix, AZ

Point in Time Count – Flawed but Still Necessary

Is PIT the Pitts?

From 2016 to 2019, unsheltered homelessness in the Maricopa
County region increased by 94%. In the Central subregion
(Phoenix), the growth rate in unsheltered homelessness was
64%. In the East Valley, unsheltered homelessness increased
by 167% and in the West Valley, it went up by 213%.

AZMAG – 2019 Point-In-Time Count Report
Number of Homeless in Phoenix, AZ
Homeless Numbers Increase in Phoenix

The Point in Time count is done every year throughout the country on a particular night in January. The official definition is

The Point-in-Time (PIT) Homeless Count is an annual street and shelter count to determine the number of people experiencing homelessness in certain cities and metropolitan regions throughout the country during a given point in time. (which is one multi-agency coordinated night in January)

A common complaint about this count is that the number of people that they come up with is missing a significant portion of people who could just not be found and/or counted at that point in time. Further research shows the reporting agencies do take this assumption into consideration and compile their numbers with input from multiple agencies, shelters, community resources and the HRMIS (that’s a whole other topic).

The final number is a compilation of actual counts and reports from specific agencies.

According to the 2019 Point-in-Time Count for Maricopa County, there were 6,614 people experiencing homelessness on the night of January 21, 2019.

48% were unsheltered or sleeping in a place not meant for human habitation.

Almost entirely absent from public discourse is the issue of capacity.

Critical to our understanding of why people are sleeping outside is the recognition that for a large number of
people, there are simply no beds available.

UPDATE

This post has been sitting in my draft folder for 22 hours unfinished because I really couldn’t decide what my opinion on the PIT count is. I realize you don’t read this paper to find out my personal opinion, however; having an opinion does tend to color even purely factual, technical writing and I want to clearly see that color in myself.

BUT look what I found in my Twitter in-box…….It appears that I am not the only one to have questions about the numbers or accuracy of the count. And Phoenix / AZ isn’t the only place suffering exponential growth beyond its capabilities.

StreetRoots Article “Yes! To Declaring Statewide Emergency in Oregon

The major concern isn’t as much, “Is the number they come up with an accurate one by one count?” The real concern is so much more about, “Is this number an accurate representation of the number of people living without shelter intended for living purposes, and what services do they need?”

These numbers are used to compare this year to other years, this city to that city, state, county, neighborhood, etc., etc.. It is this number of total homeless that disbursement of funding is based on, it is this number that numerous writers will reference until new data comes out. If the number is not accurate, how far off is it? Is it double what they count? triple? half? I have decided that what really matters is “How this number compares to those collected in a similar way on a similar day, in similar places. What story does this comparison number tell about the success of current programs in place?

Another Sobering Set of Numbers…

As the 2019 PIT Count showed, there was a significant increase in the number of unhoused and unsheltered. What you have to look for is that this number has tripled since 2016. This is what is jumps out to me. I would say that is the most relevant fact of the whole report. Secondly, is that the number of homeless sleeping in a shelter has dropped. Not both numbers increased, no we have 3x’s as many people need shelter and we have hundreds of fewer places to put them.

3x’s as many people have lost their home, due to circumstances beyond their control, in the last 3 years. That is a significant increase and this increase is not unusual, most every city, county, and state is seeing phenomenal growth in the number of homeless they are struggling to serve.

When is this number going to reach a level that calls for a national state of emergency? What can we do to stop thousands of new people being added to those already suffering homelessness? What can we do to return these people to jobs, homes, families, and more that they once had?

Every single one of those numbers in the report represents a different story, a different individual whose life was drastically changed due to circumstances beyond their control. You can read a couple of these stories right here on our website That Water Chick and Julian

So as we prepare for the PIT count here in Phoenix in the next couple of days, I believe we must share our knowledge of why this count is done and what the numbers represent. I hope to encourage more people to be found, to be counted and included in this flawed but necessary effort.

I would really love to know how my peers feel about this report, it’s accuracy, relevance, and necessity. Leave your comments below and let’s open up the discussion to other perspectives.

