Monday, December 18, 2006
Over the next several months, as the temperature drops and the weather worsens, the need for homeless women’s services will be more acute – but the need will not go away after the weather warms. Portlanders can and must support permanent solutions to address this crisis.
I have been privileged to serve on the board of Transition Projects for the last nine years. Transition Projects is a locally based nonprofit agency that helps people transition from homelessness to housing.
Full article here:
Sunday, December 10, 2006
By Justin Rood
- November 9, 2006, 12:59 PM
A Philadelphia Daily News columnist tracked down one of the unfortunate locals who had been tricked by the Michael Steele for Senate campaign to hand out deceptive pamphlets outside Maryland voting places.
The result: a refreshingly candid indictment of the failed GOP candidate Steele, who now hopes to head up the Republican National Committee.
"I might not have a home," an outraged Yusuf El-Bedawi told the Daily News' Ronnie Polaneczky, "but that doesn't mean I don't care about right and wrong. No one has the right to use me that way."
The Steele campaign recruited six busloads of poor and homeless Philadelphians to hand out flyers to Maryland voters portraying Steele and his ticketmate, governor Bob Ehrlich, as Democrats. Steele is currently Maryland's lieutenant governor; Ehrlich is governor.
"People started screaming, at us, 'Do you think we're that stupid? What are you trying to pull?' " El-Bedawi told the writer. "I said, 'I didn't know it was a lie! I'm from Philly!' And they said, 'Then go back to Philly!' "
"I am so angry and upset, I don't know what to do," said El-Bedawi, who's particularly shattered that he and at least 200 other Philadelphians didn't get home from Maryland in time to vote here.
"These people think we're too stupid to understand the magnitude of what we did."
What they did, said El-Bedawi, was cheat an entire community of unsuspecting voters.
And just because they didn't know they were doing it doesn't mean it doesn't feel awful.
FULL COMPLETE STORY CLICK HERE
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
PLEASE NOTE:Click this link toWhich has a good discussiongoing about this issue below
I read the front-page article below the fold that is titled:
"Mourners will gather at a site of a friendly, familiar face."
The link is here-->
I will repost the article following my short introduction, which you are reading now.
Z3 Readers, I was shocked/upset to read that Anita Floyd who was seventy one.... that is 71 years old and homeless! And she died on a bus bench on a cold fricken street corner on November 29 2006. And that is -- well .... that is just fricken rotten. .....
What a nice little article in the Tribune today..... In reading it I almost get the idea she liked to live on the bench outside in 30 degree winter weather, heck she was on the streets the paper said for the past four years. They make it sound like this is all just dapper.
In reading this article it spoke of all the people that enjoyed her presence there from day to day...... "Sitting on that bench year after year...day after day "Seventy One Fricken Years Old and living on a bench.......
Zebra 3 Readers, would you want to be there when you are 71? How about your mom sitting there "sharing smiles and a half of a sandwich"? Yes the nice people that smiled and waved or talked with her or shared a coin or part of their lunch all deserve a "GOOD JOB GUYS".
But am I wrong to think she deserved MORE?
But ......BUT ......BUT .....why did she have to spend her last 4 years on a sidewalk? Why does an elderly woman in this "great country" have to die on a bust stop bench that she called Her Home? I am angered and distraught that society can tell this story ..... that the local free paper can write about it with a warm glowing feeling. Hey it could of not even been reported. Like most homeless topics it could of been scrapped and not a word said, so yes some credit is due for the aspect of at least reporting this sad story. Its the whole overall fuzzy way this sad story is told that irks me, and in the very same breath I say this:
"It is dispictable and disgustingng that this happened as it did" It is a deplorable fact that at 71 years old you don't even have a pot to piss in and its "your own tough luck"...... and that as a memorial is set for tomorrow at 2 at the very bench she called home...the very bench her heart stooped performing for her, people will gather to give some kind of last respects and she deserves that, it sad the caring is "too late". I may be there my self.
What wont be there are solutions and answers as to why we all watched this happen. There will be no "lets make sure this doesn't happen again" speech, because it will happen again ... and again .....right in this same friendly neighborhood of churches, synagogues, and mosques, and kitchen supplies, and parking garage attendants. The fact that elderly ladies die on the street gets a warm salute to her friendlinessss...is nice and heartwarming in this holiday season.
I salute with my middle finger to all that don't care or are not willing to help or make changes to rectify this type of homeless attrocity. I salute with my middle finger to a government and city that cant even care for the people who have nothing ...people who are cold and dieing ....people who are 71 years old and are given a bench on a downtown corner to live and die on. I salute you shamless warm healthy officials that allowed her die in the street of our beautiful city of roses!
Tomorrow will be not much different - it will just be another face another few coins in a tin cup and some 1/2 sandwiches shared, and a cold, cold body that needs compassionon and love and warmth and security and privacy and some humanity ....and something we all take for granted, its called .... a HOME!........
"Sorry Grandma I cant help you with a "HOME" .... but, do you want these 1/2 eaten french fries or can I wave at you on your bus bench and give you a smile instead?"
There are places in a city that become holy ground.
The people behind churches and synagogues and mosques would have us believe their buildings provide sanctuary. But in the life of a city, sanctuary is just as often marked by water-stained notes and bouquets.
Anita Floyd, 71, lived on the wooden bench at Southwest Alder Street and Sixth Avenue the last four years, lived there as much as she lived anyplace, passing out bits of her life to people who hardly knew her, in exchange accepting bits of theirs, and spare change if they wanted to give it.
Floyd was homeless most of the four years she spent in Portland before her death last week.
