Today we gathered from across the country, ending our winter break early, to delve into the lives of those who are houseless. We all come from a variety of experiences and backgrounds, and today we shared our hopes, dreams, and aspirations for this week. We come into this week with welcoming, open hearts ready to learn and grow from the stories and the people we will meet. The first two people we meet our coordinators with Saint Andre Bessette Catholic Church, Andrew and Deonna. They graciously have let us into their space and have welcomed us the same as they would any of the other guests they serve with their hospitality services.
Under their direction, we toured many of the resources that aim to help those who are houseless in the Old Town district. This was an especially eye opening experience for me personally, as I was pleased to learn how many services there were available for their guests. However, this also made me recognize how damaging the houselessness is in the area. I have walked through Old Town many times in my life, but this time was like any other in my life. Looking at Old Town with this new perspective will change me forever. In the past I might have been able to look over the houseless and keep moving but now I am beginning to develop a new and much more empathetic view. Society has tried to strip the humanity away from these people in many ways to the point that many people do not see them as equals. Even the way we talk about people who are houseless does not give them the proper humanity. When we often talk about houselessness we use the word “Homeless people”. This type of language connotates that their only quality is their houselessness. Not funny, smart, kind, loving, or any of the other thousand adjectives available in the human language, but rather the one word that put them at the lowest common denominator. I challenge those at home to think critically about the language you using surrounding houselessness, because the more we are able to empathize with these people the better we can help them.
-Nate Olsen, Urban Immersion 2019