Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Poverty Pimps -- The Reason Homelessness Continues

I posted an article that was forwarded to me via e-mail.
It makes some very important points about why homelessness is not being ended in our country.
Read and enjoy.....

Can Life Be Lived in Dignity by Every San Diegan?
BY Rocky Neptun
November 12, 2009.
East Village, San Diego……………

Bill Foster rolls his tattered sleeping bag up carefully, not to disturb the layers of newspaper underneath, avoiding the dirt soiled sidewalk and looks at me with a smile. He knows I’ll be good for breakfast and plenty of coffee. Almost clean-shaven, ruddy-faced without many wrinkles to show his 54 years, Foster often panhandles enough change for only one meal a day. He tells me he’s just no good at it, even after all these years. He sleeps in the downtown because “there is safety in numbers;” having been attacked by territorial transients along the San Diego River bank and by neighborhood youth when he moved to a creek near Bancroft Street in Spring Valley.

“I have enough left over to cover two coffees at the roach coach over at the construction site, want to join me?” he asked. To his relief, I suggested a nearby restaurant. But first, we hiked the nearly two miles to the only public restroom on the streets of downtown at 3rd Avenue and C Street, where he could change clothes and shave. Its stainless steel walls and stalls were clean, overseen by an attendant who told me that it took years for activists in support of the homeless to get the city to agree to this facility. “But, the no-fly zones, no bums allowed areas, continue to be pushed out, block by block as new condo projects go up, away from the toilet, so more and more folks just go where they are at, especially in the mornings when they can’t make it here. “

Over bacon and eggs, Foster tells me of his former home world in northern Ohio. Most of his life was centered roundabouts the neighborhood store one block over from his parent’s house. From childhood’s fetching cigarettes at twenty-five cents a pack for his parents to penny candy, he became an employee in junior high school making deliveries. Through high school he worked and dated the owner’s daughter, finally marrying her after he became a full-fledged clerk. Inheriting the title to the store, he and his wife worked 15 hours a day, seven days a week, to keep it afloat while the neighboring factories closed up and moved their jobs to Mexico.

Carrying food debt for his neighbors split him from his terrified wife. After the 1980 divorce, he moved to San Diego with just under $1,000 in his pocket. Knowing retail, he went to work on the 11 p.m. shift at a corporate convenience store in Chula Vista; where he worked for several decades, never promoted because he was told he was “too slow,” but did manage to secure health insurance from a manager because she was afraid to work the graveyard shift. Yet, in spite of his years of service, he was terminated 6 years ago, when a new district manager decided to fire everyone with health insurance and altered the books to show Foster had stolen money. Without a previous “reference” for his work in Ohio and the “thief” jacket which effectively barred him from retail anywhere, he has been unable to find a job and lives on the streets.

“Why don’t you go to a shelter at night?” I ask him rhetorically. He smiles, knowing I know why, but eyeing my notebook open, with pen ready, and the tape-player nearby, he senses my need to record his courage. “Shelters are fine institutions, but not everyone belongs in an institution,” he chortles. “I tried going a few times but it is such a demeaning process; some staff treat you as public vermin, criminals and sickos, while, others order you about like little children or mental retards.” “I see these guys shuffling along in these prisons of poverty where their manhood, their independence, their very identity is stripped away by the desperation of accepting charity,” he spat out angrily. “They want us to accept our poverty as a personal failure, useless economic machinery in the scheme of things to be discarded, abandoned in some junk yard, like an old Chevy Monza, no spare parts available, with high walls, of course, not to disturb the scenery of others.”

“Look around you!” he pointed up Broadway, toward the ambiance of the Gas Lamp District. “They don’t want us here; they – especially the workers, clerks, cooks, cabdrivers – see us and shudder in fear at how far down the canyon of failure really is, the depths of economic Hell. Then there are all those yuppie couples and retirees who sold their big houses in a good market in far away cities and bought condos and townhouses down here, knowing full-well this area is where the un-housed lived; yet week after week they trudge down to city hall or pay others to go and complain about the presence of human beings in their neighborhoods.”

“They complain about the urine and feces, but never ask that public toilets be built; they talk of panic at seeing a scruffy, smelly, unshaven, dirty clothed person near them on the sidewalk, but never ask the city to open day care centers. They complain about being panhandled, but no one asks the government to provide minimum financial support; grocers complain about stolen shopping carts but no one ask the city to provide storage facilities for the homeless.”

