VOL. 17 ISSUE 5
JAN. 8 - 21, 2019
suggested donation goes directly to your vendor
“It’s both a national disgrace and a wake-up call to prioritize massive investments in housing at every level of government in the US” STREETSENSEMEDIA.ORG
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VENDOR CODE OF CONDUCT
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
6. I understand that I am not an employee of Street Sense Media, but an independent contractor.
Mary Coller Albert, Blake Androff, Jeremy Bratt, Cameron Curtis, Jennifer Park, Michael Phillips, Dan Schwartz, John Senn, Aaron Stetter, Daniel Webber, Shari Wilson, Corrine Yu
7. I agree to sell no additional goods or products when distributing Street Sense.
As self-employed contractors, our vendors follow a code of conduct. 1. Street Sense will be distributed for a voluntary donation of $2.00. I agree not to ask for more than $2.00 or solicit donations for Street Sense Media by any other means. 2. I will only purchase the paper from Street Sense Media staff and volunteers and will not sell papers to other vendors. 3. I agree to treat all others, including customers, staff, volunteers, and other vendors, respectfully at all times. I will refrain from threatening others, pressuring customers into making a donation, or in engaging in behavior that condones racism, sexism, classism, or other prejudices. 4. I agree not to distribute copies of Street Sense on metro trains and buses or on private property. 5. I agree to abide by the Street Sense Media vendor territorial policy at all times and will resolve any related disputes I have with other vendors in a professional manner.
8. I will not distribute Street Sense under the influence of drugs or alcohol. 9. I understand that my badge and (if applicable) vest are property of Street Sense Media, and will not deface them. I will present my badge when purchasing Street Sense. I will always display my badge when distributing Street Sense. 10. I agree to support Street Sense Media’s mission statement. In doing so I will work to support the Street Sense community and uphold its values of honesty, respect, support, and opportunity.
INTERESTED IN BEING A VENDOR? New vendor training: every Tuesday and Thursday // 2 p.m. // 1317 G St., NW
The Street Sense Media Story, #MoreThanANewspaper
A scene from the Philadelphia observance of National Homeless Persons Memorial Day.
Originally founded as a street newspaper in 2003, Street Sense Media has evolved into a multimedia center using a range of creative platforms to spotlight solutions to homelessness and empower people in need. The men and women who work with us do much more than sell this paper: They use film, photography, theatre, illustration, and more to share their stories with our community. Our media channels elevate voices, our newspaper vendor and digital marketing programs provide economic independence. And our in-house casemanagement services move people forward along the path toward permanent supportive housing. At Street Sense Media, we define ourselves through our work, talents, and character, not through our housing situation.
PHOTO BY TED GOLDMAN, COURTESY OF ONE STEP AWAY.
VENDORS Shuhratjon Ahmadjonov, Wanda Alexander, Gerald Anderson, Charles Armstrong, Katrina Arninge, Lawrence Autry, Daniel Ball, Reginald Black, Mathew Bowens, Rashawn Bowser, Clarence Branch, Debora Brantley, Andre Brinson, Laticia Brock, Donald Brown, Brianna Butler, Melody Byrd, Juan Callejon, Anthony Carney, Alice Carter, Conrad Cheek, Anthony Crawford, Louise Davenport, James Davis, David Denny, Reginald Denny, Ricardo Dickerson, Patricia Donaldson, Nathaniel Donaldson, Ron Dudley, Queenie Featherstone, Jet Flegette, Jemel Fleming, Aaron Garland, James Gatrell, Chon Gotti, George Gray, Marcus Green, Levester Green, Barron Hall, Dwight Harris, Lorrie Hayes, Derian Hickman, Ray Hicks, Ibn Hipps, Dan Hooks, James Hughes, Joseph Jackson, Chad Jackson, Henry Johnson, Mark Jones, Morgan Jones, Jeramy Jones, Reggie Jones, Matt Jones, Darlesha Joyner, Juliene Kengnie, Jewel Lewis, John Littlejohn, Scott Lovell, Michael Lyons, Authertimer Matthews, Jermale McKnight, Jennifer McLaughlin, Jeffery McNeil, Angela Meeks, Ricardo Meriedy, Kenneth Middleton, Amy Modica, Richard Mooney, L. Morrow, Collins Mukasa, Evelyn Nnam, Moyo Onibuje, Earl Parker, Aida Peery, Hubert Pegues, Michael Pennycook, Marcellus Phillips, Jacquelyn Portee, Angela Pounds, Abel Putu, Ash-Shaheed Rabil, Robert Reed, Corey Sanders, Corey Sanders, Chris Shaw, Patty Smith, Ronald Smoot, David Snyder, Franklin Sterling, Warren Stevens, James Stewart, Beverly Sutton, Sybil Taylor, Jeff Taylor, Jeff Taylor, Archie Thomas, Eric Thompson-Bey, Martin Walker, Michael Warner, Sheila White, Angie Whitehurst, Sasha Williams, Clarence Williams, Wendell Williams, Ivory Wilson, Charles Woods, Latishia Wynn
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Eric Falquero
VENDOR MANAGER Gladys Robert
DIRECTOR OF CASE MANAGEMENT Lissa Ramsepaul
CASE MANAGER Nikki D’Angelo
DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT Maddie Cunnigham
WRITERS GROUP ARTIST-IN-RESIDENCE Willie Schatz
OPINION EDITORS (VOLUNTEER) Rachel Brody, Arthur Delaney, Britt Peterson
ADVISORY BOARD John McGlasson
EDITORIAL VOLUNTEERS Ryan Bacic, Jason Lee Bakke, Roberta Haber, Thomas Ratliff, Mark Rose, Andrew Siddons, Sarah Tascone, Jenny-lin Smith
OFFICE SALES VOLUNTEERS Bill Butz, Jane Cave, Karen Franklin, Roberta Haber, Ann Herzog, Lynn Mandujano, Leonie Peterkin, Eugene Versluysen
Second NoMa Town Hall on Homeless Encampments Thursday, January 23 // Doors: 5:45 p.m. // Program: 6:15 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. The Father McKenna Center, St. Aloysius Church // 900 North Capitol Street NW Continuing the conversation started at our first NoMa community conversation in December, Street Sense Media will be providing information on service providers and initiatives in the community. We’re also inviting city officials and advocates with specific, actionable suggested solutions to help all residents to convene in this space and be available to meet and work with attendees. More details will be posted to StreetSenseMedia.org on a rolling basis. UPDATES ONLINE AT ICH.DC.GOV
D.C. Interagency Council on Homelessness Meetings Full Council Meeting Jan. 21, pm // TBD * Likely 441 4th Street NW
PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION
Many many thanks to the D.C. Public Service Commission for partnering to thrown an incredible holiday party for our colleagues!!! They decorated, provided entertainment, served an incredible meal, and donated 524 hats, gloves, socks, foot & hand warmers to help Street Sense Media vendors during the winter.
Emergency Response and Shelter Operations Committee Jan. 22, 1 pm // TBD * Likely 441 4th Street NW
Lawrence Autry Jan. 13 ARTIST/VENDOR
Frederic John Jan. 17
***List features only committee meetings. For issue-focused working group, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Submit your event for publication by emailing email@example.com
AUDIENCE EXCHANGE It’s All Journalism Podcast @AllJournalism
Listen: The editors of @dcist, @dclinenews & @streetsensedc talk about their 0-outlet effort to cover #homelessness for the DC Homeless Crisis Reporting Project. http://bit.ly/2sF3xfy 7:24 AM - 2 JAN 2019
CORRECTIONS In the previous edition, of Street Sense, the cover story was presented with the incorrect headline “Men experiencing homelessness lead community in 100-year-old Jesuit tradition.” The age of the advent tradition is correct, however, Lessons and Carols is not a Jesuit practice. It comes from the Church of England. In the same article, Cortez McDaniel’s name was misspelled as “Cortex.” The online edition will be updated.
