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Friday round-up
December 6, 2013

Thought I would share a few perspectives on homelessness selected from my Twitter feed, and ways to respond:

Understand its complexity
Love this California college teacher who writes about homelessness. She says homelessness defies labels and stereotypes. For example, she says her homeless students are determined to learn even if they are living in their cars or couch-surfing. We’ve seen that attitude, too, with our Nicollet Square tenants, young adults who have experienced homelessness or were at risk after aging out of foster care. Last year 42 percent had entered a post-secondary education program.

Cultivate compassion
When is a shopping cart more than a way to get your goods through the checkout line and to your car? When it’s your car, dresser, closet and kitchen – yep, when you are homeless and all your belongings are portable. Mark Horvath of Invisible People writes a moving reflection on gratitude from the perspective of someone who’s pushed a “buggy” as they’re called in street vernacular.

Do not pretend we can legislate homeless people away
For a different perspective, Los Angeles, with more than 57,000 homeless people, is considering banning feeding homeless people in public places. Neighbors react negatively to hundreds of people who line up at some serving sites – and it’s true that nightly meals are needed but are no substitute for homes and support. LA isn’t alone – 30 cities have enacted such a ban.

Support public policies and resources backing solutions that work 
Star Tribune columnist Lori Sturdevant: After 10 years, Lydia Apartments demonstrates that the public-private investment in supportive housing works for tenants and the wider community. Its formerly homeless tenants may well have slept in cars, carried all their belongings in one container, or lined up for food. Now they are home – they’re safe, stable and reclaiming well-being and a sense of purpose.