This post was written by Hatchet reporter Regina Park.
StreetSense, the biweekly newspaper that raises money & awareness for the homeless, hosted a series of performances about homelessness in the Marvin Center this week, followed by a panel discussion moderated by Gregory Squires, chair of GW’s sociology department.
The performances, led by members of StreetSense, depicted how people can become homeless and the struggles of finding a permanent place to live.
Here are the top three takeaways:
1. Songs and spoken word
The StreetSense performers brought skits, songs and poetry to the stage in the first half of the event, fleshing out their personal struggles living on the streets.
The showcase included chorus renditions of “Lean on Me” and “This Little Light of Mine,” while some members recited original spoken word poetry.
One poem, “A Letter to My 20-Year-Old Self,” put the performers’ regrets into words, as some spoke of the decisions that led them to homelessness.
But the piece ended on a positive note: “It’s been a long hard ride being homeless. But you made it,” one performer said.
2. “Knock, Knock”
One skit, “Knock, Knock,” played out the story of a woman who sees her life slowly crumbling around her. With every “knock” on her door, another burden gets placed on her shoulders: getting fired from a job, getting her electricity cut off, before finally losing her home.
“Stop knocking and killing me,” she says after the final knock that takes her home away.
3. How to end homelessness
After the performance, Squires led a panel that featured Steet Sense Executive Director Brian Carome, Anna Blasco of the National Alliance to End Homelessness and Kurt Runge, Miriam’s Kitchen’s advocacy director.
Carome said society needs to learn that homelessness is in fact more expensive to taxpayers than providing housing to the homeless.
“Our approach just doesn’t make sense,” Carome said. “It is two times as expensive to leave someone on the streets than it is to pay for 100% of someone’s living fees.”
Blasco discussed the importance of stable housing to eliminate “chronic homelessness,” which describes those who have been homeless multiple times or for a long period of time.
“Housing first is a solution to homelessness. Whatever people need to remain stably housed we should do that. Right now, we don’t fit the program to fit the person – we try to fit the person to match the program. We shouldn’t be doing that.” Blasco said.