When stupid people speak, all I hear is incoherency: muah muah mwa mwah, muh mwah mwa muah.

After yesterday’s blog made its rounds, what I expected to happen, happened exactly as I thought it would. People were quick to throw around accusations and coddle their judgmental leanings so no surprises there. Their rhetoric is tired and old, just like their ignorance but when you’re addicted to lifelong stupidity, there is no rehab center to go to and there’s no cure for willful ignorance.

First assumptions that many want to believe are the negative ones, drug addiction, lack of education, a bad relationship, whatever negative image an idiot can think of or run to, that’s the one they coddle. Guess what? I’ve never done drugs, drank and for those that only read what they wanted to, I worked two jobs while being homeless so not doing anything to get myself out of homelessness is an assumption pulled out of your asses! How easy it is to put someone else down to inflate your sense of self-righteousness and people like you are a dime a dozen and your mentalities are worth about half as much. Your racism is the product of your inbreeding and you aren’t interesting in hearing any kind of truth that contrasts with your chosen beliefs about other people.

So what if you are involved in “charity”. Charity isn’t necessarily justice especially if someone is forced into constantly being on the receiving side without the hope of getting out from under a system that keeps you trapped in dependence. How about YOU research the facts before you open your mouth? And does your charity create living wage jobs for everybody trying to get one? What dumbass actually believes that’s not a real issue in this country?

I do thank those ignoramuses out there; they validate what I said before about stupid people. You can’t fix them because many don’t want to be cured. It’s easier to open their mouths without thinking and what comes out is a loud declaration of what kind of people they are. Unfortunately, these people vote the same way so it’s up to the rest of us to fight against inbred hatred. Here’s the thing about opinions, some are actually worth your time, the rest are toilet paper.

Stupid people don’t realize how stupid they are so that’s half the amusement. What’s not funny is what I see out here when I do outreach to homeless youth, seniors, vets, women with children, men with children and unaccompanied youth. Finding homeless folks who committed suicide or died from life out on the streets is equally un-amusing. Talking to runaways stuck in human trafficking ain’t exactly a joke but stupid people don’t care to hear about these kinds of realities. Stupid people look away from the fact that just having a job that doesn’t pay a living wage, won’t keep you out of poverty and yet these very same stupid people somehow think that poor folks don’t have the right to complain about the obstacles they have to overcome just to get to a level playing field.

For those of you who actually do get it, I salute you. It’s not easy walking among stupid people, is it? Every day you have to spray yourself down with Teflon so their stupidity won’t stick. Keep fighting the good fight against ignorance since the need is apparently great.

To the incurably stupid, mwah muah mwa muah, mwah mwa mwa mwa…….

 

My fist

 

 

I have a confession to make; there are days where I can’t stand what I do. It’s not the work in itself; it’s the dealing with mind boggling assholes who actually think their idiotic comments about poor people should be taken seriously. Even more aggravating is the dumbass tactics cities and police departments use to harass us and sweep us from public view as if just ignoring poverty or criminalizing it and the people trying to do something about it will somehow cure it. And don’t even get me started on holier than thou’s that are quick to pass judgments on people they do nothing for while sitting comfortably in their alternate universes.

Quite frankly, I don’t give a fuck about your misinformed opinions about homeless people because I know the realities of being a homeless mother for eight and a half years. I don’t give a shit that you think poor people should be tested for drugs before receiving “welfare”.  I don’t give a rat’s ass if you think the poor are somehow less human than those who aren’t. I don’t give a flying fuck that you’re stupid enough to believe there’s all these resources out here to send homeless vets, seniors, the terminally ill, the disabled, families and youth to and I sure the hell don’t give a damn about opinions that believe we don’t have the money to house people WHEN WE SURE THE HELL HAVE MONEY FOR WARS AND WE SURE THE HELL CAN GIVE TAX BREAKS TO THE FILTHY RICH!!