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When a street paper ceases printing…for the right reasons BY TONY INGLIS INSP
eclining interest and sales in print media; fundraising concerns; difficulty adapting to changes in journalism and society; ever increasing poverty and homelessness; soaring housing prices; scarcity of housing and social benefits; displacement of entire communities - these are all factors that could lead to the shuttering of a street paper. And yet, such closures are few and far between. Street papers are instead rising to the challenge, meeting these obstacles head on, and innovating to overcome them. Last month, INSP received an email from Bergen street paper Megafon: “From 31 December 2019, Norwegian street paper Megafon will be no more.” It calmly went on: “There's nothing dramatic behind this decision; quite the opposite. Since 2014, we have seen a decline in vendors, as fewer people have had to rely on their vendor jobs to survive. Our local government has made an extra effort over the last five years to improve the living conditions for our vendors and other marginalized groups.” At the 2019 Global Street Paper Summit, and in interviews with INSP in September, several street paper staff expressed conflicting emotions at the continued existence of street papers. The fact that almost 100 street papers are still going strong throughout the world is evidence of these organizations’ perseverance and successful ability to overcome difficulties to their work. But it also shows that homelessness and poverty are still unaddressed global problems. If those issues didn’t exist, then neither would street papers. There is the sentiment that the ultimate goal of a street paper is to put itself out of business – to have worked so effectively at helping those marginalized by society that the street paper can shut up shop. The end of Bergen’s Megafon suggested that its closure wasn’t bad news at all, but rather that it had succeeded in this goal. On this, in a Facebook post, the staff behind Megafon wrote: “The goal has always been the same: to make ourselves redundant. Now, thanks to both you readers and a formidable municipal effort, we have arrived.” The email INSP received went on to cite improved housing projects, drug treatment, and welfare services as reasons why the socially and economically disadvantaged population of Bergen no longer needed Megafon. Out of nearly 900 registered vendors, by October 2019 it had only eight left active. In its time, Megafon - which has been overseen by the Centre for Workplace Preparation (ALF) in Bergen, an organization which offers low threshold services to drug users and people who otherwise find themselves outside ordinary working life – published 133
Megafon staff and vendors celebrate good initial sales back in 2007. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE INTERNATIONAL NETWORK OF STREET PAPERS
magazines and 11 special editions. INSP contacted Megafon’s soon-to-be former editor Petter Lønningen, who has been working in street papers for almost 13 years, to shed some more light on the reasons behind the end of the street paper. “Norway is different from other places with street papers – we don’t really have a homelessness crisis in the same way other countries do,” said Lønningen. “So Norwegian street papers are different. You rarely see people sleeping on the streets here. Instead, our vendors have an addiction, most often to opiates and amphetamines. We do have a problem with relative poverty, but that can’t be compared to poverty you find in many places across the rest of Europe or the US.” The local authorities in Bergen have implemented forward-thinking policies when it comes to treating drug addiction, including medical support, substitution drugs and other harm reduction services, and matched them with more basic facilities, like access to free hot meals, in order to help those who want to get clean, and at least manage those who don’t. It may seem basic but, most crucially, Bergen has been focusing on rehabilitation. When so many local governments turn quickly to the criminalization of those with addiction issues, it is a quietly radical approach. “As most people with an addiction will tell you, it’s not the quitting that’s difficult – people do it over and over again,” said Lønningen. “The problem is to stay clean afterwards, and to do that, you need something to keep yourself occupied, something that you can use as a foundation for a new identity. That’s why an important part of the rehabilitation program is everyday activities such as band practices, photography courses, meditation, arts and crafts, horseback riding, camping – all this in addition to health services and housing. This is actually crucial for staying off drugs. Of course social benefits have increased over the last few years too.”
Perhaps the most important of all of these though has been substitution treatment, mainly administered through methadone, but also through other substitute opioids like Subutex and Suboxone. “When Megafon started in 2007, most people with an addiction would need around 1500 Norwegian kroner [approximately 170 USD] a day to support their heroin addiction,” explained Lønningen. “Around 2013, local health services decided that it should be easier to get methadone. This turned out to be a success, and today the heroin market is almost gone. There’s a new drug reform around the corner that opens up for heroin prescriptions, which will probably undercut the illegal opioid market completely. “Then there’s Naltrexone, an incredibly promising medication that removes cravings [and the effect of] opioids. We’ve met so many people who had their lives completely changed over just a few years.” This had great consequences for Megafon. “Most of our vendors no longer need the income they once got from selling magazines. They are getting treatment for their addiction, and can fill their spare time with other work and activities. There’s still a need for more work related activities, but that’s next on the local government’s list. There are already several possibilities for those who would like to work, and more is on the way. “So Bergen is doing things differently from other cities – even in Norway. But we’ll probably see more [of these progressive local government policies] implemented in other Norwegian cities in the years to come.” Across Europe, the refugee crisis has meant the arrival in many major cities of people in need, and with little help from local authorities due to their status, migrants have been finding a leg up in street papers, keeping vendor numbers, at the very least, steady. In Norway, the situation is murkier. “There’s actually been a reduction in the number of
refugees coming here,” said Lønningen. “This is mostly because of strict immigration and asylum policies. There’s broad parliamentary support for these policies, making Norway less attractive for asylum seekers. In 2015, during the peak of the refugee crisis, Sweden accepted around 160,000 asylum seekers; Norway took in just 30,000.” So while a relative lack of refugees means less requirement for Megafon (Bergen does have a small population of refugees, according to Lønningen, but they do not see the street paper is a viable income source for their needs), it isn’t necessarily due to similar broadly progressive policies as those addressing drug addiction in Bergen. But, Lønningen says, there are other factors. Namely, cash is almost obsolete in Norway, making it a more difficult place for migrants and traveller communities to transition towards, especially outside the capital of Oslo. Despite now having to move on from Megafon, Lønningen still firmly believes in the necessary existence of street papers and the movement. “During [my time working in street papers], I’ve seen so many changes for the better,” he said. “Not just for our vendors, but in how the mainstream media treats issues such as addiction, gentrification, and poverty. Before street papers appeared in Norway, you’d rarely see interviews with people struggling with addiction. Now, it’s much more common.
Most of our vendors no longer need the income “To me, street papers are first and foremost an opportunity to earn their own money in a legal and dignified way, and thus, to be independent. I’ve met young girls and boys who earlier had to turn to prostitution in order to get the money they needed, and parents who had to get a third job just to be able to pay off their children’s drug debts. But street papers have also given many different people a voice that otherwise wouldn’t have been heard, which in turn has changed people’s perceptions of them as a group. “But there’s still much to be done. Street papers should strive to battle prejudices even more.” Going forward, collaboration between the remaining Norwegian street papers is key, says Lønningen. =Oslo will be picking up the slack in Bergen, offering the few remaining vendors the opportunity to sell its more nationally relevant title =Norge, supporting them through the transition. Highlighting this, Megafon’s final issue will be its annual Christmas edition, a collaboration with =Oslo and Trondheim’s Sorgenfri. Courtesy of INSP.ngo
AT A GLANCE
CELEBRATING SUCCESS EDITORIAL
THERE ARE LITERALLY THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE DYING HOMELESS ON THE STREETS OF AMERICA NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE, PHOTO BY HANNAH HERNER
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA, PHOTO BY TED GOLDMAN
BY ISRAEL BAYER
nonprofit focused on ending chronic homelessness. “So, on average, someone who’s 55 is experiencing the type of health conditions — whether that’s diabetes or heart conditions or other medical conditions — that someone who is 75 is,” said Adam Rocap of Miriam’s Kitchen In a Jan. 2 interview broadcast on the Kojo Nnamdi Show. “And when you’re without housing and it’s harder to get treatment or see your doctor, follow-up, I mean, that’s some of the things that lead to people dying at higher rates than they would if they were housed.” Homelessness can cause physical and mental illness because a person becomes isolated, loses dignity, and feels they have nowhere to go, said Maxica Williams, a single mother with four children. Her family was homeless in Chicago from January to August 2016 while she fought breast cancer. Sixty-six people were remembered at Chicago’s annual vigil in 2019. Williams is now a representative of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless and urged Chicago’s congregation to keep fighting to bridge the gaps in services, “to always see the person, not the situation they’re in.” She continued, “housing is a human right,” which helps a homeless person’s dignity and excitement for life. The United States Preventive Services Task Force says “key morbidities” and causes of mortality among those who are homeless include cardiovascular disease, infectious diseases, substance abuse and mental health issues. These types of poor health outcomes are often related to lack of access to stable housing, nutritious foods, transportation, employment, access to quality health care services and treatment, and health insurance.
