Friday, March 16, 2012

though my story's seldom told

(Just a warning: I'm going to curse in this post.)

Mayor Nutter recently proposed a ban on feeding homeless people in public spaces--like the subway, or Love Park, or the Ben Franklin Parkway.

Here are some links:

Mayor Nutter wants to ban feeding homeless people in city parks

Nutter Feeds Us a Load of Crap With New Homeless Rule

If you've read any of my posts before, you'd have seen that I spent a good amount of time in college hanging out with homeless people. I also spent the year after college working with homeless women.

Here's my response to Mayor Nutter:

Fuck. That. Shit.


This is not a new thing in Philly. In the late 90s, the city passed the Sidewalk Ordinance, which banned people from loitering. Well, it banned certain people from loitering. If I, a white girl, fell asleep with a book on a bench, most likely I wouldn't have been harassed or chased out.

Project HOME reports that on any given day, there are 4,000 homeless people in Philadelphia.That number is only the number on the streets or in (emergency) shelters. It doesn't count people in low-income or substandard housing or in transitional housing. In 2005, over 14,000 people were served by the Office of Emergency Shelter and Services. That's a hell of a lot of people.

The official reason for this new policy is that the city wants feeding programs to move inside. There's speculation that the unofficial reasons are that 1) the Barnes Foundation is re-opening on the Parkway (and there's an organization that does meals right down the street in front of the Free Library) and 2) it's the beginning of tourist season.

I don't think that my being allowed to give the guy on the street a sandwich is going to solve homelessness. Far from it. I think that a concentrated effort of getting people good education, good shelter, and good jobs will--well, it won't solve the problem, but it'll help. And what has this city done toward that end in the years that I've been here? Not much that I can see. I do think that this law denies homeless people their humanity and dignity.

I had this homeless friend named Pop in college. We used to go into the Dunkin Donuts in Suburban Station. He'd get a tea, I'd get coffee, and we'd sit and talk for a while. As far as I know, Pop's still by the steps under the clothespin statue. I haven't seen him in a while, mostly because I don't go that way anymore.

Maybe I will, though, and see if he's there. Because, seriously, Mr. Nutter? Fuck you. I thought you were better than that.

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