Did someone take over LL screen name?Steven ScharfSCSMedia@aol.com
This past Saturday my wife and I were driving through Portland on Franklin street and we saw two young girls sitting in the middle of the road on the grass, with luggage, back packs, and two dogs. One of the girls held up a sign that said "Traveling and ran out of money, please help". The thing that was unusual about this was that it was two young girls. They could have been anywhere from 18 - 25, it was hard to tell. Usually, the homeless people I see are the old drunk guys over at Deering Park.We stopped the car and went to talk to them. One of the girls seemed to be sick or tired, the other one was perfectly fine and sober. They said they were hoping to get work at the Blueberry festival that was coming up, and that they had only been in Portland for a couple days. My wife asked if they were runaways, and suggested that they go to the youth hostel, but they really didn't answer. While we were there, another car stopped and gave a bag of dog food to them for the dogs they had.While we were there, a Portland police car stopped at the stop light, looked over and saw us, but then continued on when it turned green. We thought he was going to stop and talk to them, but didn't.My wife asked me to give them some money, so I did and then we left. I never encountered young homeless like this before in the 3 years I've lived in Maine and wanted to see what my AMG friends thought.
Sadly, they were probably part of the wave of people who 'summer' in the north and 'winter' in the south and southwest.Was not that unusual to see young 'homeless' women traveling together in the southwest during the winter...
There are large numbers of homeless youth in Portland.
About 10 years ago the Casco Bay weekly followed a group of teenagers around and documented their week living in shelters, the street and when their welfare check came in-a hotel with pizza.
1. 10 years ago I was walking down Congress Street with a Congressional candidate (this was the summer when @30 people were running for everything in sight) and we encountered a bunch (@8) of boys being led by a teenager to Ben and Jerrys'. Thinking it was a Boy scout troup-candidate asked "what pack"? Turned out all these boys (under age 14) were in the local shelter and an anonymous donor (some say it was Kenneth Cole) gave them $50 to take the kids out for ice cream. One kid, a boy I knew as a toddler in Lewiston, had been living in a dumpster. He said it was the best thing that had happened to him all month.
2. I worked at the Muskie Institute in Law School (not quite the sweet gig one might suppose, but still easy money. The Institute spent @$120,000 "studying homeless youth in Portland" and produced a very nice report with lots of quotes and photos that nobody read.
In those days one could have bought an apartment building near the Great Lost Bear for $80,000, fixed it up and given the @30-40 kids who were subjects of the study a place to live. Alas, it went on salaries and expenses for "upper-middle" class white women who earnestly studied the problem, analyzed and called for more money to fix it-while paying themselves $50,000/anum salaries.
This is the reason I can not stand Peggy and Neria.[ 06-28-2004: Message edited by: Ulsterman ]
ahhhhhh.. to be young again! Take a tour of these great United States on a limited budget.Tony - I have a better opinion of you now. You stopped and cared. It doesn't sound like these two were nothing more than temporarily low on cash, but at least you cared.Bravo.
Ditto. Bravo, Tony.Homelessness and poverty are on the rise in Maine. There are many reasons, probably none of which the conservatives and liberals on AMG will agree on, but I'm sure we can all agree that we need to reduce it.
TonyOWas she a RedHead? If so they did the same thing last year.The dog set it off for me, these kids travel in gangs with their bf's, if you had looked around (I bet you were by the post office) they would have been a group of them in the park (between high and forest ave).I asked last year where they were from, they told me they were from Washington and traveling back..**
Ulsterman:I agree with you, how much money has this city, and state spent to "IDENTIFY" a problem. I often wonder why our governments take and waste so much money on studies.Ed[ 06-28-2004: Message edited by: EJ ]
Tony, I believe that whatever you gave those kids will come back to you someday, many times over.I think mental illness and generational domestic violence plays a big part in homelessness.
sam:Chris "Elephant Man" Muse -- perhaps he wanted to show them his trunk.
Mr. Crude has spoken. A sicko know all attorney, no less.
There's people like this all over the place here in Los Angeles, Hollywood, Santa Monica, we used to call them "gutter punks." Young homeless kids usually in the 18 - 25 age range who squat in abandoned buildings and do construction/agriculture work or odd jobs. These two girls don't really sound homeless, perhaps just backpacking or slumming it. Takes a lot to care for pets even when you do have a home and income, and most people decide to ditch the pet when they can't afford it (although a lot of homeless people I meet say thier pets keep them sane.)
Bill:Nice to see you defending a fellow animal rights activist. Perhaps you are defending the prostitute -- again about right for one who prostitutes himself and his organization. I wondered when you'd take the "bait". Muse was found under VERY suspicious circumstances with an underage prostitute driving around in Portland. It hit all the papers, as well as AMG. By all accounts (except his), he was in the process of negotiating use of said trunk when pulled over by the Portland PD."I am but a finger pointing at the moon."
Although the two girls don't sound homeless -- as a dog owner, I can attest that one can't travel freely with dogs -- there is a subculture of semi-homeless in cities like Portland.