Director, INSP North America
n the third week of December, Alvin Robinson, a 61-year old man, was the 680th man to die homeless on the streets of L.A. County in 2019. 680!!! The number of homeless people who have died in L.A. County since 2013 has now surpassed 5,620. There’s more. In Multnomah County, Portland, 530 people have died on the streets since 2011. In San Diego County, 767 since 2010. In San Francisco County, 400 since 2016. These aren’t estimates. These are real numbers by health officials. The City of Philadelphia released a new report on Dec. 18 showing annual deaths among Philadelphians experiencing homelessness more than tripled since the city began gathering data, from 43 people in 2009 to 132 in 2018. For 2019, 275 people were memorialized by local advocates. In the nation’s capital, advocates remembered 81 individuals during the local vigil, but data obtained by The Washington Post through a FOIA request showed at least 117 residents had died without a home in the District in 2019. Thousands more are dying on the streets annually across America. No one should die without a safe place to call home in the richest nation in the world. These are our mothers, fathers, sons and daughters. They are our neighbors and friends, citizens of the United States of America. It’s both a national disgrace and a wake-up call to prioritize massive investments in housing at every level of government in the U.S. These deaths can be traced directly to the federal government choosing not to prioritize housing justice — leaving millions of Americans to fend for themselves and experience the hell that is homelessness. Since the 1980s, feds have cut billions of dollars for housing for people with low-incomes, leaving local communities to carry the water for what was once a federal priority and abandoning the idea of housing as public infrastructure that supports society. For the better part of a decade, the age at which people experiencing homelessness die has been a shockingly consistent average of about 50 years old across the nation. People who are homeless have roughly the same life expectancy as a resident of the United States in 1910. Today, overall life expectancy in the U.S. is 78.7 years, according to the World Bank. “There are too many, too young, and they’re preventable,” said Paul Lewis with the Multnomah County Health Department. “These are things in your heart, you think, ‘this shouldn’t be happening.’” It’s true. Why is this happening? The causes of death for many people on the streets include natural causes, suicide, homicide, and hypothermia — all things that could be prevented with adequate healthcare and housing in America. Moreover, homeless people tend to experience the type of medical conditions that are common for people 20 years their senior, according to the deputy director of a Washington, D.C.,
—Emily Taylor of One Step Away and Suzanne Hanney of Streetwise, contributed reporting
150 People in Seattle As sun sets on Dec. 21, the longest night each year, the Women in Black of the Seattle nonprofit Women’s Housing Equality and Enhancement League gather at the Tree of Life homeless remembrance statue, light candles and begin a silent procession through the city’s popular Pike Place Market. They end in the bustling Westlake Park shopping center for an hour-long witnessing of the homeless people who died in the city that year. According to the King County Medical Examiner’s Office, 150 people presumed homeless had died in 2019 as of November. Between 2014 and 2018, the number of homeless persons who died steadily increased, parallel with the increasing estimation of unsheltered people in King County. Since 2012, 891 people have died on the streets. In 2018, the last year for which data has been tabulated, the majority of deaths in King County were deemed “natural,” resulting from overall wear and tear on the body that’s magnified by lack of sleep, poor nutrition and the constant stress of living outdoors. Nearly a third of the people who died that year died from a drug overdose. Though causes of death include suicide and homicide, many deaths were unintentional, the result of car accidents or hypothermia. Seattle and King County officials declared a state of emergency around the homelessness crisis in November 2015. Since
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, PHOTO BY ASHLEY ARCHIBALD
then, hundreds of millions of dollars have been funneled into opening new shelters and enhancing the ones that exist, building affordable housing and creating a better safety net to prevent vulnerable people from becoming homeless in the first place. There are eight city-permitted tiny home villages that support longer-term shelter, though one village is marked for closure. Several cities neighboring Seattle have instituted “tent bans” this year, forbidding people from taking shelter in public places. As people are pushed out of cities all around, due to policy and high costs of living, there is still much need for consistent help. —Reported by Ashley Archibald and Lily Hansen, Real Change
98 People in Nashville Nashvillians gathered at Riverfront Park to honor the 98 people experiencing homelessness who died this year. Homeless advocate Howard Allen spoke about Tara Cole. She was sleeping by the Cumberland River in 2006 when she was rolled into the river while sleeping. She died and her body was not recovered for 12 days. The ceremony was centered around a bench bearing her name, which serves as a memorial for all those who died while experiencing homelessness. Allen, who is unhoused himself, called on city officials to take the voices of people experiencing homelessness into account and prioritize affordable housing as Nashville continues to develop. “The only way you’re going to get that correct formula is to talk to people like me,” Allen said. Of the people who died in Nashville this year, the average age was 52. Bobby Watts, CEO of the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, who also spoke at Nashville’s ceremony, says the number of homeless deaths has gone up universally since 2016. He attributed this to two things: the increasing number of people who are unsheltered, making them more susceptible to the elements and violence, and the influence of the opioid epidemic. In the last three years the numbers of homeless people who died have been 87 in 2016, 118 in 2017 and 127 in 2018. In 2020 NHCHC’s mortality work group will share a tool kit of best practices from other cities to show how city governments can start collecting data on homeless mortality. Some city governments are required to keep count of how many people died while experiencing homelessness. Most aren’t. NHCHC hopes to make Nashville one of the cities that keeps records of mortality among homeless people. “It’s really important. One, you know how many people die. But you also know the scope of the problem and you know why people die, so they can do interventions,” Watts said. —Reported by Hannah Herner, The Contributor
Street Sense Media, One Step Away, Streetwise, Real Change, and The Contributor are members of the International Network of Street Papers. INSP North America is a regional bureau launched in 2019 to support new and existing street papers in Canada, Mexico and the United States. Learn more at https://insp.ngo/northamerica.
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Students from he National Presbyterian School presented the work they’ve been doing to learn more about homelessness and get involved the community before imploring adults to outdo them. “Our generation can do so much for the homeless. If we sixth graders can help, then so many more adults can. More people need to be aware of homelessness. Imagine the change we could create.” PHOTO BY RODNEY CHOICE
Marchers carry a symbolic coffin and signs bearing the names and ages of people who die homeless in DC in 2019. PHOTO BY RODNEY CHOICE
Activists march to remember 81 117 people who died without homes in DC BY WILL SCHICK Volunteer
At 5 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019, an assembly gathered inside Luther Place Church, located on 14th St NW north of Thomas Circle, to commemorate the lives of 81 people who died without homes last year. In front of the assembled congregation speakers shared stories about people they knew who had passed away and spoke of the need to provide homes to those who don’t have them. Flanked on either side by Christmas trees adorned with white lights, they mourned those whom they lost and lamented the injustice and indignity and senselessness of homelessness. Approximately 100 people had gathered in the audience. There were advocates and volunteers as well as housed and unhoused D.C. residents. Hanging over the top of the pews were gold stars suspended on blue ribbons. Following the introduction of the given by Father John Enzler from the Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Washington, Ken Martin, an advocate with the People for Fairness Coalition, introduced a group of sixth graders from the National Presbyterian School. There are many ways to help people experiencing homelessness, one of the students said before adding that, “we all can do more than we think.” The young girl’s words hung heavy over the assembled congregation. For a moment, everyone was silent. After the children, it was Martin’s turn to speak. He spoke of “homelessness as a curable affliction” and stressed the importance of taking a commonsense approach to finding people housing. Waldon Adams from The Way Home Campaign, a coalition that advocates for a housing-first solution to homelessness, likened the experience of homelessness to that of a disease. He said, “I think we should all take the Hippocratic oath tonight.” According to Adams, it is unconscionable that people experiencing the trauma of homelessness are not given the treatment they need. He said people who are experiencing homelessness are like people afflicted with severe physical trauma and need treatment—the only remedy for homelessness, he said, is a home. After Adams, Director Laura Zeilinger from the Department of Human Services and Robert Warren, the Director of People for Fairness Coalition presented an award to the former director of the Interagency Council on Homelessness, Matthew Doherty. In her comments, Zeilinger inferred that the current ICH director Robert Marbut’s approach to homelessness issues was
an unwelcome departure from that of his predecessor. “The contrast with who succeeded him could not be so stark,” she said. Building off Adams’ comments from earlier, Zeilinger also said that “serious conditions do not know wealth” and that such things could happen to anyone. Following the service at Luther Place Memorial Church, participants gathered along 14th Street to march south towards Freedom Plaza, carrying candles and signs painted with names of those who had passed. At the front of the procession four pall-bearers carried a casket topped with black roses and candles to symbolize the passing of the dead. They marched slowly and deliberately, chanting: “What do we want? Housing! When do we want it? Now!” “Housing is a human right! Fight! Fight! Fight!” Curious drivers sitting in cars halted at the intersections between F, G, H and I St NW looked out their windows. Some looked puzzled, others smiled, and still others ignored the organized assembly.
