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Showing posts from October, 2015

The Death of Homeless Advocacy (or Establishment of Plato's Republic)

Before homeless advocate Michael Stoops had his debilitating stroke, He would introduce me to the college and university groups that had come to learn about homelessness by swaying and moving his hands from side to side as if he were playing a six-foot tall keybord as he said the following:
“I've been doing this work for forty years. And, if we don't start doing more than feeding and sheltering the homeless, then in forty more years when all of you are MY age, you'll still be talking about wanting to end homelessness.”
That succinct spiel had come to replace an earlier and shorter one in which he would say, “We here at the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) are trying to work ourselves out of a job”. As it turns out, he did just that on June 7th,2015, though not in the way that he had hoped. With the CCNV organization having begun in 1970; Mitch Snyder having joined them in 1974; NCH having been established in 1982 and a host of other advocacy organizations havin…

The 10 Commandments of Eric Jonathan Sheptock

With me having spent, at this point, a full 20% of my almost 47 years advocating for the poor and homeless, it stands to reason that I'd be able to conceptualize my stance and my concerns pertaining to the issue of homelessness. As it turns out, I can and will. After all, no one knows with certainty how long they have to live and it would be a crying shame if, after all these years, people only knew about my specific demands and not about my broader principles.

Mitch Snyder passed away in 1990, after 16 years of advocacy. He, like me, was almost 47. Now the shelter which his leadership helped to create is on the verge of being closed. Toward the end of the CCNV Task Force process, the current director read a long letter which he claimed represents the will of CCNV's board and administration. It was, among other things, a diatribe against DC Government for “trying to push CCNV around”. It didn't call me out specifically, in spite of my pronounced role in causing then-Cou…

Why DC Has So Many Black, Single, Homeless men

2015 has been a year of international connections for me. In early February I met a French-born, multiracial woman near the McPherson Square Metro Station. She was talking to homeless people and had a camera in her hand. I inquired as to what she was doing. That encounter led to her, a friend who arrived from France weeks later and myself working together on a project about homeless love which we completed in late May, even garnering some media attention.
Also in late May I met a German woman who was visiting several American cities. With her having visited New York and Philadelphia during the time that people were randomly placing”No Cat Calling” signs on streets and in the subways, I asked her if she'd seen any of these signs. She asked, “What is cat calling?” I said, “It's when a man asks for sex from a woman he doesn't know”. She said she'd seen one such sign on the Philly subway. What she said next pleasantly surprised me: “What's wrong with that?! It's o…

2017: A Clinton/Sanders GALiphate (Muriel Bowser 4 prez in 2025?)

Events beginning with the 9/11 attacks and ending with the October 13th, 2015 Democratic debate point to a Clinton/Sanders “GALiphate” on January 20th, 2017. I'm all for it and believe that American voters will bring it to pass. Let's start with the last item in the timeline: the Democratic debate of October 13th, 2015. It was actually quite pleasant to watch. The candidates weren't focused on the faults of their opponents; but rather, on what they would do if elected. They discussed matters of general principle. Senator Bernie Sanders said unabashedly that capitalism is a terrible system that leaves the few with much while the many are scraping by on very little – my stance, to be sure. Secretary Hillary Clinton watered down his statements by suggesting that we merely rein in the negative effects of capitalism gone awry but leave it intact. I hold that against her.
Social media is now rife with comments opposing the determination by political pundits and the mass media …

OUR FIGHT: To Prevent (Further) Gentrification of the Homeless

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser is making plans to replace the 248-family (c. 992 person) DC General Shelter with five or six smaller shelters that are scattered across the city. There has been talk of putting one in each of the capital's eight wards. Over the past 10 years the city and various developers have floated plans to redevelop the area that includes the hospital-turned-family-shelter. When DC was in the running to host the 2024 olympic games, there was discussion of building the Olympic Village where the family shelter now sits. I suspect that conversation will recur during the bidding for the 2028 games, though it would have to include consideration of what to do with the jail and meth clinic which are located on adjacent properties.

The 360-bed New York Avenue Men's shelter is across the road from the recently refurbished Hecht's Warehouse which is now a condo building with commercial space on the first floor. Developer Douglas Jemal, to his credit, DID hold a couple …