They Called Him "Crazy Scotty on the Bike"
Scotty passed away 9/14/13 he was 68
what does it take to end homelessness? I don't believe it is creating more institutional programs but it takes a connection one person to another, one day at a time.
Someone called me tonight and said, Hey I heard that "Crazy Scotty on the bike died" I have not heard of him referred to as that for years and it prompted me to tell you this story.
I met Scotty in 2001 when I was on an outreach run under the bridges in Manchester. I had a box load of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the truck and he went riding by on his bike. It was summer and he had on shorts and he was shirtless. He is a man of small build, but strong shoulders. His hair was graying, shoulder length and wild from the wind.
I yelled, " Hey you, want a sandwich." He got off his bike huffing from a long ride and came over. He asked, " Why would you be giving me a sandwich?"
I explained that I give out sandwiches on Sundays to folks who are un-housed because I know the drop-in centers are closed, as is the recycling centers and it was a good way for me to check conditions of folks. I have plenty, have one. He accepted the sandwich and went on his way.
Months later I would hear from others that he was asking the guys, "who is the crazy lady wearing moccasins and passing out sandwiches under the bridges?" I bumped into him a few more times fall, still riding around on his bike. Polite conversations but he wasn't really giving up information about himself. Obvious trust issues for obvious reasons.
Where I lived was no secret to most people, smack in the middle of the city, it was. I had brought people up to shower at times, cut their hair, use the phone, (before cell phones). I could help them to get needs met that they couldn't otherwise do because they were evicted from programs that were meant to serve them. Most were drunks that couldn't follow the rules well enough, some were otherwise diagnosed, but I am able to look beyond labels and just love them like the lessons of Mother Teresa and her lepers. I always had other company at my house for safety, but each person was treated with respect and dignity as a child of the Creator who made them and I. And I am also a drunk, though I have been in recovery a long time. I understand the disease and the incomprehensible demoralization that goes with it. I understand the wreckage that causes us to lose our families, our housing and left on the outside of society. When I turned my life around after my own homelessness, I was determined not to forget where I came from. Perhaps too, this helped me to stay clean and sober. I never had to stay out there. I could visit folks but come back home and be grateful.
That winter in the bitter cold I heard a knock at my door. When I opened the door there stood Scotty and he immediately said, " No hospitals" and he collapsed. My daughter and I got him to the couch. He was burning with fever. He stayed for three days until his fever broke. I nursed him like you would a sick child. When he was better his was able to share a little more of his life with me. I can't tell you what his story is because it is private. But I can say that he was homeless for the last 30 years. He lived in a bus at a flea market for a while, in the back of a store where he was working, at one time, and mostly he would just ride his bike until he collapsed and slept in the bushes. He said I was the first person who gave anything to him with out any expectations of a return.
In the spring he was sick again he collapsed in the street and was taken to hospital by ambulance. He was diagnosed with COPD and given inhalers to use. I could not get him to sign up for State Medicade, though the social workers at the hospital and I gave it our best shot. He was full of fear. He stayed a few days and went to his place, which was now a tent in someone's backyard. He was helping the owner repair a roof.
I'd see him now and again as he road his bike to some of the same AA meetings that I attended. He always stood outside of the group, by the exit as though he needed to make a quick escape. People did not approach him as he seemed unapproachable. But I knew better and kept trying to engage him as often as possible.
Years went by and he finally decided he would accept help and took an opportunity to become housed at the Robinson House, a sober house for men. To do so he had to attend a 28 day program of recover and then he would get a room. Sounded easy enough but there was much paperwork involved with the State Welfare and Social Security Office and he just couldn't handle agencies, their questions and all that paperwork. So I became his authorized representative as he could talk to me and I could work with agencies as appropriate. He went to rehab. I filed for a birth certificate for him, a requirement of housing.
In 2005 he got into the Robinson House. He changed from skittish Scotty to the go-to man for answers on herbalism and natural healing and all about sobriety. He had never used a computer and it was fun showing him how to create his first email account. Once he figured out that all the answers to his questions were right there at his fingertips, he spent many hours researching subjects of alcoholism and the founders of AA, as well as anything related to health, his and others. He was a naturalist and didn't like pills. The doctors had told him he had about six months to live and he was determined to prove them wrong.
His room became cluttered with books and videos on everything from Joseph Campbell's, Hero of a Thousand Faces to the Natural History of Medicinal Plants. He scoured the internet and shared info with others of what he found about excitotoxins and food additives that kill. He was intelligent in that he always asked, "why?"
