Saturday, August 31, 2013

Return To Homelessness


Yes, I was evicted from my apartment. I knew the eviction was coming, so I had planned this out a bit in advance. There really was no point in trying to fight the eviction. I was ready for a change anyway. It's time for a new start, and a return to living with a purpose.

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Cayce Homes Conundrum

Whenever the city announces that it's going to tear down a crime filled neighborhood I cannot help but think it's a good idea - for a while anyway.   Thinking deeper about the consequences, I don't feel so positive about it.  Such a thing really is a mixed bag.

The demolition and "revitalization" of the Cayce Homes, one of Nashville's largest and most notorious "Projects" (where many of the city's poor and disadvantaged are sequestered),  has been known of for some time.  What was revealed in this morning's Tennessean, about the city's plans for the area, was a surprise.

A few years ago, with the help of a Hope VI grant, another such crime ridden "Projects" was demolished and replaced with very nice townhome style apartments.   Improving the look and condition of the housing units was enough to transform that neighborhood and the people living there.   One problem, though, was that the new design eliminated several units, making it less crowded.  But that also meant that many residents were displaced, making them vulnerable to homelessness.

With the announcement that Cayce Homes was going to be demolished, a few advocates and community organizers became involved, creating a citizen's group of current Cayce Homes residents that would stand up for the rights of everyone who lived there.  Their main concern was the potential loss of housing units, causing even more of the already marginalized to become vulnerable to homelessness.

Then today, the article in the Tennessean says that developers are looking to potentially triple the number of new housing units, over what is currently there.    (I sure as I read this, my head turned to the side, like a dog does when it hears an unfamiliar sound.)

Cayce Homes is already a highly dense neighborhood, and no doubt it has contributed to the crime rate there.  What the residents need there is less density, without losing the number of housing units.   The developers are implying that their particular plan, though it increases density, will not negatively affect the residents.   I'd like to see proof of that.

I've been around long enough to know some of how local, good-ol'-boy politics works in Nashville.  Whatever the city show the public with one hand, you've got to know that something else is going on in its other hand, something that they aren't showing the public.

Here is what I think.   Directly across the river from the Cayce Homes is another notorious "Projects" neighborhood.   Due to other recent developments, the Napier Projects now sits in close proximity to an area of down slated for major redevelopment - high end townhomes and the like.    My educated guess is that the city plans to eventually move everyone out of the Napier Projects and relocate them to the expanded Cayce Homes.    Then the "poor" people will no longer be anywhere near the wealthy people whom the city hopes will move into the fancy townhomes and lofts, etc.

Here is the article in the Tennessean.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Memorial For Homeless People


It was the National Coalition for The Homeless that promoted the idea of  an annual "Homeless Memorial Day".   They chose December 21st (the first day of winter) as the day on which to hold the memorial, so to highlight the hardships of living outside.    In Nashville, that particular day usually doesn't disappoint, providing some of the coldest and dreariest weather.

The Memorial is held in honor of those people who had died during the past year while homeless.  Every year in Nashville, between 30 to 50 people die on the streets.

For several years, Nashville participated in the Homeless Memorial Day.  Then the person who usually headed up the organizing of that event moved out of town and no one else stepped up to fill his shoes.   There has been some recognition of that day with varied levels of success, but it's not been the same since.

Homeless people die on the streets for a variety of reasons.  Sometimes their deaths are directly related to life on the streets, sometimes not.  Suicide rates are particularly high among homeless people.  So too is liver disease.  Cancer hits the homeless as well.   Some deaths are accidental.   Some homeless people are murdered.  Sometimes it's homeless-on-homeless crime, sometimes people with homes decide to hurt people who don't have homes.

I have witnessed such things.  Three young men, apparently in their 20's, are walking back to their hotel after a night of drinking in the Honky Tonks on lower Broadway.  They come across an old man trying to sleep on a heating grate near the library.   Something didn't look right about these three, so I began to approach them, though I was several yards behind them.  I could hear them talking.  They are deciding as to what to do about the old man trying to sleep.  They laugh and joke, and then one of them says, "maybe we should  just kick his ass".

By then I've caught up with them.  I recognize the old may trying to sleep.  He's in his 60's, an alcoholic, a guitar "picker" who once played with the likes of Bill Monroe and Hank Williams.

I caught up with the three before they did anything.  I started talking to them.  I tried to reason with them.   I asked them what good it would do to hurt the old man.  Nothing they said made sense, although they all seemed to be in agreement.  To them, the old man "needed" it.   Homeless people need to be beat up, was their consensus.

Then their attention turned away from the old man and to me.  Suddenly I was being threatened.  "I think I could take you on," said one of them to me.  I considered my options and began to back off. After a tense minute, they backed off too.  They now knew of my presence.  I would be a witness to whatever they did.  They gave up on the old man and started back towards their hotel.

This all took place about 2am.  I went to a separate hotel and asked the guy at the desk to call the police.  It took the cops 20 minutes to show up.  And though I pointed out the hotel to them, the cops did nothing about it. (yes, in Nashville, just threatening to hurt someone is a crime.)

There was no real logic to what they had set out to do.  But, that didn't seem to matter to them either.

7 years ago, some friends were drinking at home when they decided it would be a good idea to drive into town and teach some homeless people a lesson.   They eventually came upon a young woman asleep on a river dock.  While she slept they rolled her off the dock and she fell into the fast moving current of the river.   She cried for help.  Someone tried to help her, the culprits ran off.   The river dragged her underneath a barge and she drowned.  

The search for her body went on for a couple days.  By then it was suspected that she was under the barge.  Still, politics and people's general opinion about the homeless being what they are, it was seven days until the city moved the barge.  And there they found her body.

Conversations amongst the homeless would come up occasionally about having a permanent memorial to all those who died on the streets.   The city has many such memorials for all sort of people.  Those who have died in war, people who died as cops.  But, you know, cities don't really like to  admit that homeless people even exist, let alone admit that homeless people deserve a modicum of respect and dignity.   Most people dismissed the idea as ridiculous.  Certainly no one would take the idea seriously.

Well, a few homeless people, lead mostly by Howard Allen, a chronically homeless man, were serious enough to pursue the idea, would not give up on it.   Seven years to the date of Tara Cole's drowning, a small memorial was dedicated to her, and to all the homeless who have perished on the streets of Nashville.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Ads and Formats

I'm sure you've noticed the recent addition of advertisements here on The Homeless Guy.  Everyone else has them, why not me?   To tell you the truth, when adsense first became available, about 10 years ago, I gave ads a try, and I was summarily disqualified from using them ever again, (on the account that I used to originally set up this blog).

