Category Archives: Communities

GoFundMe figures reveal thousands rely on site to avoid homelessness

There have been nearly 300,000 GoFundMe campaigns in the US related to homelessness over the last three years. Some see it as a sign of a broken social system and dwindling options for those in need

Dave Schulman’s long decline toward homelessness began 18 years ago, when, as a reserve police officer in southern California, he fell from a wall and seriously injured his neck during a response to a robbery call. In the years that followed, he lost his ability to work, his wife left him and the bank foreclosed on his Costa Mesa house. Depressed and in constant pain, he has recently been on the verge of losing the trailer that he now calls home, because his truck broke and he could no longer move it from place to place.

But Schulman’s luck changed in January, when a former police colleague recognized that he was on the edge of losing everything and organized a GoFundMe fundraising campaign

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Source: gadt

Towers with Grenfell-style cladding ‘at risk of arson and terrorism’

Exclusive: fears for vulnerable buildings lead councils to keep locations secret, Guardian finds

Public officials fear terrorists and arsonists could target high-rise homes that are still covered in combustible Grenfell-style cladding, amid increasing delays to safety works, a Guardian investigation has found.

The estimated bill to reclad at least 288 towers in England, which failed combustibility tests after 71 people died at Grenfell Tower in west London, is now on course to reach £1bn. There are waits of up to seven months to test alternative systems to ensure they are safe, and legal disputes are holding up works elsewhere.

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Source: gad

From shortbread to the NHS: Scotland fears loss of workers after Brexit

Employers have depended on EU nationals, many of whom are now embedded in the Highlands

The snow is falling in Aviemore, but the window display of the Walkers shortbread bakery is springing with Easter treats, alongside the more traditional thistle rounds and petticoat tails.

With its factory to the north in Elgin, and outlets like this one dotted across the region, Walkers is one of the biggest private employers in the Highlands. Jim Walker, whose grandfather started the company more than a century ago, is under no illusions about the human underpinnings of his international export business.

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Source: gad

Cuts to support for slavery victims in UK pose 'a mega risk of homelessness'

Government decision to slash weekly allowance could expose survivors to further exploitation, warn campaigners

The government is slashing the financial support it provides to victims of slavery in the UK by nearly 50%.

In a statement to the Guardian, the Home Office confirmed that the weekly allowance provided to slavery victims will be cut from £65 to £37.75. Support for victims lasts for 45 days following confirmation that they were subjected to modern slavery in Britain.

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Source: gad

Un-gentrifying Portland: scheme helps displaced residents come home

The first of its kind in the US, a Portland housing-assistance policy is an effort to atone for the sins of gentrification

Two years ago, Dianne Causey’s landlord died and her rental house in Portland, Oregon, went up for sale. She was forced to move from the city’s historically black neighborhood where she’d lived since 1978, into an apartment further east, nearly an hour away by public transit. “The apartment was way out in the boondocks. I was miserable,” she said.

But in December, Causey, 66, was able to return to north Portland, when she bought her first home through the Portland housing bureau’s preference policy, or “Right to Return” as it’s been called, the first of its kind in the US.

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Source: gad

How a small town reclaimed its grid and sparked a community revolution | Aditya Chakrabortty

The latest article in our new economics series looks at what happened when a German utilities contract expired, and one man thought his neighbours could take over

• Listen to Aditya Chakrabortty talking about game-changing economic models on The Alternatives podcast

Martin Rühl never imagined this fight would define the rest of his life. Not for a moment did he reckon it would become so epic in length, in scale, in consequences. He just thought his speck of a town should run its own electricity supply.

A modest proposal, but in the Germany of 2003 it was highly unusual. Gerhard Schröder was still chancellor and, although a social democrat, was pushing through more privatisations of public assets than any other leader in German history. This was in a Europe that had learned from Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan to stop worrying and start loving the private sector. Now here, swimming against history’s current, was one orderly, slightly anxious engineer.

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Source: gad

Knife crime has left London’s young people reeling. We need action now | Seraphima Kennedy

Parts of London are in a state of emergency after a spate of stabbings. Cuts to services have fractured community cohesion

At 11pm last Tuesday, I said goodnight to a friend outside a pub in Kentish Town in north-west London. By the time we both got home – about a mile in distance – each of us had passed a murder scene: four young men were stabbed that evening, in at least three different locations. Two of them died.

At the police cordon by the junction of the nearby Islip and Bartholomew Road and the Peckwater estate, a large group of Somali women spoke anxiously into their phones. It felt like so many of the scenes we’ve seen in London over the past year: a shocked community coming together from different backgrounds to deal with tragedy. A young boy, now known to be Abdikarim Hassan, 17, had been fatally stabbed outside a corner shop.

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Source: gad

'Sorry, I've only got my card': can the homeless adapt to cashless society?

From contactless terminals to jackets with card readers, charities are being forced to adapt to keep up with Britain’s steady drop in cash usage

It’s 8am and Jonjo Doe is getting ready for his morning shift as a vendor of the Big Issue. Arriving in Cambridge three years ago after a brief spell in prison, he was homeless but eager to rebuild his life. Selling the Big Issue was one of the best ways to do that – and for a while the plan worked.

“I tend to ask everyone who walks by if they want to buy one,” says Doe. “Most people either come up with the excuse, ‘I haven’t got any change’ – which is easy [to respond to with] ‘I’ve got change for a note’ – but then there was, ‘Oh no, I’ve only got my card.’ And it just kept happening.”

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Source: gad

Absolute hell: the toxic outpost where Mumbai's poorest are 'sent to die'

More than 30,000 slum residents have been forced to the ‘critically polluted’ area of Mahul as the city clears land around a water pipeline and plans a bike lane to stop residents moving back

Away from the hustle and bustle of Mumbai, a sense of intense gloom pervades Mahul. The former fishing village to the east of India’s great metropolis is now home to 30,000 people who were “rehabilitated” after their slum homes were demolished to make way for infrastructure projects.

They live in 72 seven-storey buildings jammed together in the shadow of oil refineries, power stations and fertiliser plants. The air is pungent with the strong smell of chemicals. Sewage overflows into narrow streets. With the nearest government hospital seven miles away, masked patients stand in obedient lines outside homeopathy clinics, coughing.

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Source: gad

Scammed designs: when crafty home owners take on planning regulations

A whole home built inside a garage is the latest ingenious attempt to defy local authority building rules

Last week in Leicestershire, a couple was discovered to have built an entire house inside their garage without planning permission, hiding it behind a fake garage door. Dr Reeta Herzallah and Hamdi Almasri will now have to convert the structure back and pay a fine.

Blaby District Council has won this time, but in the ongoing regulatory war between crafty home owners and local authorities, the record is mixed. When Roy and Gail Coles, of Lichfield, Staffordshire, ran into financial troubles during the financial crisis, they rented out their house and built Squirrel Cottage on their country estate, making it look like a barn, despite having all mod cons. After eight years, they were ordered to tear it down and pay £14,000 in costs. However, the rent earned during that time might have made it a worthwhile investment.

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Source: gad