Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Rant, plain and simple.

In response to the We Are Visible question of Has everyone seen the Homelessness in U.S. Report - C-SPAN Video Library on the We Are Visible Facebook page:

Jack Reed spoke cogently, and with heart.

I'm very glad Ebony has found permanent housing and income. I note she did not mention the word "home".

If the issue is homelessness then the resolution is being homed. If the issue is housing then the resolution is housing.

It may seem petty to you, nitpicking a word or phrase. However, look at it from this perspective: Resolving an issue rests in defining it.

That bears repeating: Resolving an issue rests in defining it.

Homelessness is of epidemic proportions. The positive "it could be worse than this spin" I perceive being presented does a dis-service both to those working hard on the issue and those living the issue. As well as those about to join the ranks of "living the issue". More and more folks are becoming homeless daily. Look at those who are using your libraries, your bus systems, those walking your streets.

Would you have read that any differently if I had used the words: "our libraries, our bus systems, those walking our streets"? Do you see me -- a homeless person as part of your "you"? Or am I somehow separate ... different? Less than?

Dare I ask you to use your own eyes, rather than the eyes of those who are trying to collect and report to you on the numbers? Yes, I dare.

No two agencies seem to agree on what homelessness is, much less what causes it. Even as they try to assist we who are without homes (or housing -- as you will) they wind up in conflict with each other.

The accurate or inaccurate count of us is not what is going to resolve the issue of homelessness.

Yes, it will gain monies for the systems that are trying to stem the tide ... and that is a needed bandaid.

However, those systems have not prevailed in the past, nor are they going to prevail in the future without a paradigm shift. It reminds me of the definition of insanity -- doing the same thing over and over, while expecting different results.

You can skew data anyway you want to. I've worked in data information long enough to understand you take a set of numbers, apply the spin or counter-spin you want to it, and voila you have a platform for presenting your agenda.

The implication that things could be better if we have more accurate numbers, bothers the hell out of me. It's a playout of "If only we had _________, we could ___________" Any decent therapist will tell you that's an excuse for not taking action. You work with what you have and make change.

The reason I am being assisted right now is not because of the agencies, it's because one person has introduced me to other people and these individuals have either gotten to know me or see me as a productive person. They, personally, are working their hind ends off to get things done for me, whereas the agencies have been forestalled at every vantage point.

I've been rejected by a womens shelter for temporary housing because of my arm (disabled), my proud admission of seeing the psycho-therapist at a shelter on an on-going basis, and a question of where can I park my tricycle. This rejection stunned even the agency who is doing their best to assist me.

The winter shelter in the local area has accepted me every night with no questions asked, other than to follow their rules while within the confines of the Armory. People facilitating the winter shelter work their fingers to the bone to be humane and helpful.

The reality that brings about change is what works in other venues -- personal interest of each human being involved.

I nearly fell off my chair in disbelief during this report when I found out what is considered severely impacted housing--50% or more of income of low-income households going toward housing expenses.

My goddess! When I was working, I paid 75% to 80% at times of my income toward housing and wondered why I couldn't make it in life. I worked diligently for years, supporting myself now to find out what I thought was normal is looked upon as severely impacted.

This is the first time in my life I've seriously been able to consider spending only 45% of my income for housing. Even finding something at that rate is truly difficult. The going price for a room (not a house or apartment mind you -- but a room) in the city of Los Angeles, California, is $550 and up. A ROOM my friend -- for a single person.

So I ask you, what portion of your income (and I assume many of you have two adult incomes) are you paying for your housing? How long can you go without income before you will lose your housing?

There are many of us - homeless. Many who will not even admit it to themselves at this point, much less to others. The stigma of being homeless is severe. Apparently we are broken. Many of us remain homeless because others see us as broken. We don't fit with someone else's comfortable idea of humanity.

So many are trying to "fix" us.

We are not what is broken.

We (the homeless) are symptoms of what is broken.

I submit this as a rant. I have no resolutions to offer. Rarely do I come from that perspective. However, I guarantee you, I will come up with some creative and efficacious means of resolving how to educate, inform and involve people regarding homelessness


  1. RD,

    This is not a rant. It is a very clear and deeply compelling statement of your own personal experience trying to work within a system that has provided you with one reason or excuse after another with respect to why it cannot or will not help you. A paradigm shift is clearly in order.

    All of the people who cannot or will not help you are being paid salaries and benefits to help homeless human beings just like you. Unfortunately, just the opposite appears to be what is happening in many areas all across this country.

    I think it is very important for homeless people to post stories of their personal experiences. The opportunity to tell others what is really happening to real human beings is one of the very great benefits social media offers.

    Change is often slow and it usually takes a lot of repetition to get points across. If you are a spiritual person, a quote that comforts me at times in my advocacy initiatives is this:

    "Do not grow weary in well doing."

  2. I have a program I'm trying to start up called Heal With a Meal. Currently the only place to get information is on my blog but I am working on a separate website. If you check out my blog the tag Heal With a Meal will bring you to all relevant posts. Maybe you could help me promote it.

    I found your blog through the invisible people TV site. Mike is truly amazing.

    Now, to subscribe to your twitter feed.


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