How did I become disqualified?

It was stupid really, the owners of google and adsense, were very afraid of offending and losing their advertising clientele, and afraid of abuses of their system, so they created some very harsh and draconian rules regarding how the ads could be shown, and used.   If you violated one of their several rules, your account with adsense and all blogs associated with it would be disassociated from adsense forever.  The adsense policy was also to never discuss why adsense cut you off.  There was nothing you could do, no one you could talk to, nothing you could change or fix to make things right.   Well, after the intial success of The Homeless Guy, I played around with other blog themes.  

Like many other people at the time, I was interested in Texas Hold'em Poker.  And so I started blogging about the game.  This evidently put me in violation of the adsense rule that their ads could not appear on any gambling web sites.   No one was gambling on my blog, I was just writing about the game.   But that was enough to have my account cut off forever.  Oh, there's nothing like robot crawlers making administrative decisions.

Well, that was ten years ago, and things have certainly changed.  And though my original account is still not able to host adsense ads, there are certain recently added blogger administrative options available that allows for ads.  Hooray!

It looks like I'll be earning between 15 and 30 dollars a month with these ads, and I could certainly use the money.  I hope you don't mind these ads, and that they are not too distracting.

Another thing I talked about in a recent post was that I was changing the format of this blog.  Well I did for a while, but I have since learned that the ads don't work on that new format.    Although that new format doubles the number of my page views, that increase isn't doing me any good without the ads to go along with it.   So, this blog is back to it's old format.   Sorry for the confusion.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Homeless Population Confusion

Counting the number of homeless people in the United States is difficult at best, and those whose job it is to count the homeless say that census efforts are inaccurate due to the nature of people having no fixed residence.   Estimates of this error are significant.    Counters believe they could be missing 25% to 50% of the total homeless population.   This is why we still have no clear idea of how many citizens are homeless.

There has been a good bit of buzz around a recent article appearing in the Atlantic.   In this article, the National Alliance for Ending Homelessness is quoted as saying the homeless population has recently been reduced by 17 percent.   It sounds like good news, but I wonder about its accuracy, given the difficulty of determining the total number of homeless to begin with.   It is true, though, that many chronically homeless people have been taken off the streets and put into housing in the past few years.  This is due to the efforts of those cities participating in HUD's Housing First program.  Many of the most vulnerable citizens in our cities are now living in stable environments.   Still, the Housing First program has had no affect on the rest of the homeless population.   Hundreds of thousands of people are still living on the streets of America every single night.

And I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but from all I've seen, homelessness is still on the increase.  I just checked google news and searched on the key words "homeless increase."  There I found several articles from across the nation declaring that their homeless populations were growing, and that shelters are having a hard time meeting the increased demand.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The New Direction In Homeless Services

Things are most definitely changing in the homeless service provider industry.  Even those who are reluctant to change are reconsidering how they provide their services.   Evidence is mounting that some approaches to homelessness are better than others.  There is new hope for homeless people.

Of course many obstacles still remain in the way, obstacles that slowly but surely will be removed, or lessened, as progress continues to be made.   Public sentiment is perhaps the biggest obstacle, considering that, as the public thinks, so do politicians act.  And most often it is the politicians who control the purse strings of the city.   Making changes to social services is expensive and requires significant funding.   Of course the investment in the new programs for the homeless will pay off great dividends, mostly with a large reduction of the homeless population.   As for public sentiment, there is still much anger, mistrust, and fear directed at homeless people.  And because of this, the public in general believes that homeless people are not deserving of any help.  This mindset towards the homeless must be challenged, must change.  Much of the hate and fear of homeless people is undeserved.   But even if it was, the hate filled response by the public is unproductive.

Although homelessness has been a part of the American landscape for a hundred years or so, it has only been in the past decade that serious examination of homeless services, and their effectiveness, has been studied in earnest.    Data is now being collected in a nation wide computer program most often referred to as HMIS (Homeless Management Information Systems).   And it is from analyzing the data in this system that scientists are able to determine, AND PROVE, which types of services for the homeless work best.

Of course, (I say, "of course" a lot, I know) - but of course in determining what works best, we must decide what the actual goals of homeless services should be.  And there is some disagreement among service providers as to what those goals are.  That too is a big obstacle to overcome.   The biggest and most prolific type of service provider is that which is faith based - churches mostly - conservative fundamentalist churches mainly.  In the faith based homeless service industry, often the primary goal is not to end homelessness, but to create converts to their particular version of faith.  As the recently retired director of the Nashville Rescue Mission was often quoted as saying, 'my job is not to end homelessness but to lead the lost to Christ.'    Don't get me wrong, leading people to a soul saving and personal relationship with Jesus is a noble cause, but it does seem to conflict with the process of ending homelessness.     The majority of homeless  people can overcome their homelessness on their own in less than 6 months time, but most faith based rescue missions require a commitment to their rehabilitation programs of a year or more.  When homeless people sign on to such programs, these rescue missions are affectively extending the person's homelessness for a much longer period than it needs to be.  And thus seems to be doing a disservice to the homeless and the rest of the community.      Many people will say and do things under duress, that they wouldn't normally do.   But the stress of being homeless, as well as the coercion that often takes place within rescue missions, causes many homeless people to accept the offer of a mission's rehab program.  (Wouldn't it be more Christ-like to get homeless people out of homelessness first, and then try to convert them to the faith?   At least then you'd know if there was an honest conversion and not just seeds throw on rocky soil.)`

It has been proven that the faith based rescue mission approach to homelessness, for all the good work that it does do, (feeding, clothing, and sheltering the homeless), it has almost no affect on actually ending homelessness.

It is time for everyone to get on the same page regarding ending homelessness.  Harassing the homeless, either by way of the general population berating the homeless, or by way of law enforcement's excessive ticketing and jailing homeless people for minor offenses such as trespassing, has been proven to be ineffective.    It would benefit everyone if all that time, energy, and funding, was redirected towards supporting those methods and services that have actually been proven to reduce homelessness.    If we all get on the "let's reduce the homeless population" bandwagon, eventually homelessness will be eradicated.