I’m not interested in the latest bullshit tabloid scandals or what crappy show is on television. I don’t give a damn about how many people you’ve slept with, what your sexual orientation is nor do I place too much importance on the color of skin or how you got into this country. Who gives a fuck what brand name is tattooed on the seat of your pants, your car or the phone you just bought? I don’t need you to tell me what I need to do since your ass was nowhere to be found while I had a stroke on the way to picking up my kids before heading off to a second job. Where the fuck were you when the car we were living out of broke down and we were literally stranded on the side of the road with nowhere to go and no gas or money to get gas to go anywhere else? Who the fuck are you to assume that poor folks don’t want to work and that they weren’t responsible enough to avoid homelessness? I’ve had two jobs since I was twelve, bitches!

Don’t invite me to your half ass meetings on ending homelessness because you just plain don’t do enough fast enough! When did any of you listen to people like me who night after night stayed awake behind a steering wheel listening to their kids cry themselves to sleep in the backseat because they were hungry? Oh you’ll open your pocket books to help a pretty white girl or guy but if that woman or man happens to be of color, they’ll be lucky to get bus fare and a sandwich. I don’t give a damn if you don’t want to believe that race plays a part on how much help you get but it’s a reality I’ve lived with and you can’t tell me my experience with racism, even among my own people, doesn’t exist.  Don’t waste my time with waiting lists and promises of help when you already know damn well you can’t guarantee anything! I don’t need false hope, I need real stability like a living wage job and a safe place for my kids to be while working more than one job because that’s the only way I’ll ever be able to afford a place of my own before I die.

Don’t assume that just because I have a blog and a few followers that I get money from “fans”. Truth is there are only a handful of people who donate to me to help me help local homeless folks who are worse off than I am.  That’s not to say folks didn’t rally around me when I was in desperate trouble, like when my only transportation and shelter broke down in winter but that was about two years ago and the only thing that’s changed after living on wheels for almost 9 years is the direct help I got to “couch surf” through the winter at Liz’s house thanks to Andy but guess what? I’M NOT OUT OF POVERTY! I worry about not having a job much less child care and if you don’t have money for child care, you don’t have a job, do you? What happens if I can’t (after a sufficient amount of time has passed) make enough to help contribute to utilities or pay rent? Section 8 is closed to apply for in this state and should an application magically appear out of thin air, the waiting list for Section 8 is several years long.

Maybe I’m just pissed off that everywhere I look, I see masses of people who care more about bullshit than they do about being real. Maybe I’m pissed off that my mother’s doctors told her that at the rate her cancer is going right now, she only has a few months to live and watching her sell off what little possessions she has to compensate for bills she can’t afford to pay is the reason the rage inside of me can’t be contained any longer.

But who gives a fuck about that as long as they ‘re comfortably distanced from the reality us poor folks get to face every day.

handful of pennies

 

An aunt of mine asked me something I get asked a lot and that is whether or not I see more people of color out here than I do white folks. I’ve also been asked by others if I think racism plays a part on who gets help. Since I can only speak from my own experiences and what I have personally observed, I can tell you that yes, there are more people of color in poverty than whites, yes, I have seen preferential treatment given to people who do not look like me but I have noticed a curious phenomenon that occurs outside of white communities and that is we people of color do not support each other as much as we should.

Let me give you an example of what I have seen happen not just to myself but to other people of color who have fallen on hard times. Recently I was contacted by a woman much darker than me who had two kids and was staying in the basement of a church in Seattle. They were only able to give her shelter for 30 days, after that, she and her boys were on their own. I posted photos of her online so that people could see this was a real woman struggling in their community. Right away I started getting accusatory questions regarding her situation, does she have addiction problems that led her to homelessness? Is she mentally ill? Maybe she doesn’t manage her money properly. Is she a high school drop out? This woman went to college, applied for every job she could think of, was on a standby part time position at a local hospital, didn’t own a car and never had to ask for help before and yet all this negativity was being hurled at her not from white folks but from other people of color! Assumptions made about a woman of color they did not personally know! For all my fundraising efforts, donations came in from a handful of people that only totaled three weeks’ worth of motel stays. Out of the handful of people that donated, two were white, the others local people of color that barely had enough to live on themselves.

