An analysis of helping and hating the homeless by peter marin

Peter Marin Peter Marin has written on a number of social issues, including recent work on homelessness.

An analysis of helping and hating the homeless by peter marin

Peter Marin Peter Marin has written on a number of social issues, including recent work on homelessness. He has also coauthored Understanding Drug Use: He is a contributing editor of Harper's Magazine, where the following essay was published in This essay discusses historical roots of homelessness as well as contemporary issues.

This essay - and many others like it - is available for free here [opens a new window] http: It is an account of why some marginalized people "choose" homelessness and why middle-class culture finds them so threatening. It was not a picture which frightened me.

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The idea of anonymity and solitude and marginality must have seemed to me, back then, for reasons I do not care to remember, both inviting and inevitable. Later, out of college, I took to the road, hitchhiking and traveling on freights, doing odd jobs here and there, crisscrossing the country.

I liked that too the anonymity and the absence of constraint and the rough community I sometimes found. I felt at home on the road, perhaps because I felt at home nowhere else, and periodically, for years, I would return to that world, always with a sense of relief and release.

I have been thinking a lot about that these days, now that transience and homelessness have made their way into the national consciousness, and especially since the town I live in, Santa Barbara, has become well known because of the recent successful campaign to do away with the meanest aspects of its "sleeping ordinances" - a set of foolish laws making it illegal for the homeless to sleep at night in public places.

During that campaign I got to know many of the homeless men and women in Santa Barbara, who tend to gather, night and day, in a small park at the lower end of town, not far from the tracks and the harbor, under the roof-like, overarching branches of a gigantic fig tree, said to be the oldest on the continent.

There one enters much the same world I thought, as a child, I would die in, and the one in which I traveled as a young man: Sometimes, standing on the tracks close to the park, you can sense in the wind, or in the smell of tar and ties, the presence and age of that marginal world: Late last summer, at a city council meeting here in Santa Barbara, I saw, close up, the consequences of that strange combination of proximity and distance.

An analysis of helping and hating the homeless by peter marin

The council was meeting to vote on the repeal of the sleeping ordinances, though not out of any sudden sense of compassion or justice. Council members had been pressured into it by the threat of massive demonstrations - "The Selma of the Eighties" was the slogan one heard among the homeless.

But this threat that frightened the council enraged the town's citizens. Hundreds of them turned out for the meeting.

One by one they filed to the microphone to curse the council and castigate the homeless. Drinking, doping, loitering, panhandling, defecating, urinating, molesting, stealing - the litany went on and on, was repeated over and over, accompanied by fantasies of disaster: What astonished me about the meeting was not what was said; one could have predicted that.

It was the power and depth of the emotion revealed: Also, almost none of what was said had anything to do with the homeless people I know-not the ones I once traveled with, not the ones in town.

They, the actual homeless men and women, might not have existed at all. If I write about Santa Barbara, it is not because I think the attitudes at work s here are unique. You find them everywhere in America. In the last few months I have visited several cities around the country, and in each of them I have found the same thing: There are at leasthomeless people in the country, perhaps as many as 3 million.

And, in talking to the good citizens of these cities, I found, almost always, the same thing: What follows here is an attempt to explain at least some of that anger and fear, to clear up some of the confusion, to chip away at the indifference.

It is not meant to be definitive; how could it be? The point is to try to illuminate some of the darker corners of homelessness, those we ordinarily ignore, and those in which the keys to much that is now going on may be hidden.Peter Marin's piece, "Helping and Hating the Homeless" first appeared in Harper's Magazine (January ).

It is an account of why some marginalized people "choose" homelessness and why middle-class culture finds them so threatening.

roughly a quarter of the homeless would, a couple of decades ago, have been (). Peter Marin’s piece, “Helping and Hating the Homeless” first appeared in Harper’s Magazine (January ). It is an account of why some marginalized people “choose” homelessness and why middle-class culture finds them so threatening.

In “Helping and Hating the Homeless”, Peter Martin claims that although these people all have different backgrounds, histories, and reasons for not having a “home”, they are categorized and stereotyped by society and all looked down upon for being “homeless”. Helping and hating the homeless.

The struggle at the margins of America. By Peter Marin. Download Pdf. Read Online. This article is available in PDF and Microfiche formats only. You are currently viewing this article as a guest. If you are a subscriber, please sign in. SIGN IN to access Harper’s . Aug 26,  · Check out our top Free Essays on Peter Marin Helping And Hating The Homeless to help you write your own Essay.

Peter Marin, “Helping and Hating the Homeless” – Rutgers University-Camden