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This is a cross-post from Nextdoor.


subject: John Oliver on homelessness

a "Mad Housers" hut, made by volunteer labor using reclaimed materials

I have never quite been homeless myself, but I've lost count of how many homeless people I've known. More recently, some of them have been close friends. It's that bad out there, these days.

My partner Sandy was homeless for a month in 1984 -- living in a small pickup truck with an abusive husband, two cats, and a baby. (That baby just got his second full-time job, after 7 years in the Navy.)

Another very dear friend has been slowly getting back on their feet over the past 2-4 years. They went from being unfairly kicked out of a long-established living situation where they thought they were safe, to being homeless and living in the woods, to making the national news for having the absolute $%^& kicked out of them by police -- on camera, fortunately, else they might still be in "psychiatric custody" or worse -- when they tried to warn folks about a dangerous wild animal, to multiple false starts rebuilding their life, to just last month landing an IT job with a salary I envy. (This one story should shoot down about 70% of any popular myths about homeless people, I'd think.)

When I lived in Georgia (1990s), I did some web work for a couple of homelessness advocacy organizations. I let one of them set up a demonstration hutch in the woods behind the house I was working in (and later living in) -- showing how incredibly cheap it can be to provide a homeless person with the majority of what they need in order to get back on their feet, and how the main obstacle is that there's no legal place to put these things because NIMBY. (And yeah, it's not just "conservatives" buying into the anti-homeless rhetoric, or spreading it.)

Based on that experience, everything John Oliver says here is spot on.