Flash back to another case of a young single white mother with a three year old I found sitting on the sidewalk panhandling for enough money to get a hotel room for the night. I posted her story and people couldn’t wait to donate funds to help her. Then there was another white mom who happened to be married to a black man. Before anyone donated to them, again, accusatory questions were asked about them right from the start not just from white folks but from people of color as well! Time and time again I have seen a pattern when it comes to how many donations I get to help local homeless folks and the fact is, if it’s a white person I post about, they get more help from their community than our community helps our own.

If you think this only happens in the black community, guess again. I have experienced this same behavior in the Native American community and the Filipino community as well. It is as though we judge ourselves and our prosperity based on the white man’s standards of living instead of keeping to our ways of supporting our own communities the way we always have without outside influences dictating to us what are priorities should be. We need to be teaching our kids that life is not a rap video. They need to be taught that narcissism and materialism do not make them better human beings. We need to be the first line of defense against the offense of poverty in our communities since poverty is something communities of color know all too well. It doesn’t matter what other people think of us, we have to think better about how our perceptions prevent us from being better societies.

Maybe if I were white and wrote a fictitious story about why poor people make bad decisions, I could garner donations totaling $50,000 or more but the reality is that I probably never will since I am a very real woman of color who knows what it’s like to be a homeless mother and even though I write about the experience as well as tweet about it, any help I’ve been given hasn’t gotten me out of homelessness. The only thing that gave me a place to stay was direct intervention about four months ago from a friend who happens to be white. I’m still struggling to find a steady income that will pay for rent and child care but how long will that take?

Paper plate

 

 

 

 

Ever notice how the poor are suddenly the focus of more attention around the holidays? What about the rest of the year? Does Christian charity only happen on Christmas and what about the atheists? Does not having a belief system make them any less caring than those who do? Does your political affiliation make a difference in reducing poverty anywhere?  Seems to me that beliefs either personal or political, have nothing to do with showing compassion all year round but I have noticed that as soon as the holidays come around, all of a sudden it’s popular to be considerate.

Let’s face it, nobody wants to see just how widespread poverty has become in this country much less be in poverty yet the more we ignore it, the less gets done about it and the problem  will continue to be a problem. Sure, you can pass a farm bill with massive cuts to food stamps and you can take away funding for public housing thinking (unrealistically) that such measures will push people into jobs and that sounds great on paper but the reality is that there aren’t enough living wage jobs to go around neither is affordable housing otherwise why are there so many people living out of their cars, under bridges or couch surfing on other people’s couches? Quite a few people who work can’t afford to keep a roof over their heads or enough food on the table no matter what they do and for those of you quick to point the finger at “individual responsibility”, not everyone who is homeless is a drug addict or mentally ill.

And how about those folks on the brink of losing their homes because of all those miraculous jobs that some people think are out there? If all their earnings go to rent, utilities and childcare, there is nothing left over to buy groceries with and food banks can only give out so much because I know from personal experience that if you are homeless, you can only go to a food bank once a week but if you’re housed, you can only come in once a month. If you are living out of your car or a backpack, you can only take things that don’t require refrigeration, cooking or a lot of storage space.

Then comes the holiday season and all of a sudden, here comes the media and would be do-gooders to come take care of the poor! This is not to say that local orgs or agencies aren’t doing anything every other day of the year, it’s just that needy folks need more than a turkey dinner and a candy cane! If you really want to help the less fortunate, you don’t have to wait for the holidays. All you have to do is get involved with local organizations already involved with services like clothing banks or food pantries. Maybe there’s a volunteer group that visits the elderly to help them with housework or yardwork and if these services don’t exist, don’t be afraid to create them!