He had never gone very far in school. He was what he called, " a misfit" it was of course before the special education programs and so he just went to work on a farm. He had six toes on one foot and thought it was from his fathers service in the military -WWII. He did research on chemical weapons used during that era.
These things set his apart from his peers so he learned to count only on himself. He continued to be a man who worked all his life when he could use his hands in the trades. He learned to read, and what he couldn't pronounced he just memorized what the word looked like. He was nearly blind and would sit at the computer wearing layers of reading glasses.
To those of us who took the time to know him, he was not Crazy Scotty, he will be remembered as a brilliant man. He was counselor to many men in the program where he lived, He had wisdom of his life experiences and he was loved by many. His presence in our lives will be missed.
I'm told he had the nurses at the hospital laughing on Friday night and then he peacefully died in his sleep. Sober, like he wanted.
So today in the year 2013, 8 years after he was told he had 6 months to live, I did the last piece of advocacy for him. I went to City Welfare and filed the papers of his indigent status so that they could sign off on a cremation over at the Phaneuf Funeral home. When I collect his ashes and we will come together again to remember him as we plant a tree in Manchester.
why are we "NH Under The Bridge"?
Our position is that if you lose your housing and chose to live in public spaces rather than go to shelter the police should not abuse your constitutional and human rights! We fight to end selective enforcement of Quality of Life regulations (we ask "Whose Quality of Life" is improved by moving homeless people from public spaces?)
It's not a homeless crisis - it's a housing crisis!
The city's best hope for reducing and preventing homelessness is a commitment to addressing the skyrocketing rents and general housing shortage that plagues NH and drives people by the thousands into homelessness. Yet at the same time as the homeless population continues to escalate, landlords and the city continue to keep buildings empty and gentrify our neighborhoods.
We are a citywide organization and our constituency includes homeless people living in shelters as well as those living on the streets and in other public places. We serve a broad population of people because homelessness cuts across all boundaries: race, ethnicity, culture, gender, family composition, age, sexual orientation, language, etc., but what all homeless people have in common as a community is extreme poverty and social stigmatization.
There are currently over 5000 people in the NH shelter system, In addition the 14.000 people who came forward to ask for help but found no room at the shelters. These numbers do not include street-dwelling homeless people, or the hundreds of families waiting for placement in a shelter, or the doubled-up households throughout the state that go uncounted.
Our outreach targets individuals from within the shelter system, as well as those who are unable/unwilling to live within it. We meet them on their turf and their terms.
NH Under The Bridge was founded on the principle that homeless people have civil and human rights regardless of our race, creed, color or economic status. NH Under The Bridge Was founded by homeless and formerly homeless people. We refuse to accept being neglected and we demand that our voices and experience are heard at all levels of decision-making that impact us.
We oppose the quality of life laws that criminalize homeless people in any form by the city, state and national governments. We work to change these laws and policies as well as to challenge the root causes of homelessness. Our strategies include grass roots organizing, direct action, and educating homeless people about their rights, public education, changing media stereotypes, and building relationships with allies.
"Under the bridge isn't just a place, It's a way of life some have to face cold and alone outside the fortunate can’t live life, cause they can't afford it. Under the bridge isn't a place, it's a feeling you get when you are all alone, no rescue in sight and The only thing on your mind is where you'll sleep tonight"-Jamie Kupchun 1999
about the project
We can’t measure smiles; how many weeks it takes for someone to finally trust us and tell us their name.
Some get financially better off; they become employed, sober, or qualify for other programs.
Some get off the street,Some don’t. Some die.
We are not in charge of the final outcome but we are able to help along the way with a little compassion and a lot of understanding. Anyone can do what we do.It starts with a smile and a greeting.
We have found that one of the most important things you can offer is your time and friendship. We see the same people every day and make sure we know their name and begin to find out their story. That way we can find out what they need and want instead of having to guess what they could use. Each person is an individual, one may need new socks and someone else would need a toothbrush.
Your friendship is invaluable. Your experience, strength and hope is all you can offer at times, it is essential.
As homelessness continues to increase, so does the outrage of death on our streets. Having a permanent roof over one’s head, an adequate income and health care would greatly reduce the number who die homeless.
Having treatment programs with available drop-in beds would further facilitate the addict into recovery from the street, as is is not normal for a street person to be able to call for a bed daily, as is required now.
I Stand at the Door
By Sam Shoemaker (from the Oxford Group)
I stand by the door.
