Saturday, October 19, 2013

What you learn about humanity from living on the streets

Since I became homeless, people have stolen my belongings and assumed I'm a prostitute. A few have been incredibly kind

Mary, homeless in New York, Sunday 13 October 2013 07.00 EDT
Passers-by mainly ignore me, a homeless woman sitting on the sidewalk or a bench. The people who do speak to me are either curious, or harpies who give me unsolicited and useless advice, or the more irritable who chastise me. I try to explain by example that there are good, decent, employable but destitute people in New York City.

Many people also assume that the homeless are all drug addicts, criminals or prostitutes. I am none of these things, yet I have seen the stereotypes first-hand.

I try to keep busy, doing whatever jobs I can find, often the kinds of jobs illegal immigrants now do. When I volunteered at a church soup kitchen, hoping to do my part, a stranger claimed all these nasty things about me in the presence of the minster and other members of the church. For years, she continued to make these sorts of remarks and warned new volunteers that I would steal from them. No one said a word in my defense.

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