Sometimes the most a person can do is put together care packs. Basically this is a large resealable plastic bag filled with things like a pair of warm socks, travel sized toiletries, ready to eat foods, a bottle of water, hand wipes or even a $5 fast food gift card to get something hot to drink or eat. Maybe there’s a community hall or senior center with a kitchen that you can host community dinners or breakfasts in that are open to the public or bring food items to those who can’t get out. A lot of times I carry things like extra socks, hats, coats, hand warmers or rain ponchos in the back of my car to give to local homeless folks who need.

Oh and please don’t assume that what you read here on this blog is in any way shape or form the only thing I or you can do to make your community a better place to live in because there is a lot to do when it comes to helping your fellow man, woman and child. There is still the matter of educating people on the facts of poverty and that includes policy makers and voters. One person can’t do everything but maybe everybody can do something!

 

 

 

The Other Day

 

Seems like everywhere I look

Tough times are getting tougher

And mean keeps getting meaner

Maybe it doesn’t want to be

But does it anyway

 

They told me they found Pops

Frozen on the ground the other day

He didn’t have anywhere to go except

Under a bridge or out in the woods somewhere

Not that anyone cared ‘cause

If they had maybe he wouldn’t have been out there

 

So I went for a walk

In my old neighborhood

Passing by two guys

I thought were sleeping in their car

Turns out they were dead from an overdose

Can’t help but wonder how long they’d been there

 

The neighbors across the street said

They found those missing girls I was looking for

Finally found them in their final resting place

In two shallow graves along the highway

 

Then they asked me if I knew

Who jumped in front of the trains last Friday

I guess somehow they figured I would

Since I’m always out here

Anyway

When I went around the block

To see if Lois was still around

They told me she got evicted

And couldn’t get any housing

So she climbed through an empty window

And took her last breath

On the dining room floor

Maybe she died from a broken heart

 

Sitting in my car

Wondering where the hell I am

And where I’ll be tomorrow

Has left me wondering if

Anyone will remember

I used to be here

Me and Andy

Me and Andy

 

 

This….is my friend Andy. Sitting here writing this feels surreal because at no time did I ever did I think this guy would be the key to ending our homelessness. Why? Because I would’ve never met Andy if it hadn’t been for Twitter and Mark Horvath and let’s keep it real….out of all the people I know and have met, how many do you think gave me feasible options out of homelessness? Exactly!

I asked Andy how he found Mark and Andy told me that he was on Twitter setting up a profile for an idea he had and decided to use a hashtag on the word “homeless” to see what he could find and Invisible People Tv and Mark’s name came up. Andy sent a message to Mark and to Andy’s surprise, Mark followed him back and told him that I was in Kent and made hats. Did I mention that Andy is the founder of Homeless Beanies?At first, I didn’t know what to make of Andy (just like Mark!) but Andy was more persistent than I thought. It wasn’t until later that he admitted he could tell I wasn’t sure about him but that didn’t stop him from following what I did or volunteering his time to take up clothing collections to bring to me. I have a sneaking suspicion that Andy was and probably still is following my tweets and Facebook posts more than I realize because time and time again, he has surprised me with random acts of kindness towards me and my girls, something that doesn’t always happen out here.

Back in May, my mother was diagnosed with stage IV Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. My mother can’t afford an in home caregiver and Medicare does not pay for one so I volunteered to do so knowing that this would only be a temporary arrangement. Once my mother could walk and take care of herself again, Maggie and I would return to where we were before; living out of our car. It wasn’t until about four weeks ago that I started getting texts from Andy asking where we were going to go once we left my mother’s. I simply told the truth by saying “Back to our car.” The next day, another text from Andy showed up on my phone inviting me and the girls over for dinner. I wasn’t sure we would be able to but Andy kept asking so I finally agreed. Towards the end of dinner, Andy announced he had an ulterior motive for asking us over. He didn’t want us going back to the car and wanted us to meet a female friend of his named Liz who owns a house that Andy rents the bottom half of. Liz came down and sat at the table with us and told me Andy spoke very highly of me (which has me wondering what exactly he told Liz!) and that she believed that people should be helping each other when times get rough and because of Andy’s recommendation, she wanted to know if I wouldn’t mind living there with them.

