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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Homeless Like Me

48 Hours on the Streets of Providence
By Bob Plain,

Wednesday, Nov. 21 12:38pm – As you sit down to your second helping of Thanksgiving dinner to watch the Patriots game on your big screen TV, please take a moment to think about the almost 5,000 of your neighbors here in the Ocean State who are homeless.

As you settle in for the second half, and maybe a third helping of turkey with all the fixings, they will either be vying for one of the too few beds at the local shelters. Or, worse, looking for a place to sleep outside for the night.

And I’m going to be there with them. I’m celebrating Thanksgiving this year by spending 48 hours on the streets of Providence.

The idea is to call attention to the plight of the homeless, and hopefully glean a little insight into just how debilitating life on the streets can be.

I have a theory that the lower on the socioeconomic stratification ladder one finds themselves, the harder it is to move up a rung. In other words, it’s imminently harder for a homeless person to get an apartment than it is for a middle incomer to buy a bigger, better domicile.

Why? Well, that’s what I hope to find out. I’m certain at least a part of the reason is because life on the streets is simply a tough row to hoe and by walking the walk I hope to be able to report on just how difficult it can be – even for just two days.

I also hope to interview some of the people who are in this circumstance for real to find out how they ended up on the streets, how they hope to get off them and what some of the deficiencies are in what’s sometimes called the homeless industrial complex.

I’ve made arraignments to stash my laptop somewhere downtown, so if I have opportunity I will update this post. If not, I’ll write about it when I get back home.

Other than that, I’ll pretty much be armed with only my iPhone, several layers of clothes, a sleeping bag and a $20 bill, with the idea of gleaning a little insight into what life is like on the streets of Providence.

Bob Plain is the editor/publisher of Rhode Island's Future. Previously, he's worked as a reporter for several different news organizations both in Rhode Island and across the country.