A reply to Christine Quinn’s op-ed piece on the New York homeless in the Huffington post

Christine Quinn the openly gay speaker of the New York city council today has an op-ed piece on the homeless problem in the Huffington post I will admit I have not read it.

This is not a criticism or praise, just a long held Idea I have on the homeless problem in NYC.

There are many layers to the homeless problem, housing, medical care mental health care feeding addiction payment of welfare and VA benefits because over 60% ob NYC’s homeless are veterans  to name jjust a few.

The cost of providing these services falls to many agencies, in many locations in many government owned pieces of real estate built by public contract and  serviced by public tender occupied by public servants all at great cost to the city.

I live in flushing queens, but in my 15 years in this city I have lived in every borough except Staten island and one thing they all have in common is foreclosed crumbling government buildings long deserted due to many departments being brought together into one because of technology and fine tuning.  These  also have a lot of bank foreclosed entertainment centers and strip malls, that once were the centre of communities but now are merely centers of public concern.

We have on northern boulevard a grand old picture complex dating back almost 100 years, it has terrazzo floors art deco ceilings and grand stair cases sweeping like something out of gone with the wind.

All these buildings are quickly becoming camps for the homeless, and the government paid police hunt them out and crews clean off the graffiti until one by one they have to be pushed over because of damage done by the homeless occupation.

My idea is this, take the theatre on northern move in 100 homeless interview them and take ones with building experience give them a job that job is they teach others without those skills. The 4 story theatre gets rehabbed by homeless work force into two floors of studio accommodation, one floor of cafeteria health and laundry where they can shower wash clothes receive medication and eat. All non qualified jobs such as laundry cleaning  kitchen staff would be done by formerly homeless who as pay would receive industry wage and a roof over their heads.  You could have GED classes, computer centers language centers resume writing all on one floor, these could be taught by senior unemployed too old to be employed with very few years left before retirement  and you could draw from the ever growing pool of young college graduates who have the degrees yet are baristas and cab drivers because jobs are scarce.

 Each homeless person accepted would live there one year, with the goal be in that time if they were well enough they would leave with their own apartment and a job. If they had mental health problems they would use that year to locate family or group homes, or a mental health placement.  The huge benefits to the homeless HIVand aids community would be amazing we could provide aids meds free testing and ongoing counselling.

Cost could be shared by the Veterans Affairs by once identifying the client as a veteran the over head of their place in the system would be paid by the Va and Va liaison could have an office on site. Retirees, elderly unemployed the newly graduated and those trying to work after child birth could be the talent pool you could draw from.

 I have 37 years experience as a chef, yet because I’m in a wheelchair I can’t work I and other disabled people could be employed as instructors .

Each client off the street regains dignity,regains a useful place in society and  everyone wins we cut welfare we cut unemployment we cut the policing budget of trouble some homeless.  Society is cleaned up as one deserted strip mall, after one theatre after a closed school are rehabbed and put to new use.  The governments dollar value of real estate owned goes up, and  manufacture , retail  and medical infact there would not be one corner of society that could not benefit from such a program. With billions in new taxes flooding into our drowning economy.

 The disabled benefit, the homeless the LGBTQ and  the substance addicted all benefit in short the community at large wins.

 This is the ultimate definition of YES WE CAN, so why can’t we?

Disabled need more formal support: report

Dan Harrison
Published: June 14, 2012 – 12:00AM

 One in three Australians with a disability say they need more formal support, according to a report to be released today.

 The report, issued by the Council of Australian Governments reform council, is likely to strengthen calls for a National Disability Insurance Scheme. The council reports on the outcomes of the National Disability Agreement, which governs the more than $6 billion in annual government spending on disability services.

 Drawing on survey data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the council said people with disabilities continued to face major barriers to participating fully in the workforce.

There was no significant improvement in the workforce participation rates of people with disabilities between the most recent survey, taken in 2009, and the previous survey in 2003. “It would have been good to report some solid gains between 2003 and 2009, but in the area of workforce participation there was very little improvement for people with disability and that was despite an improving labour market,” council chairman Paul McClintock said.  Nationally, 50 per cent of the population with disabilities is employed, compared to about 79 per cent of those without disabilities.

 One in four people with severe or profound disabilities reported that their disability was the main reason they did not leave their home as often as they would like.

One in three people with disabilities said they needed more formal assistance than they were were receiving. Almost 20 per cent of those who took action to get further assistance in the previous 12 months said they still needed more help.

Asked what implications the report’s findings had for a National Disability Insurance Scheme, which is due to be launched in four locations from July next year, Mr McClintock said: “The logic of handling disability in a different way is really based upon the fact that the current system isn’t delivering effective change and isn’t improving.”

 The Gillard government has committed $1 billion over four years to launch a national scheme, under which people with disabilities will work with co-ordinators to develop support plans based on their individual needs and goals.

 The money will begin to flow with an $84 million downpayment in 2012-13, rising to $363 million in 2015-16.

 The Commonwealth has begun discussions with the states on the location of the four launch sites and on the design, governance and funding of the scheme. Those that take part in the launch will be asked to contribute a further $288 million between them.

The NSW Minister for Disability Services, Andrew Constance, has said he supports the scheme in principle and would like the Hunter region or Western Sydney to be one of the launch sites.

