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Posts Tagged ‘change.org’

A lot of items have crossed my screen recently that piqued my interest. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Is ‘a doll always a doll’, really? Would you pay $95 for a ‘homeless’ doll? We asked your opinion on our VibeGlobe page. I had to take a few days to process this one, but I’ve settled in on an opinion similar to the one expressed by Shannon Moriarty on Change.org’s blog. I could hop on my soapbox and excoriate Mattel, like others have. But I think this is less about a company doing what companies are supposed to do (make $), and more about how we (me, you, and the person sitting next to you) are afraid to accept the possibility that a child’s toy might be a little too real for us adults…
  • If you’re a reader of the Unite to End Homeless blog, you’ll be familiar with my muted disdain for the editorial board of the Seattle Times. I don’t always disagree with them, and I’m not the only one who does whenever I do. But when I read this recent editorial about Councilmember Tim Burgess’ proposed panhandling ordinance, I couldn’t remember what city I lived in. So I pose this question to you all: have you ever felt intimidated enough by someone asking for change that you felt compelled to give it to them, short of them having a weapon of some kind (that ain’t panhandling, that’s robbery). If you have, tell me. I want to know! I want to write your story! Because in all my time here, in the thousands of times I’ve been asked for money by someone who obviously needed it more than me, I have NEVER had anyone say anything to me other than ‘thank you’, ‘God Bless you’, or ‘have a nice day’, regardless of whether or not I gave them anything more than a smile. So let me hear it! I want to know! To paraphrase the last sentence of the editorial: ‘The city has a duty to regulate–within the law, within reason–the manner in which it treats its most vulnerable citizens as they go about their daily lives.’
  • And speaking of Mr. Burgess (and the Times editorial page, for that matter), it appears he had some overnight guests earlier this week. In this particular instance, I actually find myself agreeing with the editorial writers for the most part. Money is definitely tight, in everyone’s budget, and pulling something like this isn’t going to make someone like Mayor Nickels or the City Council open up their empty pocketbooks. As the writers stated, it would be far more productive for us to focus on getting the housing levy passed in November and other long-term issues like working with a new city administration.
  • And finally, since I’ve made it clear how I feel on Proposition 1, a few words about a few other items coming up this fall: Initiative 1033 and Referendum 71. While supporters of I-1033 would like you to believe that capping tax revenue makes government more accountable, all it really does is make it harder for government to fill its role as sole provider for such frivolous things as education, law enforcement, and public transportation, not to mention indispensable social services such as public health clinics and senior centers that, while also supported by nonprofits and religious organizations, would suffer immensely without government support. Now, I know this might not be a popular stance to take, that many of us truly believe taxes are evil and government is wasteful, slothful, etc and we want our money back! I just read the website, and it sounds wonderful. But the fact is that this Initiative would make it more difficult for government services to be enacted during the very time that they are needed the most. We’ll make it harder to hire more teachers, place more unemployed or underemployed people into job training and skill development programs at community colleges, or have an adequate response method in the event of a public emergency (last time I checked, we had a few active volcanoes in the region). ALL of that, and more, is paid for with tax revenue.
  • As for Ref 71, you may not see a link between a domestic partnership law and homelessness. But consider this: nearly 40% of homeless people under 18 years of age identify themselves as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender (LGBT). And if you don’t think being homeless had anything to do with their sexual orientation for these kids, just stop reading this because it’s not worth my time. They’re kicked out, they run away, they end up on the street. They’re called queer, fag, freak…and they are smacked in the face by laws in their own country that prevent them from growing up, falling in love, and marrying the person that they want to spend the rest of their life with.

    You may not think Ref 71 is about equal rights for gays and lesbians, and that’s fine. But passing this referendum will, at the very least, provide the residents of Washington with an opportunity to look into the faces of some of these young people and say: You are not worthless. You are not weird. You and your loved ones will be treated like everyone else.

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    I had a chance to participate in some organized panel discussions recently, and one of the questions for the panelists asked about ‘the face of homelessness’. The truth is, this issue has many faces. I’ll write more about this over the next week or so. But today, I wanted to share this story with you. It’s from a project that I’ve mentioned several times before, invisiblepeople.tv. This is Coreen. Unlike many of the stories you hear these days, Coreen isn’t homeless due to the recession…

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    Here’s a quick update on a few folks I’ve written about previously. I’ve tried my best to follow the stories of Mark Horvath and David Ashby. They’re both doing amazing, inspiring things to raise awareness around homelessness…but it’s really the stories that they’re hearing that I find inspiringly heart-breaking.

  • Mark, the creator of invisiblepeople.tv, is in the middle of his road trip around America to chronicle the lives of homeless people in this, the wealthiest broke nation in the history of the world. He’s visited shelters and tent cities from LA to Florida, and his work has quickly become a “social media phenomenon”, as pointed out in this recent article for the Social Media Club of Seattle. He’ll be back in Seattle for the Gnomedex 9.0 conference on August 20th to talk about using social media to create change. Definitely check it out, if you have a chance!
  • As for 14-year old David, he is closing in on his destination of Washington DC, having walked over 740 miles so far on his journey. He recounts some of the stories of the homeless youth he’s met on his trek on his blog. David should arrive in DC sometime next week, where I hope President Obama takes the time to meet with this young man. It’s not clear whether or not that will happen, and David’s pretty clear about that not being the point of this experience. But if you want to see it happen, you can sign a petition on Change.org’s website before August 15th.