For more information about what those new methods are, contact http://endhomelessness.org http://orgcode.com and http://usich.gov

Saturday, August 24, 2013

What Homeless People Need, What Homeless People Receive

What Homeless People need could be divided into three categories.  Each is essential in its own right, yet if one category goes unfulfilled, efforts to fulfill the other needs will be pointless, that is, if the ultimate goal is to end homelessness.
  • Immediate Short Term Needs
These are the obvious, most recognizable needs.  These are the needs that most people fulfill, when they decide to help the homeless, especially when they don't have an extensive knowledge of homelessness
.
Food, water, clothing, toiletries and temporary shelter, temporary showers, etc.  These things can often be found in abundance at homeless service provider facilities.

  • Transitional Needs
These are the needs which take a homeless person from the streets to a place of his/her own.   They include a wide range of services, not all of which are needed by all homeless people, but all will certainly be needed by some homeless people.    Case management, psychiatric therapy, medical  and dental services, transportation, life skills development, and eventually housing.   Housing could be considered a subset of transitional needs, as it comes with its own unique list of needs, such as: a bed and linen, kitchen supplies such as pots, pans, can opener, utensils, detergents, soap, more toiletries and clothing, etc., rental assistance, and eventually employment.  These things are much harder to come by than the immediate short term needs items.  These things usually have to asked for, specifically, before they are made available.  They can usually be found, but it takes a concerted effort from case managers and the like.

  • Community Connection Needs
This last category is the clincher.  It's what makes all the previous efforts to help the homeless person worthwhile.  It is crucial at this point to create for the homeless person a community for him/her to belong to, one that accepts the homeless person, and one that the homeless person also accepts.  You know, friends. Without this community connection, homeless people will remain vulnerable to homelessness.  Recidivism is high among those who escape homelessness yet never develop healthy community connections.

People who are willing to help the homeless will supply the first category in abundance.   And, with a special call for needs, they'll help out with the second category.  Yet, even the most helpful people seem to have a difficult time fulfilling the needs of community for the homeless.  It's not that they lack the ability, it's more like their compassion hits a wall that they cannot overcome.  They cannot bring themselves to be that personally involved.  The intimacy and vulnerability that comes with being true friends with another person is just too much for most people to commit to, when working with the homeless.   Usually the first issue that homeless people face, after getting into their own place is a sense of loneliness.  They need a new community, but all they have is their old friends from the streets.  It is common to see newly housed people hanging out on the streets.  But what other option do they have?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Homeless People Are Lazy (not really)

Many people believe it.  Might even be that a majority of people believe it - that the homeless are lazy.   Of course nothing could be further from the truth.  But truth won't stop most people from talking badly about them, and the homeless have not the opportunity to defend themselves against such accusations.

Just trying to survive while being homeless is exhausting, not only phyiscally, but psychologically and spiritually as well.    Being homeless means having only one or two meals a day, it means suffering from sleep deprivation, it means suffering rejection and loneliness, it means the rest of society will think and say all sorts of cruel, unjust, and untrue things about you, it means that almost everyone will reject you from serious employment solely for being homeless, it means that regardless of how difficult homeless life is, people will assume that making life even more difficult will benefit the homeless somehow.   

It is fascinating how the authorities, and others, will take away homeless people's opportunities to be rested, fed, and sheltered, and then turn right around and blame (usually with arrest) homeless people for trying to get rest (sleeping in parks etc), trying to eat (dumpster diving, begging, etc), and trying to find shelter (in parking garages, abandoned warehouses, etc.)     Not having access to proper rest, food, shelter, etc., deteriorates a person's mind, body and soul.   Being harassed by the cops and shop owners only makes matters worse.

To be living in this condition, and then taking on the demands of a job, requires a great deal of strength.   If society wishes for the homeless to be gainfully employed, and adequately housed, it would behoove society to lighten the burdens homeless people have to deal with, instead of adding to them.

Still, it goes on.  Sometimes the name calling is outright.  "Look at those lazy bums."  Other times it's more back handed, "if only they'd make an effort, they could get themselves out of that situation."   Without actually knowing what they're talking about, these people do more harm, than good, with their judgmentalism.   They create a society that feels justified in treating the homeless unfairly.

Science is something that I mention quite regularly, and which I will talk about with more frequency.   Science has a way of cutting through the crap and revealing the truth of things which is often denied.

More and more, science is discovering that "laziness" isn't what people assume it is - a character flaw.  Lethargy (a lack of energy and enthusiasm) is mostly a symptom of mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.    So, sometimes, when you see a homeless person who doesn't appear to be "busy", more than likely it is because he is plain tired.  If not tired, the lethargy you see in homeless people is most likely due to mental health issues that require professional attention.

When people are happy and healthy, they are naturally busy and energetic.   When meaningful and productive work is not available, people will naturally lose their enthusiasm.  But, when work is plentiful, and workers are fairly compensated for their efforts, their happiness and enthusiasm increases for every aspect of life, including employment.

The onus is then on society, and those movers and shakers who form our society, to create the framework that makes employment a meaningful and productive experience.    Sadly, in today's world, a man can work a full time job and still not be able to support himself.

Lastly, I want to say that "Lazy" is a very subjective term.  There is no measurement that can accurately define it. To apply the word to people you don't know is an act of bigotry and judgmentalism.  As for you Christians out there, you'd do well to remember that Jesus wasn't fond of people judging each other.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Getting Homeless Poeple Off The Streets Makes For A Better City

The following was written by Will Connelly, Director of The Metro Homelessness Commission in Nashville.  It appeared originally in The Tennessean.

On June 4, our community launched How’s Nashville, a collaborative effort to end chronic homelessness. On day one of this grass-roots housing campaign, two people who had collectively experienced homelessness for more than 38 years finally signed leases, received keys and unlocked doors. These two survivors were the first of dozens to find housing over the past 79 days.

How’s Nashville is keeping track of the days. We set a very specific, time-limited and almost unreachable goal on June 4 to house 200 people in 100 days. Many people, including some very dear friends and colleagues, thought we were crazy and probably would fail. Some drank the Kool-Aid and were sure we would succeed, and would get upset if failure was even mentioned. Others were just happy that someone finally set a clear, measurable goal around homelessness in Nashville.

Today is day 79 of the 100-day campaign, and 120 people who were experiencing chronic homelessness are in permanent housing. September 12 is the final day of the 100-day housing push, which means we have a lot of work to do to meet our housing goal of 200 people. We may need another Music City miracle to get there.

