Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Month

As the cold sets in and the holidays approach, New Haven’s homeless and transient community prepares for a part of the year in which they are most vulnerable. Across the world, Hunger and Homeless Awareness month is observed in November to raise awareness about the problems that continue to be pervasive for the homeless community throughout the year. One of these issues--the criminalization of homelessness--persists as a significant challenge. Just this past week, the New Haven community itself began Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Month with a powerful campaign to end targeted and unfair treatment towards the homeless.

On November 1, over 100 individuals experiencing homelessness, community advocates, and Yale students rallied in the “March to End Homelessness: Housing Not Jails” led by the Connecticut Bail Fund. I was fortunate to be involved in the early planning of the march, learning about the work of the Connecticut Bail Fund through its Executive Director Brett Davidson, a Yale alum who recognized the unfair nature of systemic and institutionalized structures that inherently target the homeless.

During one of these meetings, Quentin Staggers, a homeless individual himself, shared his experiences living on the New Haven Green. I learned more from Quentin’s insight than many textbooks or classes could offer, understanding the somewhat complex nature of institutionalized resources and how the community can more effectively approach direct assistance. Quentin provided the “Porter Potty Situation” as just one instance, noting that it took him a significant amount of effort working with City Hall to obtain portable restrooms on the New Haven Green for the homeless and transient communities to utilize. Once this feat was achieved, they were soon gone. It only took two weeks before City Hall reclaimed them and the homeless were forced once more into a situation of finding places to wash in the morning and use a restroom.

It was Quentin’s emotion and frustration with his own battle to secure housing for the past few years--forced from one location to another--that made me recognize the danger of deindividuation and the criminalization of individuals who are incredible advocates and community members of New Haven. Quentin’s leadership at the November 1 march, along with many who have been ticketed or harassed for trying to find a place to sleep, was an incredible act of resilience. The march, which began at the intersection of Olive and Chapel Streets, was a powerful demonstration of solidarity amongst the Yale student body and New Haven community, ending in a community dinner at St. Thomas Moore.

Bread and pastries heaping on the tables, it was evident that local New Haven businesses and advocates were eager to support this mission in a notable start to Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Month. Quentin, who just secured housing four days before the march, offers promise to this mission and to many who are still fighting for just treatment and proper housing. Seeing homeless residents and Yale students converse in constructive conversations around the table, I am optimistic that we can continue these critical discussions.

With the March to End Homelessness a successful beginning to November, please consider donating your meal swipes in YHHAP’s Fall Fast. The YHHAP Fast is taking place on Friday, November 10 and all proceeds will support rapid re-housing programs in New Haven. We need Yale’s effort towards advancing this critical campaign and hope to see your support throughout November.

Lauren LaMonica, YHHAP Advocacy and Outreach

A Strong Start to a Too-Short Fall Semester

Hey YHHAP-ers!

With October Break approaching in a few days comes the realization that fall semester is nearly halfway over. If you were to ask me to measure time elapsed through papers, problem sets, and late nights in the library I would not be able to give you an answer that seems to represent half a semester's worth of time. 

YHHAP, on the other hand, has packed a lot of activity and effort into these past seven weeks. We have partnered with Dwight Hall and RALY to host events ranging from clothing drives to pancake info sessions to menstrual hygiene collection to speaker/movie nights. We have begun the process of creating a new project, YHHAP Big Sibs, and have proudly expanded the reach and partnerships of current projects, like Restaurant Rescue. We have many upcoming events for when we return from break, so do make sure you're following our Facebook page and are subscribed to our weekly YHHAPPENINGS newsletter!

Something I also appreciate about having break on the horizon is the chance to step back from a life centered around academic stress and extracurricular engagements, and take a few moments to remind myself why I'm involved with YHHAP in the first place. This past Friday I volunteered at Hunger Heroes, serving food to those experiencing hunger and/or homelessness in New Haven. Volunteering with Hunger Heroes was how I first got involved with YHHAP about a year ago, and being back in that environment reminded me just how much it matters that we continue doing all the work that we have been doing thus far. These are real people whose lives bear the consequences of our action or inaction. They are not just numbers on a page, or words in a newsletter email. This is something that, upsettingly, I sometimes allow myself to forget in the frenzy of academic deadlines and personal obligations.

With that in mind, I challenge you to do more. Set aside an hour or two this break or after, and attend one of our events. Volunteer for a shift with one of our projects. Remember why you're doing this in the first place. And at the same time, thank you for everything you do. Without you there would be no YHHAP.

Have an amazing break. We look forward to working together when we return for the second half of a too-short fall semester. 

-Emily Locke, YHHAP Communications Chair

Penny Wars for YHHAP Big Sibs!

NEW PROJECT ALERT! YHHAP is launching YHHAP Big Sibs, a project in which we will be partnering with a New Haven homeless shelter and setting up after-school programming for the children of the shelter. As of a few years ago, the New Haven homeless population was roughly 560 people, 1 in 5 of those being children. According to youth.gov, after school programs provide key benefits to homeless children, including boosting their academic performance, reducing the likelihood of substance abuse and criminal behavior, and encouraging physical behavior and good dietary habits. There will be an information session about the program this coming Monday (10/9) at 7pm in LC 211. All are welcome!

YHHAP is also hosting a fundraiser throughout the following week (10/9-10/13) called Penny Wars that will allow you to do your part while also engaging in some friendly competition against other colleges! There will be donation boxes in the dining halls of participating colleges (Pauli Murray, Franklin, Morse, Berkeley, Saybrook, Davenport, JE) in which you can place a donation that will either earn points for your college or count as points against an opposing college!

