homeless

mail.ids.net (homey@ids.net)
Sat, 29 May 1999 21:13:39 -0400


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Hi all My article follows below:


It was a beautiful spring day as 600 advocates gathered together to =
discuss policies on ending homelessness.  The workshops were interesting =
and informative, where panelists and advocates shared strategies =
regarding housing, advocacy, street newspapers, panhandling, media and =
civil rights.

I was overwhelmed by the vast number of folks who really seemed to be =
making a difference in their own communities.  It was behind the scenes =
on walks, during lunch and of course visiting our nations capital, when =
folks really opened up and spoke about their individual communities and =
the challenges they each faced individually and collectively. =20

One such individual Allen, spoke about living in the District of =
Columbia and the fact folks could get a descent meal at the public park. =
 Of course I was interested in partaking of a free meal, since I was =
traveling on a budget.  On a nice afternoon Allen became our tour guide, =
he led us to a small well kept park a block from the White House.  We =
waited in line, where we were given a hot meal from a van parked on the =
side of the road.  As I sat eating my meal, I stared up at those passing =
by heading home after a hard days work.  I wondered what they thought of =
us sitting quietly eating in the park.  I did notice that most partaking =
in the meal were men.  I silently wondered, "where are the woman?".  =
Later I learned from a social worker that street violence keeps woman =
from seeking meals on the streets.  Most prefer to eat at a shelter or =
meal site, that way no one can tell they are living on the streets, =
otherwise they become targets.  This of course was one of the main =
themes of a workshop I attended, hate crimes against the homeless.  The =
fact that simply being homeless on the streets means you will most =
probably be the victim of a violent crime such as rape, murder, robbery =
or arson.  The speakers urged us to find a way to document crimes =
perpetrated against the homeless in our own communities. Then use this =
information to work toward protected class status of those without homes =
through legislation in our individual states.

While visiting our representatives on Capital Hill I decided to take a =
brief stroll into one of the many fountains lining the parks.  As I took =
off my sandals, I pondered going into the water. I wondered if public =
bathing in the fountains was legal.  After a brief wave to friends =
across the street, I made my plunge into the fountain.  My friends waved =
at me as our transportation had arrived, just as I saw the local capital =
hill police heading to the fountain.  Not wanting to cause a scene, I =
quickly put on my sandals and headed back toward the group to wait for =
the van.  The police followed, then kind of milled about our group.  One =
person commented as to why three police officers were milling about 10 =
people standing in front of the Longworth Building.  I blushed and =
admitted, I had been strolling in the water fountain to one individual.  =
I guess my sore feet had attracted the wrong attention.  They sized me =
up and decided not to pursue the matter.  I was indeed thankful, since =
our flight was leaving that day.  I had tested the water and decided =
that even in our nations capital the police take notice.  This also was =
another major theme at some of the workshops I attended, police =
harassment of the street homeless, anti-panhandling and anti-encampment =
ordinances targeted against homeless individuals.  The under lying =
current is the criminalization of homelessness.  That being without a =
home and poor is a crime, that you the individual are at fault in some =
major way.  Many individuals discussed ways to combat NIMBYism, and =
ordinances targeting the street homeless.  Most enveloped not becoming =
desensitized to the issue, that folks have a right to walk on the city =
streets, without constantly being asked to move on.  I myself find it =
hard to think of a person holding a cup asking for spare change a =
criminal.  Have not beggars been with us throughout history?  I think =
folks have the right to solicit for spare change, if they so want to!

Of course I also got a chance to meet up with some folks from the =
Homeless Person's Network, Tom, Sonny and Anitra.  It was nice to be =
able to share and listen. =20

I think the most memorable part for me was sharing my experience with =
others and learning from theirs.  Most of what I came away with cannot =
be measured in words or verse, but with a renewed sense I am not alone. =
That there are other formerly homeless individuals working to end =
homelessness in their communities at various levels through the =
internet, street newspapers, advocacy, homeless encampments and in the =
parks of our nations capital.