Whether we reach our 100-day goal or not, I find comfort in knowing that more people are in housing because we decided to challenge ourselves and work together toward a common goal and purpose. Before How’s Nashville, an average of 19 people experiencing chronic homelessness were documented leaving the streets for permanent housing each month. In the first 60 days of this housing campaign, that average jumped to 54 people per month.

The “system” that attempts to provide housing and homeless services has improved as well because of the campaign. MDHA decided to prioritize Section 8 vouchers to the most vulnerable people, private landlords are dramatically discounting rents, and more than a dozen agencies and organizations are meeting every week to share strategies, solve problems and celebrate successes. Nashville never has seen this level of collaboration among social service agencies.

The point of the 100-day housing campaign is not the final number of people who find housing. The point is to create a sense of urgency around systems-change in Nashville, and no matter what number we end up reaching, no one can argue that Nashville hasn’t changed for the better.

More than 100 vulnerable people experiencing homelessness are now comfortably in their own homes. We have built an engine to sustain the improvements after day 100. But, the 100th day hasn’t come and gone just yet. Seventy more people need to find housing by Sept. 12. With a little additional help, we still can meet our goal.

We need more landlords, especially those accepting Section 8 housing vouchers. We provide intensive support to the new tenants to help make their new housing a home and to increase the chances that housing stability is achieved. But we need more landlords to give people who have been struggling on the streets a second chance. How’s Nashville partners know that housing is a precious resource. If you set aside an apartment for our campaign, we will make it worth your time, and Nashville as a whole will benefit from your willingness to join a communitywide collaboration that will change our city for the better of all its residents.

Will Connelly is the director of the Metropolitan Homelessness Commission and leads the How’s Nashville effort. To reach him, please call his office at 615-880-2360.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Homeless Shelter Licensing


The licensing of homeless shelters is a good idea.  It is happening in other cities.  There's no good reason why the city of Nashville shouldn't regulate its shelters as well.

I can think of two very good reasons, right off the bat, as to why the homeless shelters in Nashville should be required to get city approval to operate by way of a license through metro or state codes.   First, the city should assure that all homeless people are treated with a modicum of respect and dignity, being that such is a necessity in every homeless person's recovery.  And Second, those people who wish to open a shelter for the homeless should have that right, so long as they meet certain minimum requirements and standards as set forth by the city or state.

There are shelters in Nashville whose practices are questionable at best.  They are run by professional non-profit profiteers.  These profiteers create an official 501 (c) 3 program, allowing people to donate money to them.  They then pocket most of the money for themselves, all while providing a bare minimum of services to the homeless.   And there are some shelters that purposely refuse funding from any government source, solely for the fact that they can then avoid any government oversite and accountability.   With making it a requirement that all shelters be licensed, every shelter will have to answer for how they run their shelters.   If hospitals and nursing homes and mental health facilities are required to be licensed, then certainly homeless shelters should be licensed too.

There are many people, many organizations that would like to be of help to the homeless but are unable to provide them with shelter, because current codes presents too many obstacles.  The laws tell them what they can't do, but does not provide any information of what they can do.   With a licensing procedure in place, these groups could access the qualifications before getting started, and they will know at what point they will meet government approval.   And once they have gained approval, they can focus on their work for the homeless without worrying about being constantly harassed by city officials.

Homelessness can no longer be swept under the rug.  It's time that our communities deal with the issue in a forthright manner..  It's time for all of us to work towards ending homelessness, instead of just hiding it, or hiding from it.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Google +1 Me, Pease

Looking around this blog you'll see the G+1 tabs. If you like my posts, please click on those. The G+1 in the right hand column up top is for this blog in general. From what I understand every time someone clicks on those G+1 tabs, this blog ranks higher in Google's algorithm, making my posts and this blog easier or people to find. So, please, if you like what I'm doing here, please click away, to your hearts content.

Identity Crisis by Iain de Jong

Iain, who runs http://orgcode.com understands homelessness, the issues that homeless people and homeless service providers face, better than anyone.   And he's got some good ideas on how to fix these problems too.  I encourage everyone to pay close attention to what he has to say on every homelessness issue.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Big Problem With Homelessness

The big problem with homelessness is that the "programs," and other services currently being used to help the homeless, are about as advanced and effective as bloodletting is to cure cancer.   Science has only just begun studying this new human condition we call homelessness.   And what little that is known is being ignored and silenced by the majority of people who would rather pass moral judgment on homeless people than seek out a scientific understanding.   The solutions to homelessness are not going to be found in churches or jail cells or government bureaucracies, but in institutions of higher education.  Scientists, psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists, etc., these are the people who could discover real cures to homelessness, if only we allow them.  But currently, they are not involved, and no one is yet willing to involve them in the search for a cure.

The War On Compassion

COMPASSION - it means making a sacrifice for someone else's benefit.

You better believe it, the war on compassion is real.   Just look at how the majority of politicians and their business minded constituents react to issues of compassion.  For that matter, look at how conservative Christians act towards people in need of compassion.  One would think that the Constitution required citizens to be hypocrites.

It's pretty obvious that Corporations have become the defacto rulers of the United States.   Money is power, and Corporations have most of it.   They have made politicians their henchmen, they have made conservative minded citizens, (including most of the Bourgeoisie class) their minions.

A couple decades ago it was made clear that Corporations were less than altruistic.  Hell, they were exposed as being less than moral, less than ethical, when they adopted the motto - "Greed is good for America" - if not in word, certainly by deed.  This motto, turned mantra, has served the Corporations well, as they continued achieving record profits, while the rest of the world suffered from an extended economic depression.    Yes, the quote is originally from the movie "Wall Street" (1987).  Though a fictional movie, it was highly praised for its realistic portrayal of Wall Street types.  Since the movie came out, a great many discussions have been held on this concept that greed is good.

Well, the "Greed is good" mantra has been a round a long time.  And as Corporations are known for always looking to improve on previous success, never being satisfied with yesterday's success, they have taken the next step by declaring that "compassion is bad."  Of course they are wise enough to not come right out and say it,  but their actions certain speak louder.

