Photo of Richard Gere at the 2015 National Alliance to End Homelessness Conference in Washington DC.
Mark Thayer

To me, “Time Out Of Mind” means your living in what seems like another place or time. Lost and struggling with the past.  Not knowing how to deal with the reality of today. The chemical defects that sometimes control our minds, leaving us wandering about life some days with no real focus or purpose.

Alcoholism, pharmaceutical drug dependencies, heroin, cocaine and marijuana have all left persons in society with some form of addictive personalities and/or characteristics, family dysfunctions and health problems. Then we have the working poor priced out of affordable housing and not being able to ever get out of poverty. For too many, poverty has been handed down for generations.

I was really touched by Richard Gere’s movie. I, like his character George Hammond, have been unstable with housing in my past. I was able to identify with a lot of the issues within the movie.  Although the faces of homelessness have changed, the problem is a structured affordability issue.

The movie touched on a lot of common issues like housing, healthcare, and — more importantly—family.  One of the things that we don’t care to talk about is the sense of family or community that you lose when you become homeless, and the depression this leads to.

Before the movie I was introduced to Richard Gere at the National Alliance Conference to End Homeless in July.  He spoke about his willingness to build awareness with his movie to hopefully enlighten viewers on housing instability and homelessness.

Then I had to opportunity to go to the premier and ask a question during Q & A on what he thought would be a solution on housing and healthcare. I told him that the advocacy group I lead, People for Fairness Coalition, believes that housing is a human right.  Gere agreed that housing is a big part of it, but said that we also need to handle these issues with a holistic approach. He said we also need to support persons in the Government who want to do more.  Gere spoke of his visit to Capitol Hill and fighting to get those who know what they are doing to get the money to get the job done.

A video posted by Andrew Row-Bless (@roblesas) on

Richard Gere answers my question: what do you believe is the solution to homelessness? “Housing is the biggest component, but…” | Video courtesy of Andrew Row-Bless

Then I had the great pleasure to meet him up close and in person during an interview for this article. I was seeing someone of fame who had seen life in another fashion. He talked about not just the need to provide people with housing but a sense of community too.

This was the first time I had heard of dealing with the homeless issue holistically.  I found Mr. Gere to be down to earth and really humbled by what some Americans go through as part of the homeless community.  He thanked us for the work we do at Street Sense and how we may be able to use the movie to educate people about the plights of homeless people.

I left after asking the director, Oren Moverman, one final question: how can we at Street Sense, in the first homeless film cooperative, bring to light the documentary we are working on about people who once lived in public housing and the loss of so many of these units that are not being replaced by other affordable units.  Like a true director, Mr. Moverman said keep shooting and the story will get told.