HB 825 – This bill is reminiscent of the Senate bill from a while back, SB 179, which has since been tabled, perhaps to never be heard from again. This House bill has already been edited and amended a bit, so where it began as a bill that established an internet-based psychiatric and detox bed registry, it now is solely for detox beds. Helpful, sure, and timely given the opioid crisis, but psychiatric beds also need a registry. This just passed through the House this week and is off to the Senate. If you’re up for contacting your congressperson, let them know that you support a registry for more than just detox bed availability.
HR 4258 – This has passed the house already and was delivered to the Senate last Wednesday, January 17. A similar bill was proposed in the Senate in June but appears to have died in committee. I’m not positive, since the summaries for the resolution haven’t been written yet, but I think this act is designed to significantly curtail the public’s access to “Section 8,” or publicly subsidized housing. From what I briefly read, it looks like the federal government will be removing mandates and lowering the caps on the number of families who have access. It looks like there are going to be grants awarded to “eligible entities” (no longer only public housing agencies) who “successfully” move participants through “Family Self-Sufficiency” programs. I’m not positive about what any of this means, but it sounds like they are privatizing housing assistance and planning to give the most money to entities that move families through quickly, whether or not those families indeed stay self-sufficient. I find this distressing, but again, I’m reading the bill specifically, not the summary, and I’m not as confident in my ability to read the legal-ese. All the same, keep an eye on this one as it moves through the Senate.
Our uplifting new story this week comes out of Ohio, where 19-year-old Fredrick White bought six winter coats to give to homeless people in Canton. His random act of altruism only got out because someone else’s Instagram photo went viral. I feel that this is a double-whammy piece of good news, because this young man is obviously a conscientious, community-oriented person, and he is able to be recognized for that here while also inspiring others with his actions. And, of course, there is the good news that he is giving back to his city’s most vulnerable people, and that his action was itself prompted by an act of kindness that previously went viral. This can restore some hope that the internet is not just a place for trolls and fake news, that it doesn’t only spread the worst of humanity.