As part of the "greed is good" mentality, corporations have, for the past couple decades, been actively acquiring every media outlet in the country.   Corporations learned a while back that media has a great deal of influence over the culture of America, public opinion is easily swayed by what appears in movies, on tv, in newspapers and magazines, and on the radio.  No longer are Corporations content with making a profit, now they are on an endless quest to maximize profits.  They hold to the idea that any action that increases profits is ethically acceptable.   And that includes manipulating the opinions and mindset of the population via media.

Corporations believe that compassion hinders the growth of profits.   Always seeking new ways of increasing their revenue, they see money going to churches and hospitals and charities and they work to get that money into their own pockets instead.   They take every tax loophole they can, and successfully avoid paying any taxes.   Part of this is to encourage the government to get out of the charity business, as it would lower their own small tax burden even further.

Here's a scenario to consider.   Every citizen knows that most purchases they make will include a sales tax and they willingly pay that tax, considering it the price of obtaining the item they want.   People know that if say they buy something with a $1000 price tag that they will actually be paying $1100 for it.   Corporations know what consumers are willing to pay for items, and hike the price of items up as high as possible without negatively effecting sales.   Now, it would behoove Corporations to have governments lower or even remove taxes all together.  Corporations could then price a $1000 dollar item at $1100 because they know people are willing to pay it.  Instead of that extra one hundred dollars going into the tax coffers, it would go into their pockets instead.

But the money that goes into the tax coffers pays for the infrastructure of our cities.   Without this infrastructure our cities would fail to function properly, if at all.  Take a look at Detroit as a perfect example of this.  (Actually, the auto makers could have stayed in Detroit, but they decided that they didn't want to share their profits with their employees.)  As cities fall to the wayside, Corporations just move on to the next city to exploit.   And now that most Corporations are multinational organizations, once the entire U.S. goes by the wayside, they will just move on to other countries to exploit.   One of the reasons that Corporations have such sway over the office of President, is that if Corporations don't get what they want from government, they can threaten to move their operations to another country, which would cripple the U.S. economy.

But I digress, somewhat. 

Although donations to non-profit organizations are up, donations to charities that traditionally help the impoverished are down, significantly.   You see, not every tax crediting "non-profit" is a traditional charity.   For example, many exclusive country clubs that cater to the wealthy are designated as non-profit organizations.  To receive tax exempt status, an organization only has to prove that it exists for the benefit of a segment of the population, not necessarily for the benefit of the poor.   So today we have the wealthy still donating to non-profits so to get their tax deductions, but they are  also creating non-profits that only benefit themselves.

Because of this the number of poor people in need of help (in need of compassion) is ever increasing, and the amount of money available to help these people is ever decreasing.    If this trend continues,  the number and scope of social problems in this country is going to rapidly increase.   Corporations understand this.  They just don't care.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Should People Give Money To Panhandlers?

I have written about this before, but it's been a while.  It's good to get this information out as much as possible.  This post came about when reading a recent article on another blog about the same subject. http://www.homelesshub.ca

There is even more to consider when deciding whether to give to a panhandler.   Not only are you enabling an addiction, know too that you will be enabling the antisocial behavior that coincides with inebriation.     The majority of crime committed against homeless people by other homeless people happens when they are intoxicated.  Know that when you give money to a panhandler, and he uses that money for alcohol or other drugs, he is much more likely to become belligerent, will start fights with other homeless people, will be more likely to harass non homeless people. And if this person ventures into a homeless shelter in this condition, he is likely to cause problems for the staff working at the shelter. Being that shelters have strict rules against disruptive behavior, that homeless person will be banned from the shelter (anywhere from one day  to his entire life), forcing him to live the rest of his homeless life outside.

You should also know that that the suicide rate among the homeless population is greater than among the non-homeless, and drug usage adds to the depression homeless people feel and thus increases the potential for a homeless person to commit suicide.

Nearly all injuries that homeless people suffer, (every thing from a twisted ankle to a fractured skull) happens most often while they are inebriated.   Also, being drunk or otherwise incapacitated, makes a homeless person more vulnerable to attacks from street predators.  They are easily beaten up and robbed, since they are in no condition to defend themselves.

I disagree with the notion that once you give your money to someone else, that you are no longer responsible for how that money is used.   If you knowingly give money to an addict then you become an accomplice to whatever happens with that person afterwards.   Here in the US, if a bartender or waitress continues to give alcohol to someone who has become inebriated, and that inebriated person goes out and drives their car, resulting in a car accident, that bartender or waitress can be held liable.

I also have a word about surveys of the homeless.  Homeless people, especially homeless people with addiction problems,  are often less than honest when answering questions about their situation.   Without any kind of fact-checking, to verify if the homeless person is being honest, then any "information" gathered should be considered highly suspect.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Room In The Inn

Room In The Inn is, among several things, a winter shelter for the homeless in Nashville, Tn.   It is an amazing effort by a great many people to provide a warm, safe, and hospitable place for the homeless to spend the night.  Over 150 churches and other organizations in the greater Nashville area participate in this program.   One night a week, each church will go to the Room In The Inn facilities, pick up a dozen or so homeless people in their church van, and carry them out to respective churches.   At the churches the homeless are given a meal, a mattress or cot to sleep on, breakfast the next morning, then the church returns the homeless back to the Room In The Inn facilities.   On average, this program gives shelter to 240 homeless every night during the coldest months of the year.

There are many benefits for the homeless who take advantage of this program.  Perhaps the best thing for the homeless is that, being out at some neighborhood church, they are removed from the homeless environment for a good portion of the day.  For one, it gets these people off the streets and into a pleasant building where kind people are their to help them in anyway they can.   It also give the homeless an opportunity to stay somewhere other than the rescue mission which is it's own unpleasant experience.  The rescue mission crams hundreds of homeless people together, many of them addicts or mentally ill, or both.  For an hour some preacher at the mission will then yell at the homeless, telling them what bad people they are, sinners bound for hell, before sending them on to bed in overcrowded dorm rooms.   The Nashville Rescue Mission is a very stressful place for a homeless person to spend 1/2 of every day.

This is not to say that Room In The Inn doesn't have a couple problems of it's own, but over all, it's a much better experience for the homeless.   Homeless people are able to get better rest, sleeping at the churches, are able to reduce their stress level being that they are off the streets, they have access to healthier food, will often have the opportunity to shower, do laundry and take care of other personal needs, while at these churches.