On Friday one small purple flower remained on the bench outside Kitchen Kaboodle. The day before there were bouquets and coins and notes with tape that just couldn't hold on through one more rain-filled night.
A single white lily had stood tall and straight, wedged into the bench's slats. People stood in front of the bench Thursday, and some of them cried. Others stood there just long enough to remember an elderly woman who seven days a week smiled and said hello to everybody.
Tom Ayres at the Star Park around the corner remembered that just two months ago the red-haired Floyd had confided, "My birthday's next Saturday." He brought her a card and necklace to mark the day.
Employees at Kitchen Kaboodle recall watching as strangers would strike up conversations with Floyd, who always sat at one end of her bench, as if the rest of the seating was an invitation.
"People would sit down and talk to her at lunch and give her half their sandwiches," says Eileen McDaniel, store manager at Kitchen Kaboodle.
McDaniel also remembers the young man who took the memorial lily off the bench Thursday and walked away with it, and the city Clean and Safe patrol officer who chased the man two blocks and made him put the flower back.
Floyd was a panhandler, though barely, holding her silver cup in a way that said she was willing to accept money but unwilling to make it an issue.
"One time I loaned her some money," says Virginia Howard, manager at the Oregon Health & Science University behavioral health clinic down the street. "And she paid it back. Another time I loaned her money, and she wasn't able to pay me back and she told me. And she never asked for money after that."
Two weeks ago Floyd suffered a massive heart attack right at home, on her bench. The paramedics revived her, but Floyd never made it out of the hospital.
A memorial service will be held for Floyd at her bench at 2 p.m. Wednesday.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
It has a originating story by Howl along with my comments and others:
The following four paragraphs are from the original poster (Howl)
He brings up a good subject.
My comments (well Ben Waiting was me also) were emotionally written and heartfelt.
As I am sure others who posted were too.
"I call it a squat because it is the only place that about a dozen of my neighbors have to live, but really it is just a covered sidewalk in front of where the old Safeway used to be and Top to Bottom and a Big Five now inhabit. This area provided a mostly dry area for these good people to sleep, lock up their bikes, and hang out with friends. For the past year that has been the extent of what they have done there. I have never seen any violent activity nor drug use/selling from any of these kind folks. In fact I have never even seen the police called on any of them, EVER.
Today something was different. As the Portland Development Commission or PDC continues their quest for urban renewal they have managed to attract new business to the area. These businesses are looking to benefit from the new light rail train that will run down I-205, the new farmers market, and of course the increased property value a lifeless commercial look brings. One of these interested businesses is Big 5 Sporting Goods. This week is Big 5's Grand Opening.
As I rode my bike past the cop cars and stopped a comfortable distance away to keep an eye on the officers I couldn't help but stand in awe at how quickly gentrification changes the face of a neighborhood. The police had formed a barrier between the consumers that were happily streaming in and out of the new retail establishment and the people whos' very existence our society has declared as illegal.
From what I could see. The cops did not physically attack anyone nor did they make any arrests. However, they did destroy the only home these people knew when they declared that if they returned they would be trespassing."
The stark reality of spending a night in the cold
....would change many a mind if one found himself firsthand feeling the pangs and restless chill
The poster Howl also latter about after a dozen comments..... sends this eye opening comment and enthustically starts collecting info from the community at large to help the issue of homelessness and gentrification and livilibity in his neighborhood. In an inspiring rightous move he post the following excerpt I found on INDY MEDIA (see link at top of this page)
Anyone interested in forming a mutual aid network?
It sounds like there are a lot of available resources, but not all are well known in the community. I just made an email address firstname.lastname@example.org if anyone is interested in networking the available resources we have here. Perhaps you can donate a few bucks, expired but edible food, an old coat, some extra space in your garage, a meeting space, or a few hours of time to volunteer each week. Imagine if we made a flier with all the resources that are already available from lunch programs like Food Not Bombs to drug treatment programs. We could then look to see where are neighborhood is lacking and work to fill the cracks before more people fall through them. With it being Thanksgiving tomorrow, and more holidays on the way. Try to think how you could help out our neighborhood however big or small the contribution might be. By the way, I have an 8'x8' tarp you can have. It spent some weeks out in the woods with me, but it's in good shape. Just email me.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Emergency facilities dry up as city sticks with 'housing first'
By Jennifer Anderson
A year ago, city Commissioner Randy Leonard came to the rescue of the Salvation Army’s Harbor Light Shelter, which was providing the only public emergency shelter access for homeless women in Portland.
Leonard had seen the Salvation Army’s full-page ad in the newspaper, denouncing the city Bureau of Housing and Community Development’s decision not to renew its $164,000 grant to fund the 34-bed dormitory program at the shelter, located at 30 S.W. Second Ave.
This year, however, Leonard isn’t stepping in and the Salvation Army has been left with empty shelter space and a gap in covering its facility costs.
When the city funding ran out in March, Harbor Light Director Lt. Ron Owens kept the shelter going until July, while he looked for other funding sources. There were none.
Now, the city of Portland officially has no public emergency shelter space for women, and Owens finds that troubling.
“Let’s say your boyfriend beats you up, puts you on the street and you’re an active drug user, burned all bridges with your friends,” he said. “You’re on the street. You need a place tonight to stay. You’re not going to find it with a seven-week waiting list” for other available women’s shelters.
According to the city, there are about 750 women classified as homeless in Portland at any one time – sleeping in a car, at someone’s house, under a bridge or in a doorway.
Heather Lyons, the city’s homeless program manager, said it’s true that there are now no public emergency shelters for women, but there are 56 year-round emergency beds for women that are run by nonprofit agencies.
The agencies also provide support including motel vouchers and help finding and retaining permanent housing.
