NCH Members Respond to “Homeless Hotspots”

“Homeless Hotspots” – is this marketing campaign a friend or foe to un-housed folks? NCH has been getting a lot of requests-for-comment.  As a membership organization that advocates with (not for) homeless individuals, we depend, rely and are primarily informed by the opinions of people who are homeless. So, we asked our members for their feedback and this is what we heard.

NCH believes it should focus its time and attention on the three primary causes and solutions to America’s homelessness: affordable housing, living wage jobs and accessible healthcare. So, we asked if this was a relevant issue for us to be discussing. The response was clearly a “yes”. No matter how you feel about the issue of “Homeless Hotspots”, it’s a conversation about jobs.

Next, we asked if this was a living wage job. The general agreement was “no”. But, when we asked folks who had done similar types of “jobs”, they said that they took the work knowing how much it paid and that it was temporary. Some people used the experience just get a little spending money and others thought it might help them to get a little work experience before taking on a more permanent job. People compared it to selling streets newspapers. One “Homeless Hotspot” worker described his pay as $20 per day and $2 for each person he could get to use the serve. It worked out to about $8 an hour. So for most folks we asked, it seemed to pay close to a living wage.

Lastly, we asked if jobs like the “Homeless Hotspot” job treated homeless people as less than human, or like an object and not like a person. The responses were clear and consistent. Most people felt that being homeless in America can be, and often times is, a dehumanizing experience. Being homeless means being ignored or treated like “something” unwanted. The “Homeless Hotspot” gave folks on the streets a reason for people to talk to them.

So, NCH’s comment is that we need a lot more affordable housing, many more jobs that pay a living wage, and improved access to healthcare. Unless and until then, we’re going to have homelessness in America. “Homeless Hotspots” isn’t the answer, but it’s not the problem either. If we want to get mad, and NCH thinks we all should, let’s get mad for the right reasons and at the right people. If we’re going to end homelessness, we’re going to need much more funding and lots more new and innovative ideas.

Thanks again to all our members for making us a better organization, and thanks for your support in Bringing America Home!

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3 Responses to NCH Members Respond to “Homeless Hotspots”

  1. I’ve been conducting research among chronically homeless people for most of the past year under the bridges, along the railroad beds and in the alleys and streets of a New York State community and I do not believe that any of my contacts would feel “dehumanized” by doing this kind of work.

    What I have found is that most chronically homeless individuals have multiple and significant disabling conditions. This kind of work offers an independent work schedule and would very likely pay more than collecting discarded bottles and cans.

    It also offers an opportunity to interact in a positive manner with the general public, which many of my contacts would welcome enthusiastically.

    In the rehabilitation field, “normalization” is a priority concept. IMO, being isolated from the mainstream and feeling ostracized due to the highly stigmatized condition of homelessness are far more dehumanizing than providing a useful service and doing productive work for pay.

    People interested in such work – whether homeless or not – could advertise that they provide “Mobile Hotspot” services; they would not have to use the term “Homeless Hotspot.”

    I encourage attorneys to focus intensely on any possible conflicts between agencies accepting federal HUD funds and any possible violations of federal laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act. A very significant route to the resolution of homelessness issues may lie within our court system.

  2. joseph2dogs says:

    Mary I am surprised by your response and have to wonder do you really know the people you work with, because yes we would all feel dehumanized by it I have in the last 2 days asked almost all of my phone contacts of homeless people and not one of them felt it was any different than any other Dehumanizing job they are offered would they take the Job in most cases yes but at the end of the day it would simply be “for the money and they would feel no better about themselves” “people always Come to us for the Jobs no one else will do” ” What if I get Hungry Is someone going to Get Mad because I wondered out of Range?” ” Do you think The city Would Let me do this By Myself?” I have paraphrased Here because My friends are much More colorful In there dialect. How can we justify turning people into routers when In most cities it is against the law for them to ask for a piece of bread or some spare change?
    Maybe If you payed for this service in a wage compared to that of the Clowns in the Board room of BHH who keep coming up with these exploitative Schemes then there would be some societal Justice. Until then we are again Bailing out the titanic with a thimble.

  3. HomelessInLA says:

    Hi Joseph!
    Personally, I was thinking that “Human Hotspotting” is something I did just last month wehen I was at a conference and the hotel wanted to charge $30 a day. I asked my friends who wanted to use my hotspot for $5 and shared.

    I like the idea. Couldn’t Girl Scouts and other groups do this for fundraising?

    I have one of those kids who likes to stand on Hollywood Blvd and take pictures with tourists. Maybe I should stand next to her with a Human Hotspot t-shirt. Is there a business liscence needed for that?

    As a social worker, I had clients who did Bum Fights for money, turned tricks, sold their belongings and anything else it would take to make money for food or rent at the SRO. It isn’t a 1099 or W2 type of occupation – but it is a person offering a service and filling a need.
    the part that bothered me is that the housing status was used as an identifyer. Couldn’t they have chosen people from the shelter as hotspots without advertising their marginalization?

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