Fw: Chic Homeless

H. C. Covington (ach1@sprynet.com)
Sat, 27 Dec 1997 16:51:28 -0600

H. C. Sonny Covington @ I CAN! America
Lafayette -  New Iberia, LA  70563-1722
(318) 364-6239  Fax 318-367-9141
-----Original Message-----
From: John Statler <statler@jeffnet.org>
To: HOMELESS DISCUSSION LIST <homeless@csf.colorado.edu>
Date: Friday, December 26, 1997 11:36 AM
Subject: Chic Homeless

I have not heard the term 'chic homeless'  directly but it has been 
inferred in my community. I live in Medford but nearby is Ashland, 
Oregon, a chic place. It is home for America's first replica of 
Shakespeare's home theater and Southern Oregon University (recently 
renamed from Southern Oregon State College). Ashland is also a mecca 
for new age healers, drawn to the influences of a volcanic mountain 
range that includes Mount Shasta. All this tends to bring homeless 
people who have an artistic or 'chic'  bent.

Early in 1997 there was a newspaper lead article highlighting 
'recreational homeless'. These are people described as 'doing'
the homeless thing voluntarily. My personal cut on the matter is that 
some people are just too embarrassed to admit their parents don't 
want them, they are to  emotionally unstable to hold down a 
traditional job, they suffer from mental disorders, or any of the 
other many reasons people are homeless. 

I saw a TV documentary a few years ago on a woman who was homeless in 
Beverly Hill, California. She lived in a nice car, belonged to a gym, 
did her makeup at the local fancy stores compliments of cosmetics 
counter sampling, and was very careful to not let people know she was 
homeless (I guess the documentary blew that anonymity out of the 

A third category of 'chic' homeless I can think of are the do-good 
(not meant derogatorily at all) people who want to spend a night or a 
week as a homeless person would. Obstensibly, these people want to 
understand the difficulties involved. Practically, they generally 
tend to use up precious resources. 

A local group of Jesuit Volunteers were interested in experiencing
the plight of homeless people. First they wanted to spend the night
at the Gospel Mission, I explained that this is winter and the 
Mission is our only shelter. They suggested that perhaps they could 
sleep on the floor and I mentioned that if they could sleep on the 
floor perhaps someone without a floor to sleep on could use that 
space. These volunteers were very frustrated.

Their next project was to spend the night at some homeless camp. This 
was an interesting prospect, I thought. I don't have any objection to 
the proposal actually. Though I am concerned about possible publicity 
if the press finds out, and how that might affect the camping area 
and its campers. One thing I can say about these volunteers, they 
really want to try being homeless for a night. Personally, I would 
consider these people 'chic' wannabe homeless for a night. I would 
also describe them as wonderful human beings.

By the way, Jesuit Volunteers are usually recent college graduates, 
living on a stipend in some community other than their own, 
volunteering for some social service or social justice organization 
for a period of one year. They cost an organization about $7,000 for 
the year. The project is run by a part of the greater Catholic 
community called Jesuits (if you know the Jesuits, you know my 
description does not do them justice, but it is brief).

> Date:          Mon, 22 Dec 1997 20:45:44 -0800 (PST) From:         
> "g. Nelson" <colleen@aa.net>

> To the best of my knowledge, you are the only person who has found
> some aspect of homelessness 'chic' and are the originator of this
> term. 
John Statler
Peace Productions
1120 Niantic St.
Medford  OR  97501
(541) 770-5524