CONTEST: Count the homeless *stereotypes* in this news article!

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Wed, 2 Jun 1999 23:39:41 -0700 (PDT)


How many emotionally-loaded *stereotypes of homeless people can you find in
the article below?

Check biased words with an *asterik and
*total your count at top of your reply if you wish.

(Winner gets a tip of my hat.)

"In the chaotic years, Lummus was home to an estimated 165 homeless -- a
huge population given the park's seven-acre size. When the $125,000
security fence was raised, the vagrants moved elsewhere. Now, new police
tactics and rehabilitation programs are being counted on to keep the
homeless and troublemakers away." -- from article below

http://www.herald.com:80/content/fri/news/dade/digdocs/059067.htm
FWD  Miami Herald  - Friday, May 28, 1999

     LUMMUS PARK: IS RIVER SITE READY FOR A NEW LIFE?

     By BRUCE TAYLOR SEEMAN - Herald Staff Writer

There is risk in reopening Lummus Park, but the city of Miami has done it
anyway. One of the park's five gates is swung open daily at 8 a.m. A new
manager is on the job. A police patrolman has been told to take a special
interest.

   The riverside park was closed in 1992, locked behind a towering iron
fence that evicted the drunks, prostitutes and wanderers who invaded Lummus
in the '80s. In seven forlorn years since, the park's most notable visitor
was a tornado that twisted its fence.

   But now, while the neighborhood holds its breath, the reopened park
presents a pivotal test in Miami's civic evolution: With homelessness
apparently in retreat and pressure growing for renewal along the Miami
River, is Lummus ready for a second life?

   So far, no serious problems have occurred since the park's low-key
opening two months ago, police say. And the mostly older neighbors, who
years ago withdrew into their homes and apartments, have started to trickle
back.

   ``It's like the ocean,'' says Margaret Miller, 80, who has lived on the
rim of the park for 30 years. ``First, you put your toes in. Then you step
back.''

   The park is named for J.E. Lummus, one of two Lummus brothers (the other
was J.N. Lummus) who moved in Miami in 1895. Lummus, a commissary
contractor for the Florida East Coast Railway, was Miami's mayor or a
commissioner for 28 years until 1924.

   Positioned along the north bank of the Miami River between Northwest
Second and Third Streets, Lummus opened in 1909. Among the oaks and royal
palms stand two historic structures -- the 142-year-old Wagner Homestead,
Miami's oldest house, and Fort Dallas, a limestone building that once
served as an Army barracks and a dormitory for slaves.

   In its glory days, Lummus was a magnet for older people. Some remember
weekend dances, card games and a snack bar.

   ``We had shuffleboard, bowling on the green, hot dogs and hambugers,''
said Michael Fedinick, 75, who has lived in the adjacent Park Tower
Apartments since 1965. ``Then the street people came. That ruined
everything.''

   In the chaotic years, Lummus was home to an estimated 165 homeless -- a
huge population given the park's seven-acre size. When the $125,000
security fence was raised, the vagrants  moved elsewhere. Now, new police
tactics and rehabilitation programs are being counted on to keep the
homeless and troublemakers away.

   ``As soon as one of the older people gets hurt or mugged or robbed,
they'll all disappear,'' says police officer Carlos Saavedra, who works out
of the park's community center.

   The city has made significant improvements while anticipating a
reopening. A playground and riverside plaza are among more than $700,000 in
amenities. The community center has a new roof, kitchen, air conditioning,
a Ping-pong table and game tables.

   Before Tuesday, the city and Dade Heritage Trust will ask the state for
a $150,000 grant to renovate the Wagner Home and Fort Dallas. The city
intends to kick in another $150,000 for those buildings, plus $350,000 for
classrooms, lighting and other improvements.

   Meanwhile,optimism is rising for the Miami River, which flows on the
other side of North River Drive. Two weeks ago, a federal agency promised
to pay 85 percent of a $63.5 million river clean-up. City officials hope a
new river promenade, boat slips and restaurants will follow.

   ``The time is right,'' says Albert Ruder, the city's parks and
recreation director. ``We need to work together. The city is committed to
this park. We don't want parks that are closed; we want parks that are
open.''

   Inside Lummus, progress is measured with each day's contingent of
visitors. They come to play card or dominoes, attend citizenship
preparation classes, or just sit beneath shade trees previously off-limits.

   ``If you could only know how anguished we were,'' says Miller, still
haunted by the days of rampant homelessness. ``These people were not part
of the neighborhood. Yet, they were on my porch, in and out of buildings,
turning off the elevators and using them for various purposes.''

   Lummus's lead advocate is its new manager, Roberto Gonzalez, 35. Though
the community center opens at noon, Gonzalez unlocks the main gate at 8
a.m. so neighbors can start their exercise.

   As word has spread about citizenship classes, domino games and afternoon
novelas on TV, daily attendance has risen to 40 or more, Gonzalez says.
Many treat him like a son, reporting to Lummus with car troubles or other
problems.

   On a day last week, a woman moaned about an unruly neighbor. Gonzalez
referred her to Saavadra, the neighborhood policeman.

   ``See what I mean?'' said Gonzalez, who gives out his pager number so he
can be reached at home. ``This park is like my family. They're never going
to tranfer me from here. They'd have to kill me. This is my place, and
these are my people.''

   If plans proceed, Lummus' historic buildings will be visited by
schoolchildren on field trips. One group of history buffs has asked to use
the park for battle re-enactments. Gonzalez hopes to reintroduce community
dances (a mirrored disco ball hangs hopefully from the community center
ceiling).

      The biggest potential for trouble sits on the park's north side,
Saavadra said. It's a dilapidated rooming house widely known for drug
dealing. Efforts to crack down are ongoing, but the problem remains,
Saavadra said.

   Despite that nagging concern, city officials say Lummus is ready to
thrive again. Tight control is important at first, they say, but as time
goes on more gates will be opened and additional activities will be
promoted to draw larger crowds.

   ``It's going to take some time,'' says Fedinick, the longtime Park Tower
resident. ``Once people realize they can come over and no one will bother
them, it will be fine.''

END FORWARD

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