B.B. St. Roman [formerly Barbara Becker] is the only staff member for the New Orleans Police Department Homeless Assistant Unit. Before helping the homeless, she traveled the world, recording sound for documentaries .... And at one point, she became the tour manager for Dr. John, Louisiana musician and legend. Her film audio credits include Mother Teresa and Shamans of the Blind Country a film ethnography of the Himalayas. TEDx talk, and here's her Facebook page.
The most common question I get asked is, "Should homeless people have pets?" And my response is always, "Should we have people who are homeless?" Ottawa veterinarian Michelle Lem talks about the Community Veterinary Outreach program and its model of community medicine for people and pets. At CVO, volunteer veterinarians, vet techs, social workers and public health nurses work together to connect with marginalized people by providing free veterinary care for their beloved pets. You can watch a brief timelapse video of a day in the life at the busy mobile clinic. [more inside]
The spikes installed outside Selfridges in Manchester are the latest front in the spread of ‘defensive architecture’. Is such open hostility towards the destitute making all our lives uglier?
We could, as a country, look at the root causes of homelessness and try to fix them. One of the main causes is that a lot of people can't afford a place to live. They don't have enough money to pay rent, even for the cheapest dives available. Prices are rising, inventory is extremely tight, and the upshot is, as a new report by the Urban Institute finds, that there's only 29 affordable units available for every 100 extremely low-income households. So we could create more jobs, redistribute the wealth, improve education, socialize health carebasically redesign our political and economic systems to make sure everybody can afford a roof over their heads.Scott Carrier reports for Mother Jones on Utah's simple, cost-effective approach to ending homelessness: "finding and building apartments where homeless people can live, permanently, with no strings attached. It's a program, or more accurately a philosophy, called Housing First." [more inside]
Instead of this, we do one of two things: We stick our heads in the sand or try to find bandages for the symptoms. This story is about how Utah has found a third way.
"[...] She kills for a living, and her mission cannot be overlooked as you make her traipse through the maze. She’s not the type to nuke a planet from orbit. No, Samus is hands-on: she likes to explore and kill to her satisfaction. She insists on landing on a planet’s surface and fucking-up whatever network of bubblegum and barbed wire is holding the entire planetary house of cards together—usually doing this so thoroughly that the world collapses around her ears as she just barely escapes. It’s a singular talent of hers." Rei writes about homelessness, genocide, and Metroid II: Return of Samus on SelectButton.net. (SelectButton previously.)
43 ways NYC changed under Mayor de Blaiso (nymag.com)
Tampa homeless program uses unpaid, destitute residents as steady labor force, revenue source [more inside]
Aunt Bertha is a web-based platform that connects Americans in need to locally available government programs, non-profit organizations, and community-based resources that offer free or low-cost assistance with health and dental care, job placement, emergency and long-term shelter, clothing and household goods, child and elder care, legal aid, assistance with navigating the social safety net, and much more. All programs are searchable and sortable by ZIP code, city, or eligibility. Find food, health, housing, job training programs and more, anywhere. [more inside]
"We were homeless; that’s why we were in the hostel in the first place. We didn’t have anywhere else to go. There were 210 other young women living there. Now it’s luxury flats."A group of young, homeless mothers have taken over an empty council house in Newham, East London, in protest over the council's plans to rehome them to other parts of the country while selling off social housing and closing the specialist hostel where they were living. The Guardian reports: "For real politics, don't look to Parliament but to an empty London housing estate." [more inside]
The New York City Rescue Mission set up a social experiment with a hidden camera to see if people would notice their loved ones posing as homeless people as they walked past. [more inside]
An army of NYPD cops on Thursday evicted a homeless man from his Manhattan Bridge "home" — which was complete with a gas heater, hot sauce and beer.
Writer David Dickerson tells the first time he used the word "homeless" to describe his situation to a stranger, and what effect that stranger's kindness had on his life. Now he's trying to reach out with an open letter of gratitude in hopes that he can find the amazing person who helped him. [slyt | via]
Homelessness in America Award-winning documentary by Michael Becker. (Vimeo)
The number of homeless New Yorkers in shelters has risen by more than 69 percent since 2002, when Mayor Bloomberg took office. Each night as many as 60,000 people -- including more than 22,000 children, the highest number since the Great Depression, -- experience homelessness in NYC, and during the course of each year, more than 111,000 different homeless New Yorkers, including more than 40,000 children, will sleep in the city's municipal shelter system. Meet Dasani, one of the city's 'invisible children.' [more inside]
Name this mouthwash. Name this winter coat. Name this urinal. Name the herb garden. Name this salt and pepper. Name this fire extinguisher. Name this Case Manager. Name this pie. [more inside]
Twenty-five years ago, David Raether was a successful comedy writer -- a member of the writing staff of Roseanne. Five years ago, he was homeless. This is his story.