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  • Here’s one of Mark Horvath’s interviews on invisiblepeople.tv from his visit to Nickelsville last week. Listen to James talk about his community, and think about if you feel this connection to your own neighbors…and be sure to check out the links in my previous post about Mark’s presentation!

    Patrick

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    Last night, I had the privilege to meet a hero that I didn’t even know I had. Mark Horvath, founder of a project that I’ve blogged about previously called invisiblepeople.tv, was in Seattle this week as part of a national tour to talk about the project. There’s a lot I’d like to write about based on his presentation and the discussion that followed, but I’m still sorting through my thoughts. I’m a thinker, it’s what I do. But here are few things:

  • Mark previously worked as an executive in the TV industry for a variety of shows, all of whom I’d heard of, but can only remember “21 Jumpstreet” right now for some reason.
  • Fifteen years ago, he was homeless in Hollywood.
  • He currently has no income, and started this project in November of 2008 with nothing but an iPhone.
  • Mark also talked about Housing First, the model I’ve referred to numerous times before on this blog, as the best available idea to help chronically homeless individuals get off and stay off the streets. It saves money!
  • Mark also had a chance to visit Nickelsville while he was in town. Check out the blog at Change.org. The video is enlightening.
  • Mark used several powerful videos in his presentation, and I’ll see if I can post those later.

    Patrick

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    Yesterday, the state of Maryland became the first in America to extend hate-crime protection to homeless people. There are several sad circumstances that lead to this type of legislative action, the least of which is that attacks on homeless people increased 65% between 2005 and 2007 and many of those attacks were performed by youth, some as young as 10 years old.

    But some homeless advocates, while lauding this legislation, also believe it sidesteps the real issues. As Shannon Moriarty points out in her blog on Change.org, lack of housing is something fixable in someone’s status, unlike their gender, sexual orientation or ethnicity. By passing a law like this, aren’t we in a weird sort of way saying ‘it’s okay to be homeless’? Just like it’s okay to be gay, Asian, etc? Instead of spending time in the legislative process to discuss and pass laws such as this, why not actually admit that we suck at affordably housing people in our communities and do something about THAT?

    This law was passed in the shadow of a very sobering study released recently by the National Low Income Housing Alliance, the 2009 Out of Reach Report. I will write more about this study as the summer progresses, as it contains such a rich (no pun intended) amount of data. But among the more dismal findings I’d like to bring to your attention are:

  • There is not a single county in the entire United States where a person working full-time at the minimum wage can afford a 1-bedroom apartment at the Fair Market Rent (FMR) value.
  • A household must earn $37,105 to be able to “afford” the national average FMR of $928 per month for a 2-bedroom unit (“afford”=paying less than 30% of their income for housing).
  • In KING COUNTY, that annual income increases to $38,480. For a 1-bedroom unit, it’s $32,800. That means a single person wanting to rent a 1-bedroom apartment at FMR would need to make $15.77 an hour, full-time (40hrs/wk, 52wks/yr).
  • Minimum wage in Washington is $8.55/hr. That means a single person wanting to rent a 1-bedroom apartment in King County at the FMR would need to work the equivalent of almost two full-time jobs at the minimum wage.
  • The answers do exist. Housing First works. Affordable Housing projects all over the country are achieving levels of success, one unit at a time, in places as small as Steamboat Springs, CO, or Kenosha, WI, and as big as Houston or Los Angeles. (Don’t believe me? Set up a Google! Alert for ‘affordable housing’ and read it for a week). There are setbacks, to be sure. But I visited an affordable housing project in Redmond yesterday, and it works! There’s even an affordable housing “plan” available out there for us.

    When will there be a better time to do this than Right Now, when we’re fed up with rental properties and homes being auctioned off for a quick buck, while more and more families are being forced onto the very streets those properties occupy? Instead of criminalizing people who are homeless, kicking them out of parks at night and off of sidewalks during the day (or not even letting them pitch a tent across the street), might it be possible to craft a community or a country where we don’t need to legislate protective measures for someone based solely on their housing status?

    Patrick Kelley

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    I just found a great site containing stories of homeless people through Change.org. It’s called invisiblepeople.tv. I couldn’t get through more than 3 of the stories at a time. And as I sit here, I start to think about other stories I know, others that I’ve heard.

  • There’s the married couple I met at the Community Resource Exchange last Wednesday. As I checked their bags outside so they didn’t have to carry them around at the event, they told me a little bit of their story. Been married less than a year, and both lost their jobs before Christmas. You could see they were in love, in that newlywed kind of way. But they were also scared. They were a few weeks away from losing their apartment, so I directed them to the housing services area inside. Then they disappeared into the crowd…
  • There’s Rick, another individual who came by the event. Rick’s story was featured on several local stations (TV and radio). It’s a story that was mirrored by dozens of others on Wednesday, yet genuinely unique if only because it was HIS.
  • Stories. Of course, we all have one. But along with that fact of life, don’t we also need someone to tell it to? Ask any volunteer from Wednesday, and they’ll probably tell you the best part about the event was the opportunity to listen to another human being tell their story, someone who they would have never (not in a million lifetimes) otherwise taken the time to listen to.

    Go to invisiblepeople.tv. Read their stories. Buy a copy of Real Change, and chat with the vendor. Listen to their stories. Better yet, offer to buy them a cup of coffee and get inside somewhere, because this weather blows.

    You will be surprised.

    Patrick Kelley

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