But Lyons acknowledges it’s not enough. The beds are constantly in use, she said, so she is working on securing about 20 to 30 more emergency beds for women this winter. She’s looking for a nonprofit agency to run it, and “the Salvation Army is a potential candidate,” she said.
Lyons said Mayor Tom Potter will probably request about $90,000 in one-time funds from the city to get the beds open by Nov. 1.
Shelter doesn’t fit model
The city decided to end its funding of Harbor Light for a number of reasons, Lyons said, including disagreements over the operation of the shelter and the city’s 10-year plan to end homelessness, adopted two years ago.
The plan follows a nationally recognized “housing first” model of placing people in housing before working with them to help them find other services and become self-sufficient.
“The focus is on creating housing and not more emergency shelters,” Lyons said. “We were making progress on the 10-year plan, instituting changes with a lot of providers, including the Salvation Army. We moved in one direction, and the Salvation Army wasn’t moving in that direction … connecting women in the shelter to housing.”
Owens said he understands that the city has a new strategy but says the emergency space also is crucial.
“It’s much like a hospital who said we’re a hospital, we have hospital beds, we have doctors and nurses, we really don’t need an emergency department because that’s not our emphasis,” he said.
Several groups offer help
While the beds at Harbor Light sit empty, the city is partnering with several nonprofit agencies who’ve joined forces to get women off the streets and into housing.
Unlike emergency shelters – which provide bare-bones services such as meals, showers and toilets – they provide wraparound social services to tackle the issues that put the women on the streets in the first place.
For details on those programs, visit portlandonline.com/bhcd.
Meanwhile, Lyons noted that many providers say they’re seeing more homeless women on the streets, which – if true – may be due to the closure of Harbor Light and of Rose Haven, a day shelter for women that shut down recently after seven years when it was forced from its Old Town location and couldn’t find a new home.
Run by the nonprofit Catholic Charities, Rose Haven provided a safe place for women and children; it served about 80 people a day.
Sister Cathie Boerboom, who ran Rose Haven, said that since Catholic Charities adopted a new focus on housing programs for women, she’s decided to establish Rose Haven as its own nonprofit and resurrect the program in another location within a mile of Old Town, where other social services are.
In the meantime, Boerboom said the situation is bleak.
“There’s no safe place to go at all, and less shelters to go to,” she said. “You can only hide for so long, and then you have to find something to eat and find a bathroom.”
Nick Budnick contributed to this story.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
Our Peaceful Place: Family spoken here
By Mike Lujan, Contributing columnist
Like a mother who lovingly attends to the welfare of one of her sick children, Barb Lescher, Director of Services at Our Peaceful Place, stays awake all night to make sure everyone is safe and needs are met. Talking with Barb at Our Peaceful Place's new location (since March 2006), I couldn't help but feel the warmth, kindness, and camaraderie Our Peaceful Place stands for, enveloping me as Barb prepared the meal for the evening — spaghetti, perfectly seasoned with lots of garlic and just enough spices, steaming garlic bread, and salad.
When coming to Our Peaceful Place, Barb likes to help everyone feel like they're going to grandma’s. But Our Peaceful Place is much more than an outreach to obtain a hearty meal; it's sanctuary for the homeless — a place to call home on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 9 p.m. until 7 a.m. It’s a place of refuge in the darkest hours of the night for anyone, yes, anyone, who is looking for safety from loneliness, hurt, despair, fear, or just wanting to share some companionship with others or to have other social interaction and activity. It's a place anyone can count on, contributing to the overflow of existing shelters and other family-care programs.
Our Peaceful Place is now located in the basement of the Calvary Christian Center Ministries building at 126 NE Alberta. It's the brick church that sits right on the corner of Alberta and Mallory, two blocks west of Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. The entrance is the white door just west of the church's main doors. A large sitting room, with chairs, sofas, and a television is available. Additionally, an open eating/coffee area, game room, quiet room, and bathroom (no shower, though) are provided. Considered a drop-in center, people can nap, but the center is not equipped with beds or cots. Barb says, “We're all about family; you know, sharing the camaraderie of times like just before everyone sits down to the evening meal — the magic of laughter, giddy conversation, the clanking and clattering of dishes and glasses and utensils being taken from the cupboards and out of the drawers and placed on the table of plenty, the wonderful smells of good food almost ready, and the excitement, stomach growling, when one hears those words, 'dinner's ready!'”
“No one goes hungry,” says Barb.
The spirit of Our Peaceful Place is one of a family at holiday, where everyone comes home, there's dinner, lots of activity, everyone in the kitchen, others playing cards — the pulse of family life.
“We are not easily accessible by the homeless from the downtown area during the day, which is why we changed our time of outreach to the evening,” Barb said. “Although we are limited to 20 hours per week of availability, we are open at 10-hour intervals, from 9 p.m. until 7 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.”
At 6:30 a.m., Barb and other volunteers start waking those who have stayed through the night.
“This schedule has been revised from Our Peaceful Place's previous schedule, daily, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.,” Barb says, “because many of the homeless are taking care of matters, for example, looking for work, hoping to be 'labor-ready' during the day, and would realize more benefit from an outreach with evening hours.”
After 1 a.m., the policy is exit only; however, if notified (through a phone call or an agency), people can enter the facility later that night.
In the earlier days of Our Peaceful Place, downtown, access was easier. However, public transportation can place one almost right at the doorstep. It's easy to get to by bus: Take number six bus down MLK or the number 40 bus down Vancouver Avenue — two blocks from main arteries — off of Alberta. Also, the MAX is free from downtown to the Convention Center, and the rest of the journey is approximately a 2.5-mile walk north from the Convention Center.
