Halfway House Horror Exposure is Tip of an Iceberg

Local 10’s Christina Vasquez’s fine investigation into inhumane abuse at an Oakland Park halfway house, which first aired earlier today, yet exposes the mere tip of an iceberg inside of which systemic negligence and corruption have been frozen for years.

Here’s a link to her story, the basic background for which was provided by October 22nd Alliance: http://www.local10.com/news/sober-home-program

While Arms of Hope has now been exposed as the arms of hell which it is, the failure of government policy and oversight which allow such places to exist are yet a long way from being meaningfully addressed. More essentially, the backwardness and fundamental inequality of our system, which rewards the corrupt beneficiaries of capitalism while it punishes poor and homeless folk with laws that criminalize and marginalize them to the outer edges of society, are the real culprits which too rarely get called out.

O22A ArmsOfHopeWipedCleanWebsite
Screenshot of Arms of Hope website wiped clean
hours after we visited Oakland Park location.

From county and regional Continuum of Care (CoC) Boards, which oversee and fund homelessness programs, to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and other agencies which provide the funds. oversight is systemically overlooked.

The CoC’s claim they have ‘discharge plans’ to obtain funding, while what those plans often entail is sending sick people from hospitals, behavioral health facilities and jails to the street. Or to hellholes like Arms of Hope, which Broward County institutions like Fort Lauderdale (psych) Hospital (and many others, according to interviews we conducted) never vetted before referring their needy clients into the halfway house’s abusive grasp.

HUD, meanwhile, is blind to these failures as it allows a series of checked boxes on its funding application to determine whether the CoC’s actually have discharge plans which don’t include people being exiled to the streets or to places like Arms of Hope. Other institutional players, like the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) also can be called to task.

As Local 10’s story describes, BSO deputies responded to 200 calls last year at Arms of Hope’s Oakland Park location. But while BSO deputies were aware of a wide range of crimes and abuse at the facility, having been there an average of four times per week through 2015, it apparently never occurred to any of them that a deeper investigation might be called for.

It also happens that the current chair of Broward’s CoC Board is BSO Captain Scott Russell. When confronted with possible BSO failure of accountability regarding Arms of Hope’s ongoing abuse at last month’s CoC meeting, Russell rejected that suggestion out of hand.

We look forward to a more sensitive and actionable response, in the wake of this story’s airing, at the February meeting of the CoC next Wednesday.


About October 22nd Alliance to End Homelessness

I've been an organizer and freelance writer exposing the systemic roots of social inequality, especially the brutality inflicted on persons experiencing homelessness by means of laws criminalizing their existence, for about seven years. While seeking change at the local, state and national levels via progressive legislation, legal remedies and creative resistance, I believe that only through a radical reorganization of society, brought about by unified struggle with the powers that be, will we be able to guarantee every citizen the humane existence which we all deserve. I work locally in Broward County, FL, as founder of The October 22nd Alliance; across Florida with Florida Homeless Action Coalition (FL-HAC) which I also co-founded; and am allied nationally with National Coalition for the Homeless and National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty. I support all struggle for the full liberation and equality of historically dominated people, from Blacks and Native Americans in the US, to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, to women and LGBTQ people the world over, and wherever the crushing machinery of capitalism and imperialism produces its endless supply of human misery.
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2 Responses to Halfway House Horror Exposure is Tip of an Iceberg

  1. Dear Jeff,

    I will bring up the needs of the October 22nd Alliance at our LTN May Board meeting. After spending 3 months in hospitals, following two disastrous falls, I am way back in my Love Thy Neighbor responsibilities, and am in trouble with the State of Florida, but I will catch up one day, and then will return to to my concerns and battle TO SECURE EQUAL RIGHTS FOR THE ONLY GROUP IN AN ALLEGED DEMOCRACY WHO EXIST UNDER SPECIAL RULES, THAT ARE NOTHING LESS THAN INHUMANE LAWS! I WILL RETURN TO FINISHING MY BOOK ON SHOWCASING THEIR MANY TALENTS, AND APPEALING FOR NOTHING SPECIAL, JUST TO GIVE THEM THE SAME RIGHTS ENJOYED BY ALL OTHER AMERICANS. A SIMPLE SOLUTION, BUT IT’S THE ONLY LOGICAL STARTING PLACE. I HOPE THAT YOU AGREE.

    I send my kind regards, OldArn


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