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Monthly Archives: October 2015

Tiny Homes For the Homeless

The UN and NGOs have been working on developing cheap modular housing for disaster victims for about 10 years now. A lot of different approaches have been tried, including completely modular “flat pack” style houses which are easily shipped in containers cost as little as $4000 – $30,000 depending on size and amenities, as well as using the containers themselves as housing. Containers were particularly attractive, due to the low cost of a 40′ container, which used, is typically between $1500 and $4000 depending on type and condition. There are literally millions of these containers sitting in storage yards, as they typically are only used once. Indeed, there is a burgeoning market in the US and overseas selling kits, complete with tools and components to DIY for under $20k.

The Rev in this article could probably have done better with a flat pack. This very basic model is $4,000, and this gorgeous one $8,000. Noticing that all of the Rev’s houses are set on trailer frames (which are expensive), I am going to guess the local zoning laws prohibit actually setting the house on the ground, considering them permanent.

In other parts of the world, like London, and in Slovakia – this concept is being introduced to the urban environment.

Seems to me that stripping this concept down into something useable by the urban/suburban homeless could result in a shelter designed for a 7-10 year lifecycle, with a toilet, and electrical connection for heat for something in the $3,000-$4000 range. Making the annual cost of housing about $300-400 a year. Which seems to me cheaper than running a shelter (feel free to correct me if I am wrong). It doesn’t eliminate the need for food and water, nor would the basic model be useable by families (a somewhat larger model?). There are a lot of “cracks and crevices” in most cities (open ground) where clusters of 5 or 10 of these could be placed. Clustering also adds to security for the homeless.

Tiny Homes for the Homeless

One Nashville pastor has a plan to help those without permanent shelter: building 60-square-foot houses with no bathroom, kitchen, or electricity.

ASHVILLE—Around the time that Vanderbilt University released the results of a large-scale study outlining the most effective solutions to homelessness, Pastor Jeff Obafemi Carr was moving into a 60-square-foot house with no bathroom, kitchen, or even a sink. Carr’s idea was to temporarily leave behind his wife and five kids to live in the tiny house, which looks like a tool shed, to raise $50,000 to build more such homes for the homeless.

After two months living in the home, Carr had raised $66,967—enough to build six. The buildings are now set up, on wheels, in the backyard of the Green Street Church on Nashville’s east side, part of a sanctuary that also houses homeless people living in tents who moved from an encampment in one of Nashville’s parks that recently closed.

The homes are brightly painted yellow, blue, orange, and purple, with red doors and white trim. They cost about $7,000 each to build, and measure 5-by-12 on the inside. Residents use bathrooms in the church, and shower outside with a hose. They eat donated food and drink coffee set up under a tent in the yard.

Peter Regan lives in one of the homes. He hangs his jacket on a bar above his bed, and folds his clothes in tiny cube containers at the foot of it. Batteries power a fan in the window, and many days, he’ll sit on a camping chair on his front porch and talk to his neighbors, other people without permanent homes.

“It’s a lot better than living in a tent, and if you’ve got some Yankee ingenuity in you, you can figure stuff out,” he told me from his porch, gesturing to the jury-rigged lights he’s set up (the homes are not yet connected to a power grid or generator).

Tiny homes for the homeless may not be the solution policy wonks dream of. Indeed, the Vanderbilt study found that housing-choice vouchers, which allow families to live in market-rate apartments, are among the best solutions for homelessness. But in many booming cities, including Nashville, where rents are rising and vouchers can be hard to come by, and there’s little city money for anti-homelessness programming, short-term solutions such as Carr’s may make sense. Regan, for instance, says he’s been on the waitlist for a Section 8 voucher for months.

“This model provides a stepping stone to homefulness,” Carr told me. “If you set the goal as homefulness, you have to think, ‘How do we get to that?’ So many times, people think they have to get a Ph.D. so they can get grant money to do a study to find out that the number-one thing to do to fight homelessness is to give someone a home.”

This DIY model to solving social problems is common in Nashville, a Bible Belt city where faith-based organizations play an especially important role in anti-poverty programs. Just consider where these homes are set up: the backyard of the Green Street Church, which welcomed in tents and tiny houses once homeless people were evicted from Fort Negley, a city park. “Sanctuary,” a sign reads on the fence surrounding the lot, the “T” in the word designed to double as a cross…The Rest Here

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Posted by on October 31, 2015 in The Post-Racial Life, Uncategorized

 

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A Conservative Racist Mal-appropriates “Authentically Black”

The racist POSs are at it again. This one by Jonah Goldberg, best known for the white supremacist rag, “The Jewish World Review”, and contributor to the white supremacist conservative toilet wipe, the National Review. Eventually this scumbag is going to piss somebody off so bad, they going to hang Size 13 Broghans up where the sun don’t shine so far…

The black woman who gave birth to the folks who migrated to Europe 50,000 years ago, is going to wake up and kick his a** again, for causing somebody else to have to disturb her.

