Experimenting with vagrancy


Several items related to vagrancy:

Tom McCloud, the publisher of Community Spirit magazine, has spent the last four days on the streets to try to understand that way of life on the inside. He has written about his experiences on the magazine's website. Among other revelations, it turns out there's a tent city behind Newblock Park.

Tulsa Today has an interview with the head of the Day Center for the Homeless, which is eye-opening. The signals from Sandra Holden, Executive Director, are mixed. At one point she seems to be pointing to mental illness and the loss (or rejection) of family support as the cause for homelessness, at other times she suggests it's a lack of subsidized housing. Perhaps there are two different groups -- those who can't seem to find affordable housing, but want it and would use it responsibly, and those who would still be vagrants even if they were offered a permanent place to live. Instead of lumping all "homeless" into one big category, perhaps our social service agencies and church assistance programs should learn to make distinctions.

Meanwhile a former Wall Street Journal reporter writes about his migratory lifestyle in USA Today:

I could be one of many vacationers or weekend campers traveling in my clean, red, 5-year-old truck with pickup shell. But this has been my daily routine for 15 months now. On June 2, 2002, I gave up my $750-a-month apartment in Palm Springs, Calif., and put most of my belongings in storage to save money by living out of my truck. I thought it would be for the summer until the economy rebounded and I got public relations consulting and freelance writing work or a full-time job in the field. I never realized then that summer camping would go into fall and then the chill of winter, even in Southern California, then spring, then summer again.

Wylie in Norman has no sympathy for this writer: He says a free-lance writer or free-lance anything should have another trade to fall back on, given the uncertainty of income; he should be willing to leave California for a part of the country with more opportunities, and he should be willing to do jobs in fields other than PR, such as working in a retail store.

Another Okie blogger, Charles Hill of dustbury.com, has a comment too.

The saga of former WSJ staffer turned free-lancer turned sort-of-homeless person Les Gapay has gotten some play in blogdom. I didn't pay much attention to it for reasons which can literally be summed up as "been there, done that": like many others, I moved to California in the late Eighties, and things went bust rather quickly, prompting me, after a period of living out of my car, to do a reverse Tom Joad, rationalizing that if I'm gonna be broke, it's less painful, or at least less expensive, to be broke in Oklahoma.

Finally, here's something I blogged back in May on the subject, which includes a link to John 3:16 Mission's "8 Ways to Help the Homeless".

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on September 25, 2003 11:02 PM.

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