[Hpn] nice article

homey homey@ids.net
Wed, 31 May 2000 00:02:44 -0400


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Les Miserables' revisitedFive months into our project to put familiar =
faces on the area's homeless, readers respond with a variety of =
reactions, from disbelief to rage to congratulations.=20
Others are going to attack you the same way they attacked Victor Hugo. =
Oh, they're going to hate what you write. But don't you let them get you =
down. You just keep on writing about that.
-- January voice mail message from Mary

In December, I began a yearlong project to show how people -- not much =
different from you or me -- become homeless. Readers following the =
series know that what makes people lose their homes starts with a =
problem or two and escalates: the loss of a job, credit problems, =
chemical addiction, physical abuse, low-paying work, poor mental and/or =
physical health, the inability to think clearly and simple bad luck.=20

Reader response to these stories has been varied -- about half find the =
series interesting; half find it depressing or useless. The encouraging =
voice mail from Mary prompted research on French writer Victor Hugo =
(1802-1885), described as one of the most powerful humanitarians of his =
age. He championed the poor and homeless.=20

Mary is right about this: Some readers have reacted with rage to what =
they say are the ``degenerates'' whose stories have filled these pages.=20

The woman makes one mistake after another, has all those children, gets =
kicked out of Illinois, fakes illnesses in emergency rooms. Why should =
someone come here from another state and get a four-bedroom duplex for =
$12 a month when there are people who were born here and lived here all =
their lives that can't find low-cost housing? Check with this woman in =
six months and you will find she is still making Bad Choices, and that, =
Deborah, is The Cold Hard Truth.
-- February e-mail from ``Delores''

Several readers wrote or called about ``Anita's'' Section 8 housing =
assistance. She and her four young children were living in a St. Paul =
battered-women's shelter, where Anita was recovering from injuries =
received from her husband. She actively sought a renewal of her housing =
and a way to return to school. Her husband was in jail.=20

About 60 percent of families or individuals who get rent assistance from =
the Section 8 federal housing program to make up for their low incomes =
are Minnesota natives, said Rita Ander, Section 8 program manager with =
the St. Paul Public Housing Agency. Others are from out of state or =
immigrants from other countries.=20

For rental assistance in St. Paul, priority goes to those of low income =
who live, work or attend school in St. Paul or who have -- or have had =
-- a family member in the military. Recipients pay a minimum of 30 =
percent of their adjusted income for rent. Anita paid a small amount in =
rent because she also paid all utilities such as trash, sewer, water, =
gas and heat. After one year, the housing agency reconsiders =
eligibility. If an income goes up, the tenant will be responsible for a =
higher share of the rent.=20

Are there no stories regarding real heroes who work hard, pay their =
bills, raise families and are law abiding citizens? You resort to =
accentuating the degenerates of our society for want of a column.
-- March e-mail from nameless reader

These heated comments and others like them followed a profile of a =
homeless ex-con who was also an ex-pimp and ex-drug dealer. Here was a =
stark example of someone whose whole life was a string of mistakes. He =
insisted he was turning around his life. It seems more likely, however, =
that the man would continue to make what Delores called ``bad choices'' =
for the rest of his life. I hope I'm wrong.=20

With regard to the 18-year-old girl and her 28-year-old boyfriend -- =
they seem very irresponsible. They are both deranged and need =
mental-health care. Can you help them in that respect?
-- January e-mail from Frank

Sorry, Frank. There's not much I do other than show how homelessness =
occurs. A day before the story appeared, the couple disappeared from the =
area.=20

You get hate mail and criticism? Well, I get that crap too and it makes =
me sick. How can someone else judge another person's walk through life? =
Many people out there are homeless through no fault of their own. All =
that criticism is nothing but an excuse not to do something.=20

But you know, I see hope every single day. The solution is in day-to-day =
efforts of reinforcing human beings, not in judging them.
-- May interview with Mary Jo Copeland,
founder and director of Caring & Sharing Hands, Minneapolis

Without Mary Jo, this town would fold up like a dirty rug.
-- Former homeless man, now a volunteer at Sharing & Caring Hands

For a real dose of the spirit and passion of Victor Hugo, consider Mary =
Jo Copeland, who is trying to build a children's home in Brooklyn =
Center. Residents and city officials oppose the development because the =
property Copeland bought is zoned for commercial uses, and because many =
object to the idea of a children's home.=20

Copeland isn't discouraged by critics because that would keep her from =
getting points across to the world, she said. Detractors obsessed with =
their Cold Hard Truths deplete energy. Their unhappy lives are shaped by =
negativity. They refuse to love the world.=20

Copeland ignores them. She has work to do.=20



-------------------------------------------------------------------------=
-------
Write Locke at dlocke@pioneerpress.com or at the Pioneer Press, 345 =
Cedar St., St. Paul MN 55101.=20