If you declare, in a famous poem affixed to the Statue of Liberty, in New York Harbor, “Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me,” you might consider that a certain commitment has been made. (SLNYer)
“It’s a lot less embarrassing,” he says. “You don’t have to put yourself out there.” And unlike panhandling in Pensacola, using an app like Bitcoin Tapper won’t put him on the wrong side of the law. This past May, Pensacola — where Angle has lived since April — passed an ordinance that bans not only panhandling but camping on city property. -- Homeless, unemployed and surviving on bitcoins (and food stamps).
Songs from the Black Chair, published by Bellevue Literary Review in 2004, from a 2005 memoir by the same name, by Charles Barber
The idea is simple: Tens of thousands — possibly hundreds of thousands — of vacant, bank-owned homes are a large part of what is making the poorest neighborhoods of Chicago into semi-forsaken tracts ridden with crime and blight. So why not use them to house the homeless? [more inside]
Back in 1994, Mimi Haist was a volunteer at the BEST laundromat in Santa Monica. The then-struggling young comic Zach Galifianakis was a patron of that laundromat, and he and Mimi became friends. Flash-forward to 2011 when the now-successful Galifianakis learns that Mimi has become homeless. What does he do? Pays for her apartment and makes her his date at his movie premieres.
Street Children - Can you look them in the eye?
One man's attempt to rebrand Abercrombie & Fitch as "The World's Number One Brand of Homeless Apparel". SLYT
Political reporter John R Stanton (aka Big John) has been thinking about the gentrification of DC. Late last night, he tweeted up a story about DC in the old days, personified by a junkie named Raymond.
“My husband and I, our parents wanted better for us than what they had,” Bonnie says. “And it’s gone backwards.” [more inside]
A documentary about homeless teen Inocente Izucar wins the first Oscar ever awarded to a film financed in part through Kickstarter. Link is to her personal site, with a trailer video about her life.
Robert Lenkiewicz was a prolific and prodigiously talented (if unfashionable) painter, a self-styled outsider, and a philanderer rumoured to have slept with more than 3000 women. When he died, the embalmed body of a homeless man named Diogenes was found in a cupboard drawer in his studio. [more inside]
Homelessness activist Diane Nilan and progressive activist and former Green Party candidate Pat LaMarche are embarking on a tour around the southwestern US to call attention to homeless children and youth in crisis. [more inside]
The journey with no destination.
"We board in northwest London on a regular bus, with the intention of heading into the heart of the capital, where there is a much greater choice of night buses when it gets later and colder. By now the group seem to have fully accepted my presence and are keen to tell me about their lives. The most pressing question I have is: why? Why would you eschew safety and warmth and comfort for this? It turns out that while a couple of kids might be along for the ride, for most this is their only option.
A boy with huge brown eyes, who is so small he barely looks older than 12, tells me: “I’m allowed home in early mornings to have some food and change my clothes, but I have to be gone by the time my mum wakes up.” When I ask him why, he shrugs, as if the answer is forgotten or irrelevant."
Panhandling in Arcata tests the city's tolerance. 'Long known as the "Berkeley of the North," Arcata traditionally has welcomed the downtrodden, embraced the leftist fringe and fostered a live-and-let-live ethos.' 'But balancing the comfort of the haves with tolerance for the have-nots has come down to a complex question of just who is worthy of help.' 'Councilwoman Susan Ornelas reflected the community's torn conscience: "While we're a progressive town and we're very open-hearted," she said, "we have limits on our tolerance."' 'A report last fall by the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty found that slightly more than half of 234 cities surveyed had bans on aggressive panhandling, the same proportion had outlawed it in specific areas, and one-fourth forbade begging citywide.' [more inside]
Homeless on purpose, how a U1 philosophy student braves the elements, sleeps outside, and keeps an eye on his GPA Shane is a U1 Philosophy student at McGill, and has been homeless since July. He lives on campus, using its facilities like most of us use different rooms in a house. He eats his meals in student lounges and does push-ups in the library. He showers at the gym and stashes extra socks in convenient hiding spots. He won’t say where – he guards his possessions closely.
Seeing so many Occupiers getting evicted made me think of this short 1988 documentary by Nancy Kalow on homeless squatter punk teens in the Bay Area (warning:cringe-inducing rapping in the opening scene). From their stories, it seems as if they had free reign of the abandoned Berkeley Polytech building for a while. Readers of Cometbus who aren't from the Bay Area can see a bit of the scene he made sound so attractive. 1993 sequel, The Losers Club.
