When I was homeless, I had to think about things strategically. I did not want to sleep too far away from the soup kitchens, or the day labor pick up point, or the bathrooms. With so many bathrooms closed to homeless people, the park bathrooms were the most viable, as well as the one at Bay walk, which is sort of an open air mall. My motivation for wanting to sleep around bathrooms except for the obvious reasons was that I was still trying to piece together a culinary career and it was important to keep my uniforms and I clean. When I got a cooking job through day labor, I would wash my jackets and myself so I could be presentable the next day. The goal was not to look homeless, because it is difficult for a homeless man to find work. When nature called at night, IRead More

A day in the life

I remember the day I went to jail.I actually went the night before. I was in a park about five minutes before closing time, and the cops told me to leave. I had a lot of stuff with me -my bedding, and two suitcases. One of the suitcases was really a trunk. That one had the majority of my clothes in it. The other one had my papers like my birth certificate, a novel I had been working on for three years, my pictures and letters I thought were important, and my electronic stuff, such as my radio and a phone out of minutes for the moment. Anyway, the cops told me to leave the park, about four of them, so I dragged one suitcase to the edge of the park and I was walking back to get the other one when three cars surrounded me jumped out and arrestedRead More

Hell in the Tropics

  St Petersburg devises yet another plan to get rid of the Homeless The Mayor of St Petersburg, Florida and the Pinellas County Sheriff’s office devised a plan to deal with specific problems which the city and the sheriff’s department have with homeless. The city’s problem is the visible homeless who, after Friday November 6th’s Homeless Leadership Network meeting, will be evermore referred to as “The Chronic”. Mayor Bill Foster, who coined the phrase, defines The Chronic as those homeless on the street who go to the bathroom when no bathrooms are supplied, stand in long lines for feeding, panhandle outdoor diners and sleep in front of City Hall. The “Unplaceables” he said. The Chronic also refers to those who have no choice but to use public property as a public storage facility. The mayor vowed to get rid of The Chronic some months ago, revealing his desire to ridRead More

The Great Reversal and the Infallible Word of God

(A Peek inside the 2010 St Petersburg’s Mayors Prayer Breakfast) “Each year the YMCA of Greater St.Petersburg hosts the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast, an event that welcomes hundreds of community, civic and business leaders to a morning of thought provoking prayer and music. The Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast was initiated after the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001. The YMCA and Mayor Rick Baker of St.Petersburg came together to provide an opportunity for all community members to gather and reflect on important issues, challenges and commonalities. This unique event provides a venue for the community to share a meal and develop stronger, more unified relationships. The event hosts a diverse group of religious denominations and faiths, each with the desire to reflect on and pray for our armed forces, children, families and communities.” Or so begins the preamble of the YMCA in announcing its annual Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast. I got up atRead More

A Modest Proposal

(The Abolitionist Talks With HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan at the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty’s McKinney Vento Awards ceremony in October. The abolitionist told  Secretary Donovan that HUD should put conditions on  municipalities they fund that craft ordinances which criminilize homelessness.) A Modest Proposal The conversations about homelessness are rife with conflicting views about its causes, cures, and what will make the problem go away. It can not be said that we directly throw a lot of money at the problem, as there isn’t a lot of money available now in social service budgets on local, state and federal levels. What little direct money there is continues to be consumed by service providers who supply meals and lodging (emergency shelter and transitional housing), as sort of a “revolving door” remedy. This remedy answers none of the questions of causes or cures, and does not contain elements, which will makeRead More