Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

June 4, 2009


Slumjack Homeless, Change - Here are my reasons for choosing to remain outdoors rather than go to the shelters (which I initially tried):

1. Shelters usually require that you enter early in the eve and then remain there until early the next morn when you must leave. This can totally waste hours of otherwise possibly productive time, just sitting around in unpleasant to worse circumstances -- and a time when every resource, including time, must be marshaled.

2. The shelters I've been to are designed to try to keep alcoholics, drug addicts and criminals from being able to do those things. I don't do those things, so the preventative measures simply needlessly and oppressively impose upon my own adult freedoms. Like going around the corner for a coffee in a cafe and looking for work or some other way to earn money using the wifi.

3. Literally imprisonment with some of the worst people. This is a lousy way to spend evenings and is counterproductive. Or worse.

4. Property Impracticalities - I have a bicycle with a trailer attached. This is a good solution to having to constantly carry around one's belongings. It's a lots more useful, and less unattractive than the stereotypical shopping cart, etc. However, shelters typically do not offer any kind of secure options for one's belongings, usually severely limiting how much one can even carry in. This forces people to a ridiculous minimum of belongings. . . one of the factors that actually contributes to perpetuating a person's homeless predicament.

Also, you don't want other people at shelters to see what you do own and have. There are many thieves that will then know what you're carrying around with you, many of whom you will run across later. . . at night, alone, etc.

5. The solution is the problem - Shelters are often euphemized as emergency shelter but the emergency is that you have nowhere else to just be and operate, so being at a shelter is the emergency. And being in that predicament, even with the help of merely having a lousy place to sleep indoors, a disgusting bathroom and a gesture of a meal - at best - just perpetuates your true problem.

While outdoors you can spend up until midnight or so at comfortable cafe's, with options to interact with intelligent and, possibly, helpful people. You can work on things that may actually afford a chance to get out of the jam. Use wifi etc. The price is that of some modest purchases, but then also having to find a place to sleep outdoors. This is becoming harder and harder to do, as cities virtually outlaw being homeless like that.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

from Michelle Shocked, the song is Streetcorner Ambassador, off the album Captain Swing:

The cop said "Move on or I'm gonna take you to the shelter"
She beat a quick retreat that's how he knew that he had helped her

Oh streetcorner ambassador it seems so clear to me
The more you are ignored it's called 'diplomatic immunity'

(Now if you find my money on the street you let it be
Consider it my joint account with one who really needs it...)

June 8, 2009 8:09 AM  

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