“You know, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this, spending cold and hot days in the library, reading the newspapers, using the Internet; the City of San Diego doesn’t want a year-round shelter because the fat cats who own this city know that minimal, scarce charity for each person individualizes the process, makes that person the culprit, the bad guy, separates him not only from himself but from himself in company with others because he has to compete with other homeless to survive” he said sadly. “All poor people must be recipients rather than participants; given something for nothing and in the American way despised for it…made to grovel, then, beg, borrow or steal a bit of dignity.”

“City government can finance charity, pay the junkyard dealers like Father Joe’s or the Rescue Mission to warehouse the poor, to keep them out of sight as much as possible, to create economic parolees with institutional mindsets of meekness and order-ability so that police can shove them around and the merchants can verbally push them along and the public can look down on them, judgmentally, scorning their scarlet lettered dirty clothes.” he almost spat across the table.

“Just like public jobs must be given to corporations to break the power of public unions; homelessness must never be seen as a public responsibility to end because then it creates a persecuted and denied minority that might deserve civil rights and help that others, like women, blacks and Gays get.” He nodded, “most of these groups have simply fought for the ludicrous right to participate in the competitive game of economic dog-eat-dog capitalism so they can buys things and pretend to be somebody.”

“The homeless, especially the chronic ones, have lost the skills to play the game and simply are seeking to survive – something to eat, somewhere safe and warm to sleep, the right to go to the bathroom in privacy and poise, and struggling to maintain a tenuous hold on self and its sanity,” he murmured while staring at an obese man in a dark suit eating with a fork in one hand and a spoon in the other shoveling food into his wide jellied mouth. “I read in the library about a Brazilian teacher who said that all poor people accept, internalize is the word he used, their low opinion of themselves and then, their cheapened self-esteem is then played upon by the rich, dominant class,” he sighed. “So it seems, every encounter between we homeless and others is built upon this dehumanizing quality; the disgusted stares of passing people, the totalitarian actions of police officers, the indifference of society and the cruelty of charity without dignity.”

“There is a place in South America, Caracas is the city, I believe, where homelessness has been abolished. Everyone is required to participate in finding shelter for their neighbors and strangers alike,” he informed me. “Abandoned buildings, unused hotel rooms, under-used warehouses and sheds, even parks are being converted to campgrounds for the poor.”

“It is the place I am going when I get enough money; learn Spanish, earn my acceptance as neighbor not foreigner, and participate as a full human being with dignity and compassion, not only for others but for myself as well.”

“Is that too much to ask of life?” he asked, tears falling into his coffee.

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Dignity Village, San Diego:
Proposed by Renters Union
December 22, 2009.
City Heights, San Diego………………

The San Diego Renters Union has voted unanimously to propose to the San Diego City Council that the city buy several acres in the rural Otay Mesa section of the city, near the Donovan facility, to develop a permanent campground for the city’s homeless.

Members of the Renters Union noted the difficulty of finding and securing funding for a winter shelter each year in San Diego as nimby-ism unleashes its annual terror campaign at council members; despite hundreds of homeless people dying each year on the streets, in the canyons and riverbeds. In discussions at the Union’s community meeting it was lamented that the homeless situation in the city is bounced around like “a very hot potato.”

Some noted that a “hypocritical” mayor defunded the winter shelter during his election year only to turn around this year and try to “snare” council members into a political minefield by suggesting they nominate sites their own districts for the annual shelter.

Using the successful Dignity Village in Portland, Oregon, which houses several hundred homeless in a safe environment of permanent tent structures as a model; Linda Price, chair of the Union’s HAAP Committee (Homeless Awareness and Advocacy Program), told the 2 dozen renter activists gathered “bold, new imaginative steps must be taken to solve the agony of those without homes.” She cited the longevity and creativity of Dignity Village as an answer to the city’s need to house the un-housed, quickly and cheaply. Also, noted was a 2009 Homeless Task Force study which found that 53% percent of un-housed San Diegans wanted shelter but were turned away.

