Tag Archives | Homelessness

Here’s What Happened When One City Gave Homeless People Shelter Instead of Throwing Them in Jail

(Disinfo carries some Brave New Films titles, check out Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price and Koch Brothers Exposed).

via Alternet:

Kilee Lowe was sitting in a park when cops picked her up and booked her into jail overnight.

After she got out the next morning, she returned to the park. The same officer who had thrown her into a cell not 24 hours before booked her again. It was back to jail for Kilee.

Kilee has been cycling in and out of the criminal justice system for years. After three and a half years in federal prison, she’s been homeless for a little over a year now.

“Just because I don’t have a credit card in my pocket,” she says, “does not make me a criminal.”

Kilee lives in one of hundreds of American cities that have criminalized homelessness. Sometimes the “crime” is loitering. Sometimes it’s panhandling.

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Thoughts of a Homeless Man

Homeless Veteran on the streets of Boston, MA

Homeless Veteran on the streets of Boston, MA

A fictional reflection on the realities of homelessness.

Meng-hu writes at hermit’s thatch:

Fictional, but based on an actual conversation, with the interlocutor here speaking.

I’ve been homeless for ten years. I made some mistakes and I paid for them, but I lost all my friends, and my family refused to ever see me again. Jobs are scarce; I have no skills of value to anyone. But like Siddhartha in the Hesse novel, I can think, I can wait, I can fast. Many days I go hungry. But I have infinite patience. And I can think, but usually think myself into a self-righteous and ethical stalemate.

I decided to give up trying to make it, you know, to give up trying to be a square peg — or is it round? It was just too hard: trying to pay rent or a mortgage, trying to pay insurance and debts, trying to guess what pleases people.

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This City Charges People $120 to Feed the Homeless

Abby Martin goes over some of the most egregious laws against the homeless and the different ways cities are dealing with the issue, citing Columbia, South Carolina’s mandatory fee to feed homeless people in parks, Osceola County, Florida’s 1000+ arrests of the same 37 people for panhandling and sleeping in public and San Francisco’s alleged hosing down of the homeless.

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Colombia’s Controversial Cure for Coke Addicts: Give Them Marijuana

via The Star tumblr_ly5xcsShwF1qap9uuo1_500

BOGOTA, COLOMBIA—Marijuana has long been accused of being a gateway to deadlier vices. But could cannabis be a swinging door that might also lead people away from hard drugs? That’s what this capital city is trying to find out.

In a controversial public health project, Bogota will supply marijuana to 300 addicts of bazuco, a cheap cocaine derivative that generates crack-like highs and is as addictive as heroin.

Bogota has 7,500 bazuco users among its 9,500 homeless population, said Ruben Dario Ramirez, director of the Center for the Study and Analysis of Coexistence and Security, which is spearheading the project.

Addicts are often driven to crime to support their habit, turning parts of this thriving city into bazuco wastelands where junkies huddle to smoke the drug. In the last three years, 277 homeless people have been murdered, he said.

For the most desperate users, the cannabis cure may be the only way out.

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The New Crime of Eating While Homeless

The Blind BeggarJim Hightower, writing at OtherWords:

Whenever one of our cities gets a star turn as host of some super-sparkly event, such as a national political gathering or the Super Bowl, its first move is to tidy up — by having the police sweep homeless people into jail, out of town, or under some rug.

But Houston’s tidy-uppers aren’t waiting for a world-class event to rationalize going after homeless down-and-outers. They’ve preemptively outlawed the “crime” of dumpster diving in the Texan city.

In March, James Kelly, a 44-year-old Navy veteran, was passing through Houston on his way to connect with family in California. Homeless, destitute, and hungry, he chose to check out the dining delicacies in a trash bin near City Hall. Spotted by police, Kelly was promptly charged with “disturbing the contents of a garbage can in the [central] business district.” Seriously.

“I was just basically looking for something to eat,” he told the Houston Chronicle.

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Dehumanization, Paternalism and Charity: On #FitchTheHomeless

86B24A42AJamie Utt writes at the Good Men Project:

The internet is in agreement: Fuck Abercrombie & Fitch.

