Tag Archives | Homelessness

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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Philadelphia Bans Serving Food To The Homeless In Public

 Municipalities around the country feel that the homeless have had it too easy for too long. Via NPR:

A growing number of cities want to tackle the problem of homelessness by outlawing what are known as “acts of daily living” — sleeping, eating and panhandling in public. In Philadelphia, a new rule is targeting not the homeless but those who feed them.

When Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter announced the ban on serving food in public parks last March, he said moving such services indoors was part of an effort to raise standards for the homeless.

But many advocates for the homeless are skeptical. “We do feel that communities are really, really frustrated with repeated efforts to end homelessness that have been quite unsuccessful,” says Neil Donovan, the executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless.

“But we push back and say, you know, that doesn’t mean that you simply throw your hands in the air and make criminals out of homeless people.” Donovan says around 30 cities have restricted food sharing in some way.

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Homeless Man in Texas Finds $77,000, Gets to Keep It

Reports Ashley Jennings on ABC News:
A Texas city council ruled this week that a homeless man who found $77,000 worth of gold collectible coins and $100 bills in a river could keep his treasure. Bastrop City Council voted 6–0 Tuesday night that the money Timothy Yost found while washing his feet in the Colorado River Jan. 18 belonged to him. The city has had possession of the money since that time. “It was a considerable sum of money, and we anticipated it would draw a fair amount of attention,” Bastrop Mayor Terry Orr said. “The city could have kept the money, because no one came forward to claim it, but we elected not to do that. It’s clearly Mr. Yost’s.” Yost, 46, said he was close to Fisherman’s Park when he found the money in a bag. He told police he’d kicked it, and the bag made a weird sound. When he opened it up, he found 70 $100 bills and 40 Krugerrand gold coins from South Africa inside...
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A Third Of Homeless People Are Obese

Photo: David Dennis (CC)

Photo: David Dennis (CC)

How do homeless people have enough food to become obese? It seems something of a paradox, until you look at the processed junk they eat. Via CNN:

Obesity is a widespread epidemic, even among the homeless.

While the popularized image of a homeless individual is one of skin and bones, a new study shows the reality is not so. One in three (32.3%) homeless individuals in the United States is obese, highlighting a hunger-obesity paradox.

The paradox is that hunger and obesity can exist in the same person. And although a person may be overweight or obese, he or she can lack proper nutrition.

Nutrition is a daily challenge for homeless people, as the foods they manage to get are often full of preservatives and high in sodium, fats and sugars. They may not have access to healthier options like fresh fruits and vegetables.

“It’s the lowest socio-economic group who has the biggest obesity problem,” said Paul Montgomery, one of the authors of the study published in the Journal of Urban Health.

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There Are 24 Empty Houses for Every Homeless Person in America

Homeless PeopleLloyd Alter writes on Treehugger:
That is what the census says. Andrew Leonard in Salon notes that it is a bit misleading, that "4.7 million are for "seasonal use" only, the Census tells us — unoccupied vacation homes, in other words. 4.1 million are for rent, 2.3 million are for sale, and the remaining 7.5 million "were vacant for a variety of other reasons." The census also lists the total number of homeless in America as 759,101, so there are 24 empty houses for every homeless person in America. What a shocking mis-allocation of resources, materials and energy ...
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