Date of Issue: 6/28/05
For Immediate Release
Contact: Michael Stoops (202) 462-4822, ext. 19; firstname.lastname@example.org
Washington D.C. - For the past six years (1999-2004), the National Coalition
for the Homeless (NCH) has tracked and reported on a disturbing increase
in crimes targeting homeless people. These violent attacks on homeless
people, one of our most vulnerable populations, result in injury and in
many cases death.
The well-documented affordable housing crisis is not the only crisis
to affect the millions of people who are homeless every year. There is
also an increasing pattern of civil rights abuses and violence directed
at the homeless population. Homelessness is no longer simply an issue
of the right to affordable housing but a matter of life and death. As
the danger of living without a home increases, the lack of federal housing
resources as well as the absence of the political will to end homelessness
becomes increasingly more shameful.
In October of 2004, three Milwaukee teens murdered a homeless man at his
forest campsite. The teens hit 49-year-old Rex Baum, with rocks, a flashlight,
and a pipe, before smearing feces on his face and covering his body with
leaves and plastic.
In August of 2004, Curtis Gordon Adams, 33, beat and stabbed a disabled
homeless man to death and then licked the blood from his fingers on a
More recently, on May 28th 2005, in Holly Hill, Florida, 53-year-old
Michael Roberts was beaten and punched to death with sticks and logs by
a group of teenagers who admitted to beating the man just for fun, to
have something to do. The autopsy report indicates that Roberts died of
blunt-force trauma to the head and body, his ribs were broken, his skull
was fractured, and his legs were badly injured. Defensive wounds were
found on his hands. The boys returned several times to make sure the job
Homelessness is an issue that affects every community in America. Homeless
people lack the protection of a locked door available to homeowners, leaving
them in an unprotected position where they are subjected to hate crimes
and violence. Sadly, the prevalence of hate crimes and violence against
homeless people has risen, as well as negative stereotypes reinforced
by the media and intolerant people.
Through this report, NCH hopes to educate lawmakers, advocates, and the
public about the problem of hate crimes and violence against homeless
people, as well as call for a U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO)
study addressing this issue.
This year's report, Hate, Violence and Death on
Main Street USA: A Report on Hate Crimes and Violence Against People Experiencing
Homelessness in 2004, includes data from news reports, advocates,
victims' accounts, and homeless shelters on the number of homeless victimizations
that have occurred in the past six years (for the full 2004 report and
previous reports, please visit http://nationalhomeless.org/civilrights/hatecrimes.html).
Facts and Trends:
- The number of homeless deaths has risen by 67% since 2002.
- The number of non-lethal attacks against homeless people has risen
by 281% since 2002.
- These crimes occurred in 140 cities in the past six years.
- These crimes occurred in 39 states, plus Puerto Rico.
- The age range of the accused/convicted ranged from 11 to 65 years
- The age range of the victims ranged from 4 Months old to 74 Years
- Gender of victims: 296 Male and 44 Female.
Request for U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) Study:
U.S. Representative John Conyers (D-MI), along with the bipartisan support
of 21 other members of Congress, is calling for a GAO study to assist
Congress and the public in obtaining much-needed information on the extent
and scope of violent acts and crimes against people experiencing homelessness.
This request has been endorsed by nearly 500 local and national organizations.
"A GAO study is urgently needed to shed light on this frightening
trend of hate crimes and violence. These horrific acts threaten the lives
of over 3.5 million women, men and children experiencing homelessness
each year," said Michael Stoops, acting executive director of NCH.
CITIES WHERE HATE CRIMES/ VIOLENCE OCCURRED IN 2004:
Ann Arbor, MI
Clinton Township, MI
Corpus Christi, TX
Key West, FL
Loiza, Puerto Rico
Maple Valley, WA
New York City, NY
Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico
Santa Cruz, CA
Toms River, NJ
CURRENT CONGRESSIONAL SUPPORTERS OF A GAO STUDY ON HATE CRIMES/VIOLENCE
AGAINST HOMELESS PEOPLE:
Becerra, Xavier (D-CA)
Berman, Howard L. (D-CA)
Blumenauer, Earl (D-OR)
Clay, William Lacy (D-MO)
Conyers, John (D-MI)
Cummings, Elijah (D-MD)
Delahunt, William (D-MA)
DeLauro, Rosa (D-CT)
King, Steve (R-IA)
Larsen, Rick (D-WA)
Levin, Sander (D-MI)
Lofgren, Zoe (D-CA)
McDermott, James (D-WA)
Owens, Major (D-NY)
Payne, Donald (D-NJ)
Rangel, Charles (D-NY)
Schakowsky, Jan (D-IL)
Schiff, Adam (D-CA)
Solis, Hilda (D-CA)
Waters, Maxine (D-CA)
Wexler, Robert (D-FL)
Woolsey, Lynn (D-CA)