Figures from Oxford City Council’s latest Homelessness Strategy show that the rate of homelessness in the city is improving.The statistics show that the number of households living in temporary accommodation has decreased by 74% in the past five years and that, due to a council and Broadway initiative called ‘No Second Night Out’, the number of rough sleepers has decreased from 27 in June 2012 to 12 in January of this year. National figures have increased by 29% in the last two years, according to the homelessness charity Crisis UK.Labour Councillor Scott Seamons told Cherwell, “A common cause of homelessness is parental exclusion and we have done family mediation work in the past and are looking to extend this.“Another large cause is breach or termination of tenancies and we have a private sector team that supports tenants and landlords when there is a risk of homelessness to prevent this. This team also works to find properties in the private rented sector to place households threatened with homelessness – the homechoice scheme.”The homelessness issue is aggravated by a lack of affordable housing: Oxford has the highest house prices outside London.The latest City Council strategy report also cites “poor discharge planning for ex-offenders” and mental health needs as being major factors preventing vulnerable people from finding a settled home, along with “addiction, negative behaviour, poor parenting and life skills”.[mm-hide-text]%%IMG%%7246%%[/mm-hide-text]National homelessness charities have warned that the series of government welfare reforms will worsen an already fragile situation.Leslie Morphy, Chief Executive of Crisis said, “Our poorest households face a bleak April as they struggle to budget for all these cuts coming at once”.The cuts are likely to hit the poorest hardest. The ‘Bedroom Tax’ will mean that rent payers on housing benefits face a 14% decrease in the benefits they receive if they have a spare bedroom, and 25% if they have two or more.Paul Roberts, Business Development Manager at Aspire Oxford, a charity which works to put vulnerably housed people back in employment, said of the tax. “There is a real housing shortage in Oxford and if people can’t find smaller houses to move into, what do they do?”Crisis predicts households will sustain average losses of £14 a week from the Bedroom Tax, and £93 per week from the overall benefit cap.According to Councillor for Housing, Scott Seamons, the government will also cut the Oxford Council’s £1 million Preventing Homelessness Grant.Seamons maintained “We have made the political decision to continue to protect the poorest in our community and those in most need. For instance with the 10% cut in the council tax benefit we receive, we have chosen to swallow this cut and not pass it on to the recipients of council tax benefit.”A spokesperson for O’Hanlon House, a housing shelter on Luther Street in Oxford, commented, “Welfare cuts will have a massive effect. There will be more visible homelessness on the streets in years to come.”Roberts explained that Aspire have responded to the economic pressures by becoming more businesslike: “Traditional sources of funding are less available. We have to transform the way we present ourselves.”He continued, “You have to be optimistic, there is no alternative.”
By Dialogo February 16, 2011 The commander of the U.S. Southern Command, Gen. Douglas Fraser, the top officer responsible for his country’s military affairs in Latin America and the Caribbean, visited Ecuador, where he met with Defense Minister Javier Ponce and other Ecuadorean military authorities. The visit, the first by the American officer to Ecuador, had the objective of “strengthening the military relationship between the two countries,” as Marta Costanzo Youth, a press attaché at the U.S. embassy in Quito, explained. Sources at the Ecuadorean Defense Ministry explained that Ponce met with Fraser and with the U.S. ambassador to Ecuador, Heather Hodges, in a session “at which issues relating to cooperation were discussed and that served to consolidate the ties of friendship between the two nations.” Fraser, who is a pilot and who previously commanded his country’s forces in Alaska, has led U.S. military operations in Latin America and the Caribbean since June 2009. Following the meeting, the general toured the Temple of the Fatherland Museum, located on Liberty Peak (Cima de la Libertad) overlooking the city of Quito, where he received an explanation of the Battle of Pichincha, which sealed Ecuador’s independence in 1822.
