Friday, August 10, 2012

New York: Sharp Rise in Homelessness

The homeless population in New York City has jumped sharply over the last year, causing a record number of people to enter the shelter system. The increase has forced the Bloomberg administration to open nine more shelters in just the last two months — sometimes with only a few weeks’ notice to surrounding neighborhoods. The administration said the increase stemmed in part from the end of the city’s main rent-subsidy program for homeless families. But the new shelters — five in the Bronx, two in Manhattan and two in Brooklyn — have provoked criticism from local officials who say they were blindsided by the decisions to open them. The city, for example, relied upon its emergency authority to turn two residential buildings on 95th Street on the Upper West Side of Manhattan into shelters that will eventually house about 200 adult couples, officials said. The buildings had recently been used as illegal hotels before they were shut down, and they still have some long-term tenants. The city’s Department of Homeless Services told the community board about its plan in mid-July, only two weeks before people began moving in. The commissioner of homeless services, Seth Diamond, said in an interview that the city had no choice but to open the shelters, given the demand. The city recorded 43,731 homeless people (25,475 adults and 18,256 children) in the shelter system this week, up 18 percent from the 37,143 (21,807 adults and 15,336 children) a year ago, officials said. “We do have to move quickly, and we have to always make sure that we have enough capacity,” Mr. Diamond said. “The one thing we cannot do is have families come in and not have a place for them.” Mr. Diamond said he did not believe that his department had deceived neighborhoods by opening shelters with little notice, saying the process for picking the sites had been done “always with community communication.” The administration is not legally obligated to get the approval of community boards before opening shelters, but its policy requires it to tell them of its plans ahead of time. Of the nine new shelters, the city opened three, including the two in Manhattan, under its emergency authority, giving little notice before proceeding. Several of the other shelters were opened under normal practices but officials had moved quickly. The city told a community board in the Bronx this week that a 50-unit homeless shelter would open within days. By law, the city is obligated to supply shelter to people who have nowhere else to go, though there are limits to how long they can stay. The current shelter census is the highest ever, officials said; the number does not represent the total homeless population in the city, because some people avoid the shelter system. Local officials and neighborhood leaders acknowledged the need for the shelters, but said the Bloomberg administration had moved too abruptly. Several elected officials sponsored a protest this week in front of the 95th Street buildings, which are side by side between West End Avenue and Riverside Drive. The buildings are privately owned, and the city is paying roughly $3,300 a unit a month, with two or three people living in each unit. Manhattan’s borough president, Scott M. Stringer, said, “This is no way to meet the needs of vulnerable citizens in this city by simply packing in hundreds and hundreds of people in the dead of night without a long-range plan.” Asked what the alternative should be, Mr. Stringer, a Democrat who is likely to run for mayor next year, said, “Well, that is the conundrum.” He added: “You still need to come to various constituencies to support a long-term policy to meet a need that is expanding. It’s easy to throw 400 people in a community without doing your homework.” Other community leaders said they feared that the administration was rushing to find beds for homeless people without first ensuring that there were adequate social services for them. If not properly supervised, they said, the shelters can become rife with drugs and crime. “It isn’t because we don’t want them in our backyard,” said Mark N. Diller, who is chairman of Community Board 7 on the Upper West Side. “It’s that we don’t want a failure in our backyard.” A 10-year resident of one of the buildings, Masako Koga, 48, said she noticed new security guards on Monday and was then informed for the first time that homeless people would soon be moving in. “There are so many vacant rooms, though, so I knew it would be coming soon,” Ms. Koga said. Patrick Markee, a senior policy analyst with the Coalition for the Homeless, said a weak economy and rising housing costs were major factors underlying the rise in homelessness, particularly for black and Hispanic families. “We’re facing the prospect of more and more shelters opening in the city,” Mr. Markee said, “and that creates bad incentives for landlords to push out low-income tenants in favor of doing deals with D.H.S.” There are 228 homeless shelters in the city, up from 211 in June 2010. A vast majority of them are privately run and financed by the Department of Homeless Services. The Bloomberg administration acknowledged that the end of Advantage, which was the city’s signature program to combat homelessness, had played a significant role in the increase in homelessness. The program gave subsidies to homeless families for up to two years to help pay for their apartments if they were employed. Some families who exhausted their Advantage benefits are now back in the shelter system. The city said last year that it was discontinuing the program because the state was dropping its financial support. “We are in a very difficult environment with a very successful program that ended very abruptly,” Mr. Diamond, the homeless services commissioner, said. “At that point, we said the result would be a significant increase in the homeless population. The tragedy of losing Advantage was not just that we lost it, but that we lost it at a time when money was so tight that it was almost impossible to get it back.” Tayna Munoz, 29, said that she had had an Advantage subsidy for two years, and that once her eligibility ended, she continued in her job as an assistant in a dentist’s office. But a few months later, she lost her position, leaving her unable to afford all the rent and support her 8-year-old daughter. Evicted from their apartment, she went to the Homelessness Department’s Prevention Assistance and Temporary Housing office in the Bronx to apply for shelter. “My plan was to get help and save to get my own apartment,” Ms. Munoz said outside the office. “Right now, it’s not easy.”

