shopping cart citations hinder recycling by homeless people FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Wed, 8 Apr 1998 17:43:49 -0700 (PDT)


FWD http://www.latimes.com/CNS_DAYS/980329/tCB0028796.html

"Recycling is something many other Westside areas hinder homeless people
from doing through ordinances which allow citations to be issued to those
who use shopping carts for any other purpose than that which they were
intended for. The homeless rely on the carts to transport the cans and
bottles they forage for to recycling plants." -- from the article below


HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD'S WALKING STAR
Far from typical, The Man from Mars strolls along catching more attention
than some shiny stars on the Walk

By TAMARA HUNT  [LA Times 98-03-29]


     The Man from Mars might not have been quite the kind of star a tourist
strolling along Hollywood Boulevard was hoping to come across, but the
experience was probably an outer-planetary one just the same.
     With his elaborate foot-high, fresh-foliage headdress and accessorised
to the nines with every imaginable gadget from a cellular phone to badges
that read "Gone Crazy, Be Back Later" and "I'm Not Perfect But Some Parts
Of Me Are Excellent," the Man From Mars is hard to miss. After all, he's
there 24 hours a day, or at least he was until private security guards
started ridding the boulevard of the panhandlers and transients.
     The Man from Mars, a k a James Michael Morris, is a 61-year-old
African-American and former electronic engineer who has been walking, and
Foundation House outreach workers believe has been sleeping on, the streets
of Hollywood for nearly seven years.
     According to Outreach Operations Manager Gina Drummond of the
Foundation House Outreach Program, Hollywood is the hotbed of the homeless
driven east by less tolerant police in places like West Hollywood and
Westwood. Getting the homeless to accept help is not as easy as one might
expect.
     Although Mars was always friendly and talkative, it took Drummond more
than two years before Mars trusted her enough to accept a pair of sneakers,
which Drummond made him pick up from the program's Access Center on Vine
Street.
     "Initially he wouldn't come in, all we saw was the headdress [through
the window]," said Drummond, who was so excited to see him that she rushed
out and bought him a pair on her credit card. "[When he came in] it was
like having a celebrity. All they [colleagues] saw while he was using the
phone was this big styrofoam headdress peeping over the top [of the
cubicle]." Getting Mars to accept much else is, Drummond said, proving slow
work. The case manager suspects that there are mental health issues to
consider as well.
     "I'd really like to get him his benefits and into low cost housing,"
said Drummond of Mars. After extracting some basic information from Mars,
Drummond learnt that Mars was working until he was 55 years old and is
entitled to benefits. "He tells us that he stays with his brother, but we
don't think he does." According to Mars, working the streets is a
profitable business and not one he is in a hurry to give up.
     "I see all those crazies on Venice Beach making money and I said to
myself, I'm gonna do it," Mars said. "Electrical engineering's not as
profitable ... this is much easier. I'd be on the move making money on
Sunset [Boulevard] and Hollywood [Boulevard] and I make me $100 a day. When
I go, I get people with a camera wanting a picture with me and I tell them
it's $5 or $10. I should charge $25 or $30 with a headdress this big."
According to Drummond, most of the homeless in the Hollywood area earn
money from recycling. Recycling is something many other Westside areas
hinder homeless people from doing through ordinances which allow citations
to be issued to those who use shopping carts for any other purpose than
that which they were intended for. The homeless rely on the carts to
transport the cans and bottles they forage for to recycling plants.
     "It's easier to make money here in Hollywood than anywhere else," said
Tony, a 43-year-old African-American, who has been homeless on and off
since 1988. "You can recycle, wash windows, [but] you can't have shopping
carts in places like Westwood, Bel Air and West Hollywood. They know the
homeless exist, but they don't wanna see it. They want you to dress up with
no money in your pocket." Like Mars, many homeless are reluctant to accept
help because of the restrictions they fear a structured environment will
impose upon them.
     Tony won't go to a shelter because they only allow him to come and go
at certain times and that would curtail his ability to recycle. In addition
to which, Tony added, sleeping on the street is much safer.
     "I can't sleep around people I don't know," said Tony, of workers'
attempts to get him into a shelter. "Here you sleep with someone you know,
they are watching your back, you're watching theirs." Wild Bill, a
46-year-old alcoholic badly in need of medical attention, would like to get
off the streets and into an apartment, but he won't go unless his
seven-year-old dog Samantha can go with him.
     As for Mars, Drummond will keep handing out brown-bag lunches to him
and hopes that with time he will come around. In the meantime, Mars just
wants to keep on walking.
     "I don't let the grass grow on my feet -- I am always moving around. I
love to walk."

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