An article published in the Guardian newspaper on Sunday 13th October 2013 was exceptional for one main reason; the writer was homeless.The article, entitled What you learn about humanity from living on the streets, was written by Mary, who lives on the streets of New York. She sits on the same block as a Guardian editor, and the editor compiled the article from Mary's handwritten notes. In turn, Mary was paid the same fee as any other Guardian contributor.
You can read the article in full here, but here are a few excerpts below ...
"Passers-by mainly ignore me, a homeless woman sitting on the sidewalk or a bench. The people who do speak to me are either curious, or harpies who give me unsolicited and useless advice, or the more irritable who chastise me. I try to explain by example that there are good, decent, employable but destitute people in New York City ..."
"... I don't have recent data, but I know that in 1994, a study of homeless people in Manhattan was published and a summary appeared in many New York City newspapers. The findings said that 30-40% of the street homeless population suffered from a mental illness, including alcoholism and drug addiction. It's a tragic statistic, but you can also infer from this survey that 60-70% of the street homeless are not mentally ill, drug addicted or alcoholic. People should remember that other factors – such as education, job training, employment, the housing market and how programs for the poor are administered – also cause people to end up on the streets ..."
"... My dream is to be a middle school math teacher. My college degree is in computer science, and I used to be a substitute teacher. I know this probably won't happen. For now, I do what I have to. I just wish people wouldn't make assumptions about me, especially that I am crazy or a criminal ..."