Sunday, February 08, 2009

What You Talking About Willis?

Don't Call Me Homeless!!!

I am not a big fan of the word homeless, but it is the word we all understand. Dick Feagler never understood the word, but the rest of society has the image of people sleeping in shelters or on the streets when we use the word. Anyway, homeless people hate the word "homeless." We never use the term in surveys, because it is viewed with such disdain by those experiencing housing instability. Last week, we saw had bad the term "homeless" is viewed by our society. Call me anything you want, but don't call me "homeless." The Detroit News found a guy in an elevator shaft two weeks ago, and identified him as homeless. There was some controversy about putting the photo of his legs sticking out of the ice on the front page, and the point of the story was the indifference by all the other people in the building who did nothing. What was amazing is the reaction in the Associated Press story by the family when the man's identity was discovered.

"Relatives said Redding was a one-time steelworker who worked as a handyman and moved around to the homes of relatives and friends. Older brother Homer Redding said family members don't know what Johnnie Redding was doing in an abandoned building, but they rejected authorities' speculation that he was homeless.

'That's what I don't understand. They are saying he was homeless. I couldn't understand it,' older brother Homer Redding, 59, of River Rouge, told the Detroit Free Press. 'He had too many places he could live.'

Johnnie Redding might have had places that he could have crashed, but he did not have a lease and was struggling with affording rent. It is not shameful, and the less we talk about it the longer the problem will persist. We need to start discussing homelessness in a more open and honest way so that we can start talking about solutions. People need to start admitting that they have had problems with homelessness so that they can take responsibility for the issues that led to their losing their housing.

Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.

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