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Shawmut Education News

As 2008 approaches Shawmut Education looks to increase a growing client base in technology services. One of the new areas of revenue for the organization is online tutorial development. Shawmut is leveraging its vast background in working with video on the web and looking to integrate that with emerging technology like Learning Management Systems (LMS). In the latter half of 2007 Shawmut Education coordinated several tutorials for IBM.

The fall of 2007 saw Shawmut Education streamline its computer network infrastructure. Things have been reconfigured to provide for as simple an operation as possible. This should be a plus as the rollout of 2 national legal services initiatives are planned for 2008.

Shawmut Education also plans to focus on its efforts to build a facility in Portsmouth Virginia. This is a planned mixed use development. One should be able to keep tabs on the project by visiting the Virginia Homeless website.

Local News

For The Homeless, Housing

Rick Green
November 27, 2007

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Back in the 1990s, Dennis Cuhlane made a memorable discovery about homeless people.

It takes a lot of dough, Cuhlane calculated, to keep them homeless.

A sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania, Cuhlane studied 10,000 chronically homeless people in New York City and found that they each used up more than $40,000 in services annually.

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Although the chronically homeless make up just 20 percent of the overall population, Cuhlane discovered that they're loss-leaders when it comes to the services they consume. On a given night, Cuhlane and others tell me, as many as 200 shelter residents in the Hartford area fit this description.

It's taken awhile, but now the world is catching up to Cuhlane. If we are willing to spend some more upfront money on the homeless — renovating buildings, subsidizing permanent apartments — it's possible to solve what seems like an unsolvable problem.

We're starting to see the first glimmer of hope in the Hartford area, where shelters serve about 4,200 people annually. Agencies that have been working on this issue for years are seeing homeless people move from the streets into permanent housing.

What Cuhlane showed is that if you provide what is called "supportive housing," an apartment, with appropriate medical and mental health and counseling services, something significant happens.

"They reduced their use of services by close to 40 percent. They got hospitalized less often. If they were hospitalized, they didn't stay as long," said Cuhlane, who also supervises an annual count of the homeless in Connecticut. "They got arrested less frequently. If they did get arrested, they spent less time in jail."

They use up fewer tax dollars. They rejoin society, with jobs and homes in buildings that are taken care of.

"There is a tremendous amount of momentum going on right now," said Sharon Castelli, executive director of Chrysalis Center Inc. in Hartford, which helps move the homeless into permanent, independent housing.

"Ten years ago our goal was just to house people. It's anything but that now. It's to get people jobs. It's to become part of mainstream America. We have people who are actually doing that," Castelli told me. "It is more cost-effective to put people in supportive housing than emergency rooms."

Chrysalis, My Sisters' Place, Immaculate Conception Shelter and others have all been working to create housing for the homeless. Last month, the Hartford Commission to End Homelessness announced a goal to build 2,133 housing units over the next decade.

"The larger story, both within Connecticut and nationally, is there is an awareness that permanent supportive housing is a solution to chronic homelessness," said Diane Randall, director of the Partnership for Strong Communities, which works to end homelessness.

Next year, an international group that develops housing for the homeless, Common Ground, will begin renovating a building at 410 Asylum St. It plans to create 70 apartments, both affordable and market-rate, at the site overlooking Bushnell Park. Linked to this is another development by Common Ground, the nation's largest supportive housing developer, to create supportive housing apartments in a different neighborhood.

"There is now a plan on the table that didn't exist in the past. There is support for this notion of specially designed and supportive housing," said Rosanne Haggerty, a West Hartford native who founded Common Ground. "We would like to be a big contributor to seeing the city of Hartford meet its goals."

But to save money in the long run, we've got to be willing to create permanent homes throughout the region. State legislators now have an opportunity to take further advantage of the local momentum, combined with the arrival of Common Ground, to really make progress and create more permanent housing for the homeless.

"You have to make an investment to get a return on this investment," said Cuhlane, whose work is backed up by studies that replicate his findings.

If we refuse to spend more money on housing for the homeless, we'll still be dumping millions of dollars into shelters, emergency medical and mental health care and jails. That gets us nowhere and keeps the homeless on the street.

Rick Green's column appears on Tuesdays and Fridays. He can be reached at rgreen@courant.com.

U.S. News

Belief in cure resides in city homeless czar

Ex-corporate insider has new strategy for chronic outsiders

12:00 AM CST on Tuesday, November 27, 2007

By RUDOLPH BUSH / The Dallas Morning News
rbush@dallasnews.com

Standing in the middle of a downtown street with a steady rain soaking his clothes, the man would say only that his name was Justin and that he was homeless because his sister kicked him out.