National Review Writer: Ben Carson ‘More Authentically Black’ Than Obama

National Review writer Jonah Goldberg is usually in the position of dismissing racism as a paranoid fantasy. But on Friday, the conservative magazine’s senior race reporter had some news: “Dr. Ben Carson is black.”

Goldberg, in a column on the magazine’s website, criticized the media for not talking enough about Carson’s race, suggesting that “it’s intriguingly rare to hear people talk about the fact that he’s black.” Forget the ample discussion among the media about Carson’s race and Republican politics — if Goldberg hasn’t come across it on Breitbart, it doesn’t exist.

But here’s the kicker: Like Rupert Murdoch — who recently made waves by saying Carson would be a “real black president” — Goldberg said he thinks the retired neurosurgeon is “more authentically African-American” than President Barack Obama.

One could argue that he’s even more authentically African-American than Barack Obama, given that Obama’s mother was white and he was raised in part by his white grandparents. In his autobiography, Obama writes at length about how he grew up outside the traditional African-American experience — in Hawaii and Indonesia — and how he consciously chose to adopt a black identity when he was in college.

And they say conservatives don’t get race.

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2015 in The New Jim Crow

 

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Epidemics in Black and White…The End of the War on Drugs

The “crack epidemic” of the late 80’s and early 90’s is over. One of the key racial hypocrisies of the response to the epidemic was to make sentences for possessing “crack”, used by black folks, about 5 times worse than cocaine, the same drug – used by whites.

Now we have a “heroin epidemic”, but the legal and legislative response is almost invisible. Indeed, you wouldn’t even know this was going on if you watched the evening news.

That’s because about 90% of the new addicts are white, don’t live in the city…And start using heroin as a cheaper substitute to the drugs they have been stealing out of Mommy and Daddy’s bathroom cabinet.

The move now is to “treat” addicts.

Having some experience in dealing with that with a friend – that is one long hard road. I went to some of those meetings in support, about 5 years ago, and was stunned by what I saw. I remember years ago the streets of downtown Baltimore being covered by heroin addicts – mostly black, mostly from the ghetto. Baltimore during the 8070′ through the 90’s had the largest population of addicted in any major city. These folks at the the new meeting were mostly white, mostly the addicts were kids under the age of 25, and we mostly from middle class families. And it is driving ancillary crime in rural and suburban areas to support their habits.

But heaven forbid we fill the jails with white addicts.

The end of the senseless “War on Drugs”, is indeed all about racial politics.

A photo of Courtney Griffin, who died of a heroin overdose in 2014, with her sister Shannon, left, and her mother, Pamela.

In Heroin Crisis, White Families Seek Gentler War on Drugs

When Courtney Griffin was using heroin, she lied, disappeared and stole constantly from her parents to support her $400-a-day habit. Her family paid her debts, never filed a police report and kept her addiction secret — until she was found dead last year of an overdose.

At Courtney’s funeral, they decided to acknowledge the reality that redefined their lives: Their bright, beautiful daughter, just 20, who played the French horn in high school and dreamed of living in Hawaii, had been kicked out of the Marines for drugs. Eventually, she overdosed at her boyfriend’s grandmother’s house, where she died alone.

“When I was a kid, junkies were the worst,” Doug Griffin, 63, Courtney’s father, recalled in their comfortable home here in southeastern New Hampshire. “I used to have an office in New York City. I saw them.”

Noting that “junkies” is a word he would never use now, he said that these days, “they’re working right next to you and you don’t even know it. They’re in my daughter’s bedroom — they are my daughter.”

When the nation’s long-running war against drugs was defined by the crack epidemic and based in poor, predominantly black urban areas, the public response was defined by zero tolerance and stiff prison sentences. But today’s heroin crisis is different. While heroin use has climbed among all demographic groups, it has skyrocketed among whites; nearly 90 percent of those who tried heroin for the first time in the last decade were white.

And the growing army of families of those lost to heroin — many of them in the suburbs and small towns — are now using their influence, anger and grief to cushion the country’s approach to drugs, from altering the language around addiction to prodding government to treat it not as a crime, but as a disease.

