Blogging Without Walls: Homeless Bloggers

BlogHer Original Post

homeless and hungry sign

I keep my distance from homeless men. I have been verbally assaulted by one who demanded money from me. I have been panhandled passively and aggressively. I will not be badgered for money. I certainly will not open my purse to anyone in public. The homeless women I see I try to keep a respectful non-linear line of sight. Maybe it is because I want to give them some measure of the privacy that they have lost. Or maybe it is the fear of being in their shoes. In my mind I hear the phrase, “There for the grace of God go I.”

I do know that the one disrespectful person I met does not represent all of the people who currently do not have or cannot afford basic housing. Yet when you need an all purpose societal punching bag both the progressive left and conservative right will use “The Homeless” as a wedge issue, a quality of life issue, or a moral obligation that will evaporate as soon as the polls are closed.

In my opinion, you can’t deal with a growing homeless population unless you are also willing to look at the exportation of lower wage jobs to other countries, employment, changes in technology or health care, specifically mental health care, corporate and real estate fraud and the rising cost of housing

Beyond the screeching  news sound bites and political ads about your wasted tax dollars are people, increasingly women and children, that are on the streets.

Invisible People TV is a videoblog that records the experiences of the people who find themselves homeless.

There are currently homeless or formerly homeless people in California that use blogs and web sites that can help us go beyond the stereotypical views about homelessness.

Homeless in SLO

Michael writes his blog Homeless in SLO in San Luis Obispo, CA. From 2005 to 2008 he lived as a homeless person. Michael’s blog tries to strip away what we believe or have been told about the people that do not have a place to live.

On the site is a FAQ page that helps us to understand some of the terms used to define this population. I don’t agree with everything on his blog. I don’t think anybody has a first amendment right to harass for money. Ask, yes. Intimidate or bully, no.

I do like some of the suggestions that he offers to a reader about finding alternative ways of helping like cards to food places.

A Girl’s Guide to Homelessness

Brianna Karp writes about being homeless in Orange County, CA. She shares survival techniques and facing the fact that she had to deal with this unwelcome change in her life. She wanted to make it known that she was not a drug addict or mentally ill.

“I have just over $300 cash to my name, in addition to various personal belongings. I have three days to take my plans for the coming weeks/months and put them into motion. I have never been homeless before and I will not deny that I am afraid, but I plan to face this with humor and dignity. I can do this. I can do this without becoming a casualty or a stereotype. I can be homeless and still clean, nourished, confident, well-dressed, dry in the rain, and warm at night. I can make wise and preventive decisions that will help protect me and keep me safe in tenuous circumstances.”

Brianna is doing much better these days. She still writes about the people, policies and the need for visibility of homeless people.

Homeless in Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is a wealthy community that has a long term problem dealing with the homeless population. At this site, you can find a historical overview of how this community has dealt with homeless people by criminalizing sleeping in public or shipping them out of town to the next community.

The Homeless in Santa Barbara blog is an online meeting place where information can be shared, stories told or, as Isabelle T. Walker does in a number of posts, report on really complicated issues that don’t have simple answers.

I read Isabelle’s posts about Ruth Miles. What do you do with a homeless 73-year alcoholic woman? Ruth has some responsibility for her actions, but it is a fascinating tale of rules, resources and appropriate intervention.

The resolution of Ruth's story only demonstrates how intertwined housing and health care are to this situation. The blog links to a number of resources, community assistance and links to free computer access and training classes.

The site helps the Santa Barbara homeless  community access the Internet for employment searches and to communicate via blogs and other social media resources.

I have no expectation that there will be an easy solution for financial and involuntary homeless people. For each proposed idea there will be a shout of socialism and “Not my responsibility!” echoing in the background. It is our community responsibility.

Or will be.

You see, a percentage of homeless people live in cars or recreational vehicles. The city of Venice, CA as well as other beach communities are having problems with human waste from RVs being dumped on city streets and in drains to the ocean.

Still, I can’t help feeling that with a bit of imagination and thought there are a variety of appropriate solutions. What would you suggest?

Gena Haskett is a BlogHer Contributing Editor. My Blogs: Out On The Stoop and Create Video Notebook

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