I neither go to far in, nor stay to far out.
The door is the most important door in the world -
It is the door through which men walk when they find God.
There is no use my going way inside and staying there,
When so many are still outside and they, as much as I,
Crave to know where the door is.
And all that so many ever find
Is only the wall where the door ought to be.
They creep along the wall like blind men,
With outstretched, groping hands,
Feeling for a door, knowing there must be a door,
Yet they never find it.
So I stand by the door.
The most tremendous thing in the world
Is for men to find that door - the door to God.
The most important thing that any man can do
Is to take hold of one of those blind, groping hands
And put it on the latch - the latch that only clicks
And opens to the man's own touch.
Men die outside the door, as starving beggars die
On cold nights in cruel cities in the dead of winter.
Die for want of what is within their grasp.
They live on the other side of it - live because they have not found it.
Nothing else matters compared to helping them find it,
And open it, and walk in, and find Him.
So I stand by the door.
Go in great saints; go all the way in -
Go way down into the cavernous cellars,
And way up into the spacious attics.
It is a vast, roomy house, this house where God is.
Go into the deepest of hidden casements,
Of withdrawal, of silence, of sainthood.
Some must inhabit those inner rooms
And know the depths and heights of God,
And call outside to the rest of us how wonderful it is.
Sometimes I take a deeper look in.
Sometimes venture in a little farther,
But my place seems closer to the opening.
So I stand by the door.
There is another reason why I stand there.
Some people get part way in and become afraid
Lest God and the zeal of His house devour them;
For God is so very great and asks all of us.
And these people feel a cosmic claustrophobia
And want to get out. 'Let me out!' they cry.
And the people way inside only terrify them more.
Somebody must be by the door to tell them that they are spoiled.
For the old life, they have seen too much:
One taste of God and nothing but God will do any more.
Somebody must be watching for the frightened
Who seek to sneak out just where they came in,
To tell them how much better it is inside.
The people too far in do not see how near these are
To leaving - preoccupied with the wonder of it all.
Somebody must watch for those who have entered the door
But would like to run away. So for them too,
I stand by the door.
I admire the people who go way in.
But I wish they would not forget how it was
Before they got in. Then they would be able to help
The people who have not yet even found the door.
Or the people who want to run away again from God.
You can go in too deeply and stay in too long
And forget the people outside the door.
As for me, I shall take my old accustomed place,
Near enough to God to hear Him and know He is there,
But not so far from men as not to hear them,
And remember they are there too.
Where? Outside the door -
Thousands of them. Millions of them.
But - more important for me -
One of them, two of them, ten of them.
Whose hands I am intended to put on the latch.
So I shall stand by the door and wait
For those who seek it.
'I had rather be a door-keeper
So I stand by the door.
Monday, September 16, 2013
They Called Him "Crazy Scotty on the Bike"
Posted by NH-UTBP at 10:20 PM
Friday, July 12, 2013
Letter: Homeless trouble in Concord: We are all responsible
For the Monitor
The Board of Aldermen is scheduled to vote on a proposal to install 'homeless meters' in six locations around the city.
By PAUL FEELY
New Hampshire Union Leader
The proposal to install the meters was submitted earlier this month by Manchester Aldermen Pat Long, Ward 3, to the city’s Committee on Traffic. In the plan the devices are termed “Spare Change Meters.” They are repurposed coin-operated parking meters set up to collect donations for designated nonprofit organizations.
Long said he would like to see five or six of the city’s old parking meters installed in some of the most heavily panhandled areas of Manchester, including Elm Street. Money deposited in the meters would go directly to organizations that help the homeless. The goal, Long said, is to reduce panhandling and educate business owners and residents about the problem of giving money directly to people on the streets.
• The locations for the meters be determined by the Parking Division and Highway Department
• All donations received after the $260 threshold is achieved would benefit the organization New Horizons.
“We would paint (the meters ) a new color, maybe red or blue, so they stand out from the ‘Pay and Display’ parking meters,” said Long. “They would be clearly labeled to say what group would benefit from any donations made.”
“We’re already hearing from some business owners, especially in the downtown area, about aggressive behavior shown by panhandlers,” said Manchester Police Chief David Mara. “A lot of the people we recognize as people who are not homeless. People give them cash, and they are feeding their addictions to alcohol or drugs.”
