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October 13, 1994 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 1994-10-13

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8 - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, October 13, 1994

EQ homeless: victims or victimizers?

HOMELESS
Continued from page 1
Friedman said that there is cur-
rently not enough affordable hous-
ing. He said that people are in need of
housing for a variety of reasons.
"Those who are currently paying too
much, are in substandard housing, or
are in overcrowded conditions qualify
as needy," Friedman said.
"In a recent report to the Depart-

ment of Housing and Urban Develop-
ment, thecity declared that 6,000 people
were still in need of affordable housing
in Ann Arbor," Friedman said.
Students work to help homeless
Student groups are also working
to help the homeless. The Homeless
Action Committee (HAC) is one of
these groups. Since 1987, HAC had
rallied behind the political cause of
the homeless.
Started by one University student

Finally, authentic mexican food I]

and a homeless man, HAC remains a
mixed group of students and the home-
less of Ann Arbor today.
Jeri Schneider, a HAC member,
described the group as, "a grass-roots
direct-action force."
Schneider said that the 20-mem-
ber group addresses the lack of low-
income housing in the city. "We speak
out at city council meetings, picket,
petition, and yell at politicians."
Students Working Against
Today's (SWAT) Hunger works to
provide food to those who can not
afford it. The group works every sec-
ond Tuesday of the month to provide
a meal at a local church.
Jeff Benko, an aerospace engi-
neering graduate student, has been
involved with SWAT for four years
and has worked closely with the Ann
Arbor homeless.
"I didn't have any unmet needs
growing up. I hope that this group
makes a difference. I feel it is my
responsibility to help those less fortu-
nate than myself," he said.
SWAT works with the Hunger
Coalition of Ann Arbor. The Hunger
Coalition has been working since 1976
to provide meals to the needy Mon-
day through Friday. The city supports

the group with funding.
The coalition works with area
churches, Food Gatherers, Huron Har-
vest Food Bank and volunteers to meet
the needs of Ann Arbor residents. The
amount of need is growing.
Hunger Coalition President
Marjory Luther said that the number
of people attending increases every
year. "Ten years ago, we averaged 40
people per dinner. Now we average
120 people per dinner," she said.
Coordinator and University
School of Social Work graduate
Cheryl First said that 75 percent of
those who attend the community free
meals are individual males who are
without housing.
The options available are not sat-
isfactory to some Ann Arbor resi-
dents, especially to the residents of
the cement slab in front of East Quad.
Homeless say they prefer East
Quad to local shelters
About a dozen homeless men say
they prefer the area by East Quad to
any of the Ann Arbor shelters.
"The shelters are crack cities. You
have to sleep with your shoes on and
your eyes open. It's not a place for
honest people," said a man who iden-

tified himself as Mott.
The male group ranges in age from
38-60. All said they have been on the
Ann Arbor streets for at least two years.
"I have a choice. I can afford to eat
every day or sleep under a roof. I can't
do both. I choose to sleep outside,"
Mott said.
The men deny any wrong-doing
on their part toward East Quad resi-
dents. "We just try to get along. We
don't infringe upon the rights of an-
other person," Mott said.
A member of the group identified
as Ronald explained the incidents at
East Quad. "There's probably a hun-
dred guys like us in a square mile of
here. Some people are just bogue. We
get blamed for their shit."
Ronald said, "We've got every-
thing we need here: Taco Bell.
restrooms, cups and friendship."
"We're just trying to get by.
There's a lot of violent people out
there," said Mott.
The men explained the main rea-
son for staying in front of East Quad
without words. They pointed to the
heating vent that they sat near in the
45-degree weather yesterday night.
The men said that they occasion-
ally solicit money from residents.
"There's good days and there's bad
days." said Mott.
Ronald agreed. "What goes around
comes around. We try to lookout forthe
people that help us. They buy us a taco,
we buy them a taco when we can."
"I have to steal just about every
night to get what I need," said one
member of the group.
The men that stay outside of East

Quad claim to live by an internal code
of ethics. "We don't lie, cheat orsteal
from each other. We're like broth-
ers," said Ronald.
The men said that the cement slab
is the only home they have. They even
have a pet squirrel they named Irving.
They said that the law enforce-
ment officers that deal with them are
often intimidating, especially the
younger officers. The men said that
they felt the law works against them
instead of helping them.
"Frat boys throw glass bottles at
us. Patty (another homeless man) was
set on fire last year. People walk by
and kick us while we sleep. We're the
victims here," said Mott.
Several members of the group are
Vietnam war veterans. One said he
was a POW in Cambodia for three
and a half years. Most said they do not
feel they can turn to city organiza-
tions or even the Veterans'
Adnministration for help.
The men told stories of hardships,
family tragedies and what they termed
unfair treatment from the federal gov-
ernment. One man began to cry in
telling his story.
"I just want a fair shake," said the
tearful man.
LSA Honors junior Graham Sul-
tan often visits with the East Quad
group. He is doing a report about the
group for one of his classes.
"These people have a peer group
here, a fictive kinship. They have to
live. They deserve better. They did
more for this country than anybody
else in Ann Arbor. Look what Ann
Arbor has given to them."

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Thursday, October 13 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.
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For application and interview, call:
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(313) 994-5563

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