Early in the year, a focus group was conducted,including only the voices of women.
One day I was drinking with a group of homeless friends, when Nature called.I furtively though dutifully took care of my business behind a dumpster.
As I was returning to my friends, I wondered what homeless women did when they felt the urge to pee, and the bathrooms were closed. I know a lot of homeless women, and I have heard their stories-some of them abjectly horrible.
I have known several women-no exaggeration, who have been raped and beaten and found dead in lakes, abandoned buildings,and in dumpsters.
On my way across the street to rejoin my friends,I thought about how women’s voices are sorely lacking from conversations about homelessness, People seldom think about women when they think about the homeless. Women are not considered in much of the planning and development of most shelters, and most homeless programs are overwhelmingly designed for men.
I thought that it was long past the time that women’s voices should be heard.I recruited women I knew, and put the word out to invite women who would be interested in speaking about their lives as homeless.
I recruited my good friend Jane Walker, who is a life saver in these parts as the Executive Director of The Daystar Life Center.
Jane in turn, recruited Angela Horvath,who interviewed the women and recorded the proceedings,Dr Hovath has intensive experience with focus groups,and empathy for the women who instantly bonded with her.
When we finally seated the women, I was not in the room.I thought that my presence would be harmful to the process.I thought that they would speak more freely without a man around compromising the conversation.
While the focus group was meeting, I cooked for the women, and even ate my food separately from them,to attempt to let them bond.
I am proud of this group, and I will try to keep them together and put those who are willing into leadership of our union.The false dichotomy embedded in homelessness must end. We must come together and speak truth to power about our human rights and about housing for all.