People for Fairness Coalition Director Robert Warren watches as D.C. Department of Human Services Director Laura Zeilinger presents an award to the former U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness director, Matthew Doherty, on behalf of the coalition. PHOTO BY RODNEY CHOICE
Watch Zeilnger’s remarks to honor Doherty and warn against harsh outcomes that may result from the Trump administration’s evolving policies surrounding homelessness and the people experiencing it.
“Through homelessness, I believed I wasn’t worth to be treated well. Being homeless does not only mean not having a home. I’m still impacted every day,” said speaker Rashema Melson about trauma. PHOTO BY RODNEY CHOICE
The vigil ended at Freedom Plaza where the marchers gathered to share a meal catered by Made with Love Catering and Ted’s Bulletin. Andrew Anderson, a member of People for Fairness Coalition, said this was the first year he participated in the organization’s vigil for the homeless. He said that through PFFC he had learned how to advocate for people experiencing homelessness. Anderson, who resides at a shelter in the District, said that before volunteering with PFFC he had no idea of the scale of the homeless situation in D.C. One of his first tasks working with PFFC was to visit encampments in the NoMa and Union Station area. “There are homeless people sleeping out in the street in tents,” he said, explaining that he hadn’t personally seen encampments first-hand of this scale in years. Anderson added that he felt a moral obligation to attend the memorial service and to work with PFFC to advocate for the rights of people experiencing homelessness. “I’m homeless, also. I experience it. I know what it feels like,” he said. Temperatures were in the low thirties throughout the overnight vigil and the next day. On Friday, advocates rose early for a teach-in about the city budget. They were preparing to visit city officials who work across the street from the tent where they slept and lobby for increased investment in housing and homeless services. According to an analysis by the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, only 3 percent of the city’s budget is spent on its main housing programs. While the deaths of 81 men and women had been reported to the advocates who organized the event, The Washington Post obtained information through a Freedom of Information Act request indicating the number of deaths was much higher — at least 117 people presumed to be homeless had died in 2019. According to the Post, “The [D.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner]’s general counsel, Mikelle L. DeVillier, said 52 deaths were classified as ‘accidents,’ including 44 cases of intoxication and three in which people were struck by a vehicle. Twentyseven deaths were classified as ‘natural,’ including 12 cases of cardiovascular disease and six cases of ‘alcoholism.’” Among those remembered were former Street Sense Media vendors Alice Carter and Chino Dean and a 67-year-old woman previously quoted in several Street Sense articles who gave her name only as Ms. Bobbie. Street Sense Media vendor Angela Pounds died two weeks after the vigil on Jan. 1, 2020.
Advocates visit the D.C. Council Committee of the Whole office and share their budget priorities with a staff member. PHOTO BY KEN MARTIN
The John A. Wilson Building, as seen behind the tent in Freedom Plaza that was used for the overnight vigil and sleep-out. PHOTO BY KEN MARTIN
Housing activists hand-deliver 2020 budget priorities to Wilson Building and Bowser Administration BY JAMES MARSHALL Volunteer
A group of two dozen housing advocates hand delivered policy proposals to the offices of the mayor and D.C. councilmembers on Dec. 20 as part of a larger campaign to boost local funding for affordable housing programs. Volunteers joined the People for Fairness Coalition, a group of homeless and formerly homeless activists, in getting a head start on D.C. Council budget season, which will pick up steam this month. The activists started the day in a reception-sized tent across from the Wilson Building in Freedom Plaza. Some had slept there after the previous night’s vigil, which honored the 81 people who had died so far in 2019 while experiencing homelessness. Before the group delivered the policy proposals, Aja Taylor, advocacy director at Bread for the City, gave a brief lesson on lobbying D.C. Council. “We have to come in with that same overt confidence, with the same understanding that this is a conversation between me and someone who works for me about something that I’m owed,” Taylor said. Among the coalition’s demands is that the District government invest $1.5 billion to create and preserve housing for low-income residents. That would include $215 million to repair the District’s crumbling public housing stock and an additional $215 million to create new public housing units. The rest of the $1.5 billion is split between the Housing Production Trust Fund, the Local Rent Supplement Program, and various housing interventions outlined in the Homeward D.C. strategic plan to end homelessness. The D.C. Housing Authority, which depends on federal funding to manage the District’s public housing, is facing a lengthy backlog of repairs and a voucher wait list with about 40,000 names on it. The Comprehensive Plan, an evolving document guiding growth in the District, includes a provision to support the housing authority “by studying the need for additional units and developing strategies to meet the needs of existing units.” For the People for Fairness Coalition, that’s not enough. Coalition member Reginald Black said it’s time District government uses local funds to compensate for the federal government’s divestment from public housing. “We’re not saying to fund a study. We’re saying to fund
an action,” said Black, who is also a Street Sense Media vendor and artist. More than one study in the past year has shown Washington, D.C., to have soaring rates of gentrification and displacement of long-time residents of color. “We truly believe that when you start talking about racial equity, equity needs to come with people being able to attain housing that’s universally affordable to them,” said People for Fairness Coalition Director Robert Warren, who is also a Street Sense Media vendor and artist. In addition to making an historic investment in low-cost housing, the coalition wants D.C. Council to consider the Michael A. Stoops Anti-Discrimination Amendment Act. The bill, initially introduced by at-large Councilmember David Grosso in 2017, would prohibit discrimination based on one’s housing status. The D.C. Human Rights Act protects against discrimination based on source of income, employment and numerous other traits. But refusing services and employment to people because they’re unhoused is currently legal, an attorney at Neighborhood Legal Services Program previously told Street Sense Media. The 2017 iteration of the bill died in the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety because the panel’s chairman, Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen, never gave it a hearing. Now the bill awaits action in the Committee on Government Operations. Ward 4 Councilmember Brandon Todd chairs that panel and controls whether the legislation advances. Todd, who is a co-sponsor of the bill, has yet to take action. After Aja Taylor’s advocacy lesson, Warren and Black led the group to the Wilson Building. There they met with representatives from the offices of the mayor and numerous councilmembers. Most lawmakers were not available to meet with coalition members. Representatives from the offices of most councilmembers said they would take the policy recommendations into consideration come budget season and meet with the coalition at a later date. When members of the coalition entered the office of Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans, he was there to take their recommendations in person. He couldn’t meet with them for long, though, because he was busy packing cardboard boxes.