"I live next door to a house owned by Bank of America, and they are the worst neighbors I’ve ever had. The previous owner, Mike, was a good guy; he occasionally had loud parties, but we were always invited and the food was great. Then he was killed on the job. He had been single and had no will, so his house swiftly defaulted to the lender. More than three years later, that house is still empty." An essay on trying to fight off suburban decay, and the changing face of the margins of American society.
Vancouver aims to "end homelessness by 2015". Officials have been working over the years to reduce the city’s homelessness, and in July passed an ambitious plan that targets eliminating street homelessness by 2015 and creating nearly 40,000 new units of social, rental, and condo housing by 2021. The plan is aimed at building multiple types of housing to address shortages, but the first three years focus mainly on supportive and social housing. It calls for 3,650 units of such housing, 1,700 of which are already funded and in either the planning or construction phase. According to city councilor Kerry Jang, the need for this type of supportive housing has skyrocketed in recent years.
Transient Man. "Transient is a black comedy about a homeless man who's visions lead him to believe he is an inter-dimensional savior of humanity, on a mission to save the universe. Is he indeed the 'one', chosen by mystical divine forces to embark on a crusade against ultimate evil, or a hopeless lunatic, aimlessly wandering the streets of San Francisco? Transient is a spoof on the hero's journey that's part Men in Black, part Raising Arizona, flavored with liberal portions of Ghostbusters and John Steinbeck. It is a ballad to the city by the bay, and a heartfelt tale of the sacrifices one man will take for his love for his family, his friends, and all of humankind." [Via]
Safe Ground is an organization of Sacramento's homeless population to claim a secure location in order to live decently. While resistance to tent cities (previously, 2, 3) has largely been due to political expediency (criminalizing homelessness is easier than ending it), a spot on Oprah brought media attention to the plight of the homeless and made it more difficult for police to bully them from place to place with the threat of jail. In response to this, Costa Mantis(of He Knows You're Alone fame [uncredited on the wiki]) started filming the personal stories of the homeless along the American River in Sacramento. This led to Searching for Safe Ground, a miniseries concerning the struggle of Sacramento's homeless for a place to exist. Incidentally, a federal jury ruled tonight that the city of Sacramento has been violating homeless people's constitutional rights by moving them from public property and confiscating their property. Stay tuned.
Down and out in Toronto and New York: Freelance film critic Steven Boone recounts his experiences with the soup kitchens of Toronto and New York in First rate, second rate: In and out of the soup kitchens of Toronto and New York
SPENT is a flash game (or an immersive online experience depending on who you ask) that challenges players to survive poverty and see first-hand that homelessness is just a shortfall away. Created in partnership with Urban Ministries of Durham and containing scenarios commonly faced (pdf) by the working poor, it may not tell people anything they don't already know, but is a creative use of gaming and social media to raise awareness and bring in donors.
Daniel Mustard has had quite a year. From homelessness on the streets of New York, to singing Creep on Opie and Anthony's homeless shopping spree, to getting sober, to getting a record contract. Is this the American dream?
An ABC Investigative Unit team hit the streets of western Sydney, where young people are struggling to break a vicious cycle of unemployment and family breakdown, to find out what's being done to stop them from falling through the cracks. In a great article by ABC reporters Eleanor Bell and Ed Giles, they found that the lack of resources, infrastructure and support for families in these communities is getting worse, not better but that despite this, many locals are still proud of their community.
In a narrow plot next to the Los Angeles River, Charles Ray Walker, 59, has created a refuge of terraced slopes from toys and trash discarded by Angelenos.
It's his home away from homelessness.
It's his home away from homelessness.
Streets of Plenty is a documentary set in Vancouver's DTES of Corey Ogilvie's 31 day homelessness experiment whose thesis wasn't resolved until the 26th (and last) day. [more inside]
Invisible people. A multi-link Vimeo post. Mark Horvath gives homeless people a forum, removes their invisibility. (Via NPR's Weekend Edition)
An Olympic Tent Village has opened in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, on an empty lot currently being leased by the Vancouver Olympic Committee, in response to increasing homelessness in "Canada's most livable city", in spite of spending more than $6 billion on the 2010 Olympic Games. Mayor Gregor Robertson has stated that they won't be evicted - for now. [more inside]
In the 1980s, American Girl dolls became an obsession for many young girls. The early options were limited, but the "family" of dolls has expanded to have Native American, New Mexican, African-American, and Jewish girls represented. Reaching across to a new un-tapped demographic: American Girl has released a homeless doll. Gwen Thompson, the homeless girl, retails for $95.
After a spate of recent deaths, efforts to rehabilitate homeless chronic inebriates in Anchorage now include involuntary confinement. Other city-wide efforts include a mayoral decree that established homeless camps should be scattered. [more inside]
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