“This city cannot continue with the usual suspects dominating the discussion and direction of homeless programs and funding through their deceitful declaration of a so-called 10 year plan to end chronic homelessness,” she pointed out. “It was a bogus program from the get-go, designed to garner government funds for developer profits, aid gouging landlords and keep the politicians reaping donations from lobbyists. Just like the city council every year since 2003 has declared an “affordable housing emergency” proclamation, then does little about it; the city’s ten year plan to end homelessness is a contrived plan that say’s what the homeless need is housing, dah? And then proceeds to do very little, except a few token beds in even fewer transitional housing facilities.”

“The Plan is a desperate attempt by the city to continue grabbing federal funds earmarked for poor people,” she said. “The Feds were unhappy about sloppy accountability and transfer of funds to other projects such as designer trash cans in Little Italy and additional funding for Parks and Recreation.”

Evans told the Renters group that the Mayor’s office was being audited by the Compliance Unit of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development for excessive administrative costs in its anti-poverty grants. “As Mayor Sanders packs his office with political cronies and lobbyists, he has proposed for fiscal 2010 a $648,289 increase in the use of designated HUD poverty and emergency shelter funds to pay administrative costs. Can you imagine, he spent over $2 million in 2009 just to pay his buddies for doing the paperwork on these federally funded poverty grants. The Mayor spent this two million administering around $7 million on 67 projects within the city. That’s over a 25% administrative cost, while the national Social Security system administers billions of dollars to millions of people with a 3% administrative cost.”

“You see why the Mayor and the City Council don’t want to end homelessness and poverty in San Diego?” she shrieked. “It’s the federal goose that lays the golden eggs for political hacks and paybacks for corporate lobbyists.”

“The county and most of the incorporated cities within it spend a combined total of $65 million on homeless programs, while emergency shelters take up about 10% of those funds,” she divulged. “Meanwhile, the San Diego Regional Task Force on Homelessness reports that 51% of the homeless (4014 persons) as of January 2009 are living on the streets, while 12% (965) live in shelters and another 37% (2913) are staying in transitional housing.”

“Now, the politicians and especially those professionals who profit from these funds – the homeless industry – don’t want you to sit back and take a common sense look at the issue. Spreading the funds around, channeling it through various private organizations and their well-paid CEO’s and staff, diverting vast sums to developers and wealthy corporate landlords, paying off expensive lobbyists to expedite political donations hides the real benefactors of your tax dollars earmarked for the homeless ,” Evans said.

“Now, these poverty pimps and the corporate media will tell you that the homeless are bums, scum of the Earth, alcoholics and druggies, yet women and children are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population,” she outlined in her speech. “However, even the most fallen, the least of those amongst the least, must deserve our understanding and at Dignity Village, where the homeless work their way into leadership position, they understand, don’t tell yourself lies. Living on the streets is dangerous and homeless people know it and feel it every second they are out there. Hitting the streets with nowhere to go is a violent traumatic experience that doesn’t end. Homeless people are the constant and unprotected victims of crime. Drug dealers, sexual predators, thieves and violent people prey on homeless people day in and day out. Violent, hate filled teenagers troll skid row neighborhoods looking to beat up homeless people, set them on fire, and harass them for mere entertainment. Terror, anxiety, the pressure on homeless people is enormous; so drug and alcohol use should be no shock to anyone.”

Evans told the gathering that San Diego had a tent city in Balboa Park back in 1992 where 72 people moved into 23 tents on an unused parking lot but the tourist industry and upscale museum endowers threatened the only Democratic mayor in the history of San Diego, Maureen O’Conner, and she moved police in to close down the encampment and arrest its homeless organizer, Larry Milligan. “This, in spite of the fact that Councilman John Hartley, a rarity in San Diego politics, a man of tremendous courage and conscience, introduced an emergency ordinance which would have created an outdoor tent city in an old hospital parking lot.”

“Guess what?” she asked her audience. “The Mayor and Council killed the idea and opted for a committee to study the issue of homelessness in San Diego and incredibly, ethically indefensibly, the smart-asses at City Hall are still studying the issue after 18 years.” “These city leaders have quietly allowed the Gang of Five, San Diego County’s far right, Republican supervisors to hoard 38% of all government homeless funds for pet cultural and middle-class projects, while harboring only 18% of the county’s homeless population,” she advised the group, “while the City of San Diego with 55 percent of the homeless only gets 36% of government homeless funds. The rest of the incorporated cities in the county get the balance.”