“Because the demographic of people affected are more white, more middle class, these are parents who are empowered,” said Michael Botticelli, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, better known as the nation’s drug czar. “They know how to call a legislator, they know how to get angry with their insurance company, they know how to advocate. They have been so instrumental in changing the conversation.”

Mr. Botticelli, a recovering alcoholic who has been sober for 26 years, speaks to some of these parents regularly.

Their efforts also include lobbying statehouses, holding rallies and starting nonprofit organizations, making these mothers and fathers part of a growing backlash against the harsh tactics of traditional drug enforcement. These days, in rare bipartisan or even nonpartisan agreement, punishment is out and compassion is in.

The presidential candidates of both parties are now talking about the drug epidemic, with Hillary Rodham Clinton hosting forums on the issue as Jeb Bush and Carly Fiorina tell their own stories of loss while calling for more care and empathy.

Families meet at a Counseling Session and pray for their family members and friends who are addicted.

Last week, President Obama traveled to West Virginia, a mostly white state with high levels of overdoses, to discuss his $133 million proposal to expand access for drug treatment and prevention programs. The Justice Department is also preparing to release roughly 6,000 inmates from federal prisons as part of an effort to roll back the severe penalties issued to nonviolent drug dealers in decades past.

And in one of the most striking shifts in this new era, some local police departments have stopped punishing many heroin users. In Gloucester, Mass., those who walk into the police station and ask for help, even if they are carrying drugs or needles, are no longer arrested. Instead, they are diverted to treatment, despite questions about the police departments’ unilateral authority to do so. It is an approach being replicated by three dozen other police departments around the country.

“How these policies evolve in the first place, and the connection with race, seems very stark,” said Marc Mauer, executive director of the Sentencing Project, which examines racial issues in the criminal justice system.

Still, he and other experts said, a broad consensus seems to be emerging: The drug problem will not be solved by arrests alone, but rather by treatment.

Parents like the Griffins say that while they recognize the racial shift in heroin use, politicians and law enforcement are responding in this new way because “they realized what they were doing wasn’t working.”

“They’re paying more attention because people are screaming about it,” Mr. Griffin said. “I work with 100 people every day — parents, people in recovery, addicts — who are invading the statehouse, doing everything we can to make as much noise as we can to try to save these kids.”

An Epidemic’s New Terrain

Heroin’s spread into the suburbs and small towns grew out of an earlier wave of addiction to prescription painkillers; together the two trends are ravaging the country…

Deaths from heroin rose to 8,260 in 2013, quadrupling since 2000 and aggravating what some were already calling the worst drug overdose epidemic in United States history.

Over all, drug overdoses now cause more deaths than car crashes, with opioids like OxyContin and other pain medications killing 44 people a day….Read the Rest Here

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2015 in The Post-Racial Life

 

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Lying Liars on The Clown Bus – CNN Calls Carly Fiorina Out

The entire Board at HP must have been on a bender when they hired this woman. I can’t imagine letting her in the front door of a major corporation, much less an opportunity to sit in the “big seat”. It is true she was well liked by some at her previous company, Lucent – but that is entirely subjective based on Lucent having an executive management team which tanked a $100 b corporation.

She damn near tanked HP. And now we see the “reality dysfunction” which caused it. Serial lying…

CNN here (FINALLY!) takes her to task, and suggests her serial lying, and reality disconnect with realy are why after a brief rise, her poll numbers are sinking like the Titanic.

Somebody call the cleaning crew…We got another dead rat on the Clown Bus.

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2015 in The Clown Bus

 

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Simone Biles

If you haven’t heard of this diminutive woman, trust me – you will by the 2016 Olympics barring injury or unforeseen circumstance. Move over, Dominique Dawes!

Like the majority of great gymnasts she is tiny – only 4′ 9″ tall. Check her floor routine out!

An on the bars!

And the megawatt smile…

Got into the sport when my little one competed. Would just about give Dad a heart attack every time she would do those aerials over the beam or on the bars.

And then there is fellow American teammate Gabby Douglas, who is currently running a close second…

 

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2015 in Giant Negros

 

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Arrest In Church Arsons in St Louis

Police have arrested a suspect in the ongoing church fires set in the St Louis area.

Man Arrested in String of St. Louis Church Fires

A suspect has been arrested in a string of fires at seven St. Louis-area churches, most of them with black congregations. The blazes are being investigated as possible hate crimes.

St. Louis police spokeswoman Schron Jackson says a 35-year-old man was taken into custody Thursday.

As of midday Friday, the man has not been charged in St. Louis, where five of fires occurred, or in St. Louis County, the site of the other two.

The fires broke out from Oct. 8 to Oct. 22.