Aja Taylor of Bread for the City leads a budget advocacy “teach-in” at the overnight vigil tent in Freedom Plaza on the morning of Friday, Dec. 20. Those in attendance are preparing to visit city officials in the Wilson Building across the street. PHOTO BY KEN MARTIN
Advocates leave Council Chairman Phil Mendelson’s office after attempting to share their budget prioiriteis with him. PHOTO BY KEN MARTIN
At-Large Councilmember David Grosso and Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld converse at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, where an interfaith memorial service was held on Friday, Dec. 20. PHOTO BY RODNEY CHOICE
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‘People who died without the dignity of a home Washington, DC 2019’
This list was distributed by the organizers of the Thursday, Dec. 19 - Friday, Dec. 20 advocacy events surrounding local observation of Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day, The People for Fairness Coalition. The information was reported by the community through an online form. That tool encouraged users to supply as much personal information as possible to identify someone to be memorialized and avoid counting anyone twice, while also allowing the option to identify how that person should be referred to publicly, such as with their first name, initials, or anonymously using only their age. This allowed anyone to be counted without violating privacy or other concerns. In addition to the names below, another 42 individuals were listed only by age. 1. Adeheid Russell, Age 68 2. Alice Carter, Age 35 3. Ben from 801, Age 63 4. Ben, Age 35 5. Bernard D., Age 46 6. D. Cotton, Age 69 7. D. Pearce, Age 53 8. D.R., Age 44 9. Darryl Goodwin, Age 57 10. David B., Age 53 11. David B., Age 71 12. Denise T., Age 55 13. Diamond, Age unknown 14. George, Age 77 15. H. Epps, Age 58 16. J.W., Age 29 17. James D., Age 61 18. Jennifer L., Age 35 19. Jesus Antonio Llanes-Datil, Age 63 20. Jimmy D., Age 60 21. Lankeshwar D., Age unknown 22. M. Johnson, Age 60 23. Michael Irby, Age 65 24. Mr. Barrington, Age 80 25. Neville Rankin, Age 55 26. Nicholas “Smoke” Sommerville, Age 37 27. Pierre “Tuffy” Lavender, Age 52 28. Preston G., Age 52 29. Ronnie Higgs, Age 64 30. Samuel C., Age 70 31. Sarkiel Baugh, Age 49 32. Scott Feuer, Age 59 33. Seven C., Age 56 34. Suzanne Truvett, Age 61 35. Thomas Spriggs, Age 43 36. Todd Messer, Age 51 37. Warren G., Age 71 38. William Eugene Grear, Age 71 39. William Randolph, Age 60
PHOTO BY RODNEY CHOICE
Chino’s memorial service on 12th Street NW, led by Rev. Linda Kaufman. PHOTO BY ERIC FALQUERO
Obituary: Bernard “Chino” Dean Jr. BY SEAN MCBRIDE // Editorial Intern
New Jersey native Bernard “Chino” Dean Jr. died under a Macy’s awning on 12th Street between and G and H Streets NW on Aug. 25, 2019. He was 46 years old and would have turned 47 in September.. Chino was a former Street Sense Media vendor who, according to Executive Director Brian Carome, had been a vendor when Carome arrived at Street Sense in 2011. Carome recalls that, most of the time, Chino was charming and had a great sense of humor. Carome also recalls Chino’s untreated mental illness and substance abuse issues and blames the District’s “failed behavioral health services” for his early death. “He deserved treatment and housing because his disabling health conditions made him vulnerable and placed him at high risk for death that eventually claimed his life,” Carome said. Chino was a veteran who served in the Navy. According to Frederic John, an acquaintance of Chino’s and fellow Street Sense Media vendor and artist, it is from his time in the Navy that Chino learned the rugged survival skills that enabled him to live on the street for as long as he did. John recalls betting three dollars in the Race to Riches lottery and winning $36. He gave Chino ten dollars and it brought tears of gratitude to his eyes. According to John, Chino had a difficult life and battled with alcohol addiction. John recalls that some members of Macy’s staff would help Chino out financially as they could. However, according to him, many Macy’s staff members who helped Chino moved on from that store and he lost a support system. John speculates that malnutrition played a role in his passing. According to James Davis, another Street Sense Media artist and vendor, Chino didn’t socialize well with other people and kept to himself but was good hearted. “He had various issues like a lot of people experiencing homelessness do,” Davis said. Chino apparently declined housing opportunities because of his paranoia. He did have housing for a brief period of time but lost it. He also worked for a while as a dishwasher at Brasserie Beck on K Street NW but could not hold the job long-term. According to Davis, Chino owed child support and lived in fear that the police were going to arrest him. Davis recalls that Chino was committed to making comics and always wanted to make sure he put in time to do what he loved, especially during the holidays. Chino published multiple pieces of art through Street Sense Media. He also played for the National Street Soccer Team and was pretty good.
According to Davis, everything is a chore when you’re homeless; using the bathroom and taking a shower — things others take for granted — are labor intensive. The businesses around Chino’s spot on 12th Street knew him and allowed him to use their bathroom facilities. Macy’s makeup artist Kimberly Mitchell recalls how she started parking on the 12th Street side of Macy’s and would walk past Chino every day. “Chino probably reached out first by saying good morning,” she remembers. She says he was quite positive and understood the positivity in building a relationship. Mitchell didn’t mind giving him a dollar when he asked. “He was homeless, but Macy’s was his home and Macy’s staff were his neighbors,” she recalls. According to Mitchell, Chino would have “off days” but had lots of friends at Macy’s. Somebody else has since moved into Chino’s space under the Macy’s awning. “That’s somebody visiting [Chino’s] home because the Macy’s awning will always be his space,” she says. “He was human, he was just like anybody else.” Mitchell recalls that Chino always groomed himself well, despite sleeping on the streets. “He could’ve been me and I could’ve been him in a homeless situation.” Rev. Linda Kaufman says she tried to engage with Chino while he was homeless and she was head of Homeless Services for the Downtown D.C. Business Improvement District. But she could never get him to talk. “He was a really challenging person to try and get connected with,” she says. Kaufman recalls sometimes calling the police when Chino was “out of control.” He would apparently calm down as soon as they arrived and “would be perfectly sane and reasonable.” The reverend led a memorial service for Chino at his space under the awning on the morning of Sept. 5, 2019 that was attended by office workers in the area, outreach and service workers, Mitchell, and many others. “We failed him. We couldn’t get him a place of his own.” Kaufman calls for access to low-barrier housing for people in Chino’s situation. Kristal DeKleer knew Chino for over a decade. DeKleer recalls that for about two years he would greet her as she came above ground from the Metro. She says, “He was always upbeat and cheerful and I really appreciated him.” Chino stayed with DeKleer for a short time while she helped find him a job. “But it didn’t last.” DeKleer says, “Chino should not have died on a sidewalk. Let’s find a solution, for Chino’s sake.”
Above the Firmament
BY FREDERIC JOHN // Artist/Vendor
A gleaming star Like a lighted ember Brings us closer In the gloom of December The spark that was Alice Shall not soon be extinguished Her pain was unique And truly distinguished We shall carry on and recall The impact her poetry gave us all
Pink color added to a 2014 portrait by Gerry Suchy, previously featured in a 2015 Street Sense Media story about his photo project “The Invisible Ones.”
She was my best friend
A faint smile glimmers Maybe it shimmers Our memories are fresh With thoughts pointed but real For the loss we can truly feel Grateful we knew her And may God shine through her
Did you know Angela?
A tribute to Street Sense Media artist and vendor “Baby Alice,” who died at age 35 on Dec. 17, 2019.
It is with heavy hearts that we report Angela Pounds, Vendor 589, died on New Year’s Day at age 54. She had been selling our newspaper since 2016 and published several beautiful poems.
BY JEFF TAYLOR // Artist/Vendor
knew writing this would be hard for me emotionally but I had expected the words to gush out. But they aren’t gushing. I’ve never had to write anything like this before so I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. Is this for Alice? Is it for me? Is it for all of us? I honestly don’t know. What I do know is that I feel lost, empty, and no longer with purpose now that my best friend is gone. So what follows may end up being just a rambling random mis-mash of everything I can think of that I want to say and I’ll just hope you readers are able to forgive me if my grief is just too overwhelming to maintain too much coherence at this time. Alice landed in D.C. in May of 2006. When I met her she was rapping for money on the corner of K and 14th NW. I invited her to my place where she told me her story, which broke my heart. And even though I had just met this person, here I was inviting her to live with me. And live with me she did for most of the next 9 years until I myself became homeless. Alice was a gift to me. She made me a better person for having known her. If it weren’t for Alice I wouldn’t have or care about having an understanding of the struggles of trans folks. Nor would I have an understanding of how dangerous life can be for folks who are resistant to treatment for schizophrenia. She felt under attack so much of the time. Some of those attacks were real, some only in her head but just as real to her nevertheless. She was strong, she was courageous and even when fearful inside she was able to put up a front. She just wanted to love and be loved. She had the biggest, brightest beautiful blue eyes and an infectious smile. These were a few of her favorite things: watching rap videos on the internet, Mountain Dew, spicy food, “Ghostbusters,” the color pink, “Nightmare on Elm Street,” “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” “The X Files,” swimming, performing at Busboys & Poets on open mic nights, attending services at Foundry United Methodist Church where she was a member. I sit at the corner of 13th and G streets and sing and a few times a week Alice would stop by and we’d share a cigarette. I don’t know how long it will take for me to stop looking for her to come around the corner and sit with me. Hoping it won’t take too long. I’m trying to find the balance between hanging on and moving on. Right now all I want to do is hang on with all I’ve got and do everything I can to keep her memory vividly and constantly alive. But I look forward to a day when I can remember her without breaking down. It’ll take time. To Alice, thank you for all you brought into this world. I love you with all my heart. Always have, always will.
A service for Alice is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Feb. 1 at Foundry United Methodist Church
Memories and tributes may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org to be considered for publication. We’ll share service details and more about her life in editions to come.
Tent City Momma: Barbie Bobbie’s World BY LATICIA BROCK Artist/Vendor
I couldn’t believe my eyes When your body came pouring Then the water came from my eyes It was water because I was your daughter
The times we took to vent inside that tent Was times I could count on someone I took you before you started talking to Pwezzy Because before I entered Union Station’s door You wouldn’t talk or say nothing Please believe me So, when we got you to talk I knew it was the breaking of a prejudiced world And that’s how I became your baby girl So now that you’re resting in paradise I can close my eyes And sleep knowing you’re in God’s paradise So sleep easy, lady Because I’m still your tent city baby. Dedicated to Ms. Bobbie, who died at age 67 on Dec. 17, 2019.
