Comments on: Homelessness is a Disability Issue Changing the Cultural Conversation Wed, 04 Dec 2013 02:13:33 +0000 hourly 1 By: Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg Sun, 22 Sep 2013 05:46:46 +0000 Don, I can’t tell you how much it means to me to read everything you’ve written. I have been struggling with the limits of my own body, wishing that I could do more for people, but having to take care of my own physical needs so that I can continue to serve as I do now. I sometimes feel that I can never do enough, and it’s true, I can’t. The problems are too deep and wide for one person to solve. But I can do something. And I appreciate your telling me that that something means a lot.

That feeling of invisibility you talk about is very familiar to me. I have not been on the street, but I experienced that feeling of invisibility for over 10 years in my last community, being treated as though I didn’t exist. It was an awful, traumatic experience that has forever changed me. When I go to give out lunches in the park, one of the things I notice is that people sometimes look surprised that I actually see them and talk to them with respect. I recognize that look of shock at being seen and treated as a human being. Since moving to California, I’ve gotten used to being treated like a person again, but the memory of chronic invisibility is never far. It’s part of why I do what I do.

By: Don Gateley Sat, 21 Sep 2013 23:52:54 +0000 I am so happy to see your involvement with this. I found myself homeless in Los Gatos almost 20 years ago. Everything was going along as it had for all of a reasonably prosperous life as a programmer/engineer when lightening struck and I found without a job or prospects for employment (early 50′s in a young person’s game.) My savings ran out before I could find work and I found myself living in my car and then without even that.

If I hadn’t a disability prior, the complete disorientation resulting from the situation I so suddenly found myself in was sufficiently disabling and depressing that I started self medicating with alcohol for anesthesia and the rest of the nasties then followed pretty much as can be expected. Only a miracle inheritance, modest though it was, permitted me to escape that awful, filthy hole wherein the gutter is too high to reach for. I am certain I would have died out there without that miracle.

I discovered what it is like to be invisible. Literally and actually. I had people accidentally try to walk through me. After it was behind me I realized how invisible the people in the situation that I escaped had been prior to my experience of it. They are no long invisible. They are stark.

Thank you for not needing the experience I had in order to see them and understand their plight. Society has no will to help with this problem and is taking many measures to worsen it. Only reporting such as yours can possibly make a difference and I am very pessimistic about even that given the ugly psychological profile that americans have evolved into.

I am old enough to have seen almost that entire relentless and crushing devolution and feel little hope for its reversal but there is no hope at all without people like you.

By: Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg Wed, 18 Sep 2013 02:32:20 +0000 Sean, I am always so aware of how quickly things shift and people end up on the street. I hope you stay safe and well. Please feel free to email me if you need to.

By: Sean Tue, 17 Sep 2013 18:58:28 +0000 I’m bipolar and homeless. Many don’t think anything is wrong about and I get the “stop whining and get a job” comments and the like. The problem is at first appearance I look to be a normal 50ish white male but when you’ve spent time with me my disability becomes more apparent. This is why I can never keep a job, I do my work and I’m usually told I do a great job. The problem is my behavior is strange to others and they become uncomfortable around me and I’m almost always told I’m being let go because others can’t work around me.

I’ve tried medications but they only seem to make things worse. I’m disabled enough to be on SSI but it’s not enough to pay for rent, bills and food. It’s not enough to pay rent at all. I’m on a fixed income on the streets. I’ve come to terms that I will probably die on the streets. I know that sounds harsh but it’s there. I don’t think this is going to get better either. I know it will become epidemic and more elderly and disabled and abused neglected people will be on the streets not in a few years but in months we will see a flood as landlords figure out how much money they can make by accepting they can make more money renting for double the price for half the time then keeping units rented full time for full time. (less maintenance cost, repair bills and an empty apartment/house is a write off on top of it.) Greed is an addiction too, it kills community and relationships. Unfortunately greed is seen as an asset and a good thing for everyone. *

My thoughts


By: Erik JM Schneider Sun, 15 Sep 2013 21:21:18 +0000 Those were meant to be Cited Titles. Whoops.

By: Erik JM Schneider Sun, 15 Sep 2013 21:19:41 +0000 I think the Hedges book has been recommended to me before; I will see if I can find a copy.

Right off the top of my head, I would say the two most powerful titles I have read on this general topic[1] have been Dorothy Alison’s Bastard Out of Carolina and Alice Miller’s For Your Own Good and The Drama of the Gifted Child. Ok three titles. :)

Very different types of writing, and my reactions to each of them also different: Alison’s writings hit me in the heart and gut, while Miller’s offer some conceptual scaffolding to think through how we may have gotten here.

If this is where we are.

[1] Abusive culture, sadistic culture–even “moral” culture if, like mine, one’s abuse had anything to do with reinforcing evangelical protestant authority–these are all turning out to be a (several) very broad subject(s) involving almost every aspect of sociability, including but not limited to kinship and family relations. In fact I was just thinking this morning that it might be useful to refine some of these terms within whatever context this is. I think that “abuse” is often assumed to be obvious and easy to separate from “normality”, but I suspect that is a large part of why most abuse remains unrecognized and/or is kept quiet.

But I will do that on the server space I pay for. :)

By: julesinrose Sat, 14 Sep 2013 18:58:15 +0000 “. . .most everything about this feels like it is an outgrowth of an abusive culture.”

We live in a sadistic culture, imho. If you are able, read Chris Hedges’ “The Empire of Illusion,” though I warn anyone, it is difficult reading, and the chapter about pornography may be one to skip if there’s been sexual abuse. Very difficult.

I found reading it (and him, in general) to be empowering. When I can contextualize my suffering within a larger framework, it feels less personal. Somehow this makes it all more bearable. That’s me, though.

By: Erik JM Schneider Fri, 13 Sep 2013 21:17:48 +0000 I think I discovered your blog about a week ago, but I feel like a longtime reader because every single day you write something interesting and useful–and often something I wish I were writing about as well!

This post, for instance. I am trying to write about the many links among and between homelessness, disability, and addiction, and adding in trauma and abuse, as they have also been shown to be correlated with all three. There is, I think, a very convoluted and ugly knot where all of these things interact to produce a very large share–perhaps the largest–of social and cultural dysfunction in what is called the West.

I cannot back up this last claim yet, but I am working on it, albeit slowly. I am disabled with PTSD and depression; about three-quarters of my waking hours are spent keeping myself housed, fed, and stable enough to function at some acceptable-to-myself minimum.

This month I am in a surprise fight to keep payment of my SSI benefits uninterrupted. Needless to say, this is draining and distracting. Well, it is worse than that, but I will elaborate elsenet.

Here I will just say that the government seems happy to hold the threat of non-payment of benefits over my head on very very short notice even though such tactics are arguably as abusive as those used on me when I was little. Perhaps I would be less bother to them on the street.

My perception is that many of my contemporaries believe I belong on the street. And most everything about this feels like it is an outgrowth of an abusive culture.

Film at 11. On, um, some year before 2020, hopefully.

Thanks for making me think! Like, everyday!

By: julesinrose Fri, 13 Sep 2013 16:35:48 +0000 This made me cry. I’ve been looking for accessible housing and told the worker I met this week that the last time I tried to do that I was told I needed to become homeless first. She said, “really??!!” I’m sending a link to this to every social worker I have the email address of. Thank you again, Rachel.