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Hi all My article follows = below:
 
 
It was a beautiful spring day as 600 = advocates=20 gathered together to discuss policies on ending homelessness.  The=20 workshops were interesting and informative, where panelists and = advocates shared=20 strategies regarding housing, advocacy, street newspapers, panhandling, = media=20 and civil rights.
 
I was overwhelmed by the vast number = of folks=20 who really seemed to be making a difference in their own = communities.  It=20 was behind the scenes on walks, during lunch and of course visiting our = nations=20 capital, when folks really opened up and spoke about their individual=20 communities and the challenges they each faced individually and=20 collectively. 
 
One such individual Allen, spoke about living in the = District=20 of Columbia and the fact folks could get a descent meal at the public=20 park.  Of course I was interested in partaking of a free meal, = since I was=20 traveling on a budget.  On a nice afternoon Allen became our tour = guide, he=20 led us to a small well kept park a block from the White House.  We = waited=20 in line, where we were given a hot meal from a van parked on the side of = the=20 road.  As I sat eating my meal, I stared up at those passing by = heading=20 home after a hard days work.  I wondered what they thought of us = sitting=20 quietly eating in the park.  I did notice that most partaking in = the meal=20 were men.  I silently wondered, "where are the = woman?". =20 Later I learned from a social worker that street violence keeps woman = from=20 seeking meals on the streets.  Most prefer to eat at a shelter or = meal=20 site, that way no one can tell they are living on the streets, otherwise = they=20 become targets.  This of course was one of the main themes of a = workshop I=20 attended, hate crimes against the homeless.  The fact that simply = being=20 homeless on the streets means you will most probably be the victim of a = violent=20 crime such as rape, murder, robbery or arson.  The speakers urged = us to=20 find a way to document crimes perpetrated against the homeless in our = own=20 communities. Then use this information to work toward protected class = status of=20 those without homes through legislation in our individual = states.
 
While visiting our representatives on Capital Hill I = decided=20 to take a brief stroll into one of the many fountains lining the = parks.  As=20 I took off my sandals, I pondered going into the water. I wondered if = public=20 bathing in the fountains was legal.  After a brief wave to friends = across=20 the street, I made my plunge into the fountain.  My friends waved = at me as=20 our transportation had arrived, just as I saw the local capital hill = police=20 heading to the fountain.  Not wanting to cause a scene, I quickly = put on my=20 sandals and headed back toward the group to wait for the van.  The = police=20 followed, then kind of milled about our group.  One person = commented as to=20 why three police officers were milling about 10 people standing in front = of the=20 Longworth Building.  I blushed and admitted, I had been strolling = in the=20 water fountain to one individual.  I guess my sore feet had = attracted the=20 wrong attention.  They sized me up and decided not to pursue the=20 matter.  I was indeed thankful, since our flight was leaving that=20 day.  I had tested the water and decided that even in our nations = capital=20 the police take notice.  This also was another major theme at some = of the=20 workshops I attended, police harassment of the street homeless, = anti-panhandling=20 and anti-encampment ordinances targeted against homeless = individuals.  The=20 under lying current is the criminalization of homelessness.  That = being=20 without a home and poor is a crime, that you the individual are at fault = in some=20 major way.  Many individuals discussed ways to combat NIMBYism, and = ordinances targeting the street homeless.  Most enveloped not = becoming=20 desensitized to the issue, that folks have a right to walk on the city = streets,=20 without constantly being asked to move on.  I myself find it hard = to think=20 of a person holding a cup asking for spare change a criminal.  Have = not=20 beggars been with us throughout history?  I think folks have the = right to=20 solicit for spare change, if they so want to!
 
Of course I also got a chance to meet up with some = folks from=20 the Homeless Person's Network, Tom, Sonny and Anitra.  It was nice = to be=20 able to share and listen. 
 
I think the most memorable part for me was sharing = my=20 experience with others and learning from theirs.  Most of what I = came away=20 with cannot be measured in words or verse, but with a renewed sense I am = not=20 alone. That there are other formerly homeless individuals working to end = homelessness in their communities at various levels through the = internet, street=20 newspapers, advocacy, homeless encampments and in the parks of our = nations=20 capital.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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