Monday, June 27, 2011

The Last Homeless in Anchorage

He saw me whip out my camera as I was waiting for the light to change and so he turned his sign around.

I imagine there will be some people who will focus on spelling here.  It's a legitimate point one could make, but spelling isn't the issue.  It's what happens to the homeless in Anchorage now that they've been rousted out of their camps and drivers have been warned they can be fined for giving money to 'signers' on corners near traffic.   Our why our wealthy nation

I called the number.  The man's name is Guy Nelson.  I recognize that homeless people is a broad label and that some people who have lived out in the camps in town have been a nuisance or worse to people living nearby.  When I asked how many homeless Guy thought were mentally ill and how many were homeless by choice he estimated 3,000 of the former and 2500 of the later.  And another 7000 who are homeless by circumstances - homeless being a broad category including coach surfers. 

  • Since the Mayor has made it illegal to hand money to the homeless, and
  • since Nelson has a phone, and
  • since it's still legal to use your cell phone while driving in Alaska,
  • perhaps Nelson can work out a way for people to give him money via their phones. 
I'm only half joking.  The mayor and police chief said this was a safety issue.  I don't think they are against people being charitable.  Just in unsafe places. 

Guy's basic point on the phone was that when you kick people out of the places they live, you need to help them learn to cope in the world.  He had ideas about alternative, cheap housing.  We made a time to meet this week.  I'll let you know what I find out.


  1. While attending the movie "Cultures of Resistance" this evening, a couple of of friends and I were discussing the arrest of a group in Florida who were handing out food to the hungry, and we wondered if one of us dressed up as Jesus, handed out loaves of bread and fish to people on the street, would we be arrested?

  2. I live in Florida, where most people claim to be Christians, and I have to say that I do believe the answer to your question is a resounding "yes".


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