Tag Archives: Poor

U.S. Feature | Poor & Low-income Women

The Haunting of U.S. Housing by Sexual Exploitation


Source: WBAL-TV/YouTube (October 2015)

Each year, hundreds of lawsuits against agencies and individuals associated with housing management in the U.S. are filed, the tip of the iceberg of rampant sexual misconduct and abuse disrupting housing security for poor and low-income women. Landlords, property managers, maintenance workers, security officers, and housing program managers have demanded sexual favors from tenant women in exchange for continued residence or program coverage, including qualification for Section 8 housing. A combination of an affordable housing crunch, long wait times for housing program intake, the threat of homelessness via retaliation, and the consequences of eviction on future housing access have left many women vulnerable to sexual exploitation and many men engaging in coercion with impunity.

While the lack of robust national studies and uneven state reporting practices on sexual harassment in housing have long obscured the problem, legislators have introduced House and Senate versions of a bill to amend the Fair Housing Act with explicit anti-harassment language and federal agencies have announced steps to target exploitation, including piloting an initiative to identify reporting barriers. Similarly, advocates have begun building consciousness amidst the burgeoning national conversation on gender-based sexual misconduct driven by the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.

Read

A woman’s choice – sexual favours or lose her home” (BBC News | January 2018)

HUD charges Wichita landlord with housing discrimination after alleged sexual harassment” (KWCH-TV | November 2017)

Justice Department Announces Initiative to Combat Sexual Harassment in Housing” (U.S. Department of Justice | October 2017)

Watch

Complaints of Sexual Harassment in Public Housing Go Ignored” (The Real News Network | September 2017)

Justice Department sues KCK Housing Authority for sexual harassment” (KSHB-TV | October 2015)

Study

Fair Housing Act

Combat Sexual Harassment in Housing Act (Proposed Senate bill)

Combat Sexual Harassment in Housing Act (Proposed House bill)

Sexual Harassment and Fair Housing Toolkit (Equal Rights Center)

Memo: Questions and Answers on Sexual Harassment under the Fair Housing Act (U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development)

Connect

National Fair Housing Alliance

U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development: Fair Housing

Report

U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division (fairhousing@usdoj.gov1-844-380-6178)

U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (1-800-669-9777)

 

South Africa News | Poor & Working Class

South African president announces free higher education for poor and working-class students
  • The change affects students from households making up to 350,000 South African rand (~USD26,715) enrolled in the country’s TVET (Technical Vocational Educational and Training) colleges.
  • President Jacob Zuma has pledged to implement the shift from loan- to grant-based subsidies in a “fiscally responsible manner,” with aid to higher education institutions set to increase from 0.7% to 1% of GDP over the next five years.
  • Critics continued to question the financing for such a sweeping initiative, with the finance minister indicating details will be deferred to the 2018 budget unveiling in February.
Read

Zuma announces free higher education for poor and working class students” (News24 | December 2017)

Gigaba: How government will fund free education to be clarified at 2018 budget” (The Mail & Guardian | December 2017)

Zuma says South Africa’s free higher education to be done in a fiscally sustainable manner” (Reuters | December 2017)

Pakistan Feature | Women & Girls

The Endless Labors of Pakistan’s Debt-Bound Women

A form of indentured servitude persists in the vast fields of Pakistan’s poorest regions, where families labor on lands to pay off debts whose balance never seems to decrease. But while men may find their “payments” limited to hard labor, women and girls find themselves vulnerable not only to physical labor, but to domestic, sexual, and even marital labor forced under conditions of extreme duress.  Religious minorities are particularly vulnerable, with an estimated 1,000 Hindu and Christian girls trafficked as a result of these debts, sold off to predatory landowners and forced to convert to Islam. The Associated Press examines the conditions faced by the more than 2 million Pakistanis living in what human rights organizations have called modern-day slavery and the particular indignities to which women and girls are subjected.

Read:
A Pakistani girl is snatched away, payment for a family debt” (The Associated Press)

(Image Credit: B.K. Bangash/AP)

India News | Women

Indian state strengthens property rights for slum-dwelling women
  • Women living in slums in the state of Maharashtra will now hold ownership rights equal to men thanks to a new land title plan.
  • The plan comes as the government seeks to regularize slums in the state, giving families land titles with joint ownership between marital partners.
  • Though the development has been lauded, advocates warn that women continue to struggle to exercise equal rights once gained, with lack of education and intimidation perpetuating gender-based legal inequalities.

Read more:
India’s Maharashtra state to give women slum dwellers joint ownership rights” (The Thomson Reuters Foundation)

(Image Credit: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters)

U.S. Feature | Homeless Seniors

The Changing Face of American Homelessness

A bulge of homeless baby-boomers has been making its way through the nation’s aging pipeline, with more than 300,000 homeless people in the U.S. now over the age of 50. From the recessions and zero-tolerance drug policies of the ’70s and ’80s to contemporary wage stagnation and affordable housing shortages exacerbated by unchecked urban gentrification, many who came of age during the social tumult of the ’60s and ’70s have struggled to maintain their footing in the nation’s rapidly evolving cities. For many, chronic illness and disability have led to homelessness or struck as a result of it, prematurely introducing aging issues into an already vulnerable population. As a result, homeless seniors have found themselves at the center of an epidemic that is increasingly understood to intersect with other national problems, including weak safety nets for seniors, people with disabilities, and the poor.

As national conversations framed through the lens of personal responsibility, urban threat, and moral failings compound the shame many experience in precarious situations, the aging homeless community has found itself not only marginalized on the streets, but within the discourse of homelessness in general, framed as it too often is in terms of workforce reintegration and social re-engagement. With the elderly homeless population expected to more than double by 2050, The New York Times recently examined the structural problems facing the aging homeless population and challenges affecting the development of effective long-term solutions.

Read:
Old and on the Street: The Graying of America’s Homeless” (The New York Times)

Additional coverage:
Fast-aging homeless population may lead to public health crisis” (The San Francisco Chronicle, March 2016)
Solving The Growing Health Needs Of America’s Elderly Homeless” (ThinkProgress, February 2016)
‘We Shouldn’t Have To Live Like This’” (NPR, March 2013)

Reports:
Aging and Housing Instability: Homelessness among Older and Elderly Adults (National HCH Council, September 2013)
Homelessness Among Elderly Persons (National Coalition for the Homeless, September 2009)

Connect:
National Alliance to End Homelessness
National Coalition for the Homeless
National Health Care for the Homeless Council

(Image Credit: Monica Almeida/The New York Times)