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Taylor Materio 202-662-1530 x227;
The U.S. Interagency
Council on Homelessness (USICH)
has released a plan that would put the United States on the path to
homelessness among veterans and chronically homeless individuals by 2015
among children, youth, and families by 2020.
Opening Doors: The Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End
was released at a White House press event on Tuesday, June 22. USICH
said the plan calls for "a fundamental shift in the way that the federal
government and communities across the country respond to homelessness"
and will create "collaborative partnerships both between agencies and
levels of government to enable the Administration to approach the key
preventing Americans from experiencing homelessness."
"We commend the USICH for the plan's emphasis on measurable
goals. The plan's declaration that the country will end homelessness
among certain populations is extremely important," said NLIHC President
Sheila Crowley. "We appreciate the plan's acknowledgment of the
need to fund the National Housing Trust Fund, which, once funded, will
important role in providing stable housing options for people with the
incomes who are most at risk of homelessness."
"Now that the plan is in place, we must work together to implement
it," Ms. Crowley added. "NLIHC would like to see more specific
information about the additional federal funding that will be required
implement the plan's goals. We look forward to working with the
Administration over the coming year to identify funding sources that
communities provide homes and needed services to homeless families and
The creation of the plan by USICH was mandated by the HEARTH Act,
signed into law by President Obama in May 2009. The USICH is comprised
cabinet secretaries and department heads of federal agencies that deal
issues relating to homelessness, including HUD Secretary and USICH Chair
Donovan, and Labor Secretary and USICH Vice Chair Hilda Solis.
release of the plan follows the publication of The 2009 Annual
Assessment Report to Congress (AHAR), released by HUD on June 18.
report finds an increase in homelessness among families from 2007 to
points to an increase in job loss and foreclosures accompanying the
the economy as a cause. There were almost 62,000 more family members who
in a shelter at some point in 2009 than there were in 2007, an increase
The AHAR is available at: https://www.hudhre.info/documents/5thHomelessAssessmentReport.pdf
The Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness is available at www.usich.gov and www.hud.gov
The National Low Income Housing Coalition is dedicated solely to ending America's affordable housing crisis. Established in 1974 by Cushing N. Dolbeare, NLIHC educates, organizes and advocates to ensure decent, affordable housing within healthy neighborhoods for everyone. NLIHC provides up-to-date information, formulates policy and educates the public on housing needs and the strategies for solutions.
"By underwriting and investing in new and expanded fossil fuel projects, U.S. insurers are helping Big Oil bring us closer to the worst runaway climate scenarios," said Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse.
As insurance giants limit coverage in hundreds of disaster-prone areas across the United States, a Senate panel on Friday launched an investigation into seven major carriers' continued backing of planet-heating fossil fuel projects that are driving increasingly frequent and severe extreme weather.
Senate Budget Committee Chair Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) sent letters to the executives of seven companies—American Insurance Group (AIG), Berkshire Hathaway, Chubb, Liberty Mutual Group, Starr Wright USA, State Farm, and Travelers Insurance—demanding that each firm disclose how it underwrites, invests in, and profits from coal, oil, and gas.
The letters—also signed by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), both members of the committee—further ask the companies to explain what plans, if any, they have to reduce, wind down, or eliminate support for current and proposed fossil fuel projects in accordance with the Paris agreement's goal of limiting temperature rise to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels. In addition, the letters seek information about the insurers' climate-related lobbying activities and human rights policies, including methods for securing free, prior, and informed consent from Indigenous communities affected by drilling or pipelines. The companies have until June 23 to respond to the questions.
"By underwriting and investing in new and expanded fossil fuel projects, U.S. insurers are helping Big Oil bring us closer to the worst runaway climate scenarios, which threaten lives, livelihoods, and the federal budget," Whitehouse said in a statement. "This information is especially relevant as some of these companies begin to pull out of certain markets because they see the coming catastrophic climate risks—despite continuing to provide services to the fossil fuel industry."
As The Wall Street Journalreported Thursday, AIG is planning to scale back home insurance sales in roughly 200 ZIP codes around the country at elevated risk of floods or wildfires, affecting parts of Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Montana, New York, and Wyoming.
"The U.S. insurance industry continues to dismiss the urgency of eliminating support for fossil fuel expansion and implementing credible, science-based plans to phase out their underwriting and investments in coal, oil, and gas."
