Category Archives: Homelessness, Poverty, the American Dream

Sister Mary Scullion on the possible ban to end public food giving

Sister Mary Scullion wrote an editorial voicing her opposition to the plan being decided today by US District Judge William H. Yohn Jr..

…as the ban on outdoor feeding has gone into effect, the reality is that the proposed service-enriched dining centers are not in place, and hungry people on the streets do not have appropriate alternatives. And we see no signs of progress in dealing with the underlying realities of hunger and homelessness.

So we are left with nothing but a prohibition on providing meals on the streets — an effective criminalization of charity, a violation of religious liberties for many church groups, and possibly the removal of a vital lifeline for many of those who are on the streets. This is not a step forward, but a lamentable step backward. It is only furthering the injustice and deepening the fracture of the human community.

Philly.com: Sister Mary Scullion: Philadelphia’s ban on outdoor feeding is a harmful distraction

60 Minutes 2011 reports on family homelessness are must-sees

They titled the report, “The Hard Times Generation” and it was a revealing look at families fighting homelessness.

60 Minutes: 14 minute video: “Hard Times Generation: Families living in cars”:

60 Minutes: 2 minute video: “Something with a roof: Scott Pelley asks homeless students to describe their ideal homes, they have only a few modest requests: a roof, a bed and most importantly, their families.”:

Read the story behind the report.

Related Stories:

CityPaper: “One Occupy legacy: it gave the homeless cover to live in public.”

Metafilter: “Inequality highest in thirty years across most of the developed world.”

Esquire: “Income Inequality Is a Symptom, Not the Disease”

thestateman: “Census shows 1 in 2 people are poor or low-income”

NYTimes.com: “How Anger Took Elites by Surprise”

NYTimes: “Camps Are Cleared, but ‘99 Percent’ Still Occupies the Lexicon”

CSMonitor: “Homeless children at record high in US. Can the trend be reversed?”

Billy Bragg: “Billy Bragg: The biggest enemy we face is… the deadly lure of cynicism”

Salon: “How 2011 became the year of compassion”

Must reading about Kensington at Philly.com

The Inquirer recently wrapped up a series about the struggles faced in Kensington and Philadelphia’s First Congressional District – the 2nd hungriest in the nation: “Hunger in the First”:

Following this series, no doubt brought on by the horror of the Kensington strangler, was a greater spotlight cast by the papers on the neighborhood that included a great set of independent articles:

All are worth reading.

An article that introduces us to a new news effort coming *from* Kensington deserves a special shout out because it is efforts like this that point us towards the future or news and maybe the neighborhood itself: “Philadelphia duo bring Internet attention to Kensington’s woes”. That duo is Richie Antipuna and Heather Barton and their video series can be found on Blip.tv.

I just had to round up these articles and post them to one page since the subject matter was so related. Now if there was a place to discuss these stories collectively. Reddit’s Philadelphia sub-reddit perhaps? That feels wrong. The stories need an official home someplace where people from the neighborhood and outside the neighborhood can discuss them collectively. Why do I care about that? Because when people connect over subject matter that is when ideas can take shape and action can take place.

Philadelphia Lt. Raymond Evers: “It’s a high-risk area”

Tonight comes news of another murder in Kensington. Philadelphia Inquirer: “Police find woman’s body in Kensington”.

While Center City Philadelphia is continuing a Renaissance that started in the 90s, for those living in many neighborhoods in Philly, life has not improved and in many respects, has gotten worst. Philadelphia’s challenge over the next decade is to keep growing the positive momentum that is taking place here and making sure it reaches all its neighborhoods, all its people. This is going to have to happen in a city whose state no longer has advocates in its assembly. It will be more difficult than people imagine.

newsworks.org: “Former prostitute talks about streets of Kensington”

Many who are politically motivated try and summarize the problems that neighborhoods like Kensington are soaked in to simple catch phrases and causes, but the problems are many fold. Just follow some of the terrible comments posted in this great, nuanced piece from the Inquirer “The Drugs Dilemma”.

There are some that doubt Philly has made all that much progress over the last 15 or so years. There is more than enough evidence it has (see the thoughts of Kristen Lee, and there was no way you could walk away from attending TEDXPhilly and know otherwise).

You could always describe Philly, accurately, as a city of neighborhoods. Each with its own character, accent, customs, and peoples. What we need to work to avoid is a far greater and in this case tragic divide. One of hope.

Related:

Lyrics: Kensington

“Alternative journalism documenting Fishtown and Kensington”

David Kessler: “Shadow World”

Daily Beast: “The Kensington Avenue Strangler”

I didn’t know who to go to for help – hunger in Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Inquirer profiles the lives of families going hungry in Pennsylvania’s First Congressional District, home of a few of my old neighborhoods, Kensington, Fishtown, Frankford in Philadelphia: “A Portrait of Hunger”.

There is no excuse for letting anyone go hungry in the richest country in the world. None. The article points to three main culprits: a lack of paying work, a lack of guidance to services that can help, and the bureaucratic complexity of applying for those services as root causes.

It was the same for us when I was growing up and when I was out on the streets, sleeping on trains, I didn’t know who to go to for help, or how.

The comments posted on the article really go far in showing how low our culture has become in kicking people when they are down and blaming them entirely for their circumstances.

We’re all in this together. For some great commentary on this, check out Susie Madrak’s latest post. Like her I can still remember when my family needed help. I can remember being in line for a block of cheese at Bridge and Pratt. I remember all too well the chuckles of some at school due to the quality of my Salvation Army and Goodwill bought clothes. I remember the Salvation Army Santa Claus visiting the family to drop off some toys to make our Christmas brighter.

None of us are 100% self made and choosing to belabor that some people need help, instead of offering TO help, does no one any good. Please, if you are able, find some way, any way, to lend a hand.

Resources:

Philabundance

Cradles to Crayons

United Way

Project H.O.M.E.

Salvation Army

John Scalzi: “Being poor and not feeling rich are not the same thing, don’t confuse the two”

John Scalzi, in “Why Not Feeling Rich is Not Being Poor, and Other Things Financial”, reacts to those employing his powerful piece, “Being Poor” against the (in my opinion) lack of empathy Todd Henderson shown in his piece complaining about being classified rich while earning greater than $250,000 (original piece deleted, this version is from Google’s cache). The anger that erupted over the post has led him to unfortunately quit blogging.

I post both these pieces more to show the very differing perspectives both have and John Scalzi’s followup went far to try and illustrate that. I’d rather see Henderson continue to blog and share his point of view because while you or I may vehemently disagree (I do), we are richer to have it in the public sphere.

Did you know there was a rise in teens beating the homeless?

YouTube: CBS: Epidemic: Teens Beat Homeless:

This has been growing for some time. An article on a Tom’s Guide from 2009 quotes the National Coalition for the Homeless stating there were 86,000 videos are on YouTube at the time. No statement of the methodology to come at that number, not that I doubt it.