Still, there are some troublesome issues with a few of the churches that participate in the program.    Though the administration of Room In The Inn emphasizes the "hospitality" aspect of their work with the homeless, some churches, about a dozen of the 150, struggle with it.  Out at their churches, they treat the homeless more like jail prisoners than people who are currently down and out.  They operate with the assumption that the homeless are all criminals looking for any chance to steal the silverware.   The thing is, if you extend a hand to the homeless, and treat the homeless with respect, you will get respect in return from them.  
When you serve dinner to the homeless, don't immediately retreat to the kitchen.  Join the homeless for dinner, break bread with them, extend a bit of community to them.

Sure, everyonce in a great while, some homeless person may do something he shouldn't, but that's no excuse for withholding your care from the rest of them.   If homeless people are going to return to mainstream life, they need to be treated with the dignity necessary for them to make that transition.   Continue to treat homeless people like second class citizens and they'll stay second class citizens.   One of the simplest things a church can do for the homeless who stay with them, is to afford them the dignity of space.   Don't cram their beds close to each other.  The homeless are not children, and they don't look at their situation as if they're at a slumber party.  When they are sleeping, give them as much privacy as you can provide.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Confusing "Mean" With "Tough"

The question often comes up, why are people so mean to the homeless?   Of course not everyone is mean towards homeless people.  There is still some compassion left in the world.   But when it comes to the subject of homelessness, some people's meanness has no boundaries.  To them, even murder is justified.   They believe homeless people deserve the mistreatment they receive at the hands of others.  Some actually believe that such mistreatment will motivate the homeless to not be homeless.   Nothing could be further from the truth, but that doesn't stop the meanness, the hate, that homeless people are subjected to on a daily basis.

So, why does this happen?   This is what I think:  Our society places a premium on "winning."  Of course, nothing is wrong with winning, in and of itself, but when winning is placed above other more important aspects of life, it becomes a problem.   It is not easy to win, competition is everywhere, and beating the competition if often difficult.  To meet the difficulties that come along in life, a person must be able to withstand the forces working against them.   This requires people to develop a certain resiliency, a  level of toughness.    This leads to the next obvious question,  how much toughness is enough?  Answering this question is where some people start to get into trouble.

Our American society is dominated by Capitalism and the competition that Capitalism inspires.   Although Capitalism is only a financial economy method, its methods have permeated every aspect of American life.  Today, we are hard pressed to find any area of American life that isn't infected with competition, even parenting.   So, we find it necessary to teach ourselves, and our children, how to survive in this world of constant competition.  And thus we lose our ability to exercise other fundamental aspects of our humanity, such as compassion.   We tell ourselves that winning is the best thing we can do.   Because of this we tell ourselves that competition and it's methods are good things, conversely we tell ourselves that non-competitive aspects of humanity are bad, or wrong.   Our humanity suffers for this.

"Sweep the leg, Johnny" - Remember that movie quote?
"The War Prayer" by Mark Twain, would be something to familiarize ourselves with as well. (The desire to "win" is inextricably tied to a desire for everyone else to lose.)

For some people, striking a balance in achieving success and being compassionate towards others, is achievable.  But for others, it is not.  Winning becomes their only goal in life.  When that happens, any action that leads toward a "win" is deemed acceptable.    The worst of this mindset comes out when these people raise their children.  Instead of instructing their kids how to be resilient and persevere, they actually teach their children how to be mean spirited.  Often, instead of striving for the "win", their kids will focus more on making others lose.   These kids are also, in the process of learning how to "win", are given the idea that weakness, or any expression of it bad, wrong, and deserving of punishment - as they were punished by their parents when exhibited signs of weakness, or frailty.

When these kids become aware of homelessness, they perceive the homeless as weak.  And, in wanting to correct a wrong, they believe that what homeless people need and deserve is to be punished for being homeless.

Monday, August 12, 2013

It's Complicated

When I first started blogging, the internet was a fairly complicated machine.  11 years later and now it's 110 times more complicated.   I was doing good, learning how to make things happen on the internet, and with computers in general.  But now, I'm falling behind.    I just can't keep up.    As it is, I'm using a laptop for all my daily internet activities.  From what I understand, Smartphones have all but replaced laptops.   Laptops are for school or business work.   I don't think I'll have a smartphone any time soon.   I'm no longer a trail blazer.   I'm falling to the wayside.   Y'all explore the new worlds without me.

Homeless People Thinking

"There is a prettiness that takes precedence over reality, that commands a higher loyalty, that readily takes on attributes of moral normativeness even while the conditions of its existence are peculiar and exclusive, violent and corrupt." ~ Marilynne Robinson

The human brain is such a fascinating and complex thing, that even today, with all our scientific advances, we still know very little about it. 

A lot of people are uncomfortable about not knowing things, especially about themselves.  Because of this they will make up stories, myths, whatever, to try and fill in the gaps of what they don't know, all to relieve their anxiety about the unknown.  Often, when people talk about homelessness, they'll say that homeless people choose to be homeless, that homeless people want to be homeless.  They'll also say things like, homeless people could find a way out of homelessness if they just set their minds to it, if they'll make the right choices in life.    But that's mostly BS.  It's an oversimplification of the situation of homelessness, and of how the homeless human brain works.

Belief is a very powerful thing, so is denial.   The ability of the human brain to avoid certain realities, and to create unrealistic perceived realities, is so powerful as to override the brains ability to understand what's really going on in the world.

The triad of what people know, what they believe, and what's actually going on, is critical to having a successful life.  In a person's mind, if there is discord among those three, a person's life can become so unstable as to make them vulnerable to homelessness.

From this, I think it is possible to extrapolate as to who would be vulnerable to homelessness, and who wouldn't.   I disagree with the notion that homelessness can happen to anyone., or that homelessness is a matter of paychecks.    We've all heard the saying, "many people are just a couple paychecks away from homelessness."   That's just not true.    I have known too many people, myself included, who were able to maintain housing for months after the paychecks stopped coming.   Becoming homeless truly is more a matter of what a person thinks about their situation, than their actual situation.    For those people who have achieved harmony between what they think, what they believe, and what is real, homelessness is nearly an impossibility.  Add to that harmony of thought a great many resources including good friends and family, and those people will never become homeless.



 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Molly Meinbresse

Molly works at the National Health Care for The Homeless Council, headquarted here in Nashville, as a program and research specialist.  She was in a very bad bicycle accident, which almost killed her.   I attended the bike rally held in her honor.
http://www.newschannel5.com/story/23101859/cyclist-nearly-killed-by-hit-and-run-driver-speaks-out?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=9186642

Friday, August 9, 2013

Homeless Guy As Artist

It's not just a slogan, it's an important truth - there is more to homeless people than being homeless.  Here is something I drew last night.
 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Why Are People Homeless

To me, at least, this is the most important question about homelessness.

