Tag Archives: homeless

The Entitled Homeless

16 Apr

The number of people experiencing homelessness is growing exponentially as we watch and witness homeless camps popping up in both urban and rural areas across the United States. The entitlement I see with this community is astonishing! I’ve noticed that people experiencing homelessness have the audacity to want to be treated as human beings and want access to food, shelter, clothing, and access to hygiene and the ability to just go to the bathroom. There is an expectation that they be recognized, seen as human beings, perhaps even deign to make eye contact.

Sadly, the culture that is well established here is that we have created a narrative that not only vilifies people who are homeless, but we have managed to vilify poverty and to create insurmountable barriers for some of the most vulnerable people in our communities. I also want to acknowledge the disproportionality of targeted communities that intersect with being homeless–the overrepresentation of the LGBTQ community and people of color.

What prompted me to write this article was a string of recent events I witnessed. On my way back from Medford, Oregon where I was doing an equity and inclusion workshop, I stopped at the Burger King to grab a bite to eat before heading back to Portland. While sitting in the restaurant eating my lunch, I saw a young man enter the building and go directly to the bathroom. (I had just used the bathroom and it only accommodates one person at a time, so one has to lock the door) Behind me, there was a man that I would guess was in his mid 50’s, white, heterosexual, cisgender, with a shirt that said “Jesus loves me.” This man threw a fit that the young man got to the bathroom before him. He threw such a tantrum that he started banging on the bathroom door and demanded the young man get out. He then proceeded to demand to see the manager of the restaurant where he went into a rage that was so loud everyone could hear him. He screamed at the manager: “There’s some homeless kid that ran into the bathroom and now he has locked himself in there–he has no business being in there and you need to get him out!”

Of course, this sparked my own rage and the need to intercede. As I watched the manager and now two other employees banging on the bathroom door, I approached the manager and explained that first, the man throwing the tantrum does not know if the young man is homeless or not, and that secondly and more importantly, he has the right to use the bathroom regardless. Homeless people have the right to go to the bathroom! I would love to say that the manager and the two employees heard me and backed away to allow this person to use the bathroom with a modicum of dignity. Most unfortunately, they did not.

Last week, I was doing an equity workshop in downtown Eugene, Oregon. I went to get a coffee at the Starbucks. There are a critical number of homeless people around this particular Starbucks. I needed to use the bathroom and — quite disturbing to me — one has to have a code to use the bathroom. It is very clear that this now common practice of putting coded locks on bathroom facilities is to prevent people who are homeless from having access. I must confess, this whole absurd barrier is more than just mind boggling for me, for it speaks to the ugliness of just how awful humans can be. Even more tragically, these painful examples relate to just one key challenge faced by those experiencing homelessness. Our nation’s apparent intent to dehumanize them fully adds burden after burden.

More disturbing is that because of the recent overhaul of the social structuring of the United States in the grotesque guise called the Tax Cuts, we can certainly expect the homeless population to increase. All of this begs the question of how do we care for our communities? How do we address systems that create such horrific disparities in wealth and the hoarding of wealth? How painfully ironic that Paul Ryan, one of the chief architects of the Tax Cuts/Reform, has announced that he will retire at the age of 48 after stealing safe retirement from millions, compounding the homelessness crisis. Until we can purge the inhumane from the halls of government, how can we hope to treat all people with humanity? How do we assert our individual and collective voices to remind those who work in government are civil servants–just a side note–the ship has sailed on Scott Pruitt, Paul Ryan, and most of the GOP in their understanding the notion what it means to be a civil servant.

Take Action: There are things all of us can do. Find a way to get involved with a shelter that provides services without conditions. Donate money to some of the following organizations: Sisters of the Road, Street Roots, and Central City Concern.

Paul Ryan’s Not-So-Charitable Activity

16 Oct

Well, something in this kitchen is dirty…

It’s not unusual for politicians at every level of government to look for opportunities to show off their good works. They’ll pose with underprivileged kids, pound in a few nails for Habitat for Humanity, speak at a charitable conference, all sorts of things. Some of the resulting photos and news stories show real commitment to social change, some are casual photo ops. Rarely, however, are such things as contrived and ill-conceived as Paul Ryan’s recent moment of let’s pretend.

Last Saturday, the VP hopeful was campaigning in Youngstown, Ohio. One of his stops was at a soup kitchen, where he rolled up his sleeves and pitched in. Sounds great, right? The problem is, the meals had been served, the clients were gone, and the dishes were clean and put away. Ryan bullied his way into the kitchen by pressuring a volunteer and had his picture taken [wait for it] washing a clean pan. Apparently there were no charities in Youngstown that actually needed hope at that moment. Besides, it’s so much nicer dealing with volunteers in a clean kitchen than actually handling food near the >gasp< poor!

Sadly, Ryan’s “out damned spot” moment takes an even darker turn. The Mahoning County St. Vincent De Paul Society that Ryan visited was not contacted by the Romney campaign ahead of the Saturday morning visit. Brian Antag, president of the Society, was aghast and alarmed because his organization prohibits participation in political events.

We’re a faith-based organization; we are apolitical because the majority of our funding is from private donations. It’s strictly in our bylaws not to do it. They showed up there and they did not have permission. […] I can’t afford to lose funding from these private individuals. For us to even appear like we’re backing somebody, it’s suicide.

Yes, you read that correctly. Paul Ryan bullied a volunteer to enter a facility without permission to wash a clean dish for a handy campaign photo. While doing so, he caused the facility to violate its bylaws and potentially put its funding at risk. Way to care for the needy, Rep. Ryan. It’s not as though we need more evidence of the callous disregard the Romney/Ryan ticket has for anyone outside their lily-white Randian pillars of “justice.” Sadly, the proof just keeps coming, and let’s face it, Romney/Ryan is a dirt that just won’t wash clean!

We Must Protect the Rich At All Costs (?)

24 Feb

Help Protect The Super Rich

“Hey, all of you jobless and soon to be homeless, can you spare a dime for the wealthiest of the wealthy?” It would seem that when Congress passed the law that protected the super rich from taxes for the next two years, they also sealed the fate for those that are middle class or lower. So is it really any surprise that the gap between rich and poor has widened into a chasm–that we continue to become a country of haves and have nots?  To add insult to injury, the current House of Representatives, controlled by John (He makes me cry) Boehner and his cadre of white cronies continue to introduce legislation that works AGAINST the American people. So much for civil servants. Yes, let’s eliminate social programs, social services, healthcare; let’s do everything in our power to make the poor even poorer. Most of us better get used to eating cat food soon.  When will we see the breaking point? When will we be inspired by the good working class of Wisconsin railing against the rich and health-insured GOP that has now proposed to use physical violence against the working class protesters?  When do we stop thanking the rich for raping us?  See the full article here.

Helping People in the Pacific Northwest…

9 Dec

In the wake of a disappointing and unfair admonishment from President Obama, this message from my friend Susan Stoltenberg is even more important.  Please look at this message for ImpactNW.

Republicans Blackmail Americans

6 Dec

Am I the only one enraged?  Does it feel like we are tolerating a bunch of school yard bullies (Republicans)?  So the deal on the table is: If you don’t extend the tax breaks to the millionaires, we won’t extend unemployment benefits.  Really?  Really?  Let me get my mind around this.  So we will not help:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

That crazy whacky Statue of Liberty and her stupid ideals of helping people.  Doesn’t she know we live in a Greedy Republican culture full of avarice and the need to protect the rich?  Can someone tell me how this bullying is not an indication of moral bankruptcy?

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