Monday, December 29, 2008

22 points of view: Homeless bloggers speak out

Once a year, at Christmastime, housed people give homeless people a little more thought-- and a little more charity-- than usual.

As appreciated as that charity is, the end of December and the beginning of the New Year is sometimes bitter and sometimes sweet for homeless people and their closest allies.

On or near the longest night of the year, cities and towns around the country commemorate the lives of homeless people who have died. The Nashville Homeless Power Project lost one of their own leaders this year so their memorial on Dec. 13 was especially poignant. The New Hampshire Under the Bridge Project has a list of people who have died in New Hampshire every year since 1994. This year's list has 36 names.

Many homeless groups are organizing and fighting back against community antipathy. In Sacramento CA, the People Project reports on a Deccmber 23rd march organized by the homeless themselves against discriminatory laws that make their lives miserable. Take Back the Land in Miami, FL is reveling in some good publicity about their movement, has been liberating public and foreclosed land and homes since 2006. The 13th Juror reports on a lawsuit filed in Laguna Beach CA charging the city with a campaign of harassment against homeless people. Ordinances prohibit homeless people from sleeping out anywhere within the city yet Laguna Beach only provides an overnight shelter between december and March. Save Feral Human Habitat is supporting an effort by the homeless and advocates to seek an extension to the city's planned January 23rd ordinance forbidding the city's homeless from sleeping out on the grounds they have nowhere else to go. Victoria BC,'s A Room of My Own is posting the minutes of organizing meetings to get a tent city established. But in the tradition of "One step forward, one step back," Chosen Fast lambasts Des Moines IO's destruction of wooden huts built by Hope Builders and the homeless themselves, because one of the huts was slightly damaged by fire.

Again, this time of year, homeless blogs pull their thoughts together to think about the policy-- and lack of policy-- that affects homelessness. Diane Nelin at Invisible Homeless Kids discusses a new report on the increase in child and youth homelessness. Wandering Vets has the 2nd part of an in-depth look at homeless veterans. SLO Homeless has a painful look at increasing family homelessness. The Ontario Coalition Against Poverty analyzes how Ontario's government "has led the way in the deterioration of income adequacy for people on assistance. "

Is passing out $13,000 in $10 bills to residents of LA's Skid Row doing people any good? Joel John Roberts at LA's Homeless Blog doesn't think so, and he explains why. Tim Harris at Apesma's Lament remarks on how policymakers just have to stay positive about the progress being made to end homelessness, even when they have to stretch the truth, and the Homeless Family's Blog isn't buying the line that homelessness is decreasing, either.

Last but not least, this is at least one time of the year when homeless people allow themselves to wax philosophical about the ending of the old and the beginning of the new. At The Adventures of Homeless Girl, the author thinks about the pursuit of happiness and what it takes to catch it. Kevin Barbieux at The Homeless Guy is not feeling too good about his life these days. Jamie's Big Voice from London has a poem to share, as does an anonymous author at Stone Soup Station. Ryan Garou at On Homelessness in America looks at an article about how to democratize powerwhile Homeless in Abbotsford BC explores the idea of generosity. Finally, the author of Homeless Man Speaks posts the plain words of his homeless friends and paints a picture with them.
Please take the time to learn something directly from homeless people by visiting these incredible blogs. Remember that thoughtful comments are always appreciated. It means somebody is listening.

Photos: Tony shoveling snow from Homeless Man Speaks; mourners from Nashville Homeless Power.


Caty said...

Thanks for this, Michaelann. I've been gobbling up quite a bit of "The Homeless Guy" blog, which I would never otherwise have discovered.

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