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Let me introduce myself and what’s going to happen when you click “subscribe” right there to the right—yep, right there—click it! Yes!
I am writing a book about ending homelessness in the United States. This book is a combination of:
1. an approachable summary of the causes of and solutions to homelessness based on the large body of research about the causes of homelessness & the solutions (usually developed by organizers) that are shown to be successful in reducing harm or preventing the causes of housing deprivation
2. a “how to” book for an everyday reader that has been stably housed. Each chapter takes on some key technique needed to end homelessness or a key roadblock that prevents ending homelessness. It directly engages readers to reflect on some of the common responses people have to visible homelessness such as “do they really need cash? They have ____ on” or “for a lot of people homelessness is a choice.” Chapter by chapter the book asks readers to explore & transform their inner narratives about human value and the un-stated social and political priorities that stand in the way of ending homelessness.
This blog is not that book. But it is a place for people who are interested in understanding more about homelessness to drop in on what I’m listening to or reading and some thoughts I have about them. It is a place to learn more about specific aspects of ending homelessness. It might involve more personal reflections and it might involve graphs and tables. I might ask you to look at some tables. You can talk back—ask questions! I’ll try to answer them in-depth and publicly in a later blog post. I may not get time to respond to each message in-depth. You can chat with each other in the messages if the convo stays respectful and generous.
Wait? Who am I to write this blog? I’ll give you a brief intro.
1. Personal/demographic: I am a white, working-class and rural raised, gender-non-conforming* dyke who is also a parent, partner, writer, farmer.
2. Personal/experience: I am a formerly homeless & inadequately housed person. I usually try not to write about others in ways that attaches their housing status to their identity, but because I am stably housed and have a number of economic & racialized privileges that shield me from the impact of the taboo, I take on the words “I am formerly homeless & inadequately housed” as a short descriptor of past experiences. It’s also a quick explanation for how I come to think and write about this topic in ways that are deeply personal. Saying it out loud in predominantly middle-class spaces usually invokes an intake of breath from people around the room. It also usually invokes a trickle of people in the room who approach me later to tell me of their own story of inadequate housing or houselessness, or that of their family members. Part of the reason I think homelessness continues is because (especially middle-class identified and white) people find ways to ignore the existence of it all around them and then in an anxiety to pin-down homelessness far from their own world, they attach the label to certain populations (men, Black urban people, addicts, Vets) in certain places. The more people who talk honestly about how the current economic and housing system isn’t working, the more we can break the deep stigma surrounding homelessness and poverty. The “me” writing now is writing in service to the unhoused me of the past, a young GNC** person that was in such crisis I could barely sit still, let alone write, advocate, or argue policy with others.
3. Professional: I have a PhD in Communication. I earned this degree researching and writing about homelessness in the U.S. You can see the writing section of my site for links to academic and popular press publications on ending homelessness and other subjects.
Me doing some research.
Photo Credit: Sara Appel
I’ll end this intro post here for now. Click subscribe for my next post, where I’ll highlight one project serving people who are unhoused that I think gets a LOT right.
*pronouns: she/her/hers but that’s about the end of the relevance of that gendered-side of the linguistic categories. Dr/Mx for formal address, baba is my parental name, my wife calls me her wusband. The words “girl” or a “lady” are not ever appropriate descriptors of me.