11 police officers have been wounded after several grenade attacks on several police posts on Friday night in Burundi. Authorities say that the attacks took place in the districts of Citiboke, Nyakabiga, Musaga and Jabe, which have been at the centre of weeks of unrest sparked by Nkurunziza’s bid for a third presidential term. The sound of explosions and heavy gunfire echoed across the capital on Friday night. Residents in the affected areas said they were unsure of who carried out the attack as some blamed the police and security forces of terrorising them. Burundi’s opposition says Nkurunziza’s re-election bid is unconstitutional and violates the Arusha Peace deal. Parliamentary elections are planned for June 29, ahead of the presidential vote on July 15.Residents in the affected areas said they were unsure who was behind the attacks, although some blamed the police and accused security forces of “terrorising the population”.Burundi’s opposition and activists say Nkurunziza’s re-election bid is unconstitutional and a violation of a 2006 peace deal that ended 13 years of civil war.
Press Association Battling Leicester pulled crisis club Newcastle deeper into relegation trouble with a convincing 3-0 Barclays Premier League win at the King Power Stadium. John Carver’s men – who were accused of not trying in the wording of one banner displayed in an away section that booed their own team – still have 35 points and a small cushion from the relegation zone, and Leicester are still a point behind them. But the Foxes, adrift at the bottom with just 19 points a month ago, are upwardly mobile and brimming with a confidence Newcastle simply do not have. The contrast in mood between the two sides was soon evident. Leicester were carried into the game on a wave of noise from the home fans, with the atmosphere having been fervent long before kick-off. It was immediately obvious the midweek Chelsea setback and subsequent furore over manager Nigel Pearson’s bizarre ostrich outburst had done little to dampen their enthusiasm. They flew into the action from the outset, catching Newcastle cold in the first minute. Newcastle got into a mess as they gave the ball away from the kick-off and Leicester charged forward to win a corner. Marc Albrighton clipped in a cross and Ulloa headed home, giving the hosts the lead with barely 30 seconds on the clock. The decibel level seemed to increase again and Leicester continued to feed off the atmosphere as they sustained a spell of high intensity that earned a second goal within 17 minutes. Leonardo Ulloa struck twice and Wes Morgan was also on target as the Foxes maintained their survival charge against a freefalling and fractured Magpies, who finished with nine men. Ulloa set Leicester on their way to a fifth win in six games with less than a minute gone while Newcastle were left to lament an eighth successive defeat after Mike Williamson was dismissed, while Daryl Janmaat saw red at the death. Ulloa had a header saved by Tim Krul and Jamie Vardy flicked a shot at the goalkeeper before Jeffrey Schlupp burst forward and won a free-kick outside the area. Again Albrighton took the set-piece and again Leicester struck. This time Ulloa failed to make firm contact with his header but Morgan followed up behind him to turn the ball past Krul. Yet for all the ferocity of Leicester’s start, Newcastle did create some promising moves, mostly through the vision and footwork of Ayoze Perez. When Leicester inevitably began to slow towards the end of the first half, the visitors did start to threaten. Emmanuel Riviere shot into the side-netting and then played a nice one-two to tee up Perez, only for the latter to slip before he could shoot. Another good break by Perez was halted by a brilliant tackle from Marcin Wasilewski and Ryan Taylor tested Kasper Schmeichel from distance. But any steam Newcastle looked to be building up dissipated after half-time as Leicester won a penalty on 48 minutes when Riviere barged over Wasilewski. Ulloa firmly rammed home the spot-kick and Newcastle seemed to surrender. The hosts started to pick them open at will and Albrighton should have scored a fourth from a Schlupp cut-back but drove wide of an almost open goal. Ulloa was then denied a hat-trick by a brilliant reflex save from Krul as he got a his head to a Ryad Mahrez cross. Newcastle’s afternoon took another turn for the worse after 62 minutes when Williamson, booked just seven minutes earlier, sent Vardy crashing into a TV camera with a late knee-high challenge. Referee Mike Dean showed a second yellow card and left the visitors to struggle on a man down. Vardy recovered and was almost played in on goal by Esteban Cambiasso before firing a cross just beyond Ulloa. Schmeichel was called upon late on to save from Siem de Jong but Newcastle went down with a whimper and were spared further blushes when Vardy headed wide in injury time. Yet they suffered more misery just before the whistle as Janmaat was sent off after receiving his second yellow card for a tackle on Vardy.