  • Why are people homeless?
Here's my latest insight into this question....

I have addressed this question before, to a degree, but, each time I think about it, I see it in a somewhat different light.   Here's my latest insight into this question....


Different aspects of homelessness seem more important to me at different times, and for that I end up answering questions about homelessness differently.
 
I had been eating breakfast at the same fast food restaurant, to the point I began recognizing the regular customers, and they, me.    Yesterday, as a way of introduction, one such regular struck up a conversation, and mentioned that he'd seen me in the place several times before, always on my laptop.  He asked what I was working on.   From this question I broke into my spiel about being both a homeless person and a homeless advocate.    As usual, somewhere along the conversation, he asked me why I was homeless.
 
In the course of attempting to answer that question, I had an epiphany.   I was attempting to address his question by using broad generalities, I was avoiding saying anything specific about myself.   Because of this, he didn't seem to understand what I was trying to tell him. He seemed skeptical, and in reply, he used his own generalities to dismiss what I was telling him.
 
Some people, when in conversation, will take on the role of a contrarian.  They do this so as to provoke the speaker into elaborating more,  to give more details about what they are saying.  Yet others just don't believe whatever they are being told because what was said runs counter to their own beliefs and ideas concerning whatever subject you're talking about. 
 
When it comes to the subject of homelessness very few people have any real, personal, experience with it, and so their ideas about homelessness are not accurately informed.   Of course they never really want to admit to being uninformed or misinformed about anything, and so they will talk in the manner of the expert, both in word choice and expression.   And perhaps in defense of their own ignorance, they will dismiss what is told to them about homelessness  From this, its a short jump to being close minded and judgmental.
 
It seems to me, that to overcome this problem, homeless people need to be completely forthcoming about every aspect of their personal lives, including their homelessness.  
 
  • Yeah, as if that's going to happen.
 
Who ever tells another every single intimate thing about themselves to other people?   All people will be honest up to a point.  But even spouses keep secrets from each other.  Therapy with a professional psychologist can take a long time,  just to build up enough trust between doctor and patient.  And homeless people know that the majority of the population is judgmental against them.  It is any surprise then that homeless people will be less than divulging when someone (often a stranger) asks them why they are homeless?
 
I do believe that the "whys" of homelessness can be known, can be understood.  But that knowledge does not come easily, can't be known on a cursory level.    It is easy to blame homelessness on addiction or mental illness or the economy.  But those things are really just symptoms of other deep issues, issues that  require time and effort to reveal.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Not Socks

For the past few days I've been asking, pleading, with people to donate socks to the homeless.  Of the multitude of people who read this blog, a total of one person answered the call.    I don't know what the problem is, but obviously, I'm not the "inspiring people to help the homeless" guy.  Guess I'll leave that up to someone else.

If I'm not mistaken, I was the first person on the internet to mention the need homeless people have for socks.  That was 11 years ago.   Now, there are full and legitimate non-profit organizations dedicated to nothing put getting socks to the homeless.   Just google "socks for the homeless" to see what I mean.  And many homeless service providers around the country offer foot clinics now, when there were none 11 years ago.

So, maybe my impact on the sock wearing community of homeless people was bigger than I assume.    Could I take credit for all that?  Yeah, why not?

Monday, August 5, 2013

Homeless Gay Youth And Baloney

 

Bogus information, used to forward an agenda, really ticks me off.    I have no problem with agendas, everyone's got them, and we need them to get things done.  But misrepresenting an agenda?  Please, just don't.

First, lets admit the facts.   Some homeless people are gay.   Some homeless youth are gay.  Some gay youth are homeless because their parents kicked them out, just for being gay.   Those are the facts.  Everything else that has been said, especially recently, about the number of homeless gay youth, is baloney.

There is only one thing a scientific study can do.   It can prove an idea, or it cannot.  What studies can't do is "suggest" things.   Using the phrase "studies suggest" is used by scientists and others with a bias towards a particular concept that they wish to prove.   What that phrase actually means is, "we conducted a study, but it didn't prove what we hoped it would, yet we still want you to believe in our premise, regardless."

There is other deceptive terminology used by people hoping to convince the general public that they have proved some idea, such as the phrase, "up to"    Ever seen an advertisement declaring something is "up to" 40 percent off?  But when you get to the store you find that things are actually only 10 to 20 percent off?  When you ask the about the 40 percent off items, the store clerk tells you that they either already sold out of those items, or that they are items that nobody would want to buy.   They stretched th truth just to get you into the store and buy something.    In  science, there is no such thing as "stretching the truth", either something is true, or it is not true.  There is no in-between.  There is no "maybe".

Thank you for indulging me while I ranted.  Now consider this paragraph I found recently at the USICH.gov blog:
"A growing body of research suggests that gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youth make up to 40 percent of the homeless youth population in the United States..."
To me, this "growing body of research" seems a bit far fetched, when I consider my 14+ years experience of living homeless.  From what I've seen, the percentage of gay homeless people, including gay teens, is approximately the same at the general gay population.

Also, "growing body of research" implies that several studies have been conducted.  If after several studies, the best that scientist can claim is that "research suggests", wouldn't this actually indicate that their hypothesis is incorrect?    There is a problem these days with people conducting studies that don't prove what they hoped was true.  Instead of just accepting what facts were discovered by their study, they continue creating studies (with certain variations), hoping one day to prove their point.

This reflects on what is happening in the larger picture of homeless advocacy.    The homeless population is sliced and diced (metaphorically speaking) by all sorts of interest groups.  There are groups that deal with only homeless veterans, groups that deal only with alcoholics, groups that deal only with homeless women who are also prostitutes, groups that deal only with homeless families with children under a certain age, groups that only deal with homeless youth, groups that deal only with "duel diagnosed" homeless people, (people who suffer both, mental illness and drug addiction), etc., etc.   All these special interest groups work to get "their" people off the streets, to the exclusion of all others.   The biggest problem of all this being that many homeless people don't fit into any of these specialized groups.    Homeless people are people who have fallen through the cracks of the social safety network.  But, even these cracks have cracks, and for this, the needs of a lot of homeless people are overlooked, if not completely ignored.