 But he said NSW could not afford to contribute any more funding beyond the $9.3 billion it had committed to disability services over the next four years.

 A national scheme is expected to cost $8 billion a year more than governments now spend on disability services. The Commonwealth will be expecting each state to at least maintain their current level of spending on disability services, and will be encouraging them to lift their level of spending to that of Victoria, which spends $8378 annually per person.

 About 4 million Australians have a disability. A further 2.6 million are carers to people with disabilities.

 

This story was found at: http://www.theage.com.au/national/disabled-need-more-formal-support-report-20120613-20axm.html

Social Security disability trust fund projected to run out of cash by 2016


 

Reposted from an article By Brian Faler of The Washington Post

Wednesday, May 30, 7:08 AM

A government entitlement program is headed for insolvency in four years, and it’s not the one members of Congress are talking about most.

The Social Security disability program’s trust fund is projected to run out of cash far sooner than the better-known Social Security retirement plan or Medicare. That will trigger a 21 percent cut in benefits to 11 million Americans — people with disabilities, plus their spouses and children — many of whom rely on the program to stay out of poverty.

“It’s really striking how rapidly this is growing, how big it’s become and how D.C. is just afraid of it,” said Mark Duggan, a University of Pennsylvania economist and adviser to the Social Security Administration.

Part of the reason for the burgeoning costs is that the 77 million baby boomers projected to swamp federal retirement plans will reach the disability program first. That’s because almost all boomers are at least 50 years old, the age at which someone is most likely to become disabled.

The growing costs are also a result of the economy’s troubles. When people can’t find work and run through their jobless benefits, many turn to disability benefits for assistance.

“They’re desperate,” said Ken Nibali, a retired associate commissioner of the program. “Some who are marginal and struggling to have a low-paying job now literally have no options.” So, he said, “they figure, ‘I do have trouble working, and I’m going to apply and see if I’m eligible.’ ”

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), said he has tried to interest fellow lawmakers in the issue, without much luck. “Nobody wants to touch things where they can be criticized,” Coburn said, adding, “the fund is going bankrupt” and “then what are we going to do?”

Applications to the disability program have risen more than 30 percent since 2007 — the last recession started in December that year — and the number of Americans receiving disability benefits is up 23 percent.

More Americans receive disability benefits than 20 years ago, although people are less likely to have physically demanding jobs, health care has improved and the Americans With Disabilities Act bans discrimination against those with handicaps.

Social Security is made up of two programs: the retirement plan supporting 40 million senior citizens and 6 million survivors, and the disability insurance program created during the Eisenhower administration.

The disability program pays benefits averaging $1,111 a month, with the money coming from the Social Security payroll tax. The program cost $132 billion last year, more than the combined annual budgets of the departments of Agriculture, Homeland Security, Commerce, Labor, Interior and Justice. That doesn’t include an additional $80 billion spent because disability beneficiaries become eligible for Medicare, regardless of their age, after a two-year waiting period.

The disability program is projected to exhaust its trust fund in 2016, according to a Social Security trustees report released last month. Once it runs through its reserve, incoming payroll-tax revenue will cover only 79 percent of benefits, according to the trustees. Because the plan is barred from running a deficit, aid would have to be cut to match revenue.

Duggan said the disability plan has been running on autopilot for decades and lawmakers could find savings to help avoid the scheduled cuts. While federally financed, the program is administered by the states, and disability rates among them vary widely. West Virginia topped the list in 2010, with 9 percent of residents between ages 18 and 64 receiving aid. Utah and Alaska had the lowest rates at 2.8 percent.

People whose benefit applications are rejected can appeal to administrative-law judges, and statistics show some judges are far more likely to approve benefits than others. One reason is that the program, which once focused largely on people who suffered from strokes, cancer and heart attacks, increasingly supports those with depression, back pain, chronic fatigue syndrome and other comparatively subjective conditions.

“They’re very, very hard to evaluate,” said Nicole Maestas, director of the Rand Center for Disability Research. “Reasonable people differ about what constitutes a disability.”

Statistics show that once people enter the program they are unlikely to leave, with fewer than 1 percent rejoining the workforce. Many worked “menial” jobs that didn’t offer health insurance, and the program gives them an opportunity to join Medicare long before they might otherwise qualify, Nibali said.

The agency faces a backlog of 1.4 million reviews it’s supposed to periodically conduct to ensure beneficiaries are entitled to stay on the rolls. The agency has said it doesn’t have the money to do the reviews.

Neither President Obama nor House Republicans in their proposed budgets has addressed the disability program’s shortfall.

“We’re not trying to fix every problem in America with this one document,” said House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) of his budget plan. “We’re trying to prevent a debt crisis, and this is not a driver of our debt.”

“The administration believes that disability insurance is a vital lifeline for millions of Americans,” Kenneth Baer, a spokesman for the White House budget office, said in an e-mail. “The president remains willing to work with Congress on a bipartisan basis to strengthen Social Security and protect the millions of beneficiaries.”

He added that lawmakers didn’t fully fund the administration’s request for more money to screen beneficiaries.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), whose committee sets Social Security policy, said the program’s finances are less dire than they may appear. Congress can funnel revenue from elsewhere in the government to cover the program’s shortfall, he said.

— Bloomberg News