To be honest, I didn’t know what to say. Liz doesn’t know me and I’ve known Andy for about a year. Andy kept reassuring me it would be no problem for us to stay even though I kept expressing my doubts because I’m still struggling with finding a living wage without having to get suckered into the child care trap with Maggie. I kept rambling about my doubts until Andy looked at me and said “Carey, how long have we been working together? About a year, right? It’ll be okay! Take the time to get back on your feet. I don’t see any reason why this can’t work out.” I sat there staring at him like he was from another planet. In my mind, it must’ve taken a lot of courage for Andy and Liz to reach out with compassion the way they did. How many people would let a homeless family stay with them even after having gotten to know them after a year? I was used to the people whose compassion only lasted from 9 to 5 during the week, not people directly from the community offering help without expecting a lot in return. I told them both I needed to think about it since they live in another city about 30 minutes from where Maggie goes to school and that was my main concern. Maggie pretty much made both our minds up in less than 24 hours! Even my eldest was impressed with Andy and Liz but I suspect mostly Andy…;)

I contacted Andy and let him know we accepted the offer and I think at first he was surprised I would. He said “So you thought about it then?” I said “Apparently!” The next day we came over and Liz met us in the driveway to help us take our sleeping bags and duffle bags from the car. We didn’t have much to bring in anyway so it didn’t take long! Andy was inside rushing around putting bed frames together, moving things around in the kitchen and bathroom, painting stuff, putting up blinds and drapes….after awhile I told him to slow down!! He said he was just trying to make us feel comfortable! I said “Yeah but we just got here! We don’t need a lot and you don’t have to go that much out of your way.” How much you wanna bet he’s not done “decorating” yet?

We have been here a little over two weeks now and Maggie has adjusted fairly quickly. It’s me whose taking awhile to get used to the fact that we’re roommates with Andy! A guy I wouldn’t have met if it hadn’t been for Twitter and Mark Horvath!

 

 

Some days feel like this…..this one’s called “Pretending to be whole”.

 

Looking back to see if

Traces of tomorrow can be found

She realized that

Daily existence seems to exist

In concepts of time

And how best to spend it

 

Since time is one of those things

You can’t save up to use on another day

That may or may not rain down

Other possibilities

While trying not to drown

In today

 

We think we see all there is to see

But the truth is

We don’t

We only see what we think

Is relevant to our own comfort

So does that mean we have become comfortable

With other people’s discomforts?

 

Why do we think the suffering

Are somehow brave

Instead of realizing they are simply

Trudging through what they’ve been left with

That should be better than it is

But isn’t

 

Maybe what’s wrong with society lives behind

The reflection in the mirror

And whatever it is we find there

Is only a surface image

Of what we are in that moment

And that moment can be dressed up or down

According to the whims of fashion

That isn’t always so kind

 

Sometimes an image

Isn’t what it appears to be

Especially when it’s a shattered reality

Pretending to be whole

A poem for a reality too many are in…….

 

Survival is a constant comparison

Of needs against wants wanting

A better tomorrow now

 

Do I skip eating today so that

My kids won’t cry themselves to sleep?

How long will my clothes hold out

Because they need shoes more than me

 

How much gas do we need

To keep warm on winter nights

And how long before we can afford

To fill the tank up again?

 

Which is better

Sleeping at night or the day

Depends on which is safer

Since either way

You still have nowhere to stay

 

Why is it that I must

Hand over my children to strangers

Who get paid to keep them for me?

Where is the support needed

To hold together all these families?

