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All of Us Are One

Just A Rumor

Just A Rumor

By Ronnie Barbett

After coming to Madison, my plans ran into a stumbling block…nothing was easy. I wanted an apartment and of course, a way to pay for it. I was limited – no I was helpless – without any forms of identification. (My identification papers were all burned in a fire some time ago.) I was a nobody. A non-person as George Orwell called it in his novel of then a futuristic society, 1984. No one could assist me unless I filled out tons of paperwork. For a job, an apartment, a library card – you name it…identification was needed.

So now, as I’m working on getting settled in Madison from the very bottom, I am homeless. I notice a certain uncomfortable feeling now, not able to pay my own way…dependence on the kindness of strangers, literally. Homeless people are looked upon unfavorably. I should mention that, despite rumors profiling a typical homeless person as a sinful alcoholic drug-dependent user with an arrest record the length of his arm, it’s not the norm. We can be loyal, educated, very religious outstanding citizens worthy of any neighborhood lifestyle…you know what I mean. We can fit in simply because it’s all about fitting in. We’ve been there and for some reason, we are trying to get back something we lost. I beg you not to give up on these people. The homeless need you to not give up on them.

Homelessness is not forever and not a crime. Remember that we are getting up every other day, not every day, to solve our problems. We do get up mentally every day, while falling downward, but always aiming upward to where we were. We had a place to live, we had a job, cars, beds, furniture, and yes, we even had a family. It’s not easy to walk away, but it’s always at the last minute…as a last resort. Sometimes we’ve even been forced out. When a person’s world falls apart, going homeless ends up as a solution. When our financial worth hits zero, going homeless sometimes is the penalty. Imagine realizing that your own family comes to leaving them, going homeless is a way of getting fresh air. A homeless person, just as he becomes “homeless,” always believes that it’s temporary, a moment in time…where you lose. The problem with this predicament lies in people thinking that, “he/she is homeless, he/she lost it all.” It’s just not true. It’s just a rumor.

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About Operation Welcome Home

OWH is a group of homeless people in Madison, WI and their allies organizing around the root causes of homelessness- racism, poverty, and criminalization. We are fighting for housing, jobs, and an end to the criminalization of poverty.

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