Nazia Hassan will be remembered on her 12th death anniversary
She was born on 3rd April 1965 in Karachi.Nazia Hassan began her singing career during the late 1970s‚ when she appeared on several television shows on PTV as a child artist. Her professional career started at the age of fifteen when she provided the lead vocals for the song Aap Jaisa Koi from the 1980 film Qurbani and in 1981 won Filmfare award for it. In 1981‚ Nazia Hassan became the first playback singer to release an album after the release of her first album‚ Disco Deewane. Nazia's second album Star/Boom Boom was released in 1982. The soundtrack of the album was used in the movie Star. Nazia's third album‚ Young Tarang was released in 1984. The album sold 40 million copies which set the record of most-selling video album of all times. Nazia's fourth album‚ Hotline was released in 1987. In 1988‚ Nazia and her brother Zoheb appeared with music expert Sohail Rana in his television program‚ Sung Sung. In the following year‚ Nazia and Zoheb hosted the groundbreaking show Music '89. Nazia hosted another show‚ Dhanak on PTV in the same year‚ 1989. In 1991‚ Nazia and her brother Zoheb recorded her fifth album‚ Camera Camera. The album was released in 1992. Nazia was married on March 30‚ 1995 to Mirza Ishtiaq Baig. They had a son born on April 7‚ 1997 named Arez. Nazia's marriage with Mirza Ishtiaq Baig was a complete failure and she got divorced on August 4‚ 2000. Nazia died of lung cancer in London on August 13‚ 2000 at the age of 35. The Government of Pakistan has conferred upon Nazia Hassan the highest civilian award ‘Pride of Performance'.

Harassed Hindus flee Pakistan

Hindus are fleeing Pakistan after their shops were looted, houses raided and women were converted to Islam, a media report said.Rehman Malik, advisor to Pakistani Prime Minister on interior affairs, however, said that visas being issued to 250 Hindu families by the Indian high commission was a conspiracy, reported Dawn. Malik was responding to a query on migration of Hindu families to India from Sindh and Balochistan after complaining that their shops had been looted, houses raided and women forced to embrace Islam. Rehman Malik said in Lahore that the government had stopped the Hindus of Jacobabad from leaving for India. They would be allowed to leave after complete verification. "The Indian high commission should say why it has issued visas to them," he was quoted as saying. The government has decided to beef up security for religious minorities following large-scale migration of Hindu families to India. Seven Hindu families comprising 90 men, women and children from Jacobabad left for India Wednesday night, citing lack of safety and security in Sindh. They left by train and were seen off by relatives and a large number of people of the community at the Jacobabad railway station. After reaching Lahore, they intended to enter India at the Wagah border. The move comes just six months after 52 Hindu families from the same area migrated to India. Jacobabad police official Muhammad Younus Chandio maintained that complete security was being provided to the community and said the families were not migrating but were going to India to perform religious rites and would return soon.

Nawaz is a puppet in Chaudhry Nisar's hands, claims Javed Hashmi

The Express Tribune
Continuing with the diatribe against the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) President Javed Hashmi accused PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif of being a puppet in the hands of Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan. Addressing a press conference in Multan on Friday, Hashmi added that Nisar is causing harm to Pakistan and his own party. “Chaudhry Nisar is responsible for the imposition of martial law in the past and he was also against the nuclear tests,” Hashmi said. Repeating the allegations levelled against Nawaz by PTI Chairman Imran Khan just a few days ago, Hashmi questioned why doesn’t he take the writer, who accused him of corruption, to court? Hashmi said that the PML-N, a party to which he had dedicated a long part of his political career before switching to the PTI, is now ‘surrounded’ by pretenders. He added that Nawaz has been enveloped by members who had left the party in difficult times and are now acting as party’s frontmen. Praising himself for fighting for the supremacy of the judiciary, Hashmi alleged that both “Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif had always tried to usurp its rights.”

US alerts its citizens in Pakistan

The United States Embassy has issued a security alert for the citizens living in Pakistan cautioning them to avoid visiting public places on Eid and August 14, a local television reported. The security message reminds US citizens of potential threat posed by the presence of Al-Qaeda, Taliban and many related indigenous groups. According to the report, these groups seek the opportunities to attack US citizens at locations where they might congregate during occasion like Eid and August 14.