The Manchester Police Department Community Policing Unit will soon begin increased visibility patrols downtown during the work week lunch time frame. Community police will also meet one-on-one with downtown business and property owners to discuss panhandling and other downtown quality-of-life issues. Mara said during these visits his department will conduct a survey to determine the effect of panhandling on Manchester businesses.
Posted by NH-UTBP at 11:04 AM
Thursday, January 26, 2012
Protesters set up camp in
I've held signs in the park and marched yelling, "we are the 99%" down the main street of our little town, even spent a night or two in the parks against city ordinances, had my face on the news in a crowd scan with my veterans cap on, but I leave feeling simply tired.
Here in Manchester they have welcomed participation of people experiencing homelessness, but there have been some problems related to that as well.
I think my issues of understanding exactly what is happening is likey similar to many others. I simply do not understand politics, I do not have the brain capacity to sort out and follow all the details of who is doing what and why. I can't follow money markets and stocks, and my brain just doesnt retain these things, even as Martha Stewart went to jail for "insider trading" I don't understand what that is, aren't you sipposed to sell your stock before it falls?
I'm not dumb, I have a college degree and I work in my community, I have worked to pass legislation as it pertains to my interests, but I basically can not understand how the government works. we pay taxes and they spend it however they want.
I don't support war
I do understand social movements of people, nothing changes without struggle. The occupy movement folks that I have had contact with also seem to understand that and I hope the movement can somehow define itself and include a diverse population including Class socioeconic divisions
I'm an old hippy with high hopes, I remember history of the movement, also the violence perpertrated on protesters, Im not looking to be pepper sprayed, or be shot with rubber bullets or other projectiles, I guess I would have to know what I am standing up for, how we are going to accomplish those goals and be in agreement with whatever stand
Right now I am just confused.
Posted by NH-UTBP at 1:13 PM
Sunday, May 1, 2011
Don't concern yourself with
When, why or how I got here
The road taken was not my choice
Just know I battled demons
On this lonely desolate Road
I boldly confront you daily
Endlessly, seeking your money
But what I desperately need
Is a moment of your time
A glance, a smile, a hello
A resemblance of pure love
So don't pretend I'm invisible
Treading over me continuously
Ignoring my worldly existence
This tired, weary and broken body
Of shivering bones, parched lips
Lives in a hole in the ground
Or a thin cardboard Shelter
Mostly alone, cold and hungry
I don't want your artificial pity
Or bold unsolicited comments
I fiercely want what we all want
To desperately not be invisible
I AM HUMAN AFTER ALL.
submitted via email
Posted by NH-UTBP at 2:01 AM
Thursday, April 7, 2011
August 6, 1961-April 3 2011
I met Dennis in the spring of 2000. He had just arrive from Portsmouth and was rough sleeping in the park. He quickly became involved with our project. The first year he simply got acclimated to the city. On Decemeber 21st he led us in reading the names for National Homeless Memorial Day. ( picture above)
He served on our speakers bureau,and has spoken at every college in NH and on to Harvard. He was a reporter for the Under The Bridge Street News. He went to Covington Kentucky with us and the National Coalition for the Homeless Rapid Response team. Later he also went to Washington DC for the National Bringing America Home Conference.
He loved talking with students about social and economic justice and in 2003 he starred in a UNH student film called "Lost and Found" he played the leading role of Dexter. The film won awards at the NH film festival.
If you want to copy and paste this link you can read about it in the student newsletter and see a good picture of him.( think its the 3rd page)
2007 brought a dibilitaing illness and a coma and when he was released from the hospital his was severly compromised. He was housed and doing the best he could do when he succumbed to his illness.
He will be surely missed by many. We held memorial in the park at his favorite bench.
May you walk in Beauty Forever Binky
Posted by NH-UTBP at 3:24 PM
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Published on Concord Monitor (http://www.concordmonitor.com)
Home > 'We were always glad to see him'
'We were always glad to see him'
By Ray Duckler
Created 09/25/2010 - 00:00
Friends remember homeless man
Few people eating lunch at the Friendly Kitchen yesterday knew that their friend, Billy Beaulac, had died.
Word of the 46-year-old homeless man's death set off a chain reaction of emotion, widening eyes through the dining room and stopping forks in midair.
"Billy?" Cori Edwards asked upon hearing the news. "Oh my God."
The police found Beaulac in his tent Thursday in a wooded area near the Concord/Bow line. It was unclear yesterday how he died or how long he'd been dead. The state police suspect past medical issues played a part.