For every perky collegian waiting on your table or ringing a purchase at a store counter, there are invisible young dishwashers and cleanup personnel who eek out a living. Can you work eight hours in a giant freezer room loading pallets of frozen food and ice cream onto refrigerated delivery trucks? That's the kind of work they do. They do this voluntarily in order to hangout amongst like people. In off work hours, with little disposable cash, they meet on corners or in parks.
Some of the landlords of apartment buildings in places like Cumberland Avenue and Grant Street have used sheetrock to subdivide an apartment into multiple tiny 1 1/2 or 2 room "efficiency" apartments. The landlord multiplies revenue while offering cheap rent.
In the 1980s, when I did the evening talk show on WGAN, I did some tape interviews with this subculture through leads I got interviewing the "homeless" in Lincoln Park. Some had mental health problems, some found escape from abuse or dysfunctional families. Some were nihilists who had no grounding in religion, social values or sense of family and community. Their aspirations - - if they had any -- were minimal. For this group, this subculture was a comforting environment and a freely-chosen "family".
Thank you everyone for the comments. EJ, the girl was not a red head. These two girls were rather rough looking, like they had been through a lot. They had their hair braided in that Jamacian style but they were white girls.I was surprised that the police car I saw didn't stop to check on the girls. I thought he would give them a ride to the shelter or something like that. I suppose the police have more important things to do.
TonyO and others. Thanks for taking the objective view. Nice to read that you care about others who are not always dealt the best hand in life.
The police did not stop becuase there was no need to and they are not a a taxi service. Depending where on Franklin Street you were, the shelter is just a few blocks away, easy walking distance. It would do them no good until evening. Where they should have directed to was the Preble Street Resource Center. If they know where that is then they know there way around Portland.I don't know why folks ever thought homelessness just affected dirty old drunks. It is well known that it affect all strata of society including families and youth who have been thrown out of thier homes or runaway, etc.I know of a situation where a husband is out living on the street while the family lives in a small house in Cape Elizabeth. He suffers from a mental illness for which he refuses to take meds for. All attempts to assist him have failed as I have been told.He indirectly chooses to live out on the streets.Steven ScharfSCSMedia@aol.com
The girls had dreads? Yeah, they sound like Gutter punks to me.
quote:Tony did the right thing, but one has to be careful when extending the hand of friendship to these people, since some are truly dangerous to an open society.
I can say for the most part the homeless people I meet are generally harmless. In the city you find a lot of homeless people who set up makeshit stalls and sell things like cheap jewlery (the kind you get at the 99 cents store,) hemp necklaces, or "hobo art," like pencil drawings done on the backs of flyers, old posters, etc. Only a few times have I ever felt threatened by a homeless person. There are a few of the homeless insane catagory though, somebody who is very dirty, smells bad, talking to invisible rabbits, etc. These people I think need help the most.[ 06-29-2004: Message edited by: Hawanja ]
I assume you are refering to 'harmless homeless folks' on the left coast:
quote: I can say for the most part the homeless people I meet are generally harmless...
Only a few times have I ever felt threatened by a homeless person.
Ever bump into (or be bumped into by) the homeless folks in NYC?In my limited experience with the 'homeless' there (having lived and worked in NYC for less than one year), I would have to say they tend to be a bit more 'assertive' than those you describe!
I'll bet Hawanja hasn't spent time on Congress Street in Portland! Years ago, I recall having to park on Free Street mear the Art Museum to get to a meeting. I was dressed in a suit. I had not been to an ATM machine yet and honestly did not have any money beyond a few pennies after putting coins in the parking meter. A couple of street people asked for change. I smiled, apologized and showed them the small coins. As I started walking toward the Eastland (then The Sonesta, so you'll know how long ago), the fat drunken woman followed me for a half block screaming at the top of her lungs, "Cheap business bastard! He can afford fancy clothes but can't give us money!" Great impression for potential business location, eh? So, this is not new. It has been around for a long long time.
PS: Hawanja apparently lives in SoCal, not the San Francisco Bay Area. I was walking with a friend near Fisherman's Wharf two years ago when a panhandler started to approach. We kept walking and waived him off. He screamed, "Don't you waive me off! I have rights." He actually shoved a pamphlet on us from a social service agency written for folks like us on how to respect panhandler rights!
I saw this same group. I drove past in disgust. I've seen their types over and over. I have some sympathy - for all I know they have bi polar disorder..But I doubt it. What pisses me off most about them is the dogs. IF YOU CAN'T FEED YOURSELF DON'T GET A DAMND DOG!Later that same day a guy on Exchange street - well enough dressed, sitting on a door stoop - in a bright and intelligent voice asked for money.When they look bedraggled and forlorne I usually give something.. this guy seemed perfectly able bodied enough to go down to WorkForce and find something.Chris.
Hope Elephants co-founder dead after falling, being stepped on by elephant
(Alternate headline: Hope elephants aren't too heavy!)
HOPE, Maine — The man who brought two retired circus elephants to Maine to care for them was killed in their pen Tuesday morning when he fell and was crushed by one of the 8,000-pound animals.
Dr. James Laurita was 56.
Chris could have lived this dream.