Earlier this year, Farmers Group stopped accepting new applications for home insurance policies in Florida, citing hurricane exposure and soaring rebuilding costs. AIG and Chubb had already begun to restrict coverage in California last year. Two weeks ago, State Farm halted the sale of new residential and commercial property insurance policies in the state. Earlier this week, Allstate confirmed it did the same thing last year.
Unmitigated global warming is fueling larger and more frequent blazes in the U.S. West and elsewhere, intensifying hurricanes and typhoons, and causing sea-level rise, which increases the likelihood of flooding and damaging storm surge events in coastal areas.
With an estimated $582 billion invested in fossil fuels, meanwhile, U.S. insurers are making the problem worse, progressive lawmakers and advocates argue. Despite mounting evidence of the climate emergency's growing toll of death and destruction as well as abundant warnings from scientists who have made clear that exploiting new oil and gas fields is incompatible with preserving a habitable planet, U.S. insurers have yet to rule out support for increased fossil fuel extraction and combustion.
"The U.S. insurance industry continues to dismiss the urgency of eliminating support for fossil fuel expansion and implementing credible, science-based plans to phase out their underwriting and investments in coal, oil, and gas," Deanna Noël, climate campaigns director at Public Citizen, said Friday in a statement.
"AIG executives need only look out the windows of their New York City board rooms to see the realities of an unfolding climate crisis," said Noël, alluding to smoke-filled skies brought about by wildfires still raging in Canada. "Empty climate promises do nothing but set entire regions of the country on course to be deemed too risky to insure and communities everywhere to grapple with an uncertain future. Inaction and inadequate action are unacceptable."
Referring to the budget committee's recent hearings examining how "climate change poses multiple 'systemic risks' to the economy," Whitehouse, Wyden, and Sanders wrote:
Witnesses have warned that sea-level rise and wetter, more intense storms could eventually make more than $1 trillion in coastal real estate uninsurable, and therefore unmortgageable, leading to a coastal property values crash; that more frequent and intense wildfires could result in a similar death spiral for Western property in the wildland-urban interface; that climate-related losses are making it harder for the insurance industry to price risk, already resulting in insolvencies among regional insurers; and that, as demand for oil and gas declines, hundreds of billions of dollars in fossil fuel assets may be stranded (the "carbon bubble"). Each of these disruptions could become "systemic," and more than one could occur simultaneously.
The trio proceeded to ask each company how it "evaluates these climate-related risks, decides to invest in or underwrite fossil fuel expansion projects that drive such risks, and prices policies insuring such projects." As the senators observed, "Underwriting dangerous fossil fuel projects makes it harder to achieve global climate goals, and there is little transparency about how the myriad risks factor into industry decisions."
"Given the threat that climate change poses to both the insurance industry and its policyholders, it is difficult to understand how the industry can carefully price and manage climate risk in some areas of its business while simultaneously having no apparent plan to phase out its underwriting of and investment in the projects and companies generating the emissions that are causing these very harms," the letter says. "Many fossil fuel projects would not be able to move forward without insurance, and all industries and sectors in civil society have a role to play in meeting the United States' international climate goals."
"We were particularly alarmed by the situation of Palestinian human rights defenders," reads the report, "who are routinely subject to a range of punitive measures as part of the occupation regime."
Civil society groups in Israel and Palestine face serious human rights violations by Israeli authorities seeking to perpetuate an illegal occupation and apartheid regime, according to a report published Thursday by the United Nations Human Rights Council.
The report—authored by the Independent International Commission Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory—examines "attacks, restrictions, and harassment of civil society actors by all duty bearers," including the Israeli government and occupation forces, the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and Hamas in Gaza.
"We concluded that all duty bearers are engaged in limiting the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful association," U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said in a statement. "We were particularly alarmed by the situation of Palestinian human rights defenders, who are routinely subject to a range of punitive measures as part of the occupation regime."