2018 ARCHIVE PHOTO BY RODNEY CHOICE
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Reginald Black, the advocacy director for the People for Fairness Coalition and a Street Sense Media artist and vendor, spoke at the memorial service. The symbolic coffin, the signs bearing names and ages for roughly half of the people who died without a home in DC in 2019 sit in front of the altar. PHOTO BY WILL SCHICK
Interfaith service held for those who died without a home BY WILL SCHICK Volunteer
Around 50 people gathered inside of New York Avenue Presbyterian Church on Friday, Dec. 20, in honor of National Homeless Person’s Memorial Day. The service was just one part of a series of events taking place in over 180 cities to remember those who had passed away during the year while experiencing homelessness. Beginning with a candlelight procession and an overnight vigil, this year’s events culminated in a small gathering of local advocates and religious leaders to discuss the need to have compassion for those without homes and to support ways to help people into housing. Reverend Alice Tewell of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church began the service with a prayer: “Holy God in the midst of winter, in the midst of difficult political and economic times, in the midst of great polarization…We pray for those who died on the streets and in shelters this past year, unrecognized and unseen.” Tewell spoke on a podium that was adorned with golden wings. On stage, to her left, sat an empty coffin adorned with individual placards listing the names of those being remembered. Reginald Black, the advocacy director for the People for Fairness Coalition, spoke of injustice saying that “Nobody should die this way, nobody should have to live on a street corner, at the underpass under a bridge, in a shelter, you know, people should have a place to live.” Black said that their mission at the People for Fairness Coalition was to engage in advocacy on behalf of those experiencing homelessness, and to use their “lived experience as a catalyst for solutions.” Black and many other members of the coalition have experienced homelessness or are currently experiencing homelessness.
In his prepared comments, Steve Thomas, an advocate for the National Coalition for the Homeless, sought to draw attention to the printed list of names of people who died over the past year. Among the 81 people who passed away without homes, only 39 were identified—the remaining 42 names are those of people who were either unidentified at the time of death or whose information was kept private for a variety of reasons. Another list was given to those attending the ceremony with the names of people who were recently housed, but had passed away. “Of those people who [we] don’t have names for,” Thomas said, “the ages range from 77 to age 3.” He then added that he was used to reading lists like this, that throughout the years, he had seen lists with people just as young. Seated in the pews, the audience lit white candles and held them up in silence while Thomas read through the lists of names. “Adeheid Russell, Age 68. Alice Carter, Age 35. Ben from 801, Age 63. Ben, Age 35. Bernard D, Age 46. D. Cotton, Age 69…Age 23, Age 28, Age 30, Age 31, Age 31, Age 34, Age 39, Age 43…” Following the roll call, Denyse Stuart from the Ebenezer AME Church led the congregation in a rendition of “Amazing Grace”: “When we’ve been there ten thousand years, Bright shining as the sun, We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise Than when we’d first begun.” A somber mood overcame most of those standing in the audience, and several in attendance were tearful in their mourning. Many of those who tried to sing along struggled with overcoming their own emotion to vocalize their words. Following the song, At-Large Councilmember David Grosso
took to the podium to offer his own condolences and to say that “the human right to shelter and to housing is such a critical one, particularly during these winter months, and these very long nights.” Grosso then called out the government and society in general for not “fulfilling this obligation.” He called upon residents to support the Michael Stoops Amendment which seeks to add homelessness as a protected class under the D.C. Human Rights Act. Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld from the Ohev Sholom Synagogue said that this was his first time speaking in a Presbyterian church. He explained that, in his faith, he is normally required to enter only into buildings that are of his specific faith. “But when I received the invitation to honor those who died without the dignity of a home, I said that this is something that transcends any other law that binds me,” he said. In the Jewish faith, he explained, there’s a tradition called a “shiva.” In this tradition, when someone passes people gather around and specifically talk about the person for an entire week. He asked everyone in attendance to think of this tradition, and encouraged them to try it for the week. Queenie Featherstone, an advocate with the People for Fairness Coalition who is also a Street Sense Media artist and vendor, gave Marcy Bernbaum a gift to thank her for her guidance and leadership as a mentor and advisor for the coalition. Featherstone was followed by Rizwan Jaka of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society who emphasized the need for inter-faith collaboration on situations that involve the entire community. He spoke of the ways in which different faith groups all emphasize love for one’s neighbors. Pastor Unchu Na from the Wilderness Ministry started the benediction by having members of the congregation take part in the chant from the previous evening’s march on 14th St: “Housing is a human right. Fight! Fight! Fight!”
APPLY FOR DISCOUNTS ON YOUR UTILITY BILLS Pastor Karen Brau joines the N Street Singers at Luther Place to begin Person’s Memorial Day vigil in song. PHOTO BY KEN MARTIN
Pray for Street Sense Media BY REV. JOHN LITTLEJOHN Artist/Vendor
First of all, what is “pray?” Well, one definition in the Oxford English Dictionary is “a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship.” Praying is also one way, if not the only way, to communicate to God or Jesus in Heaven. When a family prays together, they should stay together. Amen! The Bible talks about “pray” in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. It says, “Rejoice evermore, Pray without ceasing, In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” Once again, we must pray for each other and we must love and care and share, and pray for our enemies. Amen! Glory be that the Lord have mercy on me when it comes down to giving or receiving donations. Please help tackle the hard-totackle homeless sin! We must not have discouragement but have some encouragement to help people. You and me must go from disgrace to Amazing Grace! Amen! The Bible talks about pray once again in 1 Peter 4-7. It says, “But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.” I am fond of the Serenity Prayer, which dates back to at least 1932 and is often used in modern recovery programs. Dear Lord God grant me the serenity To accept the things I cannot change. And the courage to change the things I can. And the wisdom to know the difference. May we all pray for serenity in the new year. Living one day at a time. Enjoying one moment at a time. Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace. I take this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it, trusting that God will make all things right if I surrender to His will, that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next life. Amen! Here’s a small song about prayers, my riff on Dorothy Norwood’s “Somebody Prayed for Me”:
The Church of the Epiphany prayed for me, They had me on their mind They took the time to pray for me, I am so glad they prayed for me! My donators prayed for me, They had me on their minds, They took the time to pray for me, I am so glad they prayed for me!
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My brother and sister prayed for me, They had me on their mind, They took the time to pray for me, I am so glad they prayed for me! Street Sense Media prayed for me, They had me on their mind, They took the time to pray for me, I am so glad they prayed for me! Nineteen years ago, in the spring of 2001, I was preparing to graduate with my Master of Arts degree and had to write a thesis. My topic was the prayer of the righteous versus the prayer of the unrighteous. Matthew 7:13-14 talks about the way we must listen to the Lord when choosing our paths in life. “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat. Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” All the evil around us is no match against the God that is within us. Service to the Lord is absolute faithfulness wherever he places you or I or us. We as a world must take the straight and narrow way, which leads to life and the ending of homelessness. Amen! The broad and wide way is leading us, as a world, to continue to homelessness, problems, issues, and sins. Here are some more New Testament prayers I value: The Lord’s Prayer - Matthew 6:9-13, The Prayer of Faith - James 5:15-16. Here are some common Old Testament prayers you may appreciate: Exodus 15:2-3, 1 Samuel 2:1-2, Numbers 6:24-26.
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The Street Sense Media Opinion Section will return next edition. Our opinion editors are seeking commentary pieces focused on homelessness issues affecting the LGBTQ community. Please send all submissions to email@example.com.
My New Year
BY DANIEL BALL Artist/Vendor
My plan is to have a good job, like working in the Street Sense office. For my family, the new year means love for all of us. And for my faith? It has been and remains very strong.
I’m a regular man with a regular life I got regular kids with a regular wife I got a regular family, I got regular friends I got regular friends to see what family is I got a regular house on some regular land I got a regular car ‘cause I’m a regular man I need a regular job with some regular pay I need the rain and the sun on a regular day
Here and Now: Me and Street Sense Media BY LEVESTER GREEN Artist/Vendor
I am still so ecstatic about finally being housed, as I take the time to put things in their proper perspectives. I’m getting a chance to reconnect with my poetry audience as well as update my Street Sense readers and supporters. Although I did have an audience prior to landing at Street Sense and having a hand in helping develop to Street Sense Media, the key was the much-needed video to go with my audio. I think about where I could be in both the instances if I hadn’t felt cheated in my previous endeavors and flipside of the coin, if I hadn’t been boosted and bolstered by Bryan Bello and his cinematography crew. Nonetheless, I am thankful for it all and looking forward, for I cannot go back and change a thing in my history. Even if I could, that would still be cheating. I work hard, play hard because I do like to be with my friends. (Not quite the end.)