When the organization first relocated to the new location in March of this year, it received an average of 15 people per day. That has increased to nearly 40 people per day, sometimes more. Operating expenses are approximately $3,500 per month, covering overhead and utilities. Included in this is a monthly lease. Expenses are covered mostly by donations from individuals. So far, the neighborhood accepts the outreach — nothing negative has been directed toward Our Peaceful Place, according to Barb. Some interaction with the immediate neighborhood has been done, and Barb believes that increased agency awareness will make Our Peaceful Place more effective. Barb said she plans to increase interactions with neighborhood association meetings. People appreciate Our Peaceful Place, knowing that it is there to help them get through the days when they don't have help — as many have shared with Barb. One person said, “Knowing that I can come here on Thursday helps me get through the weekend, till next Tuesday.”
Children are welcome and just need to show proof of family or legal guardian to be able to stay overnight. Currently, four volunteers stay all night; three other volunteers come in and stay until around 2-3 a.m. Smoking, alcohol, or drugs are not allowed. But Barb says that has never has been a problem. “People have a great respect for Our Peaceful Place.”
Recently, Bruce Glass, previously a volunteer, was welcomed back to the team. “Bruce has managed both of our moves, is very organized, and is always willing to roll up his sleeves,” Barb said. Bruce grew up in the community where the new site is located and is a familiar face to many. Barb describes Bruce as “indispensable.”
“We are looking forward to building a reputation of warmth and welcome in this new neighborhood,” Barb said. “We hope for the opportunity to minister to old friends and look forward to being a blessing to those we have yet to meet.
“We invite you, our friends, partners, and supporters to continue to minister with us by equipping us with the day-to-day materials we need to do the work,” Barb says with open arms. “We also invite you to come visit us. Come see where we are, meet our staff and see what your support is allowing us to do.
Come see if this is the place where you would like to spend time serving the poor.”
Thanks for all you do Barb and everyone who helps with Our Peaceful Place
~ Joe Anybody & Ben Waiting
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
From The LA Times we see an ugly concept
The Police are arresting Homeless People who
are... sleeping on sidewalks during the day in Downtown LA, California
This is a scary though... arrested for being homeless!?
Can you imagine... You are considered a criminal for being homeless?
Scary times when the poor are thrown in jail...
Arrested for having no where to go and no where to sleep...
I am appaled... this is an outrageous decision, and full of hate and meanness!
Below is the article that I found on this website --> http://prisonplanet.com/articles/october2006/041006skidrow.htm
The LAPD on Tuesday escalated its crackdown on skid row's homeless encampments, for the first time in months arresting transients for sleeping on the streets.
Police Chief William J. Bratton said he authorized the arrests after the L.A. city attorney's office issued a legal opinion saying that officers could arrest homeless people who slept on skid row's streets during the day.
But the new tactics were met with concern from some L.A. council members as well as the American Civil Liberties Union, which has aggressively challenged the city's efforts to remove the homeless camps.
Catherine Lhamon, racial justice director of the ACLU of Southern California, questioned whether the arrests made Tuesday are allowed under an April federal appeals court ruling that struck down the city's ban on people sleeping on streets and sidewalks.
The court, siding with the ACLU, ruled it was cruel and usual punishment to arrest homeless people for sleeping when the city could not provide enough shelter beds for them.
"It would be unwise social policy to be making arrests pursuant to that ordinance," Lhamon said.
The chief said he felt comfortable making arrests on the sleeping ordinance in part because there are more than 100 shelter beds available on skid row this week. The city attorney's office gave the go-ahead, concluding that the appeals court ruling applied only to camping at night, not during the day.
But Councilman Dennis Zine questioned a policy of arresting homeless people only during the day but allowing them to remain at night.
"It sets a terrible precedent," Zine said. "Are we going to say you can commit any type of crime if it's at a certain hour? Elsewhere in the city, like the Valley, the law is enforced 24 hours. … I think the ACLU is on shaky ground."
The new tactics come after the City Council last month rejected a compromise with the ACLU, backed by Bratton and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, that would have allowed night camping but permitted police to arrest those who camped during the day.
Bratton announced that he and Villaraigosa have reached a new compromise with the ACLU that they hope the council will consider later this month.
The arrests mark a new push in the LAPD's 10-day-old crackdown on crime and blight, which resulted in a surge of arrests and the first decline in the district's homeless count in months.
With an infusion of 50 additional officers patrolling the area, officials have removed scores of homeless encampments and recorded 600 drug arrests in the the alleys of skid row, Bratton said Tuesday.
An LAPD homeless count of the area found the population had dropped from 1,801 two weeks ago to 1,447 on Sunday.
The drop is the first since March and comes after months of counts that found both the number of homeless people and the tent cities increasing.
"Compared to two weeks ago, it is clean…. It is getting better," said Bratton, who recently has been visiting skid row daily. "This isn't about arrests. This is about changing behavior. If you control behavior, you can change an area for the better."
Bratton declined to provide details about the new settlement proposal, which was hammered out by city representatives and ACLU leaders in recent days.
Councilman Eric Garcetti said Tuesday the deal calls for the city to implement the terms, allowing night camping on skid row, outlawing it during the day and prohibiting homeless people from sleeping next to doors.
But under the compromise, all parties would ask the federal court to set aside the April decision, Garcetti said. By pulling back that ruling, it would not be published and could not set a precedent for other city homeless cases.
This is meant to address a central concern of the City Council, which feared the settlement would allow homeless people to camp out on streets at night beyond downtown.
The compromise would apply only to the skid row area. Council members also questioned the wisdom of settling the suit when some legal experts believe the city has a reasonable shot at prevailing before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The LAPD deployed the extra officers last Sunday, part of a long-promised effort to clean up an area plagued for decades by chronic homelessness and drug dealing.