“This is an outrage,” she announced. “The County must pay its fair share; at a tent city all the participants should be required as condition of their housing to secure General Relief checks from the County for which they are entitled as paupers to help pay for their home. San Diego County, with the lowest participation rate of the poor in the Food Stamp Program in the nation, should be forced to grant each occupant at the village their fair share of Federal Government allocations for food. Also, the County’s pitiful winter voucher program should be expanded and help pay for the new campground.”

Evans announced that Corrections Corporation of America has quietly applied for permits for a 3,000 bed prison near the already existing Donovan Correctional facility in Otay Mesa. She relayed that local poet/artivist Jim Moreno has been questioning local property owners and real estate people as well as the engineer that is doing the environmental review (AEIS) but no one is talking. “Perhaps, they are going to build another prison in San Diego to house federal terrorist suspects and that is what all the secrecy about,” she speculated. “It doesn’t matter, we simply do not need another prison, we need a campground for homeless people there in Otay Mesa.”

Her voice hoarse, quivering with anger, she shouted “the politicos in San Diego don’t want to solve homelessness in our city. They are not dumb people, they know that private corporate housing developers will not build cheap housing because it is unprofitable, they know that banks will not finance poor people or even housing co-ops composed of the marginalized, they know that real estate agents and speculators will continue to drive up the cost of vacant land, and, finally they know that the wealthy will fight tax increases to pay for public housing.”

“Only public housing will solve homeless,” she said. “If the city doesn’t have the money – or the political will to extract it from the wealthy – to build buildings; then, the only common sense proposal is to create a tent city. A community where, however small and plain, the tent is still their home, a place on this Earth they can call their own. Without dignity and pride, how can we expect a person to shuffle out of institutionalized warehousing and re-enter society?”

”At Dignity Village in Portland,” Evans reported, “they don’t plan to end homelessness; they have done it. They start from the premise that every individual has a right to safe, sanitary shelter. Their motto is to stop criminalizing poverty and create a legal place of refuge for every homeless person. With permanent and emergency tents, with adequate sanitation facilities, showers, laundry room, telephones, internet access, medical and mental health clinics, storage, employment contacts, free food and water, they give the homeless the tools they need to survive with dignity.”


“Not only survival needs, but each occupant of a tent must do clean-up and security duty,” she related. “The village has its own board of directors and legislative branch, made up of former homeless residents. There are five basics rules for the encampment that have kept it thriving and peaceful for almost 7 years. 1. No violence to yourself or others. 2. No theft. 3. No alcohol, drugs or drug paraphernalia. 4. No disruptive behavior. 5. Everyone must contribute to the maintenance and operation of the camp.”

“Can you imagine if our city was run on those five simple yet powerfully engaging rules?” she asked. “What a truly compassionate, caring, sharing community we would be living in today rather than the selfishness and opulent consumptive sickness we see all around us.”

“But more importantly, Dignity Village’s tent ownership concept restores self-esteem, ‘personhood’ as John Paul II liked to call it,” Evans said. “How can we call the homeless our sisters and brothers if we treat them like stray dogs or abandoned cats, forcing them into human kennels, stripping them of their dignity, telling them they are unworthy of a place of their own?”

“At this Christmas season we all remember Posada, Joseph and Mary without shelter,” she pleaded. “Let us remember our fellow citizens and neighbors and demand that the City of San Diego begin to give some ethical legitimacy to the social contract. In this wealthy city, where people spend more money yearly on canines, including day care, than all the homeless funds allocated, surely we can find the moral will and political courage to fund a village of dignity in San Diego?”

*******************************************

Post Note:

Several hundred dollars was raised in cash and pledges at the December Renters Union meeting to buy a ticket to Caracas for Bill Foster. He left Tijuana by bus for Mexico City’s airport the day after Christmas.

Rocky Neptun is media coordinator for the San Diego Renters Union and is resident director of the Casa de los Olvidados, a house for Tijuana street kids with HIV-Aids. He writes for the website Media Left and is finishing up a book, “San Diego: 1st City of Empire.”