What's clear, however, is that Beaulac made his presence known. That became obvious when Edwards quickly rose from her seat, leaving her food and pigtailed 13-month-old daughter, Tessa, behind. She ran outside to cry alone, then came back, composed and reflective.
"He loved my daughter," Edwards said. "He'd go out of his way to be nice to her. He was the local drunk, but he was sweet."
Everyone said the same thing about Beaulac. He drank too much. He fought a lot. He tried to dry out. And he was loyal like Lassie.
Beyond that, Beaulac was a mystery to his friends here. That's the way it is in the homeless community. Yesterday no longer counts. Today is what's important.
"Nope, never asked him about his past," said Jay Woody, a 27-year-old couch surfer from Concord. "None of my business."
Dig a little, and you find the story of a man born and raised in Berlin who never quite found his niche.
Lise Beaulac still lives in Berlin. She married Billy's only brother, Thomas, who died from pancreatic cancer six years ago. She remembers a good side.
"When he was sober," she said, "and I'm going back as far as a teenager now, when he was a young, young boy he was a sweet kid."
But Lise saw another side. The troubled side. The side that followed her former brother-in-law until he died.
"He lost his mother at a young age and never really recovered from that," Lise said, "even though his family tried to help him."
The road became rough, his drinking a problem. Beaulac spent 20 months in the state prison as an habitual offender. He moved in and out of rehab, forever trying to straighten out. He spent nights last winter in the homeless shelter at the First Congregational Church, where the Rev. David Keller has tried to open doors for the homeless.
"We were always glad to see him," Keller said. "In recent weeks he realized he needed help again. His past created circumstances that made it difficult for him."
His friends at the Friendly Kitchen saw Beaulac's temper, drawn out from beer, sometimes vodka.
"When he got drunk he was a little bit rough, but not too bad," Randall Russell said. "As long as you didn't get on the bad side of him, you were all right."
"He got drunk and did stupid things, but he was an awesome guy," Donna Gove added. "My kids loved him."
Kids were mentioned a lot. They brought out the softness in Beaulac, a light that had been dimmed years before. Others spoke about a guy who always had your back.
"He told me he loved me all the time," Woody said. "He was worried about me. If he didn't see me for a week, when he saw me, he'd come up to me and give me a hug."
Benji Castro says Beaulac saved his life. "I fell in the river once, and he got me out," Castro said. "I knew him for a couple of years. He was one of my best friends."
Castro met Beaulac about a year ago, hosting him at his campsite behind Everett Arena, one of many areas that the city's homeless call home. Some met Beaulac near the railroad tracks behind Market Basket, others under the bridge near Interstate 393.
No one knows how long Beaulac had stayed near Exit 12, off South Main Street. A trip to his campsite tells you Beaulac lived there alone.
Five boulders guard the entrance to a narrow path. Just inside the boulders is a bucket holding trash, mostly coffee cups and plastic water bottles. Empty cans of cat food sit nearby.
The trail cuts to the right, where yellow police tape hugs its edge, twisting like a snake. The buzz from Interstate 93 is audible, the tops of cars whizzing by visible.
A hard left leads you to Beaulac's campsite. There's a tent with a mattress inside, shaded by a camouflage canopy and thick, tall trees.
It's secluded, the perfect space to get away, to hide, to sleep in peace.
There's a gas grill, sleeping bags, three white chairs, boxes of clothing, a big plastic bag full of aluminum cans, blue jeans draped over a branch and work boots sitting side by side near the tent's entrance.
There's also a black leather vest, Beaulac's signature piece of clothing, sitting on top of a black leather jacket, with orange flames on the sleeves.
A fire pit, serving as the living area's center point, contains charred logs, burnt cans, glass bottles and an empty cardboard box once filled with donuts.
An orange and white cat, purring, skinny, friendly, roams around, with no place to go.
(Ray Duckler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .)
Human InterestCONCORD (NH)Billy Beaulac
Source URL: http://www.concordmonitor.com/article/217747/we-were-always-glad-to-see-him
Posted by NH-UTBP at 1:45 PM
Ben, newly sober, newly housed and highly spiritual, he believes that all people are children of God and deserving of shelter, safety, security, medical and food.
It is amazing to watch him interact with his peers and watch him grow in the process.
Paul, has been clean and sober almost a decade. He states that he is alcoholic and heroin addict. While he was never homeless in his life, he has had his share of challenges. He says he is looking for his sense of prupose.
He once owned an apartment building, though he lost it as a result of his addictions. He now lives in a small over-priced apartment and works daily to maintain his housing and his serenity.