They have fanned out across the area, demanding that homeless people remove their camps. But Tuesday marked the first day they made arrests for violating the sidewalk sleeping ordinance.
Six homeless people were detained for violating the ordinance. Three ended up being booked on narcotics charges or outstanding warrants, one was released and two were charged with sleeping on the street.
Capt. Andrew Smith said the people booked under the ordinance refused to respond to officers' warnings to move. They were released to a homeless services agency.
The LAPD will use the sleeping ordinance only when it knows there are beds available — some 141 on Tuesday, Smith added.
The added police presence came amid growing concern that skid row's problems were getting worse. LAPD homeless counts found the homeless street population in skid row rose from 1,345 in March to 1,527 in July and 1,876 in September.
Some fear the crackdown is simply pushing some homeless people into adjoining neighborhoods, particularly the Newton Division just south of downtown, where some have noticed an increase in transients. Smith said the LAPD is aware of that potential and is planning to survey the area's homeless population in the coming weeks.
Edward Jones, a plaintiff in the original ACLU lawsuit who still lives on skid row, said he was disappointed by the LAPD's tactics. He said it ignores a larger reality about homelessness in L.A.
"I am out here because I can't afford to live anywhere else," he said.
When Bratton took office in 2002, he vowed to apply the same "broken windows" theory of law enforcement to skid row that he successfully used in New York's Times Square when he was chief of that city's Police Department in the early 1990s.
But the department slowed its efforts after the ACLU filed its lawsuit in 2003.
Some of the region's top political leaders, including Villaraigosa and Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez, have vowed in the last several months to make skid row a priority. The area has long had the largest concentration of homeless people in the western U.S. and is the site of about 20% of all drug arrests in the city.
The focus on skid row has also coincided with a boom in residential development downtown, with luxury lofts and condos rising on the fringes of the district.
The original ACLU settlement faced some of its greatest opposition from downtown developers and residents. They argued that signing off on a deal that allows homeless people to sleep on the streets at night would worsen skid row's already severe problems.
Estela Lopez, executive director Central City East Assn., said she remains skeptical about any deal that allows night tent cities.
"Elected officials move on. Chiefs of police move on. Attorneys for the ACLU move on," she said. "The only people who are going to live with the consequences of whatever is settled or whatever the appeal is are the people" in downtown.
Thursday, August 31, 2006
author: e-mail: email@example.com
Not a day passes, that I do not thank the gods for my housing. I have been homeless so many times this lifetime, that I do not take housing for granted, *at all.* When you realize homelessness can happen to you, it looks very different than some impersonal street scene. Because homelessness will forever be a wolf howling at my door, I am always too close to being a homeless woman, which is why I cry, most probably. I cry for me, in them. And them, in me.
"Once you have been homeless, you can never go back," I scribbled on a piece of scrap paper in my backpack. It occurred to me that perhaps many of the people on the bus around me did not understand what was going on out there on the street around the YWCA. It occurred to me that many, if not most, of those on the bus around me, had never been homeless and thus would not recognize that snippet of street reality that just was in our windows, for the painful scene of suffering it was. The way that scene got my attention was something outside the window triggered a very strong feeling in me, a bad feeling, a feeling of discomfort and anxiety, yet a familiar feeling, and I looked out. What I saw was me as a child, and my mom, fretting in worry, as we waited to figure out where we would sleep that night. I remember that *feeling* so much that I am still shaken hours later after feeling it again.
Outside the YWCA this evening, there were many women pacing around outside. And in the brief moments I looked at them through my bus window, I could remember the feeling of homelessness so vividly. And it is not a feeling I remember with *any* romance or sentimentality. I look at the periods I was homeless as *pure survival* and am glad I survived them. I do not look at them as adventurous times, at all. They are not fun memories, but scary, sad memories. Tonight I saw those mothers sitting out there, waiting, with those looks of surrender, those looks my mom had, like she had just given up...but I saw that look on the younger women out front of the YWCA too. Homelessness is incredibly hard work. It is a slippery slope. If you do not get out of homelessness quick enough, it becomes like quicksand, on several levels. Not only does it get hard to find somewhere to live and work without housing and clean clothing, etc., but there is this thing where you lose the will to try after a while and once that threshold is reached, all can just implode irreversibly. I feel my mom went over that threshold, and I have hovered at it, but thank god, never gone over it. I always got out of homelessness just before I gave up, is how I look at it. And when I see homeless women, frustrated, hot, weighed down with their bags, I think, "there, but by the grace of god, go I."
People's reactions to poverty and homelessness can often be linked to the way they were raised. My dad was raised in a large single parent family in poverty during the Depression. My mom, in contrast, was raised in relative class privilege until her mid-30's when she went on welfare after the divorce. My dad was always embarrassed of his poverty and hated his mother for allowing them to be poor, basically. So his way of dealing with that, was to go into the Navy, get on the G.I.Bill, and to become an engineer. He then worked on making money and made sure to *look away* whenever poverty was anywhere near. He taught me not to look at poverty and to even shun it as well. But then my mom and I became poor, due to him not paying his child support and alimony and my mom being a single mom. My mom had taught me to be friends with poor kids, and also taught me that there was nothing wrong or "lesser" in poverty, as she had never been poor, and it really had nothing to do with her directly. Unlike my dad, who made every effort to LOOK AWAY from the poor and homeless people, my mom looked and spoke about the class oppression for what it was and condemned the powers that created poverty, such as racism, sexism, etc. *before* she was poor. I think that probably helped save her some sanity later when she became the poor.