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Friday, December 18, 2009

Taking Stock of Homeless Advocacy Efforts

Many groups and organizations are advocating for Washington, DC's homeless community, with some of them consisting mainly of homeless and formerly homeless people. There's Street Sense, DC's newspaper about homelessness and poverty. Homeless people write for and sell the paper. Then there is STREATS (Striving To Reach, Educate And Transform Society)'s views on homelessness. Through STREATS the homeless have educated the public about their issue on DCTV and the internet and have done extensive correspondence with the local and federal governments on behalf of the homeless. A group of homeless people calling themselves the People For Fairness Coalition meets every Tuesday at Miriam's Kitchen to plan how they will assist the weaker among them who often don't use shelters. They take to the streets 3 times per week to deliver supplies. Let's not forget the Committee to Save Franklin Shelter (CSFS) which won its fight against former DC mayor Anthony Williams, only to see Franklin School Shelter closed by present mayor Adrian Fenty. With the help of some pro bono lawyers, we are still fighting the closure in federal court. We are also seeking to increase and improve services for the homeless.

Homeless advocacy organizations that consist mainly or entirely of "housed" people include COHHO (Coalition of Homeless and Housing Organizations), the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, the National Alliance to End Homelessness, the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP), the Coalition for the Homeless (CFH) and the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH).

When one considers all that is being done to combat homelessness, they can't help but wonder why it is that the problem hasn't been solved yet. While the answer is many-faceted, the fact that DC's 10-year plan for ending homelessness didn't include any type of work program is a large part of it. This speaks volumes to the fact that the Williams administration assumed that homeless people don't want to work and, therefore, didn't write that into the plan. (The present administration should make an effort to fix this problem and to operate under a new paradigm.)

While the afforementioned problem is an operational one that falls within the purview of DC Government, the focus of this article is on a structural problem that falls outside of their purview. All of these non-government organizations are not cohesive. Each one is doing its own thing. People from these different groups and organizations often attend the same meetings. They may exchange e-mails. They might even make attempts at collaboration. But they fail to coordinate their efforts or to speak truth to power with a unified voice, as there is strength in numbers.

Greater DC Cares ( a volunteer organization) recently hosted an event called "Bridging Resources -- A Summit For DC Homeless Service Providers" during which they began efforts toward greater collaboration among providers. It was due to GDC receiving reports of case managers at shelters not being made aware of available transitional housing units and other break-downs in communication among service providers.

All in all, there is poor communication between service providers, the lack of a concerted effort by those fighting to end homelessness and a low level of involvement by the homeless in efforts that directly affect them. While it is necessary to have shelters and true that all service providers play an important role, we should continue to fight for affordable housing and that fight should be done primarily by the affected population -- the homeless. All of the pieces of the puzzle are there, but must be brought together so as to create a complete picture. Those who have worked so diligently and for so long to address issues affecting the homeless should coalesce so that everyone can reap the full benefits of our efforts.

This begs the question: Who will bring these different organizations together in a way that makes us stronger and more effective? While the answer eludes me, there are several possibilities. NLCHP has promise. They helped organize the recent visit of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, Raquel Rolnik, which is viewed as the official kick-off of the right-to-housing movement. Even so, some homeless advocates aren't waiting to see what others will do. A remnant of the Committee to Save Franklin Shelter, other homeless people and some concerned citizens have joined forces in an effort to create a group that can force change and connect the homeless to the vacant housing that is in need of occupants. And so, I charge all concerned citizens -- housed and homeless -- to take heart and get involved in the burgeoning movement to preserve the social safety net and to truly make housing a human right. We've only just begun!

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Monday, December 7, 2009

Have a Heart For the Homeless -- Raising Awareness on a Social Justice Issue

The homeless are often looked down on by other members of our society. The have no place to call their own. Neither do they have a place in society. Or do they? Of late they've become pawns in a dirty political game and they've taught at Georgetown University. While the former is quite the undesirable position for anyone to be put in, it is not surprising that the homeless would be used in that way. However, the latter would come as a complete surprise to many. Homeless professors? Not quite.

Washington, DC has joined several other states in its quest for same-sex marriage. The DC Council voted 11 to 2 in favor of same-sex marriage on December 1st. According to DC Law, they must vote a second time on December 15th and then the bill goes to capitol Hill for congressional review. Congress then has 30 days to vote on it, or it becomes law by default.