--Boundary_(ID_Z3kygktdjQYlQLkobVK/Aw)
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<DIV><FONT size=3D2>Les Miserables' revisited<FONT size=3D+1><B><I>Five =
months into=20
our project to put familiar faces on the area's homeless, readers =
respond with a=20
variety of reactions, from disbelief to rage to =
congratulations.</I></B></FONT>=20
<P></SNML_HEADLINES><SNML_BODY><SNML_LEAD>O<I>thers are going to attack =
you the=20
same way they attacked Victor Hugo. Oh, they're going to hate what you =
write.=20
But don't you let them get you down. You just keep on writing about=20
that.</I><BR></SNML_LEAD>-- January voice mail message from =
Mary<BR><BR>In=20
December, I began a yearlong project to show how people -- not much =
different=20
from you or me -- become homeless. Readers following the series know =
that what=20
makes people lose their homes starts with a problem or two and =
escalates: the=20
loss of a job, credit problems, chemical addiction, physical abuse, =
low-paying=20
work, poor mental and/or physical health, the inability to think clearly =
and=20
simple bad luck.=20
<P>Reader response to these stories has been varied -- about half find =
the=20
series interesting; half find it depressing or useless. The encouraging =
voice=20
mail from Mary prompted research on French writer Victor Hugo =
(1802-1885),=20
described as one of the most powerful humanitarians of his age. He =
championed=20
the poor and homeless.=20
<P>Mary is right about this: Some readers have reacted with rage to what =
they=20
say are the ``degenerates'' whose stories have filled these pages.=20
<P><I>The woman makes one mistake after another, has all those children, =
gets=20
kicked out of Illinois, fakes illnesses in emergency rooms. Why should =
someone=20
come here from another state and get a four-bedroom duplex for $12 a =
month when=20
there are people who were born here and lived here all their lives that =
can't=20
find low-cost housing? Check with this woman in six months and you will =
find she=20
is still making Bad Choices, and that, Deborah, is The Cold Hard=20
Truth.<BR></I>-- February e-mail from ``Delores''<BR><BR>Several readers =
wrote=20
or called about ``Anita's'' Section 8 housing assistance. She and her =
four young=20
children were living in a St. Paul battered-women's shelter, where Anita =
was=20
recovering from injuries received from her husband. She actively sought =
a=20
renewal of her housing and a way to return to school. Her husband was in =
jail.=20
<P>About 60 percent of families or individuals who get rent assistance =
from the=20
Section 8 federal housing program to make up for their low incomes are =
Minnesota=20
natives, said Rita Ander, Section 8 program manager with the St. Paul =
Public=20
Housing Agency. Others are from out of state or immigrants from other =
countries.=20

<P>For rental assistance in St. Paul, priority goes to those of low =
income who=20
live, work or attend school in St. Paul or who have -- or have had -- a =
family=20
member in the military. Recipients pay a minimum of 30 percent of their =
adjusted=20
income for rent. Anita paid a small amount in rent because she also paid =
all=20
utilities such as trash, sewer, water, gas and heat. After one year, the =
housing=20
agency reconsiders eligibility. If an income goes up, the tenant will be =

responsible for a higher share of the rent.=20
<P><I>Are there no stories regarding real heroes who work hard, pay =
their bills,=20
raise families and are law abiding citizens? You resort to accentuating =
the=20
degenerates of our society for want of a column.</I><BR>-- March e-mail =
from=20
nameless reader<BR><BR>These heated comments and others like them =
followed a=20
profile of a homeless ex-con who was also an ex-pimp and ex-drug dealer. =
Here=20
was a stark example of someone whose whole life was a string of =
mistakes. He=20
insisted he was turning around his life. It seems more likely, however, =
that the=20
man would continue to make what Delores called ``bad choices'' for the =
rest of=20
his life. I hope I'm wrong.=20
<P><I>With regard to the 18-year-old girl and her 28-year-old boyfriend =
-- they=20
seem very irresponsible. They are both deranged and need mental-health =
care. Can=20
you help them in that respect?</I><BR>-- January e-mail from =
Frank<BR><BR>Sorry,=20
Frank. There's not much I do other than show how homelessness occurs. A =
day=20
before the story appeared, the couple disappeared from the area.=20
<P><I>You get hate mail and criticism? Well, I get that crap too and it =
makes me=20
sick. How can someone else judge another person's walk through life? =
Many people=20
out there are homeless through no fault of their own. All that criticism =
is=20
nothing but an excuse not to do something.</I>=20
<P><I>But you know, I see hope every single day. The solution is in =
day-to-day=20
efforts of reinforcing human beings, not in judging them.</I><BR>-- May=20
interview with Mary Jo Copeland,<BR>founder and director of Caring &amp; =
Sharing=20
Hands, Minneapolis<BR><BR><I>Without Mary Jo, this town would fold up =
like a=20
dirty rug.</I><BR>-- Former homeless man, now a volunteer at Sharing =
&amp;=20
Caring Hands<BR><BR>For a real dose of the spirit and passion of Victor =
Hugo,=20
consider Mary Jo Copeland, who is trying to build a children's home in =
Brooklyn=20
Center. Residents and city officials oppose the development because the =
property=20
Copeland bought is zoned for commercial uses, and because many object to =
the=20
idea of a children's home.=20
<P>Copeland isn't discouraged by critics because that would keep her =
from=20
getting points across to the world, she said. Detractors obsessed with =
their=20
Cold Hard Truths deplete energy. Their unhappy lives are shaped by =
negativity.=20
They refuse to love the world.=20
<P>Copeland ignores them. She has work to do. </SNML_BODY><SNML_TAGLINE>
<P>
<HR noShade SIZE=3D1>
<FONT size=3D-1>Write Locke at <B><A=20
href=3D"mailto:dlocke@pioneerpress.com">dlocke@pioneerpress.com</A></B> =
or at the=20
Pioneer Press, 345 Cedar St., St. Paul MN 55101.</FONT>=20
<P></SNML_TAGLINE><!-- docend --></P></FONT></DIV></BODY></HTML>

--Boundary_(ID_Z3kygktdjQYlQLkobVK/Aw)--