My first homeless experience was with my mom when I was about 7. After that, I went through a series of institutional and foster care situations, then I went back to my mom. We were then thrown out of two different residences when we first moved to Seattle, when I was about 9 years old. It was scary being thrown out. I remember one time, we came home, and our bags and belongings were on the lawn and we were told to leave. And we had no car. And no money. And my mom freaked out, broke down, it scared the hell out of me. And when I saw those women tonight in that parking lot, I *felt* that feeling my mom used to sweat out her pores. I could smell it through the bus' thick windowpane. That sorrow is a smell I can smell from far away.
There are many religious axioms that have stories of people who were ignorant of suffering on earth, but then they see it, smell it, touch it, and they cannot go back. They are not the same. And once this is seen, one's duties on earth and to each other change. If one did not help others when one did not know there was suffering, that is one thing. If one refuses to help others, when he does know about the suffering, and he could help alleviate it, then that is considered sinful. And due to my knowledge that women are on their last legs, lining up at shelters, in my town, every night, makes me horribly uncomfortable. The others on the bus tonight had no feelings about it at all, it seemed. But me, it still is haunting me. I have just barely achieved sustainable housing in the last two years myself, and I would lose my housing if I brought a river of homeless folks into my apt, yet, the survivor guilt is very haunting and frankly, I am not sure what to do with it either.
It is true that once you have been homeless, you can never go back. I saw those women today in the parking lot as homeless mothers, when maybe the others on the bus just thought a bunch of women were hanging around together in a parking lot. But it was the grief on their faces that I recognized. And if you do not recognize that grief, having never been near it, then you have a sort of innocence, almost an excusable ignorance.
Not a day passes, that I do not thank the gods for my housing. I am serious. I have been homeless so many times this lifetime, that I do not take housing for granted, *at all.* As a matter of fact, that is why you can never go back. I never had fears of homelessness until I had *been* homeless. Until it happens to you, you do not really understand what being homeless entails and you do not think it has to do with you. When you realize it can happen to you, it looks very different than just some street scene you can roll by. I still have a haunting feeling about those women I saw tonight, and I can still feel my tears welling up as I even think about the front of the YWCA tonight. Because homelessness will forever be a wolf howling at my door, and I am always too close to being those women, which is why I cry, most probably. I cry for me, in them. And them, in me. I just think a world this full of riches, especially in a country claiming to be the last remaining Superpower, can only be shamed for lines of homeless women on modern streets praying for a night's housing in desperation. And my survivor guilt is something I wrestle with every night, as I sleep in my bed, in my housing, that I know so many do not have.
Monday, August 28, 2006
It is about the recently passed law in Toronto that makes it illegal to panhandle.
Now of course that is if you are NOT a corporation as Michelle Mann (the author) points out. Interesting too is the point she makes is how this law just continues to hide the issue and encourages more poverty
I really liked this one comment and quote so much, that I repeat here to get this started:
(quote)~ In other words, open season on the poor. They may be one of the last groups in society against whom discrimination and oppression is not only tolerated, but mandated by our politicians.
As noted by the French author and Nobel literature prize winner, Anatole France, "The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread." (end quote)
In the city I live in, it is not against the law to panhandle, nor stand by the freeway offramp with a sign asking for help. The city has come up with some lame "blocking the sidewalk rightaway" and no sitting on a sidewalk in the downtown area" laws and of course "agressive" panhandling is illegal.
With much due respect to Michelle Mann, here is her article on Panhandling being Illegal.
Written by Michelle Mann
Monday, 28 August 2006
Yet one cannot help but notice that citizen rights to unassailed public spaces are recognized when the alleged assailants are the poor, less so when they are wealthy corporations.It is reminiscent of the golden rule: he who has the gold makes the rules.Panhandlers and squeegee kids don't have the gold, and they don't make the rules. What they do have is the same inherent right to our public space as the rest of us, and rights to freedom of expression at least equal to those of corporate interests.
Public space belongs to all citizens, though that universality is inadequately protected by legal constructs. Laws and regulations governing our public spaces are all too frequently rooted in rights to exclude, rather than citizen rights to inclusion.
Social Justice by Michelle Mann
A case in point: the recent passage of a motion by Toronto City Council at the behest of Toronto councillor and mayoral candidate Jane Pitfield, calling for the city to consider a ban on panhandling (otherwise referred to in Orwellian doublespeak as a "quality of life" bylaw).Whose quality of life, one well might ask, for it could not be more apparent that the quality of life of some citizens is considered irrelevant when others are made to feel uncomfortable.
Michelle Mann is a Toronto-based lawyer, freelance writer, and consultant.
Check out her blog at http://manndates.blogspot.com
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
From WIRED.com I found the following article.
I remember when Michael Stoops who is mentioned in this article was working for the homeless issues in Portland Oregon. Due to some mistakes he made, he left town and now is involved at the national level with the
National Coalition for the Homeless
...same battle bigger playing field.
Here is the article:
"Laptops Give Hope to the Homeless"
By Jacob Ogles Jun, 22, 2006
FILLMORE, California -- Happy Ivy doesn't have a bathroom or a kitchen in the bus he calls home. He does, however, have a video-editing station.
Living in a squalid, Woodstock-style bus parked in a Fillmore, California, orange grove, the 53-year-old homeless man charges a power generator from a utility shed and uses Wi-Fi from a nearby access point. From this humble camp, he's managed to run a 'round-the-clock internet television studio, organize grassroots political efforts, record a full-length album and write his autobiography, all while subsisting on oranges and avocados.
He claims he created one of the first handheld computer scanners and played a major part in the data transmission industry in the early 1990s. "I've always been trying to stay up on internet technology," Ivy said.
