Netpunk January 1999
Welcome to another new year of punk rock geekiness from my fingers to your eyes. To start off the new year, I thought Iíd tackle an issue that I have ignored up to this point Ė homelessness. I havenít written about it because, really, how many homeless people give a flying fuck about the internet or MRR? However, after doing some web searching, I found an amazing number of resources, and, given that computers are readily available at libraries and cafes all over the world, I thought it was time to write a column on the issue.
For those of you who may be homeless, or who donít have a computer, many libraries have computer terminals where you can use the web to do research. Some even allow you to use e-mail, though many have turned off e-mail access. In addition, there are often internet cafes and internet service providers that have public terminals for use for a price. Whatever you do, doní t utilize Kinkoís for net access, as their prices are the highest Iíve seen (funny, that matches their printing prices). Anyway, if you live in any moderate size city, you should be able to find free or cheap net access on a regular basis.
Most major cities seem to have a website with homeless resources in their area. These sites list shelters, community outreach programs, housing, job, and transportation listings, and more. An excellent one that covers the entire San Francisco Bay Area is the Bay Area Homeless Alliance (BAHA) home page athttp://www.baha.org/ .
In fact, an index of resources available both on the internet and off, is available athttp://nch.ari.net/local/alternateindex.html . This is a section of the National Coalition for the Homeless website (http://nch.ari.net/). The NCH site has a ton of information on homelessness, including homeless resources, updates on current legislation that will help or hurt the homeless, homeless alerts, and more. Anyone interested in the issue should take the time to visit NCH.
Grand-central.org is a website designed specifically for the homeless. You can get a free e-mail address athttp://www.grand-central.org/ , search for a job or housing, or read articles written for the homeless. There is also health and medical information here, and a poetry corner with poetry written by the users of Grand Central. A pretty good site, though they do have a link to Dr. Lauraís radio show (shudder).
The US governmentís Department of Housing and Urban Development also has a page for the homeless athttp://www.hud.gov/homeless.html . This offers tips on getting federal assistance to find a place to live or simply to survive on the streets. Not the best site out there, but a good place to find out what the government can do for you.
If youíre homeless and need legal help, the National Law Center On Homelessness and Poverty (http://www.nlchp.org/) may be able to help. The NLCHP has information on legal rights, civil rights, education, assistance and more.
A page that takes a slightly different view of the issue is Tedricoís Page athttp://4homeless.hypermart.net/ . Tedrico has information on "Homelessness, hitchhiking, panhandling, and homeless programs", which includes info on all of the above and more (including a "Romance on the Street" feature). Interesting site.
The International Homeless Discussion List is a mailing list on homelessness. You can get information on subscribing to the list, as well as a large (450+) list of websites dealing with the issue. Youíll find the pages for the list athttp://csf.colorado.edu/homeless/ .
Another discussion list for the homeless and previously homeless is the Homeless Peopleís Network Discussion List. The list has members from the US, Canada, Germany, Britain, and Australia and welcomes anyone who has experience with being homeless. You can find information on subscribing to the list athttp://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/ .
For those of you who arenít homeless, there are still a couple of sites you should check out. Too often the homeless are stereotyped and dehumanized. Itís pretty easy to think of homeless people as drunks, bums, and crazies. One site that might change your way of thinking, or at least make the homeless seem more human, is Floaters (http://www.floaters.org/ ). Floaters is the home of the Floaterís Art Gallery and the Homeless Art Project.
Of course, no punk rock column on homelessness would be complete without mentioning Food Not Bombs. Food Not Bombs seems to be one organization in which punks have always played a major part. Food Not Bombs hands out free food to people in need in over 70 cities. A page with links to all kinds of Food Not Bombs sites and information is athttp://www.webcom.com/~peace/PEACTREE/stuff/stuff/HOMEPAGE.html .
Finally, thereís a site containing the book 54 Ways that You Can Help the Homeless athttp://earthsystems.org/ways/ . Though written by a Rabbi, this doesnít seem overly religious, and there are some great suggestions for everything from "What to Do when Confronted by the Homeless" to how you can get involved with organizations to help out.
Okay, thatís all the space I have this month. Next time, Iíll probably spend my time writing about music, so send me your sites for review. E-mail me email@example.com , check out my columns at http://netpunk.base.org , or write me at PO Box 8059; Santa Cruz CA 95062.