Homelessness in Iowa City: An insider’s perspective

Story by Sherri Healy

The following views and opinions about homelessness in Iowa City are from those who deal with it directly on a daily basis.

John, the Traveling Man

John, aka the Traveling Man, featured in the article Homeless in Iowa City: Business on the streets, has a negative view of homelessness. Being a homeless man who panhandles for a living, John recognizes the difference between his practices and the negative connotation that many homeless people get.

“I fucking hate homeless people,” John said. “Some of them will hurt people to get what they want. And me, well I just sit out here with my signs and if you want to give me some change, cool, if not, that’s fine too.”

Donald Kevin Marshall

Donald Kevin Marshall, featured in the article Iowa City Shelter House: A place to call home, is a current Iowa City Shelter House resident who’s trying to rebuild his shattered life. As a new member to the homeless community, Marshall has a neutral opinion about homelessness.

“There’s too many opportunities and doors opened for a person to be homeless. People shouldn’t look down on homeless people,” Marshall said.

Marshall’s opinion on panhandling, on the other hand, is more direct.

“I don’t really necessarily disagree with panhandling. A closed mouth can’t get fed. But what are the purposes and the reasons for you asking for this money? Is it actually to get something to eat or to get something to drink? But to literally stand out there every day with alcohol on your breath, smellin’, and you are asking for something that you don’t really need, that’s unnecessary,” Marshall explained. “When they’re down town and they got the signs, but they are physical and able to work, why not work?”

Christina Canganelli

Christina is the Executive Director of the Iowa City Shelter House. She deals with homeless people on a daily basis and acknowledges the harsh reality of the perceptions of homelessness.

“We like that quick fix, almost fast-food mentality. This isn’t a quick fix story. You don’t necessarily see in a short time the impact or the change. It’s not sexy. It’s not often that people are going to take the time to roll their sleeves up and get into this and understand the context,” Canganelli said. “It’s one thing to be able to say that a guy is living under a bridge and homeless and he looks like a drunk. It’s another thing to understand what was the stuff that happened before that would lead that person to choose that life?”

To read more about homelessness in Iowa City and the Shelter House check out Iowa City Shelter House: A place to call home and Homeless in Iowa City: Business on the streets.

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2 responses to “Homelessness in Iowa City: An insider’s perspective

  1. Pingback: Iowa City Shelter House: A place to call home « Retail Therapy

  2. Pingback: Homeless in Iowa City: Business on the streets « Retail Therapy

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