In these interviews, I asked about homelessness and what the three interviewees were exposed to in the areas that they live in. I then asked about homelessness in relation to criminal activity, and how social media can help the problem.

INTERVIEW #1

Interviewee is from the United Kingdom and is conducting research in a lab at the University of Chicago in Illinois for a year. Individual is a female and is 20 years old. She attends school in the UK at the University of Bath. Interviewee has known the interviewee for 15 years. The interview took place in my home in New Jersey in my dining room.

Question 1: are there a lot of homeless people around where you live in Chicago?

“There are a fair amount of homeless people in Chicago but generally closer to downtown. There are a few that wander around but they’re generally avoided as they’ll walk down the road in broad daylight with cars having to avoid them. I’d say in downtown, there’s someone every few blocks.”

Question 2: Are there a lot of homeless people in the UK?

“In the UK, it’s the same situation kinda. More people downtown than in the residential areas of my city of Exeter. However I do see more in Chicago than at home. The homeless people in Exeter seem more vocal and aggressive than Chicago, I get more wary walking past them after dark as often I see them drunk or behaving aggressively. They tend to stay in the same areas though, as if they have their own turf.”

Question 3: When you see a homeless person, do you look the other way and keep on walking?

“I tend to look away from homeless people and keep walking but occasionally I’ll bring them some food like a pack of bananas or a sandwich. I try not to give money because I don’t know what they’ll spend it on, particularly in the UK when they sometimes fully admit it will go straight to alcohol or drugs. I figure if I bring them food then I know what they’re getting, and they always seem grateful for it.”

“Also I feel like I can’t stop my life for every homeless person, because there are so many. So it’s more I kinda give some food away if I’m coming back from a weekly shop etc. I try not to go super out of my way to help them, because also it’s kinda depressing to think about it.”

Question 4: would you assume a homeless person is more likely to be incarcerated than a person who is not homeless and has committed the same crime?

“I don’t really know. I don’t think so, often the homeless people I come across are war veterans with PTSD, or that’s what they say on their cards in Chicago.

In Exeter? I’m not sure, over there they seem more rough. Like there is more evidence of alcohol and drug abuse in their appearance and behavior. I don’t really know how it is in other areas. In Bath actually there’s more war veterans as well actually, and they’re very peaceful. I don’t feel at all unsafe in Bath, but I do see them drinking from time to time.”

“Also everyone comes from different backgrounds, I assume that homeless people might resort to stealing from a shop than the average person but it’s about the situation, it may be because they’re desperate or something.”

Question 5: What are your thoughts on the concept of homelessness being a crime?

“I’m not sure how effective it would be to make homelessness a crime. It’s an interesting idea, as they made suicide illegal in some parts of the world to allow police to be able to enter a home like “if they suspect illegal activity occurring”. But hey, that topic is also fiercely debated but I respect that reason for making suicide illegal.

I think that if someone is doing things that encourage the route to homelessness then potentially that should be criminalised? But often it is, like if someone’s doing drugs and spending all their money on that then drugs should be illegal.

But often homelessness is just due to a series of unfortunate events. It would be more beneficial I think if the programs around supporting homelessness were more effective. But also the stigma against hiring homeless people needs to be addressed. Because often homelessness is a result from fucking up their lives and doing crime, and therefore they tend to be less trustworthy. But others genuinely want to work but there is that stigma. I don’t know, like even personally I would probably rather hire someone not homeless because I perceive someone with a home as having a more stable life and stable attitude. But hey, that could be completely wrong, who knows what happens with people in private.”

Question 6: do you think there should be programs in prisons to help homeless individuals for when they get released from prison or would that be a waste?

“Programs in prison? I think it’s definitely worth trialling. Potentially might not work for the prisons that are more aggressive like for people with life sentences for severe murders or whatever.

But often homeless people resort to crime as a result of being desperate. So it would be good to try help them have more stability and options once they’re outside. Education schemes have been effective in some areas, there was one place that started teaching inmates how to cut hair and it helped severely reduce aggressiveness of the place while also giving them a new skill they could pursue once released. I don’t know where that happened, might need to google that.”

Question 7: do you think social media can help the homeless problem?

“I reckon social media can definitely help against the stigma of homelessness. It’s not something that’s often discussed really, other than maybe the Thanksgiving posts about helping out at a shelter.