\u201c\ud83d\udea8According to \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf3 UN Commission of Inquiry, rights of civil society members in Israel & OPT are being violated by authorities in all areas through:\n\u27a1\ufe0fharassment\n\u27a1\ufe0fthreats\n\u27a1\ufe0farrests\n\u27a1\ufe0finterrogations\n\u27a1\ufe0farbitrary detention\n\u27a1\ufe0ftorture\n\u27a1\ufe0fdegrading treatment \n\ud83d\udc47\nhttps://t.co/1vFwjdbuBK\u201d— UN Palestinian Rights Committee (@UN Palestinian Rights Committee) 1686247724
The commission found that "the Israeli authorities' silencing of civil society voices that challenge government policies and narrative is intrinsically linked to the goal of ensuring and enshrining the permanent occupation at the expense of the rights of the Palestinian people."
"This includes criminalizing Palestinian civil society organizations and their members by labeling them as 'terrorists,' pressuring and threatening institutions that give a platform for civil society discourse, actively lobbying donors, and implementing measures intended to cut sources of funding to civil society," the report states.
According to the publication:
The Israeli authorities' use of anti-terror legislation to categorize civil society organizations as terrorist organizations aims to delegitimize and isolate them and undermine their activity, and to harm their international funding and support. The commission concludes on reasonable grounds that the designations by Israeli authorities of six Palestinian NGOs as terrorist organizations and a seventh Palestinian NGO as unlawful were unjustified, undertaken to silence civil society voices, and violate human rights, including freedom of association, freedom of expression and opinion, and the rights to peaceful assembly, to privacy, and to fair trial.
Israeli officials claim the six humanitarian groups—Addameer, AlHaq, the Bisan Center for Research and Development, Defense for Children International—Palestine, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, and the Union of Palestinian Women Committees—have ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a secular political movement with an armed wing that has carried out resistance attacks against Israel. The groups deny the accusation, and a probe by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency found no evidence supporting Israel's claim.
The report further states that "Israeli authorities are increasingly using surveillance to monitor the activities of human rights defenders, including through spyware planted on mobile phones," including by planting Pegasus spyware manufactured by the Israeli company NSO Group on the phones of Palestinian human rights workers and Israeli activists participating in 2020 protests against the last Netanyahu government.
A section of the report on the far-right government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu notes:
In late 2022, a new government in Israel was sworn in, with a stated mission of weakening the judiciary and increasing government control of the media and freedom of expression, which would have a significant impact on civil society in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory. In February 2023, the government started enacting new legislation to weaken judicial independence amid large-scale countrywide demonstrations. The proposed changes would dismantle fundamental features of the separation of powers and of the checks and balances essential in democratic political systems. Legal experts have warned that they risk weakening human rights protections, especially for the most vulnerable and disfavored communities, including Palestinian citizens of Israel, asylum-seekers, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer persons.
The report states that Israeli authorities are subjecting both Israeli and Palestinian journalists to monitoring and harassment, with Palestinians being "particularly targeted" for intimidation, "attacks, arrests, detention, and accusations of incitement to violence, seemingly as part of an effort to deter them from continuing their work."
According to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, Israeli forces have killed 20 journalists this century, with none of the killers ever facing prosecution. These include at least one U.S. citizen, Al Jazeera correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot dead by an Israeli sniper while covering a May 2022 raid on the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank. Al Jazeera producer Ali Samodi was shot in the back but survived. An independent international probe subsequently concluded that Abu Akleh's "extrajudicial killing" was "deliberate."
On Wednesday, 22-year-old Palestinian photojournalist Momen Samreen, who was covering Israeli forces' demolition of a suspected Palestinian militant's family home—an illegal act of collective punishment—was shot in the head with a "less-lethal" projectile and was hospitalized in serious condition.
\u201c\ud83d\udea8Breaking news:\n\n A Palestinian journalist in full uniform, Momen Samreen, was deliberately shot in the head by Israeli occupation forces, during his work in Ramallah. His condition is serious!\n\nMomen is a very known journalist & works with various Palestinian media outlets\u201d— Younis | \u064a\u0648\u0646\u0633 (@Younis | \u064a\u0648\u0646\u0633) 1686183857
The Israeli government—which maintains that the commission of inquiry "has no legitimacy"—rejected the report's findings. Israel's U.N. mission in Switzerland said that "Israel has a robust and independent civil society which is composed of thousands of NGOs, human rights defenders, [and] national and international media outlets, that can operate freely."
The report also states that the Palestinian Authority and Hamas are targeting human rights defenders "with the aim of silencing dissenting opinions," and that activists, journalists, and others have been harassed, intimidated, and in some cases arbitrarily arrested and jailed.