JIM MAHONEY/DMN
JIM MAHONEY/DMN
Mike Rawlings, a former Pizza Hut president, talks with homeless people along Park Avenue in Dallas. As the city's homeless czar, he focuses on solving the root problems of those living on the streets.

He had a haunted and scared look on his face when Mike Rawlings, the former president of Pizza Hut, with a linebacker's build, put out a hand and gently pulled him toward the sidewalk and the line for the Stewpot, a homeless service center on Park Avenue.

As the city of Dallas' homeless czar, Mr. Rawlings has seen that look on many other faces.

Every day, about 1,000 chronically homeless men and women populate the city's underpasses, sidewalks and parks because their connection to a permanent home was snapped by struggles with mental illness and substance addiction.

There are many people in Dallas dedicated to helping them, but it's Mr. Rawlings' job to get all of them off the streets for good and back on the road to a stable life.

And even though it's volunteer work for Mr. Rawlings, it could be one of the toughest gigs in town. "For reasons I do not understand to this day, I took this job," he joked on a recent morning. But he took the job out of a sense of duty as a successful Dallas businessman and with a firm belief that he could ultimately help solve the problem.

Under a federal mandate, Dallas must have a plan to end chronic homelessness by 2014. Raising funds to implement the plan – and getting everybody from elected officials to corporations to philanthropists to believe in it – falls in large part to Mr. Rawlings, a 53-year-old Texas native with a slight Boston accent that resonates from his college days.

In his two years as homeless czar – a title he calls stupid for a job he takes very seriously – Mr. Rawlings has endured his share of skeptical looks and heard plenty of people scoff at the idea that homelessness has a solution.

He said he understands where they are coming from.

This is doable

Downtown has long teemed with homeless people who seem hopelessly lost in their own troubles. Efforts to help them find permanent homes have been scattered and marginally successful.

"I had the same sort of biases I think everybody else has. I cared about [the homeless], but they were easy for me to categorize as someone I don't have to deal with because somehow personal choice was involved, like a criminal who commits a crime. This is more complex," he said.

Over the last two years, Mr. Rawlings has come to believe with a convert's zeal that homelessness is a problem that Dallas can solve.

He goes around the city explaining a plan that strays from more conventional programs that encourage the homeless to earn their way into housing, instead showing that their root problems can be solved.

Spreading message

The plan is complex and will cost tens of millions of dollars to implement. But it boils down fairly simply: Get chronically homeless people into a place where they can clean up and get a bite to eat and access to health services. Then move them into permanent homes as soon as possible and begin helping them work on their other problems.

"Homelessness is never by itself as an issue. It is always a subordinate issue of something else," Mr. Rawlings said.

But once a person is on the street, solving his or her root problem becomes almost impossible.

Mr. Rawlings, who serves as chairman of the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance, spreads that message with the same savvy that led him to the top of the corporate world. After leaving Pizza Hut, he became managing partner of the private equity firm CIC Partners, something that gives him added clout when he makes his pitch for support to businesses and philanthropists.

The plan is not just good for the homeless, it's good for downtown and for the city, he says.

"Mike knows how to sell as well as anyone I've ever met," said Michael Faenza, president and chief executive of the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance. "He's selling something he really believes in for a group of people who are the most vulnerable in the community and who don't often have someone of his stature behind them."

His ability to make a pitch couldn't come at a more important time. Dallas' new Homeless Assistance Center is scheduled to open in February.

Homeless center

The center is the first step in the plan to end chronic homelessness. Mr. Rawlings' predecessor, Tom Dunning, laid the groundwork for the location, design and function of the center, which will provide services but won't serve as a shelter.

After Mr. Dunning resigned in September 2005, it fell to Mr. Rawlings to raise $20 million from private donors, foundations, corporations and churches to fully fund operations at the center.

"I believe most people would have thought it was insane to consider raising that much for the homeless, even if that much was needed. But I'm very confident Mike can," Mr. Dunning said.

The city has provided more than $23 million to build and staff the facility at St. Paul Street and Corsicana Avenue. Dallas County kicked in $1 million after Mr. Rawlings lobbied commissioners.

That led to the hard part, persuading individual, corporate, foundation and religious donors to kick in $20 million.

On any given day, Mr. Rawlings is likely to find himself in the homes of Dallas' wealthiest residents, selling his plan.

He has gotten commitments for more than $4 million and feels certain he will reach his goal.

Mayor Tom Leppert is also confident, and though Mr. Rawlings was appointed by Mayor Laura Miller, the new mayor is happy to see him continue in the role of homeless czar.

"I think it's clearly tough [to raise the necessary funds], but he's made it a lot easier," Mr. Leppert said.

In it for long haul

Mr. Rawlings has also found himself working as a middleman between the city and nonprofit organizations dedicated to helping the homeless.