There are a couple of other problems as well.  As with the issue of gay homeless youth, a big PR push is underway bring this issue to the forefront of homeless services.  In response, homeless service providers are dedicating some of their already limited resources toward finding and catering to the needs of this "suggested" homeless population.  This results in less resources being available to the general homeless population.   Another problem that arises from all these specialized services is that many homeless people, desperate for help, will be less than honest about their own condition and needs.  This in turn skews with the knowledge base that homeless service providers work with.   There was a homeless service provider here in town that used to offer a free apartment to homeless people who were duel diagnosed.  When work of this got out to the general homeless population, many homeless people applied for help with them, lying about their actual condition.  Mentally ill homeless people were claiming to also be addicts,  addicts were claiming to also be mentally ill. etc.  When word gets out to the homeless youth population that they can receive additional, better, or even housing services, if they happen to be gay, many youths will be claiming to be gay, when they actually are not.

Often, when the homeless population is being surveyed, the people conducting the survey will offer compensation to the homeless for their time.  This compensation could be anything from food, to a free bus pass, to cash.   When someone comes to a shelter saying "I want to survey those homeless who are mentally ill" you'd be surprised how many homeless people will come forward declaring that they are mentally ill. 

I'm sorry, but you just cannot get good data that way.  Bad data will always translate into poor services for the homeless.





 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Tara Cole


This comes from the Nashville Homeless Organizing Coalition:
Seven years ago, a homeless woman named Tara Cole who was sleeping at Riverfront Park was pushed into the Cumberland River and drowned. It took authorities 10 days to find her body (read the whole story here: http://freedomtracks.com/taracole.html). Tara, like too many others, was a victim of hate crimes against people on the streets. This Wednesday, August 7th, a memorial bench in honor of Tara Cole will be revealed at 9:00 a.m. at Riverfront Park. Join homeless advocates, community leaders, and members of the press for this memorial service and let’s work to make sure something like this never happens again. Many thanks to Howard Allen and others who have worked for years to make this memorial bench a reality. Again, here are the details:
When: Wednesday, August 7th at 9:00am (this is exactly seven years after Tara’s death)
Where: Riverfront Park (near the intersection of Broadway and 1st Ave by the horseshoe)
Parking: Look for meter or street parking nearby. There is meter parking on Gay Street just north of Riverfront Park.
Please help us spread the word!!

Becoming Organized

For the past 10+ years, I have been an online advocate for the homeless.   When not creating blog posts here, I spend time in other discussion groups, chat rooms, comment sections, etc.   Always relaying to others as much truth about homelessness as I can - always combating the myth believers and the myth creators.    So many people are actively speaking disparagingly about the homeless.  It is as if they are aware of the sympathy that many people have for homeless people, and they are purposely fighting against it.   Well, you know I can't stand for that to happen, and so I engage these people, doing what I can to expose such people and their hatefulness, and ignorance.

Doing so has it's merits, but it seems to also be a trap.  Why spend so much time and energy arguing with people who may never change their minds, when I could be out actually doing the things I talk about.  I need to transition from talker to do-er.  I'd probably be more productive that way.

I say, let the debaters debate, while they are distracted so, just go ahead and get the homeless off the streets and into viable housing.   While they yammer away about homelessness, I and others will actually be ending homelessness.   When they finally come up for air, they'll discover that this issue they've been getting all riled up about, has gone.

So yeah, I need to reorganize my online activity - use the internet for communication, and for planning the day, then leave the laptop behind while I actually go out and do things.     I've been living the same way for many many years - this change won't be easy, won't happen over night.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Socks For The Homeless

UPDATE:: We are off to a good start.  20 40 pairs of socks have been donated so far!   Still, I know we can do much better.  The need is much greater.  PLEASE, help today, help now. Click here.

Order socks for the homeless here!  Of all the clothing needs of the homeless, socks are without a doubt the most important.   Homeless people spend so much of their lives on their feet, walking everywhere they go to get what they need to survive.   Walking a mile or more for every meal, walking to and from shelters, etc.   Of all clothing items, socks get the most wear and tear and become filthy the fastest.  And without the means to keep their clothing washed, socks need to be discarded most often.   If not, the health of homeless people's feet quickly deteriorate.   Athletes foot is very common, corns and blisters are just things homeless people must live with every day.

Most clothing items donated to the homeless are used, older discarded items, but people don't, and probably shouldn't, don't their old socks to the homeless, (it's just not hygienic to do so). That makes new and clean socks a rare item on the streets.

Thankfully, socks are relatively inexpensive.  You can buy a pack of 10 pair for 10 bucks.  You can go to Walmart and get them cheap, then give them to a homeless person.  Or, you can go to my wish list at  Amazon.com, right now, and order them online.  They will delivered to an address I have established at a local homeless day shelter.   So please! Order socks for the homeless here! 

This Time It's Personal

Being that my entire adult life has been immersed in homelessness, and desiring to make something positive out of it, fearing that my life might end up a total waste, I started my own brand of homeless advocacy. This advocacy, of telling my personal experiences and opinions about homelessness, for what good it has done, has still been limited, a bit one sided. It was a "keyboard advocacy". I was telling my story, but I wasn't really involved in helping homeless people. If anything, my advocacy was an attempt to inspire others to be involved. Within that, I think I was fairly successful.

Now, I find myself at a new crossroads, new options are being made available to me, and I am thinking that it's time for a change. That, and I have found that the general direction of all homeless advocacy is undergoing a change. It is becoming more direct, more hands on involvement, more action oriented. And, I'd like to be a part of that.

Another thing I have discovered, as I have been more inclined to be introspective, is that much of my advocacy wasn't for other homeless people, it was for myself. When I was telling people that they shouldn't be so mean towards the homeless, what I was really saying was, "don't be mean to me." Well, I feel I've gotten to the point were I don't feel the need to defend myself anymore. I really am ok with myself, who I am, where I've been and where I'm going. So, advocacy doesn't have to be about me anymore.

Using all that I know about homelessness, and the "homeless industry" I think I can be useful in other ways, in more direct ways, with helping other homeless people, with working to get people off the streets. And it seems that is the new, cutting edge, of homeless advocacy. People need to change course, stop focusing on the immediate temporary needs of the homeless, and instead work to get homeless people into housing. Housing First is the new paradigm, it works better than anything that has been tried previously.