When he first went out to the homeless camps he remarked " its like when I was a kid and I needed to isolate from my crazy family, the difference is when I got sick of being out there, I went back home"
Terry, has been clean and sober for over two years and believes that by working at a grassroots level, great things will and do happen. He feels a connection to our homeless brothers and sisters and hopes to be able to make a difference in their lives and grow even more spiritually.
Samatha is a college student from UNH she joined us in spring 2008 because she needed 15 hours of community service, she is long done her hours. She stated that working with the people is like caring for her granparents and and other relatives, and she was wholehearted saddened when a man she had developed a friendly relationship died that summer.
she says, ignorance was never really bliss, but now there is no going back.
We love her youthful enthusiasim.
Joe started out in the street right where he is serving now. He has a year and more of sobriety. He said he could easily romantize that it was like on the street, hot days and hard times in apartment, could make him think of the coolness by the river, but by attending to peers he not only keeps himself sober but he is a role model for others who knew him before.
Others come and join us on a drop by basis
and then there's me learning that consistency is essential to building trust.
death on the street
I wish that his story ended the way of Job when God returned him to renewal and prosperity. "And Job died being old and full of days" I do not know the ways of God, perhaps Joe lived to teach us compassion.
Joe was found in his camp, passed away on May 24th, 2008.
This picture was taken the year he went with us to "Gimme Shelter" a sleepout on the NH Statehouse.
The figures behind him are a visual representation of the persons who had already passed away in NH while homeless.
'Word was he died on the street'
Homeless to honor their friend 'Razor'
By SHIRA SCHOENBERG Monitor staff
October 21, 2008
Monitor file Raymond “Razor” Luoma, who was homeless, died last week. He was well-known to other homeless people in Concord.
The homeless community will remember one of their own, Raymond "Razor" Luoma, at an event Friday night.
Luoma, 50, died last week. "The word was he died on the street," said the Rev. David Keller, pastor of First Congregational Church in Concord, which houses a winter shelter where Luoma had stayed.
The Monitor profiled Luoma last year. He had been homeless for most of his life. Keller said Luoma was a survivor of Eastern equine encephalitis and had been interviewed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "He wore that like a badge," Keller said. "He thought he was some kind of stuff for having CDC researchers talk to him."
He is survived by two daughters, a brother and a sister. A graveside service will be held at 11 a.m. today at Maple Grove Cemetery in Concord.
The American Friends Service Committee will include a memorial to Razor in its annual program Give Me Shelter, which will be held Friday night. The program will include a group of mostly high school and college students sleeping outside to dramatize the plight of the state's homeless population, said Arnie Alpert, the state's program coordinator for the AFSC. The group will set up about 4 p.m. in front of the State House, then will go to the Friendly Kitchen for dinner and return to the State House Plaza for a discussion that will include people
Structural Causes of Homelessness
Structural Causes of Homelessness
Betty Reid Mandell
ALTHOUGH THERE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN some homeless people, their numbers increased dramatically during the Reagan Administration. The federal government cut back on building houses and subsidizing housing for low-income people as well as social assistance programs. Urban renewal and gentrification forced people out of low-rent housing, and wages declined with deindustrialization and outsourcing. Cities used land use policies to help corporations and real estate interests squeeze out the poor.
Even with low wages, many poor people could afford housing if they had access to government-subsidized public housing. However, the federal government has been cutting back on building housing and providing subsidies for housing since the early 1980s. There is a 5-year waiting list for Section 8 vouchers even in special circumstances such as disability or veterans, and no more are being given out. The federal government chose to subsidize private housing for poor people through Section 8 vouchers rather than build housing because it did not want to interfere with private real estate interests. Real estate interests have decimated rent control in most cities, as rents continue to rise beyond the ability of low-income people, and even middle-income people, to pay them.
Many homeless individuals will not go to a homeless shelter because they are crowded and dangerous. If there is no place to store belongings, they often are stolen. Some of the residents have emotional problems which are exacerbated, or caused by, their homelessness. To avoid these dangerous conditions, some people sleep in the streets, in parks, in their cars, RVs, or in train or bus stations. Some live in tents in the woods or build temporary shelters in out-of-the-way spaces in the city, which are often torn down by the city. Some homeless people prefer the freedom and privacy they have in their own encampments to rigidly controlled shelters.
Shelter programs are shaped by prevailing views of the poor, who are considered to be generally inadequate and incompetent and in need of reform.