When news of the impending vote came out in early November, the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, DC threatened to end all social service contracts that Catholic Charities has with the city if the same-sex marriage bill becomes law. They don't want to pay spousal benefits to the partners of their gay and lesbian employees. Neither do they want to allow gay or lesbian couples to adopt children through their adoption services. All in all, the Catholic church doesn't want to honor same-sex marriage rights in any way, shape, form or fashion. As a church, they are entitled to their opinion and their stance on same-sex marriage.

However, Catholic Charities is not just the social service branch of the Catholic Church. It is also a non-profit which receives funding from the DC Government. Churches don't have to perform same-sex marriages or allow them to be performed in their space. But businesses may not discriminate against the LGBT community. Therefore, the crux of the issue is whether Catholic Charities should be allowed to assert its position as a branch of the Catholic Church and get a special exemption that doesn't require them to honor same-sex marriage rights or if they should be treated as a business and not be allowed to discriminate against gays and lesbians, pedophile priests notwithstanding.

Nonetheless, there is an aspect of this controversy that I've only heard one person besides myself mention. It is the fact that the Catholic Church is fighting an inward battle with two of its own tenets being pitted against each other -- caring for the needy vs. being against same-sex marriage. If they remain under contract with the city to deliver social services, they'll have to recognize and honor gay marriage. If they end their social service contracts with the city, then many of Catholic Charities' programs wouldn't have enough funding to remain operational. They'd, in essence, be letting down the 68,000 poor Washingtonians that they serve, of which 2,000 of them are homeless people seeking shelter. The loss of 2,000 shelter beds during hypothermia could be catastrophic for DC's 6,000 plus homeless people. That said, which is the lesser of two evils -- accommodating a few gays and lesbians while providing for 68,000 needy people or leaving all of those needy people high and dry for the sake of making a statement against gay marriage??? Fact of the matter is that, short of making a heretonow unmentioned compromise, the church would need to forgo one of its tenets in order to support the other. we'll know by Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2010 which way they went. Let's hope that they make the right choice.

As if the homeless issue doesn't already have enough tentacles such as the ones connecting it to the Catholic Church, the LGBT community, and the political arena, now the homeless have begun to teach Georgetown University medical students. (It just so happens that Georgetown University Hospital receives funding from Catholic Charities.) It is now mandatory that all first year med students at Georgetown hear a lecture on homelessness. Though I haven't heard any offical word on the matter, I'm inclined to believe that Georgetown U. is building a social justice component from the ground up and this effort is an experimental one. While the effort is definitely a noble one and I support it wholeheartedly, Georgetown is lightyears behind other schools. American University, which is also in Northwest Washington, DC, has been known for its involvement in the community and its attention to local issues. (I was part of a panel discussion on poverty issues that took place there a couple of months ago.) Archbishop Carroll High School has a social justice class which goes into the community doing service and learning about poverty and homelessness. I'm glad to welcome georgetown aboard this train.

That said, on Friday, December 4th, ten people who were either presently or formerly homeless spoke to 200 first-year med students at Georgetown U. We each had a class of 20 students whom we had to speak to for two hours. However, it was mandatory and some of the students made no secret of the fact that they didn't want to be there. Nonetheless, they were made to realize that many of their future patients will be indigent. they were also educated on the types of diseases that permeate the poor and homeless community. They were given a dose of reality, whether they wanted it or not. Hopefully next year's students will be more receptive and sympathetic to the homeless issue. Either way, I'd do it again and I'm glad that the georgetown faculty is creating awareness on the issue.

In summary, we have a Catholic archdiocese that has stated that, in lieu of the same-sex marriage bill and its social service contracts with DC, it feels that LGBT policies are being forced on the church.Then we have med students who were forced to hear lectures on the issue of homelessness and poverty. It's enough to make you wonder where people's hearts are. have people lost their desire to do good and to love their neighbor??? While the dilemma being faced by the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, DC is a difficult one, the lack of sympathy on the part of med students who are made to hear about homelessness and poverty is downright appalling. Nonetheless, my fellow homeless advocates and I will continue to raise awareness on the issue in hopes of instilling some sympathy in the hearts of the affluent for those who are less fortunate. Let's keep on keepin' on!!!

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