I see no moral majority except

A majority whose morals center around

The acquisition of more and more

Regardless of who pays the price

 

And while they sit higher and higher

We keep sinking until

All we have are seconds borrowed

From a future that grows dimmer still

Sometimes the way I’m living feels like I’m in exile in my own backyard. Many in my situation often feel the same way. For those of you who don’t know what it’s like to be a homeless parent, this blog is dedicated to you!

I often run into people who don’t realize I’m homeless because apparently, I don’t look like what they stereotype a homeless person is “supposed” to look like. Soon after they realize I’m telling the truth, here come the assumptions about why I haven’t gotten out of homelessness in the eight years we’ve been out here. An interesting observation I’ve made about people is that it is more comfortable to assume what they don’t know than to grasp the reality that there isn’t a safety net for folks when they fall through the cracks of a crap economy. What this tells me is that people are complacent and comfortable NOT KNOWING. There are a host of reasons for that type of attitude but what I’m going to talk about today is the real time reality of day to day living that goes unnoticed by most except for those who are and have lived the homeless life.

Let’s start with the assumption that all homeless kids aren’t in school. Granted, I’ve done a lot of outreach in the city of Kent and Auburn to homeless families whose kids aren’t in school but every family’s situation is different yet similar if that makes sense. Unless the parents or parent has an addiction or serious mental illness, most of the families I’ve met living out of their vehicles or “on the run” have kids enrolled in school full time. Why wouldn’t they? Many were enrolled in school before they lost their homes, right? I know of housed kids who don’t go to school so homelessness isn’t always a factor when it comes to attendance. Here’s another factor to consider. When homeless, obviously you have no place to go. For folks without a car, being “on the run” constantly to find a safe place to sleep, food and whatever else they need takes up more time and energy than you might think. You can only ride bus routes for so long just to keep warm and take a nap in the evenings. You can only hang out during the day at a local library during business hours to use the computers to look for work, apply for services, etc. If you don’t have an address or a phone, how will potential employers find you? What if you don’t have health insurance and don’t qualify for state medical benefits? What if you can’t get food stamps? If you live out of your car, what happens if you run out of gas or need repairs done and you don’t have the funds to do so? If the library is closed during holidays, where will you spend your days? Many towns do not have homeless resource/day centers, just like the city of Kent! So while folks with kids are running around to survive, there might be days where they cannot get to school or are simply too exhausted!

Oh and don’t assume that people can just dump their kids off into Foster care or any other agency. My views on that are:

1. Why is it ok to pay a stranger to take care of somebody’s kids instead of giving the parents help to take care of their own kids, especially if the parents are not abusive or neglectful?

2. What happened to building strong families and keeping them together?

3. Taking kids away from their parents due to economic hardship caused by lack of resources or access to resources is another way to penalize the poor for being poor.

For the kids in homelessness, there is the added stigma of their peers finding out they’re homeless. Sooner or later, the truth will come out either because they can’t afford to buy new clothes, their shoes wear out, lack of access to regular showers becomes apparent, they can’t concentrate in school due to consistent hunger or lack of sleep, can’t afford to participate in school activities, and the list goes on from there. Then there’s the heartbreak of losing a cherished friend due to parents deciding that associating with a homeless kid will somehow infect them with poverty. Depending on what kind of people are running your school district, you will either get apathy or compassion from educators. I’ve experienced both.

For teenagers, homelessness can be tragic. If they are unaccompanied youth, their homelessness is very different from adult homelessness. For one thing, they have to be a certain age to qualify for food stamps, visits to the local food bank, etc. They are prone to predation from drug dealers, sex traffickers, gangs and street violence. Often times they discover their city may not have youth shelter but instead, juvenile detention centers. They get criticized for hanging out in public places, often accused of loitering or harassed by cops for panhandling. For teens still with their families, going to school can be a daily ordeal if your classmates don’t know your homeless. Peer pressure and bullying are very real problems they have to struggle with so they need all the support they can get but sadly, often do not. How do you think they feel when mom or dad gets passed over on a job interview or skips meals just to make sure they get fed first? I’ve met boys out here that starting selling drugs because they were sick and tired of being hungry, threadbare or hearing their mothers cry at night. They have no faith in a system that doesn’t seem to do anything fast enough for them. They’re not interested in being preached at, to or about. They want results they can see and touch just like everybody else.

