It’s hard to get back on your feet while sleeping on the street. Utah's found a solution.
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Did you know that in some cities in America, it is illegal to give food to someone who is homeless?

The list of cities that criminalize feeding homeless individuals isn’t a short one. In many cities, it's also illegal to sit or sleep in public areas, leaving homeless individuals with no safe place to spend the night. These laws are essentially making it illegal to be homeless.

Image via Starbucks. All photos used with permission.


Jerome Murdough, a 56-year-old homeless veteran, was trying to sleep in the stairwell of a building on a cold night in Harlem in 2014. He was arrested for trespassing and put in jail. Susceptible to heat due to his antipsychotic and antiseizure medications, he ended up dying in his cell, likely as a result of overheating.

Murdough’s is an extreme case, but it highlights the absurdity and cruelty of how we’ve tried to tackle homelessness in this country. Instead of measures being put in place to help individuals without a home gain stability and safety, they're often punished for their circumstances — making it even harder to get back on their feet.

Lloyd Pendleton saw the flawed way homelessness was being addressed and thought there had to be a better way:

In particular, Pendleton took issue with the requirements homeless individuals had to meet before they could receive help.

He recalls that the conventional wisdom in the late 1990s was that a homeless person needed to be "clean, dry, and sober" in order to receive housing assistance from the very institutions designated to help them. He wanted to give people — especially those who are chronically homeless — the chance for stability first, so they could get back on their feet, instead of requiring them to try to address these issues in the midst of chaos. The solution is so simple it seems rather obvious: housing first.

Housing is key. Housing means stability.

Recognizing this, Pendleton stepped up and implemented a "housing-first" method of rehabilitation in Salt Lake City, Utah. And the results have been incredible.

Pendleton said, "In 2005, we decided to do a pilot, which ended up with 17 individuals off the streets, straight into housing. 22 months later, all 17 were still housed. It was a powerful turning point for us."

Families are able to get their feet on the ground and live a "normal" life again, within a supportive community. Residents have a chance to take care of medical issues. To get their teeth fixed. To reconnect with their families. To take care of the problems plaguing them so they can move forward, healthy and confident. Most importantly, to have hope.

In the 10 years since the program’s introduction, Utah reduced its chronically homeless population by an incredible 91%. Cities across the country have looked to it as a model for effectively reducing chronic homelessness.

Said Pendleton, "You can never end homelessness, but you can give them housing opportunities. That can be done."

President Biden/Twitter, Yamiche Alcindor/Twitter

In a year when the U.S. saw the largest protest movement in history in support of Black lives, when people of color have experienced disproportionate outcomes from the coronavirus pandemic, and when Black voters showed up in droves to flip two Senate seats in Georgia, Joe Biden entered the White House with a mandate to address the issue of racial equity in a meaningful way.

Not that it took any of those things to make racial issues in America real. White supremacy has undergirded laws, policies, and practices throughout our nation's history, and the ongoing impacts of that history are seen and felt widely by various racial and ethnic groups in America in various ways.

Today, President Biden spoke to these issues in straightforward language before signing four executive actions that aim to:

- promote fair housing policies to redress historical racial discrimination in federal housing and lending

- address criminal justice, starting by ending federal contracts with for-profit prisons

- strengthen nation-to-nation relationships with Native American tribes and Alaskan natives

- combat xenophobia against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, which has skyrocketed during the pandemic

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.

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Two weeks ago, we watched a pro-Trump mob storm the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to overthrow the results of a U.S. election and keep Donald Trump in power. And among those insurrectionists were well-known adherents of QAnon, nearly every image of the crowd shows people wearing Q gear or carrying Q flags, and some of the more frightening elements we saw tie directly into QAnon beliefs.

Since hints of it first started showing up in social media comments several years ago, I've been intrigued—and endlessly frustrated—by the phenomenon of QAnon. At first, it was just a few fringey whacko conspiracy theorists I could easily roll my eyes at and ignore, but as I started seeing elements of it show up more and more frequently from more and more people, alarm bells started ringing.

Holy crap, there are a lot of people who actually believe this stuff.

Eventually, it got personal. A QAnon adherent on Twitter kept commenting on my tweets, pushing bizarro Q ideas on many of my posts. The account didn't use a real name, but the profile was classic QAnon, complete with the #WWG1WGA. ("Where we go one, we go all"—a QAnon rallying cry.) I thought it might be a bot, so I blocked them. Later, I discovered that it was actually one of my own extended family members.

Holy crap, I actually know people who actually believe this stuff.

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via TikTok

Menstrual taboos are as old as time and found across cultures. They've been used to separate women from men physically — menstrual huts are still a thing — and socially, by creating the perception that a natural bodily function is a sign of weakness.

Even in today's world women are deemed unfit for positions of power because some men actually believe they won't be able to handle stressful situations while mensurating.

"Menstruation is an opening for attack: a mark of shame, a sign of weakness, an argument to keep women out of positions of power,' Colin Schultz writes in Popular Science.

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