Studyin’ UP^^

So it may seem like all I do is ride around gleefully on my bike and post pretty pictures on instagram:

bikeandbench

and facebook like GIMME $$ (okay, hopefully not that superficial), but this post is to remind you why I choose to constantly berate your social media streams with posts unrelated to what meal I ate or how I look doing yoga.

A large part of the footwork going into our Bike and Build campaign is research and discussions. While it is great this trip will send me on a very physically challenging, life-changing experience, the root cause of my fundraising, and what I am asking people to support, is affordable housing.

I want to share with you a little of what we are talking about.

My trip leader sent out the first discussion prompt which features this video:

Homeless Homed

(I thought that would just show up on the site as a video but NOPE you have to click the link)

Colbert! and he uses his witty sarcasm to demonstrate the success of what is known as the “housing first” approach to the housing crisis.

My piers have given really insightful responses.

One rider, Anna, summarized what we all felt quite nicely:

“The Daily Show’s use of sarcasm in this clip cleverly highlights the simplicity of Utah’s response to homelessness.  Providing homes for those in need is a sustainable, humane, and practical solution, and it seems almost too good to be true[…]Homes provide individuals with privacy, safety, and stability, which are basic human rights”

This link that Brittany shared is humanizing, bringing the issue of homelessness to a more real-world light that we are able to better relate to- http://homelessness.dailycal.org/. 

causes

They are interviews with a few of the homeless in Berkley, CA, a simple but eye-opening response to a sensitive issue.

The opportunity to actually hear the stories from the people who do not have homes is an incomparable experience. I think most of those who have taken the time to read this far into my post can pretty much recite the social and economic events that foster an environment where people go without homes.Still, how much do we, the audience, really interact with the homeless?

The truth is, our general demographic has a strained relationship with the homeless. Some of us hail from places where everyone was from the same economic background and are unfamiliar terms with the idea of starving or living off the streets. Some of us hail from places where the homeless were so prevalent that we have learned to ignore the issue. Many of the people we see with cardboard signs asking for money have mental or social disabilities, a lot of them are addicts, and we just plain feel guilty saying no when we are asked for money. It becomes the norm to block out the voices of panhandlers, to avert our eyes because it is so constant.

Of course, it is for this reason that those who beg become so persistent. Somewhere between the constant stream of passer-byers who turn their heads, and the sedentary people who have no where else to go, the story becomes lost.

The tricky thing is that Vermont is a small and sheltered state, with Burlington being by far the most populated city, and the only location with the resources to facilitate families in need. Heroine use is on the rise at an alarming rate and many shelters do not allow you in unless  you have been sober for a specific length of time. When their piers are drug addicts and they are living on the street, how can one stay sober?
There are, of course, stories like this one–> http://cotsonline.org/take-action/becoming-homeless/

A member of the family becomes injured, is no longer to pay their high rent (and they do not own because real estate around here is ridiculous), falls behind on payments, family becomes evicted.

I read an article stating this-
“In 2009, COTS [one of the main Burlington emergency shelters] has served 95 families including 135 parents and 171 children. More than a third of those families had at least one employed parent.”

My crew of this bike trip is from all across the country, and, like me, they cannot help but respond with their own first-hand contact with homelessness. It looks different in every city or town, but it comes down to very similar issues.

From Seattle, Rachel points out that housing people is actually more affordable in that it is keeping people from jail (if not humane, at least we are saving money by incarcerating a few less people, right?). Laws like the ones touched on in the Colbert report put homeless in jail for petty crimes. The tech boom in Seattle is driving housing costs, and there has been a 20% increase in homelessness since last January. 

Rachel shared this video which explains the housing-first method in more detail.

She explains that for now Seattle continues to struggle with the housing crisis, settling for temporary tent cities and micro-housing until the city can agree to a better solution. The issue is, of course, that housing-first requires an investment.

My fellow crew members have given a good introduction to a very deep, disturbing problem that seems very much ingrained in our society. I look forward to sharing more information with you soon.

As always, please show your support for Bike and Build’s housing initiative

http://bikeandbuild.org/rider/7980

A small amount enables us to do a whole lot.

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