The collective outrage has produced some fantastic responses.  My favorite comes from Amy Taylor who proclaims,

“I am proud to say that I may be a not-so-cool kid and the extra pounds I carry may not be a thing of beauty, but I am nothing like you or your brand — and that, Mr. Jeffries, is a beautiful thing.”

But inevitably, as is par for the course on the interwebs, there are going to be some responses that are less than fantastic, that despite good intentions, actually end up furthering oppression rather than combating it.

Enter the #FitchTheHomeless campaign.

I’ve seen a number of people posting this on Facebook and Twitter with captions like, “Awesome!” and “Perfect.” and “Brilliant!!”

But when a friend posted it to my timeline asking for my thoughts, I immediately was left with a pretty terrible taste in my mouth.

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Kansas City Police Uncover A Subterranean Suburb Inhabited By Homeless

subterranean suburb homeless campIn the coming years, expect living in the tunnel cities with the outlaws, rejects, and copper bandits to become an increasingly popular lifestyle option. From Kansas City’s KMBC:

Kansas City police uncovered an underground suburb used by the homeless on the city’s northeast side. KMBC’s Haley Harrison reported that a homeless outreach group said it was unlike anything they’ve ever seen. The subterranean refuge has caves and tunnels.

Police were evicting the homeless because of the squalid conditions. “We’re working to find out if in fact they’ve got kids down here because this is not a safe environment for that,” Cooley said.

Cooley told Harrison that he first went to the area because of a rash of crime. Police said copper thieves have repeatedly struck a nearby grain mill, most recently swiping a valuable piece of equipment and now millions of dollars worth of grain is in danger of going bad.

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Cops in Florida Go “Bum Hunting”

Picture: 83d40m (cc)

Another example of biased framing by the mainstream media: this is an Associated Press article, and most outlets have been running it under the headline “Homeless are a Challenge for Sarasota, Fla.” You know, as if the homeless are the problem as opposed to the people being given problems. The Washington Post, however, runs it with the more accurate and informative headline “Sarasota’s wealthy and homeless clash in Florida city’s downtown; ACLU has filed 5 lawsuits“:

On a recent sunny winter day on a downtown Sarasota street corner, a cluster of homeless men lounged on the back steps of a building, grimy backpacks and bags at their feet, while a few folks ambled to the nearby bus station.

Parked at a meter just feet from them was a red Ferrari and around the corner was Sur la Table, an upscale cookware store offering $400 juicers.

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How to be “Stealth” Homeless

Universal Squatting symbol from Wikimedia Commons“There, but for the grace of God, go I” goes the old canard, usually in reference to a disheveled homeless person, dressed in rags sitting on a street corner begging for change and smelling of b.o.

What you are seeing is the result not of homelessness, per se, but dysfunctionality in general, due to substance abuse, mental illness and a host of other contributing factors.

You may see homeless people everyday and never suspect them. Conversely, that panhandler on the street corner may not be homeless at all. But, perhaps, you have that fear in the back of your mind that such a fate could happen to you. Maybe you work a crappy job, living from pay check to paycheck “one paycheck away from living on the street” or maybe you remain in an abusive relationship in exchange for the security of a place to live. Perhaps you find yourself making the choices you feel forced to make rather than the ones you want to make.… Read the rest

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Arizona National Guard Hunted Homeless People With Paintball Guns

Another day, another story of Arizona military or law enforcement personnel terrorizing vulnerable segments of the civilian population. The Arizona Republic reports:

According to interviews with military officers and records obtained by The Republic, Arizona Army National Guard members over the past decade engaged in misbehavior that included sexual abuse, enlistment improprieties, forgery, firearms violations, embezzlement, and assaults [...and] hunting the homeless with paintball guns.

Thirty to 35 times in 2007-08, Sgt. 1st Class Michael Amerson, a former “Recruiter of the Year,” drove new cadets and prospective enlistees through Phoenix’s Sunnyslope community in search of homeless people.

Military investigators were told that Amerson wore his National Guard uniform and drove a government vehicle marked with recruiting insignia as he and other soldiers — some still minors — shot transients with paintballs or got them to perform humiliating song-and-dance routines in return for money. During some of these so-called “bum hunts,” female recruits said, they were ordered to flash their breasts at transients.

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