Attacks on Homeless Excluded from Crime Data: Advocates

by T.J. Johnston,
• Sidebar: “Homelessness, by the Numbers?” • Sidebar: “Human Faces, Lost in the Statistics”
Ricky Green of Bolinas, Calif., and Anthony Waters of Cleveland, Ohio, don’t know each other, but they have this much in common: both are homeless and both were brutalized by packs of teenagers in June. But their outcomes differed. Green survived. Waters did not.

Homelessness, by the Numbers?

Main article: “Attacks on Homeless Excluded from Crime Data: Advocates”
The National Coalition on the Homeless’s 2008 report, “Hate, Violence and Death on Main Street, USA,” combined government crime statistics with reports from local homeless advocacy groups, media reports and self-reported narratives by homeless people to develop a new index of attacks on the homeless. Although federal crime statistics indicate no upswing in violence against homeless people, and that the juvenile crime rate is actually going down, the NCH report found only increases. Advocates for both statistical methods say their counterparts’ methods are flawed. Key NCH findings about violence against homeless people:
In 2007, Florida led all states with 31 attacks
California is second with 22, Nevada with 14, Ohio with 13 and Texas with 8
TOTAL ATTACKS, 2006-2007
Total 2007 attacks: 160
Total 2006 attacks: 142
Attacks increased by 13 percent
2007 nonlethal attacks: 132
2006 nonlethal attacks: 122
Increased by 8 percent
2007 fatalities: 28
2006 fatalities: 20
Fatalities increased by 40 percent
–T.J. Johnston

Human Faces, Lost in the Statistics

By T.J. Johnston,
Main article: “Attacks on Homeless Excluded from Crime Data: Advocates”
Since 1999, when the National Coalition on the Homeless, started releasing yearly figures on attacks against people without housing, it has claims to have tracked 774 violent acts against homeless men, women and children in 235 cities throughout 45 states and Puerto Rico. Of these attacks, 217 were fatal. took an up-close look at four individuals made victims by this violence in 2007 — and found real human faces lost in the statistics. New York: “Quality of Life”
Before David Pirtle found housing in 2006 and became an advocate for the National Coalition on the Homeless’s speakers bureau, the former restaurant manager spent two-and-a-half years homeless in New York City. One autumn night in 2004, Pirtle was sleeping in an abandoned stairwell.

L.A. Targets Gangs for Hate Crimes

The Southern Poverty Law Center says a Latino gang based in the California prison system has widened its feud with a rival African American gang, and is now engaged in an “ethnic cleansing” campaign that targets blacks indiscriminately. The latest victim, 14-year-old Cheryl Green, was fatally shot after straying too close to the “forbidden line” that divided her neighborhood down the middle, NBC4 in Los Angeles reports. Race-based attacks there have spiked in the past few years, and state and federal agencies are teaming up for a crackdown. Sources:
“L.A. blackout”
Intelligence Report (Southern Poverty Law Center), Winter 2007
“Injunction to be filed against 204th street gang”
NBC4.TV (Los Angeles), January 19, 2007
“No age of innocence in gangland’s turf war”
New York Times, January 21, 2007