Ivy isn't the only homeless person who makes it a priority to keep gadgets handy even when a cooked meal is hard to come by.
Many of those now living without a permanent roof over their heads have cell phones in their pockets or laptop computers at their hips. While people living in shelters and alleys have found it difficult to cross social divides, the digital divide seems to disappear on the streets. Nearly all homeless people have e-mail addresses, according to Michael Stoops, director of the National Coalition for the Homeless. "More have e-mail than have post office boxes," Stoops said. "The internet has been a big boon to the homeless."
Helping the homeless get e-mail addresses has been a priority for years at shelters across the country. And in an age when most every public library in the nation offers internet access, the net has proven a perfect communication tool for those without a firm real-world address.
"Because of technology, people are able to keep in contact with their families," Stoops said. And perhaps most importantly, they are able to get some footing in society regardless of how removed from it they may feel.
Terri Hellerich's connection to the information superhighway is all that made life livable on the streets. "It kept me sane and provided my income," she said. Hellerich found herself homeless after a landlord in West Sacramento kicked her out and kept her belongings to make up for a debt. She didn't have a change of clothes, but she did have an old cell phone that she could use to stay online and check her inbox.
Hellerich slept on benches but she frequented a women's shelter with a cluster of internet-connected computers used mostly by the children who arrived at the safe house with their mothers. She started blogging and conducting a business. As an independent internet marketer, she was able to maintain bank accounts, nurse existing client connections and forge new business relationships. The business brought in only about $100 a month, but that was enough to help get her life back on track.
Hellerich now rents a room in Northern California, and she's bought an old computer and broadened her online presence with MySpace and Flickr pages. But she lives in fear that at any point, circumstances could throw her back into the urban wilderness.
And while many homeless people are quick to talk about the empowering elements of the internet, experts emphasize that technology won't erase the aspects of one's personal life that put them on the streets in the first place. "People believe that information is power, and it is sometimes, but it is still a complicated system," Stoops said. It is rare for technology alone to pull someone out of the cycle of habitual homelessness.
But if the internet can't provide the homeless with an out, it can at least provide them with an outlet. Stoops knows numerous cases where modern technology has afforded valuable opportunities to the homeless.
Las Vegas vagrant Kevin Barbieux runs a blog that's brought him a dose of digital stardom. He's been writing The Homeless Guy since 2002. "It's the only real success I've had in my life," he said.
His site isn't the only one on the web with entries about life on the street. WanderingScribe features the ramblings of a homeless woman in England. In Peoria, Willie York has a site devoted to giving advice on street life. And other online efforts have had mainstream attention in the past few years, from New York to California.
Barbieux's site garners 12,000 to 15,000 hits a month. He attributes that to the storytelling ethic of his posts, which detail not only his own travails, but those of colleagues in shelters and city parks. He also comments on the public's perceptions of the homeless, and the factors that force so many of his compatriots into a holding pattern of poverty. "The work I do on my blog is geared toward telling, not just my story, but the story of every homeless person," he said. "If it's just about me then its effect will be limited. I really want to change the world."
If it changes his own life a bit more that would be nice, too. But for now, Barbieux, sans residence, does his blogging in one-hour stints at a public library terminal. He had a Wi-Fi-equipped laptop donated to him through his site, but the machine was damaged and Barbieux has no resources to replace it.
Las Vegas is a great city for Wi-Fi, Barbieux said: You can connect from outside most any hotel or casino, and the homeless keep each other informed about the best hot spots. Technology has helped him collect donations through a PayPal button on his web page instead of having to panhandle.
When he first got online in 1997, he saw a world where one could interact with people without awkward looks and hold conversations without difficult social interactions.
"I have social anxiety issues, and being able to communicate with folks without having an attack was great, and I discovered that I actually had a personality that people liked when I chatted with them," he said. When friends at an internet discussion group suggested he start a blog in 2002, Yahoo tagged it one of the top 10 "new and notable" sites on the web. Suddenly he felt he had the world's attention. "I could be doing other things with my time," he said, "but I can't think of anything else that could be so vital."
Like Barbieux, Ivy hopes to change the world through the power of the web. Living with his wife in his $400 About Us Bus for the past three years, Ivy has driven much of California trying to raise awareness of the homeless, or as he prefers to call them, the home-free.
A head injury made it impossible for Ivy to hold a steady job, he said. But he has embarked on several tech efforts. He claims he helped establish the company which would become Omnifax, though he never saw a dime from the effort and lost touch with his business partners. Omnifax is now a division of Xerox, which did not return a call for a comment.
From his bus, he broadcast the 24-hour internet television show About Us Now in the early days of streaming video. Showcasing music concerts on the beach and offering a glimpse of his Bedouin lifestyle, Ivy believes his was the first successful internet television network. Though he doesn't maintain the show anymore, he still works on internet video -- for most of this year, he's following the United Souls of Awareness, a group of homeless artists embarking on a walk across the country.
Ivy insists he's homeless by choice: He was never comfortable living in apartments. "Walking out the door and seeing everybody had the same door, it would make me get violent, to tell you the truth," he said. But he hopes his efforts online will raise awareness of the plight of the involuntarily homeless community, whose numbers skyrocketed with the Reagan administration policies of the 1980s.
Having a presence online can be a problem. Hellerich deleted most blog posts from her homeless days when a prospective employer Googled her and found the page (it cost her the job). People have contacted Ivy, asking why he can't hold a job but can play the guitar every day. He responds that many days he can't play the guitar, but his vagabond lifestyle is his choice.
While homeless people lurk in the shadows of the physical world, Stoops sees many of them stepping into the virtual sunshine.
