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Fri Apr 19, 2019, 02:02 PM

The poor and homeless are not what you think they are

EVERETT — While the signs of poverty and homelessness can be easy to spot, how someone lost the roof over their head is a lot more complicated.

Seeing misperceptions about poverty grow as homelessness becomes more visible in the region, the Everett Gospel Mission wants to challenge assumptions that can stigmatize people.

To do that, the Mission, which runs several emergency shelters, launched Poverty 101 training.

“There’s more to the story than the sound bite that people just want a handout,” said Sylvia Anderson, CEO of the Mission, during a recent class. “Very little can be judged by just looking at someone.”

The path to homelessness is so much more complex than what is visible, she said.

“We’re operating on: You’re poor because you made bad decisions,” Anderson said.

The Mission was seeing both volunteers and staff arrive knowing little about poverty, sometimes saddled with preconceived ideas. This prompted the organization to create the training, which is also offered to the public.

The day-long course uses role-playing, games and discussions to explain the different types of poverty while addressing participants’ belief systems.


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Reply The poor and homeless are not what you think they are (Original post)
Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin Apr 2019 OP
GemDigger Apr 2019 #1
matt819 Apr 2019 #2

Response to Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin (Original post)

Fri Apr 19, 2019, 02:11 PM

1. Good article, thanks for posting it. nt

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Response to Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin (Original post)

Fri Apr 19, 2019, 02:36 PM

2. I volunteer at a shelter

All of us volunteers talk to the guests, though we don't pry. Sometimes they tell their stories; mostly they don't. The long-term homeless mostly have addiction issues. Their homelessness stems from these addictions, as well as from job loss, illness, injury, mental health issues. Some are sober(ish), some are in recovery, some go to meetings. Their homelessness doesn't exactly help this process along. Most are pretty decent. Some aren't. Most are nice. Some aren't. And most appreciate the fact that there is a shelter and volunteers. They are men (mostly), women too, some families, some vets.

To us volunteers, it doesn't matter how they got there. They're there. We treat them with respect and dignity. We know their names and, as I mentioned, sometimes their backgrounds. We don't cross the street or look away when we see them in the street, which is what everyone else does. We ask after their families, friends, fellow homeless people. In many cases, this community looks after each other. They know who's sick, who's left town, who got apartments, who's in the hospital, who's back in jail. To most other people they are anonymous and invisible.

To volunteers, it is definitely eye-opening. Sometimes you get angry - why aren't they working? Sometimes you damn near cry - single mothers with kids.

I'm not sure a Poverty 101 class is necessary. I think if you're a pretty decent, compassionate human being (i.e., not a Republican), you can understand and appreciate the issues facing our communities and the homeless people themselves.

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