Housing is my right
Even though the homeless do not have a place to call their own, that doesn’t mean that they are totally without rights or have be silent about having rights.
How many times have we gone through the same song and dance. We see people living on the street and
we assume that this person is going to beg for money. How dense can we be as a society?
Take my story for example, I became homeless when my father and I could no longer coexist in the
same house. I spent six months in my neighborhood panhandling and scraping to find employment.
Things changed when I discovered Street Sense. Now I write for the paper and sell the paper and earn somewhat of an in- come. During the last five years selling the paper I have attended quite a few advocacy events and meetings. One thing has become clear to me. People experiencing poverty need a little more from the community at large.
In the District of Columbia in recent years, we have lost more than half of the affordable units for low-income residents. At the minimum wage of $8.25, a worker would have to put in 140 hours a week to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment at the prevailing fair market rent for this area.
In late August, the D.C. City Council passed the Large Retailer Accountability Act that would require big-box stores such as Wal-Mart to pay their workers combined wages and benefits of at least $12.50 an hour.
But the bill still faces a possible veto by Mayor Vincent Gray. Such a veto would send a message to
Washington’s hard- working service workers that we do not want you to live here.
To me, it only makes a city law recognizing housing as a human right more important. Such a law
would serve as an important tool in fighting the discrimination against the poor that is obviously going on in this city.
It would help me and many others secure housing and would go a long way in helping the city fall
in line with the federal government’s goal of ending homelessness.
But the only way to win the passage of such a law is to raise as much awareness as possible. Homeless advocate Mitch Snyder said it best: “When you see someone on the street, say ‘hello,’ give them something to eat let them know that they are human and that you care because truly that is all we ever askedfor as a society.”