In "A Roof Over my Head," Jean Calterone Williams expresses this well:
"By making many aspects of their programs mandatory . . . shelters give the impression that homeless people will not take the initiative on their own to look for work or housing, enroll their children in school, or keep their living spaces clean. They must be forced to do so. By mandating budgeting classes, shelters suggest that people become homeless in part because they are irresponsible with their money. It is in a sense a symbiotic relationship: shelter programs influence the ways housed people think about homelessness, the views of the housed public -- whether ordinary citizens or policymakers -- affect the formation of shelter programs and how such programs treat homeless people."
I AM BEMUSED by announcements that come over the radio from time to time by foundations or institutes saying they are studying the causes of homelessness and seeking cures.
In fact, the causes are quite simple and have been studied quite enough. Homelessness is caused by poverty, insufficient affordable housing and insufficient money to pay for housing, and a weak or nonexistent safety net of income maintenance and support services.
It is true that many of the homeless are alcoholics or drug addicts, but they need a home while they are coping with their problem, and they need treatment programs, and both are in short supply.
It is also true that many of the homeless have emotional problems. Who wouldn't have emotional problems if they were homeless? But they need a home while they are coping with their problems and they need support services. Both are in short supply.
A disproportionate number of foster children who have "aged out" of the foster care system are homeless.
A disproportionate number of veterans are homeless. It is the fault of the government that they are in this condition, but the government has deserted them.
A large percentage of homeless women have been abused. While they may need a temporary refuge to escape the abuser and counseling to help them heal, they also need permanent housing, childcare, a job that pays a living wage, and social supports.
The focus on individual problems shifts attention away from structural problems and obscures the real causes of homelessness. It leads to stereotyping of homeless people as deviant and degenerate, drunk or drugged, or crazy. When these stereotypes are embedded in people's minds, they view every beggar as a scammer.
Stereotyping leads to criminalizing the homeless, allowing cities to sweep them from the streets. It gives implicit permission to delinquent thugs to beat them up.
Stereotyping leads to ever-changing policies geared to fixing different target sub-populations of homeless people. There are "periodic calls for local homeless plans based upon the newest policy flavor (and) temporary and local responses to homelessness that fail to address its systemic causes."
"New words on the horizon, Shelter plus Care. Transitional Housing, Permanent supportive housing, work force housing. These words devalue people though they may get grant monies for them. They imply that the people need to be fixed and that the latter workforce housing, is the better deal for a community." Cindy Carlson
The public stereotypes become internalized by the homeless, causing them to try to distance themselves from the "undeserving Other," however they visualize the "Other."
I met many people in the welfare office who told me that they were "not like those others" who are lazy and don't want to work. I told one woman that what might look like laziness is actually depression, and she admitted that she was depressed.
Homeless men resist being categorized as "homeless" because that conjures up the image of a drunken bum.
Homeless women resist being categorized as "homeless" because that conjures up the image of a crazy disheveled "bag lady."
Battered women resist being described as "battered," preferring to see themselves as "survivors."
There is a hierarchy of deserving vs. undeserving in the public's mind. Battered women are seen as deserving because they are victims. Parents and children are more deserving than single men because children are innocent victims.
Homeless men are the least deserving, because they should be working. These images of the homeless help to shape the way shelters treat their residents and the way the residents view themselves.
Even though many women who have been victims of domestic violence are not in battered women's shelters, the women in battered women's shelters often see themselves as superior to homeless women in family shelters.
I end with thisIn the book Poor peoples movements Piven and Cloward conclude:
One can never predict with certainty when the "heavings and rumblings of the social foundations" will force up large-scale defiance, although changes of great magnitude were at work. Who, after all, could have predicted the extraordinary mobilization of black people beginning in 1955? Nor can one calculate with certainty the responses of elites to mass disruption. There are no blueprints to guide movements of the poor. But if organizers and leaders want to help those movements emerge, they must always proceed as if protest were possible. They may fail. The time may not the right. But then, they may sometimes succeed.
