How to fight the stigma of homelessness

How to fight the stigma of homelessness

Dysfunctional families, distrust of the system, the lack of affordable housing — there are so many situations that could influence why a person can become homeless that others might not consider as they walk past those experiencing it. “I think we tend to look for easy answers because homelessness is horrible and scary and you want that easy fix,” said Sarah Erdo, volunteer and community engagement manager at Bethesda Project. “The easy answer, I think, is the lack of affordable housing and the cycle of poverty.” Bethesda Project and other local homeless services organizations hosted a panel at the Legend Galleries called “Bringing Homelessness Home” last week as part of Young Involved Philadelphia’s State of Young Philly event series. The panel discussed the many challenges and aspects of homelessness that laypeople may be unaware of while, appropriately, surrounded by artwork reading encouragements such as “Perseverance with Dignity” and “Signs of Hope,” part of the gallery’s National Homelessness and Hunger Week exhibit. Often those who are experiencing the cycle of homelessness have stigmas...
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Experimental Hair Salon on Wheels Tries to Inspire Mobility in Homeless Clients

Experimental Hair Salon on Wheels Tries to Inspire Mobility in Homeless Clients

Visiting a barber shop or a hair salon may seem like a luxury, but an artist who visits shelters for homeless Americans sees it as a matter of identity. "Hair care is kind of seen as a non-essential need for people that are homeless," says Jody Wood, creator of mobile hair salon Beauty in Transition. "It's an extra maybe even some people think is superfluous, but I'm interested in trying to resist in this process of losing one's identity." To some degree, we all struggle to find and keep our identity. But imagine the devastation of losing it slowly over time, separated from the people around you, labeled as "the homeless," ignored throughout the streets of Philadelphia by passers-by. A traveling salon catering to homeless clients may seem unorthodox, but a simple hairstyle can help an invisible person feel visible. I never thought about it that way until I spoke to Wood about her project. Perhaps it is because I am accustomed to...
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Homeless, not hopeless: A View From the Free Library

Homeless, not hopeless: A View From the Free Library

I have never experienced the plight of homelessness, but I've seen many people throughout the streets of downtown Philadelphia who have. For the last six years, I have worked as a barista part time at the Philadelphia Free Library. I get homeless customers as well as the regular patrons of the library. Sometimes they arrive just to rest; sometimes they remain in the library all day. Nowhere else to go, I always assume. Many can be seen daily playing with electronics or eating potato chips and sandwiches from the carts outside. There are times when these unfortunate individuals will reach into their pockets and pull out a few crumpled dollars to purchase a cup of coffee from me. Sometimes I wonder what they must go through every day, what their interaction with people who deem them invisible must be. Photo: Flickr/Creative Commons License "Everyone has the right right" Click here to read the rest of the story. Dominique “Peak” Johnson is a North Philadelphia journalists and...
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Philly Grad Aims For New Chapter In Life

Philly Grad Aims For New Chapter In Life

It happened earlier this month when Shawn Jorden, 25, was handed his degrees in Psychology and Liberal Arts from the Community College of Philadelphia, a goal that he had initially thought was out of reach. Jorden attended Indiana University before attending CCP but because of the university's tuition and cost of living, he was forced to return to Philadelphia. At times he found himself homeless while working to complete his degree, relying on the kindness of friends and family for a place to live and work. "I really wasn't feeling it because I was at a four-year university and coming to a two-year institution, I was a little depressed about that," Jorden said. "So I did some research and decided that I needed some help but I wasn't sure what kind of help I needed." Jorden connected with The Center for Male Engagement at CCP and met Kevin Convington, who would later become his mentor as well as Derrick Perkins, the director of the...
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Stepping Away From Homelessness

Stepping Away From Homelessness

Carrying a stack of newspapers and wearing the trademark lime neon-green vest, Brian Belcher, a vendor of One Step Away, makes his way to the corner of 18th and Market in Center City Philadelphia. Throughout the day there are hit-and-miss chances as Belcher attempts to sell the paper, which only costs a dollar and written by those who are homeless in the city. "One Step Away, Philadelphia's first newspaper by the homeless. One dollar donation," Belcher chanted early one morning as Philadelphians busily and knowingly pass him by. Belcher, 35, who once was homeless, understands the struggles that his peers are going through. And even though only a few Philadelphians may stop at first, Belcher is optimistic, adding that it's "still early." When donating a dollar for a One Step Away newspaper, 75 cents goes directly into the pockets of the paper's vendors. The remaining 25 cents goes toward the cost of printing the paper. Belcher has been a part of One Step Away for...
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