I once reached out to a young man who was constantly being judged by his appearance. He complained about not being able to find work even though he had a degree in welding. He couldn’t get much help from local agencies or the state and started talking about death by train. One day, he surprised me when he got judgment thrown out of him by a man dressed in his Sunday best on his way to church with his family. The young man was panhandling to this man when the man blurted out “Why don’t you just get a job instead of living like a bum?!” The youth replied “Sir, I am not a bum. I have two years of college and am a trained welder. I can’t find a job because no one wants to hire me. I am not a drug addict, either. I will take any job I can get but I don’t qualify for health insurance through the state, I don’t qualify for housing, I can’t even eat on a regular basis and that’s the only reason I ask people for money!” The man was stunned to hear this and to everyone’s surprise, he reached into his pocket and handed the youth a $10 bill. He even apologized for his comment.

The biggest observations I’ve made about other people’s reaction to poverty came from watching relative’s behavior once I told them we are homeless and have been for eight years. Instead of noticing that I’ve had two jobs since I was 12, child support is missing, and they weren’t around or chose not to be when we lost our apartment and couldn’t apply for Section 8 because this state is closed to application and has been for years, they assumed from where they’re at that I must not be doing something right. That’s when I ask them why they never showed up at the hospital after I had a stroke from working two jobs back to back. The other thing is the habit of offering help when it’s convenient to do so. Here’s a clue, homelessness is never convenient and help is required according to an individual’s need, not yours! Timing also plays a key role in getting out of homelessness because it does no good to come up with rent money after you’ve already been evicted or lost everything you owned. We don’t need part time child care, we need full time child care to work two minimum wage jobs that may or may not pay for rent. If we lose our health, then our situation has become even more urgent. The longer one is stuck in homelessness, the harder it is to get out of it. Also, if you offer shelter to family members having a hard time, be realistic with your expectations. It takes longer than a few weeks, months or a year to get back on your feet, especially with increased cuts to social services and the rising costs of living. Poor relatives may not be able to chip in for utilities or your food bill either which is a big part of why so many families are living out of their cars or in hotels if they can afford to.

I have watched how certain attitudes about poverty have been institutionalized even at the local government level. When cities enact “quality of life” ordinances against the homeless, that is a result of being out of touch with real time homelessness and the obvious lack of resources to help the homeless get off the streets. Criminalizing the poor, either by policy or attitude, only makes it harder on the homeless and doesn’t solve poverty. For those of us out here struggling to get by, we expect to be judged for being poor. We expect people to assume the worst about us but more than anything, your reaction to poverty is a reflection of a society’s values so what does yours say about you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a poem to show what it’s like to try to go grocery shopping when you’re poor.

 

Falling by the wayside

 

Grocery list in hand

Will I have enough?

There’s only so much I can do

Till the end of the month

 

Kids asking for stuff

We can’t afford

Even though all they wanted

Was a pack of chewing gum

Or an occasional candy bar

 

Me watching them

Watching other families in line

Wondering why they can buy

What we can’t

 

Me, tired

But have to keep moving on

They wondering

How much longer until

We’re in a place of our own

 

No easy answers

No guarantees

There’s just an endless list of maybes

And no way of telling

How much longer it will take

 

Me watching brethren on the streets

Falling by the wayside

They’ve been out here too long

Waiting for help that never came

 

Some

They got tired of waiting

And decided dying was a better way to live

Than admit they can’t get out of

A dead end

 

But I

Can’t give up

On trying for a new day

They are watching me and

Everything I do or don’t do

In their memory will remain

 

So I

Can’t let them see me

Get pushed beyond pain

And I can’t let the darkness

Call my name