Illegal to be homeless-we made the list
1. Little Rock, Arkansas
11. Sarasota, Florida
2. Atlanta, Georgia
12. Key West, Florida
3. Cincinnati, Ohio
13. Nashville, Tennessee
4. Las Vegas, Nevada
14. Berkeley, California
5. Gainesville, Florida
15. Dallas, Texas
6. New York City, New York
16. Fresno, California
7. Los Angeles, California
17. San Antonio, Texas
8. San Francisco, California
18. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
9. Honolulu, Hawaii
19. St. Paul, Minnesota
10. Austin, Texas
20. Manchester, New Hampshire
The Criminalization of the Homeless-Homes Not Jails
July 6, 2004 Union Leader Newspaper
Ex-homeless Mom named to state post
A local advocate for the homeless has been selected to serve as the state field coordintor for the National Coalition for the Homeless Civil Rights Organizing Project...The organizing Project seeks to stop policies and practices that discriminate against the homeless."
And so the work continues.
Manchester's City Ordinances Arbitrarily Used against Person’s Experiencing Homelessness
§ 130.01 PUBLIC LOUNGING OR SLEEPING.
§ 130.02 OBSTRUCTING PASSAGEWAYS.
§ 130.24 PUBLIC DRINKING.
(B) Exemption: This section shall not apply to the area of a sidewalk encumbered by resturants
§ 91.68 DEPOSIT OF LITTER.
§ 91.70 LITTER ON VACANT PROPERTY.
§ 91.73 LITTERING IN PARKS.
NH RSA 645:1, III
Indecent Exposure and Lewdness
Charged as a sex offender
TITLE III TOWNS, CITIES, VILLAGE DISTRICTS, AND UNINCORPORATED PLACES
CHAPTER 47 POWERS OF CITY COUNCILS Bylaws and Ordinances Section 47:17
47:17 Bylaws and Ordinances. – The city councils shall have power to make all such salutary and needful bylaws as towns and the police officers of towns and engineers or firewards by law have power to make and to annex penalties, not exceeding $1,000, for the breach thereof; and may make, establish, publish, alter, modify, amend and repeal ordinances, rules, regulations, and bylaws for the following purposes: I. IN GENERAL. To carry into effect all the powers by law vested in the city….XIII. VAGRANTS, OBSCENE CONDUCT. To restrain and punish vagrants, mendicants, street beggars, strolling musicians, and common prostitutes, and all kinds of immoral and obscene conduct, and to regulate the times and places of bathing and swimming in the canals, rivers and other waters of the city, and the clothing to be worn by bathers and swimmers…
Everyday people experienceing homelessness are ticketed for doing things outside that they would not have to do if they lived in their own homes.
Lawmaker wants to outlaw public peeing
Published: October 01, 2007
By The Associated PressCONCORD – A New Hampshire lawmaker says peeing in public exposes a flaw in the law.
Strange as it sounds, Democratic Rep. Stephen Shurtleff says making public urination a separate crime could really help people out.
Currently, there is no state law specifically addressing public urination; it's prosecuted under a patchwork of local and state laws, indecent exposure among them.
Shurtleff says because indecent exposure is a sex offense, multiple convictions could land habitual public urinators on a sex offender registry, a penalty he feels is too severe for the crime.
"I think some of the stigma attached to that is greater than the offense," he said. "It's public urination, and they should be charged with it."
As a member of the House Judiciary Committee, Shurtleff, of Concord, is working to rewrite New Hampshire's sex offender laws to comply with a new federal law. Under federal law, those convicted of indecent exposure twice in three years would be forced to register as sex offenders.
Shurtleff said he will push for a law making public urination a misdemeanor.
NH has acute shortage of housing stock 2009
NH has an acute shortage of housing stock, especially of housing (both for home ownership and for rental) affordable to households earning less than area median income. In the past decade we have built fewer than 900 new multifamily units, and some of those have been luxury apartments.
Rents in the southern half of the state have increased as much as 37% over the last 5 years. The state median rent is $978/month, and over $1000 per month in Manchester, Nashua and Portsmouth.
Based on projections from the NH Economic and Labor Market Information Bureau, 65% of new jobs will pay less than the state level "housing wage" of $18.81, the amount needed to afford a typical apartment.
6553 people were sheltered in NH's emergency shelters in FY03, but 13,529 were turned away because there were no available beds. That doesn't count the number of people doubled up with friends or family.
Because of HUD cuts in funding, the NH Housing Finance Authority, among others, have closed their waiting lists for Section 8 Housing Vouchers and will not be able to issue any new vouchers for the foreseeable future. This means that low income families do not have access to subsidies for their rent. where do they go now?
Because land cost and construction costs are so high in most of the state, new construction of affordable housing can generally only be done using various federally funded housing production programs (Low Income Housing Tax Credits, HOPE VI, Rural Housing, project based Section 8, etc.)