I’m a regular man, I need a regular door I got regular feet, I need a regular store I need a regular bus, I need a regular train I got a regular bike, I need a regular lane I need some regular food, I need a regular drank When I get me some money, I’mma need a regular bank I need some regular love, don’t need regular hate I used to go all out, now I just need a regular date
BY REGINALD DENNY Artist/Vendor
In a regular place at a regular time If you a regular girl, I got you on my mind I need a regular school with some regular teachers I need regular gym with some regular bleachers
When I look back over my life, there have been times when I should have been dead and gone, but our creator God saw fit for me to still be here, alive and well and in my right mind despite the situation or circumstances. It is truly my belief that our creator, God, has positioned “Heavenly Beings” in the earth realm to counteract that which sometimes befall us and someone who denounces “The Father of Lies,” Satan himself. I’ve heard it said that you cannot serve two masters, for you will hate one and hold to the other. Sure, we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, but God yet still forgives us despite what we have done in our lives. Satan despises us when we turn away from evil to do good and he is hell bent
I need some regular steps, I need some regular stairs I got a regular table, I need some regular chairs I need some regular coffee, I need some regular tea I take a regular poop, I take a regular pee Cause I’m a regular man with a regular life I got regular kids, I got a regular wife I got a regular family, I got regular friends I got regular friends to see what family is I’m a regular man.
PHOTO COURTESY OF LEVESTER GREEN
BY RON DUDLEY, A.K.A. “POOKANU” Artist/Vendor
Pookanu published his first book of poetry, “My Science Project,” in December and sold out of the first print run. He has received another batch and is selling them near 14th and U Streets NW.
on making our lives “a living hell” when we turn away from our reckless ways and turn to God for our refuge and strength. The devil is now seeking those he can devour, especially when we have turned away from his wicked devices. God intercedes on our behalf daily to deflect the assaults and insults of the wicked one who is literally trying to take us out. That is why our creator has given to his children, us, “guardian angels” to protect us in our time of need. If it were not for the intervention of God’s guardian angels watching over us, our lives would be a living hell. Thanks be to God, who has given us the victory over life and death by the blood of the lamb, who taketh away the sins of the world and calls us his children. God Bless.
Me and My Recovery BY VENNIE HILL Artist/Vendor
ere I am December 16, 2019, clean and sober after years of trying so hard to quit. But this time I listened instead of doing all the talking. It’s like my husband said, “It’s elementary”. There was something very different about this last program I engaged in that was very special to me. They taught me things I never in a million years would have thought would have worked. For one, they told me I had to love myself first, above anybody else, including my mom. They said I had to learn to know myself all over again — as if I really knew myself at all. (Which I didn’t.) So that’s what I did. I got to know and appreciate me for who I am, regardless of my shortcomings and mistakes. I had to not only forgive others, but forgive myself. I tell myself something everyday to make me like me again. I look in the mirror, see good in me, and cross out all the bad. I had to love me for who I was yesterday, today, and tomorrow. I did it, I learned to forgive myself for all the pain I caused myself and put myself through. I forgave myself for all the things that, at a time, could have killed me. And then I forgave myself for the pain I caused my family by doing those things to myself. See, what I did was I learned my triggers — which include people, places, and my crazy thinking. Then I learned the opposite of them, which is my coping skills: I stay away from people that will influence me to drink; I don’t go around alcohol; and I change my way of thinking. What I did was replace the habit I didn’t like with something else. When I thought I needed a drink, I would do something to keep myself occupied, like watch TV, go to sleep, or clean up. That’s my best coping skill, it’s what works for me. Today, I do a lot to keep myself occupied and by the time I get home, I’m worn out. I go to groups, I keep up with my doctors appointments, I see a therapist and a psychiatrist, I visit my mom twice a week, and I sell my newspapers. And every day I still get home on time to make something to eat for me and my hubby before cleaning up a little and going to bed at a decent time. I also learned boundaries — you have to have your boundaries. They keep you safe and out of trouble. Learning how to say “no” is not as easy as you think. It’s very difficult. You might worry
about someone’s feelings, or be afraid yours will get hurt, or you might just not know how to do it. I was one of those people who just couldn’t say it. I would give the shirt off my back to someone, even if I didn’t have another one for myself. Saying “no” doesn’t only hurt the person you’re saying it to, sometimes it hurts you. I know it hurt me sometimes. You see, some people will take total advantage of you if you let them. I was one of those victims. But I’ve learned it’s alright to keep your last for yourself. “Vennie, you can’t save everybody,” I remind myself. Boy was that hard to accept. But I didn’t have any time, any money, or any real friends. I was basically buying friendship most of the time because I was a people pleaser. I still have empathy for others and I do love others. The difference is now I also love myself. And it’s all about saving my life. I take my recovery one day at a time. I don’t worry about tomorrow because God’s got me. Always remember, one is too many and 1000 is never enough. I did a lot of damage to this body while drinking and drugging. But I have 10 years clean from drugs and July 22 will mark one year free of alcohol. I’m looking forward to that day. Hopefully my body will heal some. From getting drunk I’ve broken four bones. Along with that comes arthritis, which I have all throughout my body. It gives me problems walking long periods of time or up and down stairs. And I don’t sleep well at night. But I deal with the pain. I’m sober today and that’s worth it. I know that if I picked up, I would start that madness all over again. It is liberating to confidently be able to not have a beer in your hand with everything you do day in and day out. You don’t know what it’s like, I was terrible with it. Everywhere you go, there’s alcohol. I took it to doctor appointments, to church. I was a stone cold drunk and will always be an addict. So, everyday I fight this alcoholism head on and full force. This disease is not a joke. It’s a silent killer and people are dying everyday from it. That’s why I’m proud to stand my ground again in this battle. I’ve learned to keep positive people in my life, people who know I’m in recovery and will do nothing to mess that up or throw it down the drain. People that know how I am when I drink and are proud of my change. People that are rooting for me to win this battle and stay sober. Even if you don’t think you have a problem, think about people that do. If you care, you’ll say something and help them along their journey — even at the risk of hurting their feelings or yours. And please wish me well on my journey — as a matter of fact, why don’t you join me?
I tell myself something everyday to make me like me again. I look in the mirror, see good in me, and cross out all the bad.
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My Creator Gave to Me BY JAMES GARTRELL Artist/Vendor
Hello Street Sense Media fans, readers, and supporters. I hope your 2019 was very blessed with good intention, health, and inspiration — at least as much as mine was. You all remain in my thoughts and prayers for the loving care and understanding that you show to people struggling with homelessness. I have written a song to show you my appreciation for all of your support in 2019 and to highlight some of my blessings from the Creator, who made us all in the same frame of bodies. I hope my writing can continue to inspire you to make a better 2020. You got me to believe in people, and I love you for that. May God bless you all. On the 1st month of 2019, my Creator gave to me, A good heart that people can see! On the 2nd month of 2019, my Creator gave to me, Two arms to hug, And a good heart that people can see On the 3rd month of 2019, my Creator gave to me, A third good eye, Two arms to hug, and a good heart that people can see On the 4th month of 2019, my Creator gave to me, Two steps forward (But someone will push me four steps back), A third good eye, two arms to hug, and a good heart that people can see On the 5th month of 2019, my Creator gave to me, Five golden dreams! Two steps forward, a third good eye, two arms to hug, and a good heart that people can see On the 6th month of 2019, my Creator gave to me, Thinking positive and ignoring the negatives, Five golden dreams, two steps forward, a third good eye, two arms to hug, and a good heart that people can see On the 7th month of 2019, my Creator gave to me, A week-worth of love and support, Thinking positive and ignoring the negatives, five golden dreams, two steps forward, a third good eye, two arms to hug, and a good heart that people can see
On the 8th month of 2019, my Creator gave to me, Support for homeless men and women’s needs, A week-worth of love and support, thinking positive and ignoring the negatives, five golden dreams, two steps forward, a third good eye, two arms to hug, and a good heart that people can see On the 9th month of 2019, my Creator gave to me, The strength and support people can give, Support for homeless men and women’s needs, a weekworth of love and support, thinking positive and ignoring the negatives, five golden dreams, two steps forward, a third good eye, two arms to hug, and a good heart that people can see On the 10th month of 2019, my Creator gave to me, Ten fingers on two hands to clap for the joy of being blessed, The strength and support people can give, support for homeless men and women’s needs, a weekworth of love and support, thinking positive and ignoring the negatives, five golden dreams, two steps forward, a third good eye, two arms to hug, and a good heart that people can see On the 11th month of 2019, my Creator gave to me, Fifty-two years of being blessed with life, Two hands to clap for the joy of being blessed, the strength and support people can give, support for homeless men and women’s needs, a week-worth of love and support, thinking positive and ignoring the negatives, five golden dreams, two steps forward, a third good eye, two arms to hug, and a good heart that people can see On the 12th month of 2019, my Creator gave to me, Appreciation, love, and respect for all the Street Sense Media readers, fans, and supporters, especially my friends on M Street. You inspired, motivated, and strengthened me to overcome my bottomless pit of adversities and poverty. You bring me joy, prosperities, achievement, and goals to reach! You all know who you are. From business owners, to doormen, and all the pedestrians in between — thank you for giving back and being polite to me and other homeless men and women. You have a good heart that I can see. May God bless you all with love and respect.
