September 16, 2005


The Other Side of Charity's Coin: Crisis Prompts Aid for Evacuees, but Area's Homeless Feel Left Behind (Sue Anne Pressley, 9/16/05, Washington Post)

[E]ager generosity toward Katrina victims also offers a contrast to American society's general inattention to other homeless people, say these scholars and advocates for the poor.

"What crises do is bring out this human instinct for compassion and the desire to help -- what can you do? . . . Why don't we care about ongoing poverty? It seems to me it is much more abstract. 'The poor are always with us, it's such a big problem.' You feel like you can do something when there is a crisis," said Elizabeth Boris, director of the Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the Urban Institute.

The element of worthiness -- or lack of it -- is also at work.

"Certainly a piece of this is the attribution of blame, that Katrina victims are unlucky, they were living in the wrong place at the wrong time," said Sam Marullo, chairman of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Georgetown University. "The institutional poor we have here in D.C. and every other city around the country, there is a sense that they are at fault . . . they didn't do something right, they didn't get an education, they didn't follow the rules."

Advocates say the homeless have noticed -- and many resent -- the difference in perception and treatment. "Local homeless people are saying, 'Nobody cares about us -- we were here all the time,' " said Imagene Stewart, who has 17 homeless families from the area at her House of Imagene in Northwest Washington.

It's the difference between being a victim of disaster or of self-victimization.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 16, 2005 7:29 AM

So the homeless are now....homeless?

Posted by: Rick T. at September 16, 2005 8:53 AM

The homeless should be in homes and not roaming the streets. Let the ACLU spin themselves into a lather, if they like, but have the homeless evaluated and then put into a setting where they can sleep dry and warm and perhaps receive some needed medical and/or psychological attention.

It's time to put to an end Jimmy's Great Adventure in social engineering.

Posted by: erp at September 16, 2005 2:49 PM