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Life Arts

Two Artists Take Their Passion For The Poor To The Streets

By       Message Yehudah Kalman       (Page 3 of 3 pages) Become a premium member to see this article and all articles as one long page.     Permalink

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"A lot of the people out here are mentally ill, and if you're not when you start you're at risk of becoming so, if you're not acutely aware of this fact, is it any wonder that some people out here turn to drugs, there are a lot of reasons people become homeless, but once you're out here it's a real hat trick to get off the streets, between the bureaucracy, discrimination in employment the entire system is designed to keep the poor in their place," said Clark.

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"We have several friends who have gotten themselves jobs against the odds, but were fired for their homelessness, one was fired because he had to bring his bags to work everyday, because he had no place to put them that was safe, but people will tell you get a job, what about those people who have done that but can't keep it because they're on the streets, these people just don't get it's just not that damned easy without the stability of a place to call home," continued Finger.

Clark and Finger want to get off the streets and continue to produce work around the issues that inspire them, but are unwilling to compromise their values even for their own sanity. 

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"We came out here for a reason, and failure isn't an option for us, millions of people are out here suffering due to ignorance, apathy, and a bureaucratic machine that is only perpetuating itself and the problems it claims to want to fix, our success will mean that people have to start paying attention and truly working to fix the problems associated with poverty, moldy sandwiches, and system of shelters aren't solving anything, community gardens, food independence, and the reclamation of abandoned buildings and houses, there refurbishment and remodeling into apartments for the homeless is, there is no excuse to have 18 abandoned homes per a homeless person, and under those conditions, there is no excuse for there to be a single person forced to sleep on the streets," said Clark.

There is an opportunity for communities to fight back against the problems they're facing every day and for mayors and city councils to change the dynamics of how they deal with the homeless and poverty in their cities.

Housing-first programs have been shown to work everywhere they have been implemented.

Housing is a significant factor in reducing mental illness, addictive and impulsive behaviors, as well as anxiety and depression. Creating a stable environment for people who need treatment, whereas homelessness creates an environment that makes treatment extremely difficult if not at times impossible.

Housing is also shown to play a significant role in reducing isolation, improving family relationships, community involvement, empowering people to take control of their lives.

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"Everyone deserves to have their human needs met as a condition of their right to life, and to criminalize the victims of poverty only serves to perpetuate poverty so that corporations and non profits can continue to profit off the suffering of class it creates, implementing a housing for all program would save the government a ton of money in the long run, get the mental health crisis this country is facing under control and put millions of people to work boosting the economy long enough to get a real economic up turn to take hold, I don't understand the problem here, said Clark.

So far their message has been well received, people stopped by regularly to watch finger paint a piece about food independence as she paints on a street corner, Clark had a successful opening with one of his photographs selling in the first week of the exhibition.

"We're going to keep doing our work whether we get paid or not, for us it's not about the money it's about the message, sure we need to get off the street and we can do so much more, with space to work and our needs met, but this is about people not profit for us, we just want to keep working and we're going to do that one way or another," said Clark with a look of finality in his eyes and a determination I've never heard from anyone else in his voice.

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I'm a DC activist, writer and art admirer.

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