StreetLights StreetPaper

It’s All About Timing

My mom always tells me that there is a good reason when I don’t get what I want. I am going to trust her on this. I didn’t make the fundraising goal by the deadline I created. This doesn’t mean anything bad is going to happen, there are no negative repercussions I can foresee.

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Housing First or Not?

The Street Fairy’s thoughts on a recent Canadian Study into the Housing First Model

I have heard about the Housing First in San Diego a few years ago, they were beginning this model of supplying housing to homeless veterans and a few county programs first, before connecting them to any other support services like Drug Rehabilitation or Recovery Programs, or Mental Health Services with the thinking that drugs and/or lack of medications were creating additional barriers to successfully receiving services.

Bullshit Propaganda from Property Owners Against the Housing First Model

I remember this because there was significant pushback from the community at large questioning those in charge of spending their tax dollars. There was a public outcry that San Diego County was now offering free housing to drug addicts, dealers and other criminals.

Obviously that is not what county officials were doing but that was the public perception and I remember it having an impact on local elections in the form of attack ads.

The idea is to offer a subsidized housing program without all the conditions that usually go along with those programs but to provide intensive support services after they were housed. There are many hoops to jump through, in a particular order and each program has different hoops, different expectations, and different results.

The Housing First model tries to postpone these barriers and focus on getting keys first. If you are homeless, let’s get you a roof and a door first, then we will have you jump through these hoops and if you don’t comply we will just drop you from the program and you can return to the streets. It seemed to make sense to many and ludicrous to others. But forward it went, and now Canada has studied its outcomes.

This article states that the study had a control group where the participants were offered traditional services and would compare it to the Housing First participants. This is very unsettling for me. I have a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that a study requires a certain number of people to suffer without said program in order to study its effectiveness.

I wonder if I had gone to college would I be able to understand this line of thinking. I wonder how I would feel if I found out that this program was handing out keys and the girl in front of me got the keys and then was offered a whole slew of resources to help her keep it and I didn’t because I am in the control group. I got a list of hoops I had to jump through with absolutely no support or resources to tackle that list. For me, this would create a whole lot of anxiety, depression, stress, confusion, and a myriad of other emotions that I am already known to not manage very well.

The other thing I wanted to discuss about this article is the obvious.

Mentally ill homeless adults may have an easier time finding and keeping stable housing when they receive rent supplements and mental health support services, a Canadian study suggests.

Why would it take a group of Canadian Researchers, a boat load of money, a forest of paperwork, and six years to determine that those who got housing and intense support did better than those who had to stay on the streets, unmedicated, untreated with unmet needs. I don’t even have a bachelor’s degree and I can tell you this. I understand that my opinion is not proven fact and that these programs need to be studied to prove their efficacy but couldn’t they have come up with a harder fact to determine?

One of the problems I would like to study is why so many who get housing, lose it in the first 90 days? What happens when you take someone off the streets and put them into an apartment complex with 300 up close and personal neighbors. Most people in the complex also have the same voucher and therefore the coexisting mental health challenges. There isn’t any counseling, education, coping skills classes to manage this new lease, new responsibilities, quiet times, good neighbor etiquette, etc. You are just expected to know these things and behave accordingly. It is my belief that they just don’t have the skills required to manage this life, no matter how grateful they are for the housing. New recipients of subsidized housing should be offered support in making the transition from one lifestyle to the other, in my humble opinion.

I will continue to post articles on this topic. What are your thoughts on the study or the Housing First Model? What jumped out at you? What, about my commentary would you like to debate? Let me know in the comments. I look forward to a healthy (polite) discussion on this.

What Are People Saying?

There is lots of talk on the streets!

  • “Chino”

    ” Kymberley is smart and I know she can make this happen, it’s a really cool plan for us to have a voice and a place to feel like we matter.  She is also really kind and makes me drink more water like I should’

    Ken (Chino) Tabar
  • Laura Zaki

    ” This is a great concept, I am excited to collaborate with you, be a contributor and help promote the finished piece.”

    Laura Zaki, Founder of Peace Love Hope Foundation
  • Holly

    “I think it’s really neat what she is trying to do to help out the homeless and give back to the community. I will be sharing a lot of resources I got connected with in the last few months and  I am excited to be featured in the newspaper too.  “

    Holly, Phoenix