Personal remarks made by a long time activist who is facing homelessness at our meeting on Housing and food insecurity (following a presentation by Michael Block, the Chief Housing Officer at the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless)
This is the 3rd time I’ve lost my home. I’ve been homeless: at age 40, age 70 and now at 77 for 6 months. I am grateful to have shelter through July 10 that offers comfort, nature, safety and congenial neighbors, thanks to connections my friends have made for me so I can house sit for their friends and put my nest inside theirs temporarily.
In contrast when several people in our lives treat myself or others poorly so that we conclude we are unimportant and we end up homeless due to circumstances we can’t control, not only grief arises, but up comes embarrassment, shame and questioning one’s self-worth. Along with them come remembrances of other traumatic times in our lives when we felt denigrated. It becomes very difficult to stand up for oneself, look for suitable housing and work through the confusion.
In addition, I am troubled by the social practices in our culture, that encourage us to protect our own lives and “keep boundaries” from those who are homeless, distressed and high risks. We lack social nets that help us as a community to deal personally with people around us who are in trouble. We expect social agencies to do the job; they are often ill-equipped and impersonal. My friend, Dona has opened her home to several families and people at risk, sometimes with a heavy consequence to herself. When I did have a room in Harry’s home he and I rescued a homeless friend last Spring allowing her to live in his messy dusty garage and to sleep in the back yard for 6 months as she didn’t want to be in the house.
I have been the one who has said no in my heart to sheltering another, I have also said yes to those without a home and offered space, and I have been one who is homeless. Each of those places have come with messy challenges, raw pain, and difficult relationship for me as a sensitive person. Not easy to be in any of those.
I notice lacking a home base has had its effects on my work for the earth and through my nonprofit, Our Sacred Earth. There is a mysterious contribution that comes with having a place you don’t have to move from and can settle into. For me that includes intimate relationship with the land and nature surrounding my home.
What I am most concerned about now is the dysfunction of modern American culture and the way most people continue business as usual, travel, participate in consumerism pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and plastic into the ocean. I am concerned about the lies and misuse of power by corporations and govt. which are degrading the Earth. Our culture gives us permission to take from the Earth to live our lives, without concern for the consequences. I am concerned that my own circumstances and grief have so degraded my life that I am no longer in a strong position to contribute to educating and influencing people towards a culture of caring in action for this planetary life we share.
Here are my suggestions for local actions:
— Speak to Boulder City and County about enlarging solutions to providing housing including waiving some portion of property taxes to owners who offer lower rents to low income people (that might help me find a place to rent)
–Speak up about the simplest solution: provide a variety of housing to the homeless **
— Convince Bo County to have an experimental track separate from land Use regulated house construction to try out projects as my “Living in Harmony” proposal; allow the building of lower cost homes not designed per national regulations—which I suspect were created by the commercial construction industry
— Promote rent control / begin as voluntary then move to managed rental charges
–Address solutions to the Issue of people who work here but cannot afford to live here and now commute, creating choking traffic in Boulder and extra fossil fuel used/pollution
–Support individuals who are homeless or “under-housed” — (I will be sending out another email requesting specific support around my own circumstances or you can ask me directly how to support me.)
Thank you for hearing my comments.
** We heard this is the best least costly solution for assisting homeless people in his ½ hr. talk, from Michael Block, the Chief Housing Officer at the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless