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Haley Andreades Vermeer

Houseless But Not Homeless

August 22, 2020 | By | No Comments

A gentleman experiencing houselessness stood with me on a sidewalk downtown and told me about how COVID-19 has impacted his life on the streets. “If a few of us start to gather together, the cops come and tell us to disperse,” he said, a restaurant patio full of people gathered together a mere block behind him. Looking around he explained, “This is my neighborhood, my home. I grew up right over there,” his brown-skinned hand pointing north of where we were standing. “Just a few blocks that way.”

This city is far more his home than it is mine. Homeless he is not. Houseless he should not be.

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Living in the Essential

May 26, 2020 | By | No Comments

In the past two months, I think I’ve heard, read, and said the word essential more times than I did in all my pre-COVID-19 years combined. It will be interesting to see if and how the word essential will occupy a more everyday place in our lexicon after all this is over.

For the time being, we seem to have gained a new appreciation and respect for that which is essential and for those who have been deemed essential. As we witness an economy long supported by the consumption of nonessential commodities begin to crumble after only a few weeks of pressure, we question the value of the nonessential.

And perhaps rightly so. Our society and our very lives feel as if they’re being stripped down to the essentials, and it at times feels like a very good thing.

And yet, those of us who have the privilege of riding out stay-at-home and safer-at-home orders from the comfort of our own homes are also recognizing that we deeply crave the nonessential. We deeply desire to go get our hair cut and perhaps try Read More

At the Gas Station Intersection

April 17, 2020 | By | 2 Comments

Friends keep graciously reaching out to me asking how our friends experiencing homelessness are faring during these difficult times. Each time I respond, I am taken aback by my own answer. “Some of them are understandably anxious about it all; some of them are having a harder time finding safe and welcoming places to spend their day, reliable sources of food, places to charge their phones, things like that; and others don’t seem to be bothered by it, being used to living simply and on the edges of society.” I am taken aback by my own answer because on one hand this global pandemic has made people on the margins’ lives even more difficult, and on the other hand it has simply shifted the suffering they experienced on a daily basis in our pre-pandemic world. In some sense, those on the margins are able to turn to those of us who are more privileged in society and say, “Welcome to our world.” Read More