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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Former Philly Gang Member on Honor, Reform and the Next Generation

Former Philly Gang Member on Honor, Reform and the Next Generation

Kevin Wilkins remembers the summer day long ago when he stared down a member of The Valley, a notorious gang that inhabited the streets of North Philadelphia in the '60s and '70s. He was around 16 at the time. The gang tested him and his peers from his North Philly neighborhood by beating them. It was a way to see if they were truly tough enough for the life ahead. Wilkins remembered his beating not being too bad. With shadows of his previous life written into his body -- a tattoo of a panther on his right arm, a lion on his left -- the former gang member does not wish to reveal his true name. I first met Wilkins a few years ago at the Honickman Learning Center and Comcast Technology Labs, an extension of the nonprofit Project HOME. Wilkins was a frequent visitor, stopping by to collect fliers about upcoming programs. North Philadelphia, where Wilkins and I both live, has gone through...
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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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A New Place To Call Home

A New Place To Call Home

It was twelve years ago when D.W. Wilkins first moved from New York City to Philadelphia. Upon his arrival, he had been living without medical insurance or other safeguards until learning about the services being offered at St. Elizabeth, a healthcare and recovery initiative of the Philadelphia nonprofit Project HOME. “I was taking a few computer classes in the community where I live and work,” Wilson said. “It was there that I met a young lady who told me about St. Elizabeth and that I could go there and get the care that I needed.” According to Project HOME, roughly 70 percent of households have incomes of less than $35,000 per year in the St. Elizabeth community and nearly half of adults and children live at or below the federal poverty level. The idea of having a wellness center placed in the heart of Philadelphia had first come to Sister Mary Scullion, Executive Director of Project HOME, when civic leader Stephen Klein had approached...
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