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Fill in the blank squares so that each row, each column and each Sudoku 3-by-3 block contain all of the digits 1 thru 9. #8
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When Hell First Reached Out
The longer I am out of office, the more infallible I appear to myself. -- Henry Kissinger
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BY RONALD SMOOT // Artist/Vendor
BY IBN HIPPS Artist/Vendor
When hell first reached out to me I didn't understand why But when questioned Caused the flames to reach high Causing pain That only screams can explain Crying tears that never dry Heart rate rises and never drops
Hearing Hell’s victims’ Scream the weirdest names Skeleton bones battle Over souls of shame The Lord I call by name If I could turn back The hands of time I would recognize these flames
Hell has many places Lots of friends With familiar faces Different races
When Hell first reached out to me I didn’t know But my addiction for pain Caused me to reach for more
When hell first reached out to me At a young age Pretending to be innocent With lots of fun games I was warned Father told me “Take heed, Hell awaits some like me”
Lord forgive me For all the pain I caused The heat I can’t describe No cool — no frost!!!
When I was little, my parents brought home a puppy. We named him Duke. I fell in love with him. At that time in my life he was the best thing that happened to me. He was so small I kept him in a box. He ate everything I ate. When I didn’t eat my vegetables or something I didn’t like, he would be under the table and I would sneak him my food. He would eat it all up. That was my friend and partner. But when he got big, we had to take him to South Carolina to live because the neighbors in the apartment complex complained he was defecating in the grass all over the neighborhood. A few years later he was shot and killed in someone’s yard while taking another dog’s food. I was no upset I wanted to shoot the person who killed my beloved dog.
Flames scorn my soul I am used to pain But this type of pain comes With a tight grip and firm hold
Author Gene Weingarten is a college dropout and a nationally syndicated humor columnist for The Washington Post. Author Dan Weingarten is a former college dropout and a current college student majoring in information technology. Many thanks to Gene Weingarten and The Washington Post Writers Group for allowing Street Sense to run Barney & Clyde.
SHELTER HOTLINE Línea directa de alojamiento
YOUTH HOTLINE Línea de juventud
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE Línea directa de violencia doméstica
Health Care Seguro
Legal Assistance Assistencia Legal
Case Management Coordinación de Servicios
Employment Assistance Assitencia con Empleo
All services listed are referral-free Academy of Hope Public Charter School 202-269-6623 // 2315 18th Place NE aohdc.org
Bread for the City 202-265-2400 (NW) // 561-8587 (SE) 1525 7th St., NW // 1640 Good Hope Rd., SE breadforthecity.org
Calvary Women’s Services // 202-678-2341 1217 Good Hope Rd., SE calvaryservices.org
Catholic Charities // 202-772-4300 catholiccharitiesdc.org/gethelp
Central Union Mission // 202-745-7118 65 Massachusetts Ave., NW missiondc.org
Charlie’s Place // 202-232-3066 1830 Connecticut Ave., NW charliesplacedc.org
Christ House // 202-328-1100 1717 Columbia Rd., NW christhouse.org
Church of the Pilgrims // 202-387-6612 2201 P St., NW food (1-1:30 on Sundays only) churchofthepilgrims.org/outreach
Community Family Life Services 202-347-0511 // 305 E St., NW cflsdc.org
Community of Hope // 202-232-7356 communityofhopedc.org
Covenant House Washington 202-610-9600 // 2001 Mississippi Ave., SE covenanthousedc.org
D.C. Coalition for the Homeless 202-347-8870 // 1234 Massachusetts Ave., NW dccfh.org
Father McKenna Center // 202-842-1112 19 Eye St., NW fathermckennacenter.org
Food and Friends // 202-269-2277 (home delivery for those suffering from HIV, cancer, etc) 219 Riggs Rd., NE foodandfriends.org
Foundry Methodist Church // 202-332-4010 1500 16th St., NW ID (Friday 9am–12pm only) foundryumc.org/ministry-opportunities
Friendship Place // 202-364-1419 4713 Wisconsin Ave., NW friendshipplace.org
Georgetown Ministry Center // 202-338-8301 1041 Wisconsin Ave., NW georgetownministrycenter.org
Jobs Have Priority // 202-544-9128 425 2nd St., NW jobshavepriority.org
Loaves & Fishes // 202-232-0900 1525 Newton St., NW loavesandfishesdc.org
Martha’s Table // 202-328-6608 marthastable.org 2375 Elvans Road SE 2204 Martin Luther King Ave. SE
Miriam’s Kitchen // 202-452-8926 2401 Virginia Ave., NW miriamskitchen.org
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BEHAVIORAL HEALTH HOTLINE Línea de salud del comportamiento
New York Avenue Shelter // 202-832-2359 1355-57 New York Ave., NE
Patricia Handy Place for Women 202-733-5378 // 810 5th St., NW Samaritan Inns // 202-667-8831 2523 14th St., NW samaritaninns.org
Samaritan Ministry 202-722-2280 // 1516 Hamilton St., NW 202-889-7702 // 1345 U St., SE samaritanministry.org
Sasha Bruce Youthwork // 202-675-9340 741 8th St., SE sashabruce.org
So Others Might Eat (SOME) // 202-797-8806 71 O St., NW some.org
St. Luke’s Mission Center // 202-333-4949 3655 Calvert St., NW stlukesmissioncenter.org
Thrive DC // 202-737-9311 1525 Newton St., NW thrivedc.org
Unity Health Care // 202-745-4300 3020 14th St., NW unityhealthcare.org
Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless 1200 U St., NW // 202-328-5500 legalclinic.org
The Welcome Table // 202-347-2635 1317 G St., NW epiphanydc.org/thewelcometable
My Sister’s Place // 202-529-5991 (24-hr hotline) mysistersplacedc.org
Whitman-Walker Health 1701 14th St., NW // 202-745-7000 2301 MLK Jr. Ave., SE // 202-797-3567 whitman-walker.org
N Street Village // 202-939-2060 1333 N St., NW nstreetvillage.org
For further information and listings, visit our online service guide at StreetSenseMedia.org/service-guide
HELP! WE’RE LOOKING FOR
volunteers Become a Street Sense Media volunteer and help further our mission to empower people experiencing homelessness. Get to know the vendors and make a difference in their lives and yours! You’ll support hard-working newspaper vendors by volunteering your time, four hours a week, distributing newspapers at the Street Sense Media office. If interested, please contact Gladys Robert firstname.lastname@example.org 202-347-2006 (x10)
Washington, D.C. Photo by Rodney Choice
Washington, D.C., Photo by Rodney Choice
Thank you for reading Street Sense! Nashville, Tennessee Photo by Hannah Herner
From your vendor JAN. 8 - 21, 2020 | VOLUME 17 ISSUE 5
5.5 million READERS
9,000 Seattle, Washington Photo by Ashley Archibald
COVER: At the end of last year, cities around the U.S. observed National Homeless Persons' Memorial Day on and around Dec. 21. We covered th...
Published on Jan 8, 2020
COVER: At the end of last year, cities around the U.S. observed National Homeless Persons' Memorial Day on and around Dec. 21. We covered th...