[Hpn] Homelessness in the Media

Ria Strong strongvoice@start.com.au
Mon, 13 Nov 2000 19:38 +1000

I see two different media discourses around homelessness: a very
negative, blaming, "it's their fault" discourse, and a "help the poor
unfortunates" tragedy/charity discourse. Sometimes one predominates,
sometimes the other.

In the end, I don't think *either* is particularly helpful. 

Blaming homeless people for our homelessness isn't in the slightest
bit helpful. It going to help drug addicts get clean and sober. It
isn't going to help compulsive gamblers stop. It isn't going to help
people with psychiatric or other disabilities get the support need.
And it isn't going to help *anyone* get housed. In general, all it
will do is further alienate us from society, and society from us.

A homelessness-as-tragedy discourse may have some positive effects. It
may spur more people into "helping the poor unfortunates". It may
increase crisis services for homeless and poor people-- emergency
housing, meal programs and the like. In the end, tho, I don't think it
helps people move *out* of homelessness or poverty. It presents those
of us who are homeless as powerless, as unable to help ourselves. It
can further disempower people-- teach them helplessness. And that
makes me quite uncomfortable.

- Ria

         Ria Strong            
     Melbourne, Australia      

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