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Kick ‘Em When They’re Down

Homeless ManNo matter what a homeless person might do, whether it’s to return some lost money, or to be found dead in a dumpster, their identity is “homeless.” It’s as if the individual’s status as a non-owner and non-renter of real estate is the most important thing about her or him. Where property is worshipped as a god, not to own property is a sin. And when a person compounds that sin by not even contributing to help someone else own property (by paying rent), that’s even worse.

Basically, it’s open season on non-property-owners. A person could get the impression that the motto of America, in regard to people experiencing homelessness, is “Kick ’em when they’re down.” And there are so many ways to do it. The stories range from pathetic to lurid. In Georgia, the declaration that gays deserve to be homeless is made by a clergyperson who is unclear on the concept of Christian charity.

In Missouri, a homeless man loses his public library privileges because a news article tipped off the staff that he lived in a car. The deprivation this represents is described by Tony Pugh in a TruthOut article about libraries struggling with budget cuts. He writes,

They’re the lone source of free computer and internet access in most communities, allowing the unemployed to search for jobs, learn computer skills and spruce up their resumes. Millions use them to stay in touch with relatives, apply for government services or to seek health information. But public libraries’ critical role as neighborhood information hubs hasn’t shielded the nearly 17,000 of them across the country from budget scalpels.

This next one is too perfect. It’s one of those headlines you see and automatically think it’s from the renowned satire publication, The Onion:

Portland One-Legged Homeless Man Discharged From Jail Without Wheelchair

But no, it’s not from The Onion, or Mad Magazine, nothing like that. Mary Plummer reported this story for ABC News. Here is the relevant excerpt:

The security officers apparently watched as Scott Hamilton, 37, used his hands to scoot out of the jail on his butt and head out into the dark street about 1 a.m. Hamilton then made his way to a convenience store about three blocks away where girlfriend Eve Browne picked him up… Hamilton has rheumatoid arthritis, and his hands were swollen and purple after making the trek, Browne said.

A little over a month ago, Chris Sadeghi of KXAN News in Austin reported on the story of a homeless woman who was severely beaten and locked in a storage unit where she wasn’t found for two days. He says,

Richard Troxell with House the Homeless said that many times homeless people who are unable to get into shelter’s have to resort to alternative means such as storage units. ‘We are talking about the need to have safe decent affordable housing and it is not available at the wage people are being paid,’ said Troxell. ‘So people are looking for alternatives and sometimes they are not the best alternatives.’

Sadeghi also noted that House the Homeless prints and distributes cards with information about shelters and services. The organization also provides information about the somewhat improved sit/lie ordinance, to help keep people out of trouble. Some kinds of trouble, anyway.

A while back, we talked about “bum fights,” a disgusting cultural trend. This genre of so-called entertainment hasn’t gone away. In April, The Miami Herald reported that homeless men were being paid by a website specializing in violent pornography, which videotaped them being assaulted by women.

Journalist Emily Nipps says,

Local homeless advocate G.W. Rolle said for months he noticed men walking around Williams Park with black eyes, split lips and limps before he finally got someone to tell him about the ‘beatdowns,’ as they have come to be known among the homeless… The site offers custom videos, made for the buyer’s specifications, starting at $600… The men say they were offered $25 to be whipped and $50 to be beaten by the women. They were not allowed to fight back, they say, and did not get paid if they quit before the 12 minutes expired.

In his book Hollywood Unlisted, phone technician Kim Fahey relates his interactions with everyone from movie stars to street people. This excerpt concerns a conversation Fahey had with a homeless woman he knew, called Sunshine:

I asked her if guys still hassled her for sex. She had a coughing fit at that question. I had to wait for her to get her composure before I could get a straight answer out of her. ‘Sex? These guys don’t give a rolling (bleep) about sex. They just want to stay warm. It gets (bleep)ing cold sometimes. (Bleep)ing road workers will point those big sprinklers on us in the middle of the night in the camp and soak all our stuff. Man are they some real (bleep)ing (bleep)s!’

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Source: “Book Bind: Public Libraries Feel Strain of Budget Cuts,” TruthOut.org, 04/20/11
Source: “Portland One-Legged Homeless Man Discharged From Jail Without Wheelchair,” ABC News, 05/25/11
Source: “Woman beaten, locked in storage unit,” KXAN.com, 04/29/11
Source: “Lawsuit: Women beat homeless men for sex fetish videos,” The Miami Herald, 04/12/11
Source: “Hollywood Unlisted,” Amazon.com
Image by Letheravensoar (Tyler M.), used under its Creative Commons license.