Earlier this year, when the city began a crackdown on homeless people sleeping on downtown sidewalks, the pastor of First Presbyterian Church at 408 Park Ave. began allowing them to camp in the church parking lot.

That wouldn't work long term, so Mr. Rawlings and Mr. Leppert negotiated with the owners of the Day Resource Center near City Hall to open it temporarily as an overnight shelter for the homeless.

The deal still must be approved by the City Council, but it appears likely to happen, at least until the Homeless Assistance Center opens in February.

"The solution to the homeless problem is going to take contributions from the business community, the faith community and the city. Mike's position is to try to bring those efforts together and try to create that solution," said the Rev. Joseph Clifford, First Presbyterian's pastor.

After the Homeless Assistance Center opens, Mr. Rawlings will move on to his next project: lobbying governments to fund permanent housing and health services for the chronically homeless. The money that will be required for that dwarfs the cost of the Homeless Assistance Center and can't be raised from donations, he said.

It's a hard climb, but Mr. Rawlings said he's in for the long haul.

"I didn't take this for a symbolic role," he said.

World News

Homeless find peaceful life among the dead

Adisti Sukma Sawitri, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Sixty-year-old Sahaya knows well that humans are more frightening than any ghost or haunting spirit.

Surviving one eviction after another since she was 17-years-old, the Bekasi native finally lives in peace in a roofed grave at a Chinese section of the Cipinang Besar public cemetery in East Jakarta.

To mitigate the rain and cold, the woman who lives alone has fastened old banners to pillars around the grave.

"I don't remember when I started living here, but this place turned out to be my first permanent shelter ever," she said while talking to The Jakarta Post inside her dwelling, a three-by-three meter structure built with stacks of debris she collected.

She said the roofed grave might be small and stuffy but it was cozy, as no official ever bothered to raid her there.

Space is so limited in the city that it is the live ones who haunt the dead. As river embankments and underpass areas are overcrowded and prone to regular evictions, some squatters have turned to public cemeteries as an alternative for peaceful shelters.

In the cemetery's Chinese section alone, 78 families have lived on the 3-hectare plot since 2005.

Most of the residents are squatters who once occupied the nearby banks of the Cipinang Besar River and construction areas of the East Flood Canal.

They earn a living by scavenging, working construction and collecting frangipani, which they sell to mosquito repellent factories for Rp 14,000 or US$1.50 a kilogram.

The number of residents has soared since last year's visit by then-deputy governor Fauzi Bowo, who celebrated Ramadhan with residents.

Fauzi said he gave permission to the residents to live in the area while the administration worked to find a more suitable location.

"We are lucky to receive Pak Fauzi's recognition, so the risk of being evicted is decreased. But this cemetery has long been abandoned anyway," said Nani Rohayani, 46, a community leader.

The cemetery's management records show there have been no new graves in the section since the 1970s. Some families come to visit graves once a year during the Chinese New Year commemoration.

Nani, who also once lived in a roofed grave, said no family members had told her to move from the grave.

"A family member only once told me that I should not put a stove and cook inside since it exposed her mother to heat," she said.

Nani and her family moved from the roofed grave after being able to afford enough plywood and cement to build a more suitable dwelling.

For those who live among the dead, life is relatively ordinary.

Residents have a mushola (small Muslim place of worship) and a place to hold informal classes for children.

Some residents send their children to school to ensure they obtain education certificates.

Nani acts like head of a neighborhood unit, dealing with ID card registration and security issues.

Since they live in a non-designated area, residents usually procure permanent resident or ID cards by registering with a nearby neighborhood unit.

Nani always reminds residents to get ID cards to avoid population raids in the area.

Residents have dug wells and built collective water pumps for their daily needs, except for cooking and drinking.

"Nobody wants to consume 'bone' water" said Nani. Each family manages to have bottled water or a water dispenser.

Despite their limited incomes, everybody chips in if someone needs urgent money for medication, she added. When Independence Day approaches, all contribute money to hire a single dangdut band.

Fifty-year-old resident Suparno said although he enjoyed living there he always longed to live in a more decent place.

"It still bears a risk of eviction, especially if Rizal Foundation (the land's owner) decides to sell this land," he said.

A worker at a construction materials shop, Suparno said his dream was to have a small but affordable settlement to call his own.

Suparno said he would move if the administration offered him low-cost housing or an apartment.

However, Fauzi has yet to realize his promise to provide residents with a better settlement.

Head of the cemetery's management Junaidi said it allowed residents to live there only for the sake of humanity.

"We never really permit them to live here but everybody knows just how hard it is to find a place to stay in the city," he said.

Junaidi said he hoped the administration could soon provide a settlement for the community.

"A cemetery is a cemetery, the house of the dead. There is no way living people could live a normal life in such a place," he said.

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