10 Things You Need to Know to Live on the Streets
Greetings! I’m Nico Trimoff, manager of transcription and accessibility services at www.sterlingcreations.ca.
Today, my choice of article concerns how to survive on the streets of our city and I have chosen this article in light of how much we care about those who for so many reasons end up living on the streets. Maybe you can use this article to help others.
I wish you a pleasant day.
10 Things You Need to Know to Live on the Streets
By Walter Mosley and Rae Gomes, The Nation
Posted on July 28, 2009, Printed on July 28, 2009
For millions of Americans, the housing crisis began well before last
year’s front-page collapse. Bigotry and criminalization by an unjust system
of policing and incarceration, combined with economic privation, have kept
even the meager privilege of a subprime mortgage or slumlord lease out of
reach for many. As the crisis unfolds, the number of homeless will grow.
Picture the Homeless, a social justice organization founded and led by
homeless people in New York City, has joined The Nation to come up with a
list of things you need to know to live on the street–and ways we can all
build movements to challenge the stigma of homelessness and put forward an
alternative vision of community.
1. Be prepared to be blamed for your circumstances, no matter how much
they may be beyond your control. Think of ways to disabuse the public of
common misconceptions. Don’t internalize cruelty or condescension. Let go of
your pride–but hold on to your dignity.
2. There is no private space to which you may retreat. You are on
display 24/7. Learn to travel light. Store valuables in a safe place, only
carrying around what you really need: ID and documents for accessing
services, a pen, etc. You can check e-mail and read at the library. You can
get a post office box for a fee or use general delivery (free).
3. Learn the best bathroom options, where you won’t be rushed, turned
away or harassed. Find restrooms where it’s clean enough to put your stuff
down, the stalls are big enough to change in and there’s hot water so you
can wash up. If you’re in New York City go to Restrooms in New York.
4. It’s difficult to have much control over when, where and what you
eat, so learn soup kitchen schedules and menus. Carry with you nuts, peanut
butter or other foods high in protein. Click here to find a list of soup
kitchens by state.
5. Food and clothing are easier to find than a safe place to
sleep–the first truth of homelessness is sleep deprivation. Always have a
blanket. Whenever possible, sleep in groups with staggered schedules, so you
can look out for one another, prioritizing children’s needs over those of
6. Know your rights! Knowing constitutional amendments, legal
precedents and human rights provisions can help you, even if they’re
routinely violated. In New York, for example, a 2003 court-ordered
settlement strictly forbids selective enforcement of the law against the
homeless. The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement offers another resource, and the
ACLU has cards, brochures, fact sheets and films.
7. Learn police patterns and practices. Be polite and calm to cops,
even when they don’t give the same respect. Support initiatives demanding
independent police accountability. Link with groups from overlapping
populations of nonhomeless and homeless people (i.e., black, Latino, LGBT
groups) that are fighting police brutality and building nonpolice safety
projects, like the Audre Lorde Project’s Safe OUTside the System in
Brooklyn. Organize your own CopWatch–and photograph, videotape and
publicize instances of police abuse. Consider and support models like the
Los Angeles Community Action Network or the People’s Self Defense Campaign
of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement in Brooklyn.
8. The First Amendment protects your right to solicit aid
(panhandling), especially if your pitch or sign is a statement rather than a
request. To succeed, be creative, funny, engaging (“I didn’t get a
bailout!”). Find good, high-traffic spots where the police won’t bother you.
9. Housing is a human right! Squat. Forge coalitions with nonhomeless
but potentially displaced people in this era of mass foreclosures. Support
United Workers in Baltimore, the Coalition on Homelessness in San Francisco,
the Nashville Homeless Power Project. Learn about campaigns against
homelessness in other nations, including the Landless Workers’ Movement in
Brazil and the Anti-Eviction Campaign in South Africa.
10. Don’t go it alone! Always be part of an informal network of trust
and mutual aid. Start your own organization, with homeless people themselves
shaping the fight for a better life and world. Check out the Picture the
Homeless Blog for news, updates and reports on homelessness in NY.
This monthly feature was conceived by writer and Nation editorial
board member Walter Mosley as a kind of do-it-yourself opinion and action
device, and Rae Gomes provided research. Most often “Ten Things” will offer
a brief list of recommendations for accomplishing a desired political or
social end, sometimes bringing to light something generally unknown. The
purpose of the feature is to go to the heart of issues in a stripped-down,
active and informed way. After getting a visiting expert–or everyday
citizen–to construct the list, The Nation will interview that person and
post a brief online version of “Ten Things,” with links to relevant
websites, books or other information. Readers who wish to propose ideas for
“Ten Things” should e-mail
NationTenThings@gmail.com or use the e-form at
the bottom of this page.
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