"The commission has received information on the use of torture and ill-treatment to punish and intimidate critics and opponents by internal security officials in Gaza and intelligence services, preventive security officials, and law enforcement officials in the West Bank," the report says. "The frequency and severity, and the absence of accountability, suggest that such cases are widespread."
"It would be political malpractice to have students repay student loans under Biden when Trump provided the relief. This is not rocket science," said Rep. Ro Khanna.
Progressive Reps. Ro Khanna, Ayanna Pressley, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have reportedly urged Biden administration officials to prepare a backup plan to relieve the student debt burden of tens of millions of Americans in case the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the White House's cancellation plan.
Such an outcome, paired with the looming end of the student loan repayment moratorium, would be an economic disaster with huge political implications.
Khanna (D-Calif.) toldThe Washington Post that "it would be political malpractice to have students repay student loans under Biden when Trump provided the relief," noting that the repayment freeze began under the former president—though the Trump administration also attempted to preemptively sabotage any effort by the Biden Education Department to unilaterally cancel student debt.
"The White House must figure out how to make sure there is an extension on the moratorium," Khanna said.
The Post's Jeff Stein reported Friday that Khanna "has told Biden administration officials, including Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, to press forward with a new plan to cancel student debt should the court invalidate Biden's existing plan," which would wipe out up to $20,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.
Khanna confirmed to the Post that he has made such a push. Stein reported that Pressley (D-Mass.) and Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) have "privately made similar remarks to administration officials."
"Spokespeople for Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)—two outspoken advocates for student debt relief — declined to comment on if they are urging the White House to prepare a backup plan," Stein wrote. "Ocasio-Cortez and Pressley also declined to comment."
Heightening the urgency of calls for a backup plan is the fact that, under newly passed debt ceiling law negotiated by House Republican leaders and the Biden White House, the student debt repayment pause is set to end in late August.
The law, which could complicate any future effort by the Biden administration to implement a new moratorium, sets the stage for a nightmare scenario the Supreme Court blocks student debt cancellation and payments resume, leaving already struggling borrowers with hundreds of dollars in additional obligations each month.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau warned earlier this week that millions of student loan borrowers are behind on other debt payments and "have risk factors that suggest they could struggle when scheduled payments resume."
\u201cWith SCOTUS ruling imminent, @RoKhanna has privately urged WH to prepare a backup plan to try to cancel student debt if Biden\u2019s plan is struck down. \n\nAOC, Pressley have privately made similar requests\n\nKhanna:\nhttps://t.co/5NpGFhYumc\u201d— Jeff Stein (@Jeff Stein) 1686313996
During oral arguments earlier this year, the Supreme Court's conservative supermajority signaled it is poised to side with right-wing challengers and strike down the Biden administration's debt cancellation program.
A decision from the high court is expected before the end of the month, but the White House has yet to provide any indication that it has an alternative plan.
In a statement to the Post, White House spokesman Abdullah Hasan said the administration remains "confident in our legal authority to provide relief under the HEROES Act."
Student debt campaigners have outlined what a viable backup plan could look like.
For months, advocates have criticized the Biden administration for opting to use more limited emergency authority under the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students (HEROES) Act of 2003 instead of invoking the Higher Education Act of 1965 to cancel federal student loan debt, which is carried by more than 40 million people in the U.S.
"Biden could have directed the education secretary to cancel people's debts using the 'compromise and settlement' authority granted in the Higher Education Act of 1965, but instead his administration invoked a different and more limited legal authority," Astra Taylor, a co-founder of the Debt Collective, wrote for The Guardian late last year.
"They also chose to make borrowers apply for the program, instead of automatically issuing cancellation—a slow-moving process that bought their billionaire-backed opponents valuable time to cook up legal arguments, find plaintiffs, and line their cases up with sympathetic, Trump-appointed judges poised to toe the conservative line," Taylor added. "The White House needs to learn from its mistakes and play hardball."
In June 2021, more than a year before Biden unveiled his debt relief plan, the Debt Collective released a draft executive order that would cancel all outstanding federal student loan debt using Higher Education Act authority.
"President Biden can cancel all federal student loan debt with a simple executive order. So, we wrote the entire executive order for him," the group said at the time. "It's not a magic trick. With the flick of his pen, he can make all federal student loan debt disappear."