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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

December 14, 2008 at 4:38 PM

Attitudes toward homelessness

Doesn’t help the problem

In reference to the Vulcan-produced film “Where God Left His Shoes,” Nicole Brodeur writes that “I get the sense sometimes that we are weary of the homeless; their faces blend together in a stereotype of lazy, or addicted, or mentally ill.” [“Face of homeless is changing,” staff columnist, Dec. 9.] She contrasted the film’s portrayal of a homeless nuclear family with that stereotype.

In the case of many people who have no personal connection with anyone who is homeless, she’s probably right. They may feel an uneasy combination of feelings, including compassion, fear and uncertainty about what to do. Those feelings can lead to weariness. However, that weariness is nothing compared with that experienced by those who are homeless. Her next comment makes very clear that she still doesn’t get it: “It seems to me the face of the homeless is changing, becoming more familiar and closer to our own.”

Our own? That reminds me of the early days of AIDS, when people talked about the “innocent victims” of the disease, meaning people who weren’t homosexual. Now, apparently homeless families are innocent, whereas homeless people who have additional problems are what, guilty? Guilty of being not like us, not “familiar”?

Homelessness won’t end until that kind of attitude ends.

— Sally Kinney, Seattle

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