Rules:

-Silver and dollars are positive points for your college, so put those in your own dining hall's box

-Pennies are negative points, so dump any spare pennies you have in the donation boxes found in opposing college dining halls

-If your college is not participating, feel free to donate via the donation boxes in other dining halls! 

-Positive donations of $5 or more can be venmoed to @yhhap (subject should be the name of the college you are donating on behalf of)

All proceeds raised will go to purchasing clothes for the New Haven homeless. So prepare your spare change and get involved!

-Isabel Gonzalez, YHHAP Fundraising Chair

September 27th, 2017

Project Period

There are many institutions in New Haven that are devoted to helping the homeless and at-risk
population with things like food, housing, mental health services, haircuts, childcare, tutoring,
skills building, and more, but one of the needs most overlooked with this community is the
need for feminine hygiene products for women experiencing homelessness. A woman has an
estimated 450 periods in her life, and the burden is heavy when you do not have a home or
regular access to a bathroom and cleaning facilities. That is where Project Period comes in.

Project Period is a new collaborative project between the Yale Hunger and Homelessness
Action Project and the Reproductive Rights Action League at Yale based out of the Yale
Women’s Center. Throughout this semester, both groups will be collecting donations of
feminine hygiene products that will be donated to Loaves & Fishes, which serves a large
segment of the homeless population in New Haven, and Integrated Refugee and Immigrant
Services (IRIS) which helps people resettle in New Haven and get the items they need to live their lives.

Unfortunately, menstrual products are often prohibitively expensive for people living on the
street and are not readily available in public restrooms or given out by service organizations.
While the majority of homeless people in New Haven are male, there is a significant female
contingency among the population and their needs cannot be overlooked.

Drop by the women’s center anytime this semester to donate to Project Period. We are looking
for donations of feminine hygiene products of any type, brand, or quantity. Whether you’re
donating a couple tampons or several packs of pads, your contribution is much appreciated and
will be put to good use in the community. Help us serve the community that has become our
home and provide a service that few others are providing so that health, sanitation, and dignity can prevail.

 

September 24th, 2017

YHHAP and New Haven

Last week, a team of YHHAP volunteers joined Jesse Hardy's Outreach Project at JHOP's 6th Annual Extravagant Cookout for the Homeless, hosted at Goffe Street Park. Throughout the day, dozens of volunteers streamed through and offered their assistance in serving, cooking, and organizing donations. Clothes of every size, pattern and color were piled high on five rows of tables. Books, housing appliances and basic food items were offered to attendees as well. Along with hot dogs and hamburgers, YHHAP volunteers helped serve pulled pork, chicken and ribs. Donors from around the community offered money, time and supplies to the effort. 

JHOP's Cookout is one of many other events that the organization puts together throughout the year. Jesse Hardy, who is formerly homeless himself, devotes his time to improving the lives of the transient community in New Haven. In the spring, he hosts Operation Love Affair with his team of volunteers. The event focuses on helping the community transition out of winter by donating heavy winter coats in favor for lighter attire. When he's not donating his time to the community, Jesse runs a food truck called Jesse's BBQ where he serves up delicious, Southern-inspired foods. YHHAP also donated $200 to the effort along with books, acquired through fellow local nonprofit New Haven Reads.

-Annie Cheng, YHHAP Community Chair

 

August 29th, 2017

New Beginnings

Welcome back all YHHAPers, new and old! We’re looking forward to the start of the semester and have been working hard all summer. We’ve updated our website with the most current information, so please explore the new site! Additionally, thanks to Jason Hu (BK ’19), we’ll be rolling out a new logo design on YHHAP shirts and materials moving forward in the semester!

Our weekly projects will be back in full swing starting next week. Some have been operating all summer, such as Restaurant Rescue Project, a project started last spring by current sophomore Annie Cheng (ES ’20). Most will be resuming soon. If you are interested in joining any of these projects, please email simon.cooper@yale.edu. We are especially looking for new members to join our Kitchen to Kitchen team! This is an impactful but low time commitment project through which volunteers salvage leftovers from Yale Dining to be donated to the Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen.

We have a lot on the horizon for this semester and many new ideas to be brought to fruition. Look out for our speaker series that will bring pioneers in fields such as healthcare, policy, and economics to our campus to speak about their work with homeless populations. We are also excited to be connecting with groups at other universities to put on a conference bringing together student leaders interested in homeless advocacy work.

Our unstoppable planning committee for the Youth Shelter is working hard to make sure the shelter will be well equipped to address the most important needs of New Haven’s homeless youth population. Lastly, we’re very excited to be a part of an event called PAWS (Poverty Alleviation through Washing Soles) hosted by Ashton Gores, a second year student at the School of Public Health. Ashton was volunteering at The Neighborhood Health Project when she met a homeless man who asked her to examine his feet. Upon seeing his infected and swollen feet, she resolved to do more to address the overlooked issue of podiatric care in homeless populations. YHHAP was eager to help. We’ll be partnering up with student leaders from Yale’s Professional Schools, such as the School of Public Health, School of Medicine, Divinity School, and School of Forestry and Environmental to help make this event happen. Stay tuned for more information on the event and how you can get involved!

Please be sure to come meet many of our board members and project heads to learn more about what we do at this Sunday’s Extracurricular Bazaar. Looking forward to seeing you all there!

-- The YHHAP Co-Coordinators

 

With our new website, YHHAP is proud to revitalize our blogging tradition. Affectionately known as "YHHAP-penings," the YHHAP Blog is one of the best ways to stay abreast of YHHAP's current work in New Haven, the activities of various YHHAP projects, and the status of hunger and homelessness issues more broadly. Yes, we are "YHHAP-hyped." Thank you in visiting our blog page. We join you in anticipation of many more posts to come.