Five of the churches have predominantly black congregations. Jackson says the suspect is black.

A motive has not been disclosed.

In every case, a church door was ignited and in most cases the building was unoccupied. No one was hurt.

 

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2015 in Domestic terrorism

 

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The Continuing Role of HBCUs

HBCUs percentage of college graduates is dropping. However, HBCU graduates still make up about 50-60% of those students matriculating to graduate studies in the STEM Fields.

One of the major issues with HBCUs has been graduation percentage. On average only about 35%. Spelman, Howard, Hampton, Morehouse, and Fisk are the only HBCUs with graduation rates above 50%. Despite issues the top HBCUs are graduating people competitive with anyone from the non-HBCU Universities in their fields.

Black Colleges Might Be Struggling, but Their Alums Are Thriving

African Americans who graduated from majority-minority colleges feel more professionally and personally fulfilled than their peers who attended predominantly white schools.

Anyone who has spoken with alums of a historically black college or university (HBCU) can attest, they really love their schools. Whether it’s the swarms of current and former students who travel to attend homecomings year after year, the (mostly) friendly competition among schools, or just the ferociousness with which grads defend and promote their alma maters, there’s something about most HBCUs that inspires intense loyalty.

A new poll from Gallup and Purdue University might help explain why.

The “Quad” at Howard University

The report takes a look at the post-graduation outcomes of a broad sampling of American college graduates to determine how they measured their own well-being, defined as physical health, social relationships, finances, goal achievement, and community engagement. The researchers then categorized individuals as either thriving, struggling, or suffering in each area. The method is highly subjective, but there were some noticeable differences, especially when it came to black college graduates: Graduates of HBCUs ranked their well-being higher in all five areas than their black peers who attended predominantly white institutions. Additionally, HBCU alums were more likely to say that they’re engaged and fulfilled at work and ranked significantly higher in measures of financial success and fulfillment than black grads who went to other schools.

This achievement is notable for HBCUs given the struggles that black Americans continue to face when it comes to completing college and finding gainful employment afterward, compared to graduates of other ethnicities. Black students are less likely than other ethnicities to complete a bachelor’s degree within six years. They also have a higher unemployment rate after graduation. When compared to other races in the Gallup poll, black grads ranked lowest on every measure of well-being except for social relationships. Black women ranked the lowest in most measures of well-being.

Part of the reason may be the education that HBCU students received while enrolled: HBCU grads were substantially more likely to say that they had professors who cared about them and mentors who helped them pursue their goals. They also felt certain that their school prepared them well for post-grad life. These feelings may help help explain why alums of HBCUs are so much more likely (49 percent vs. 34 percent for black grads who didn’t attend HBCUs) to say that their university is the perfect place for someone similar to them, and why they have so much affinity for these institutions, despite the fact that many of these colleges and universities are struggling.

But the strength of HBCUs may also derive from another resource, one that lives off-campus, and that is a robust and engaged alumni network. The warm feelings that HBCU grads have about their schools may stem from deeper feelings of belonging and connection created at such schools, and that can help create a sense of kinship not only among classmates, but among all grads, which makes them more open to assisting and mentoring the students who come after them.

AKAs Step

As more black Americans attend colleges outside of the HBCU system, some wonder if such institutions have outlived their usefulness. Attendance at the country’s 107 HBCUs as a share of total black-student enrollment has dropped in recent years. In 2010 through 2011, these schools accounted for 16 percent of black college graduates, in 1976 to 1977, the share was more than double that. The schools have a lower-than-average graduation rate: about 35 percent for HBCUs compared to 59 percent nationally, though that’s in part because these schools are more likely to enroll low-income, first-generation students, a population that’s more likely to drop out before finishing.

There are other problems, too. Morris Brown, an HBCU in Atlanta is struggling to stage a comeback after losing its accreditation years ago. Howard University in D.C., which remains one of the most popular and well-known HBCUs has publicly struggled with financing and has been forced to cut staff and been subjected to credit downgrades in recent years. Fisk University in Nashville was placed on probation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges  until the university overhauled its finances a few years ago. With all of their challenges, the survival of many of these schools—once the only places where black Americans could get a college education—is largely uncertain.

But for now, both alums and current students aren’t hesitant about supporting and promoting the value of these institutions. I conducted a much less robust, more informal survey, taking to social media to ask HBCU alums if they had good feelings about their college experience. The answers were largely similar to Gallup’s results: People were mostly positive, noting that the benefits of their education were as much personal as they were professional…Read the Rest Here

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2015 in The Post-Racial Life

 

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