"I think people often try to hide the fact they are homeless because they are ashamed of it," Stoops said. "But more and more, others are sort of coming out of the closet. You see writers and poets. There is really a niche of homeless writers now, and I am amazed at that. This is the hook to get people to listen."
Read the original post for this article below:
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
"We are in the basement of the Calvary Christian Center Ministries building.
It’s the brick Church that sits right on the corner of Alberta and Mallory.
Mallory is two blocks west of Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
Our entrance is the white door just west of the Church’s main doors.
We are located downstairs"
Sounds comfy just reading the location
Or maybe the name of the establishment was what soothed me?
When I went there to volunteer my services a few weeks ago it felt just as comfortable.
In its new home in the church basement that has massive amounts of space
That’s because it once was an old YMCA
Now three days out of the week
Tue Wed Thurs
9am to 2pm
Our Peaceful Place has its doors and heart open
A place to rest, feel safe, loved and maybe just relax a little without a worry to move it along
It was there I met Barb who is running the show
An inspiring motivated lady with Love and Determination
Determination......ahhhhhhh what a powerful word
I felt it when I read about her in Street Roots (A portland ore homeless/news newpaper) months before officially meeting her
When I met her I could feel that there is a determination to help this world and the reins are fully in Barbs hands!
Reminds me as I write this of the steady sea captain hand on the wheel or how you felt confident as the wagon train reins were in the strong older well traveled cowboy’s hands.
In those hands were determination….. and success and power, to win and survive
ahhhhhh that was the feeling I had when I left after talking with Barb
How serious is your Homelessness Issues around you I ask?
Somebody I know wakes up everyday and makes it her number one priority.
ya know .....I think it comes natural for her
Barb didn't tell me ......but I know her secret........ Its one word.....
During our year of homelessness we battled discouragement and disappointment as our hopes were dashed time after time even when we were certain, “this is it,” but were told, “Sorry, not here.” Yet, with God’s grace we were able to stick with it, encouraged by the example of perseverance modeled by our homeless friends over the years. We were admonished by Scripture to “lean not on our own understanding,” and to believe God’s promise of faithfulness.
We are in our new home at 126 NE Alberta and are busy settling in. We are nestled in the basement of a Church building that is one hundred years old. The huge space that we are able to use was once a YWCA. We expect to provide safety and comfort to our visitors.
We hope for the opportunity to minister to old friends and look forward to being a blessing to those we have yet to meet.
We invite you, our friends, partners, and supporters to continue to minister with us by equipping us with the day to day materials we need to do the work. Please pray for us and for those to whom we minister.
We also invite you to come visit us. Come see where we are, meet our staff and see what your support is allowing us to do. Come see if this is the place where you would like to spend time serving the poor.
May God bless you and your efforts on behalf of Our Peaceful Place.
Our Peaceful Place
Sunday, June 18, 2006
More than 900 homeless people have moved into permanent housing in Seattle Washington, King County since a 10-year plan to end homelessness was announced last year. The King County Committee to End Homelessness said government and private agencies have built or funded 1,300 new housing units in the plan's first year.
A survey of about 900 people commissioned by United Way of King County cited homelessness as the third most critical issue facing King County, behind transportation and education.
The random phone survey, released Thursday, found that 84 percent of respondents think ending homelessness is possible. Those surveyed by Lopez & Cheung Research also said government was not doing enough to address homelessness. Leaders of the Committee to End Homelessness Insist their goal can be accomplished in 10 years. City Councilman Tom Rasmussen, a governing-board member, acknowledged that "people doubt us. People say we're unrealistic." He called the survey results "a clear mandate to people not only in Seattle but King County to end homelessness. People think we can do it."
According to the most recent one-night count, about 8,000 people live on the streets, in emergency housing or transitional housing in King County. Of about 1,300 new units in Thursday's progress report, 563 were built in the past year, 391 were funded for future construction and 387 units were converted into housing for formerly homeless individuals and families in Bellevue, Federal Way, Duvall and downtown Seattle. Block did not have estimates on how much all the units cost. People who want to move into permanent housing, which includes support services, are required to apply through various service providers, such as the Downtown Emergency Service Center.
The committee is working on creating a single stop where people can learn whether they qualify. The committee also has pushed for a new database called Safe Harbors to monitor the number of homeless people. The software has met with some resistance from homeless individuals who were concerned about privacy issues because Seattle, King County and United Way conditioned funding on participation in the database.
By: Kerri Hastings
Quietly she lay upon a cold and dampened floor,
Sunday, June 04, 2006
When I read this post I seriously wondered about his comments and attitude. But when he referred how the Left was responsible for the closing of Mental Hospitals? And when he also insinuated that the Left thought it was just fine that way too. I disagree on both his assertion. He wants those without a home to be arrested? He thinks those without homes are not really in need! This is typical of many ignorant people I see everywhere today. Notice his lack of Love and Compassion.
Refering back to an article in the Oct. 21 Portland Tribune titled
Friday, June 02, 2006
The Bridge Builder
An old man, going a lone highway,
Came, at the evening, cold and gray,To a chasm, vast, and deep, and wide,
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.The old man crossed in the twilight dim;The sullen stream had no fears for him;
But he turned, when safe on the other side,And built a bridge to span the tide.
"Old man," said a fellow pilgrim, near,"You are wasting strength with building here;Your journey will end with the ending day;You never again must pass this way;You have crossed the chasm, deep and wide-Why build you a bridge at the eventide?
"The builder lifted his old gray head:"Good friend, in the path I have come," he said,"There followeth after me today,A youth, whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm, that has been naught to me,To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be.He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building the bridge for him."
Poem by: Will Allen Dromgoole