Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Define Homeless

Yesterday, MSN had an article about a young blogger. The title was something like, Homeless Blogger lands great job at Elle Magazine. Intrigued, I clicked through and read the story.

Apparently this young woman, while homeless, wrote a letter to the editor of Elle about her search for a job and pulled some heartstrings. She mentioned her blog about being homeless and Elle took notice. The magazine ended up giving her a small job, and then in the end it has turned into a paid blogging gig. They are branding her as "the new face of the homeless" - meaning that homeless people aren't all dirty and uneducated, they can be tecnologically ept and have electronics to boot. I can agree with this, to an extent.

The thing about this girl is that I don't think that she was technically "homeless". She was living in an RV in a Walmart parking lot. She spent her days in Starbucks using free wifi and refills while she was job hunting and blogging. Correct me if I'm wrong, but an RV has a roof, walls, floor and BED, not to mention a bathroom/sink/shower.

I would not want to be in this girl's situation, however, walking down the streets of almost any major metropolis area can give you a completely different definition to the word homeless. There are people who have nothing, no where to go, no where to sleep and nothing to eat. Generally, I don't pity the homeless, I see many shelters and agencies that are willing to help them get back on their feet. Many of them just have no desire to do more with themselves. It is a choice that some of them have made to stay homeless - whether it be depression, drugs, alcohol, whatever. But the fact of the matter is, the girl in the article was FAR from homeless. Not only did she have an RV, she had an option to live with her mother, which she choose not to do. She had SOMEWHERE to live, she just didn't want to live there. She took to living in her RV at a free parking spot at Walmart by choice. But, still, the RV was her home. She had somewhere dry and secure to go every night. People on the street don't have that luxury - if the shelters are full, they are out of luck. The people on the street literally have only what is on their backs. They can't claim any property or structure as their own. To me, that is a much better definition of homeless.

So, this girl didn't have a job and (probably) got pissed at her mom, she choose to live on her own in a free RV in a free parking space and blog off the kindness of Starbucks wifi on a computer that she owned. But OH MY, let's all see this as a heart warming story of the saving of the homeless!!

While I hate to see so many people in bad financial situations due to job loss or economic strain, this just doesn't strike me as a great story. She got lucky by being the first person to use this spin on her situation, but to many people who are truly homeless, the girl had it made. I feel for her being in the situation she was in, but just because you don't live in a brick and mortar structure does not automatically drop you into the homeless category in my book. Kudos to her for landing a job, but call it what it is - and it isn't homeless.