But there’s also the difficult balance between people posting about it for awareness and those that get criticised because it seems like they’re doing it to promote themselves and make themselves look good.

Generally, I think any attention to the situation helps other people discuss it more and consider it, but I reckon it would backfire if some celebrity or whatever participates in a campaign and then know very little about the facts or what there trying to promote.

But then that’s just kind of a classic example of human narcissism and stupidity.

But yeah I reckon social media could be beneficial. It depends on how people use it to be honest, as many use it for like “highlight reel”. I do, for sure, I don’t want other people knowing about my business, but I follow other accounts for travel and food inspiration. Charities I’m sure use it to try raise awareness but homelessness is sorta less cute than trying to help a baby leopard or tiger.”

Concluding Remarks:

It was interesting and beneficial to have interviewed someone who has lived in another country and has experienced a completely different homeless community from the one I know in the New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia area. She offered a lot of interesting points throughout her interview, and was thoughtful with all her answers. I specifically appreciated her response to Question 5, and liked how she delved into her answer and offered her personal point of view if she were put into that situation.

INTERVIEW #2

Interviewee is from Virginia and is a student at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Individual is a male and is 20 years old. The interviewee is one of the roommates of the interviewer, and have known each other for 2 years. The interview took place at a campus dorm in Saint Joseph’s University.

Question 1: are there a lot of homeless people around where you live in Virginia?

“Uh not in my neighborhood.”

Question 2: Are there a lot of homeless people around where you live in Philadelphia?

“Uhm there’s definitely more than where I live in Virginia.”

Question 3: Why do you think there aren’t many homeless people where you live in Virginia?

“I’m in a nice neighborhood. It’s like cookie cutter white person-ville.”

Question 4: When you see a homeless person, do you look the other way and keep on walking?

“Depends what they’re doing.”

Question 5: Why does it depend on what they’re doing?

“Cause if they’re like inebriated and aggressive then yeah i just ignore them, but if they’re not an they wanna talk to me and ask me for money then I’ll talk to them but I almost never have cash on me now.”

Question 6: would you assume a homeless person is more likely to be incarcerated than a person who is not homeless and has committed the same crime?

“Uh yeah I guess.”

Question 7: What are your thoughts on the concept of homelessness being a crime?

“What? Excuse me.”

Houston has a law that allows for the police force to arrest individuals for simply being homeless.

“I think that’s pretty questionable.”

Question 8: do you think there should be programs in prisons to help homeless individuals for when they get released from prison or would that be a waste?

“Yeah seems like a good use of tax-payer money. We do tend to waste it on dumb shit so maybe we should put it to good use for once.”

Question 9: do you think social media can help the homeless problem?

“Social media. No. The Internet. Yes. Taking selfies with homeless people won’t help anyone or anything.”

Concluding Remarks:

Although this interviewee provided short answers, he gave an interesting answer to Question 9. What I found interesting is how he views social media as simply a platform to take selfies and not be able to make a change with. I agree with him that the Internet can definitely be used to help the problem, but social media can help spread the word.

INTERVIEW #3

Interviewee is from New Jersey and is a student at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Individual is a male and is 20 years old. The interviewee is one of the roommates of the interviewer, and have known each other for 2 years. The interview took place at a campus dorm in Saint Joseph’s University.

Question 1: are there a lot of homeless people around where you live in New Jersey?

“A lot? No.”

Question 2: Are there a lot of homeless people around where you live in Philadelphia?

“Specifically this area? I wouldn’t say there’s a lot. Actually I would say there’s none at all.”

Question 3: When you see a homeless person, do you look the other way and keep on walking?

“Sometimes, depends what they’re doing.”

Question 4: Why does it depend on what they’re doing?

“Uh if they’re being more active about it then it can be uncomfortable but if they’re being more passive then I don’t look away.”

Question 5: would you assume a homeless person is more likely to be incarcerated than a person who is not homeless and has committed the same crime?

“Yes. That’s such a leading question, Anna!”

Question 6: What are your thoughts on the concept of homelessness being a crime?

“I’m strongly against that because the situation they’re in is like a cycle. Like some have mental health problems that need treatment not punishment.”

Question 7: do you think there should be programs in prisons to help homeless individuals for when they get released from prison or would that be a waste?

“Yes, of course! Another leading question!”

Question 8: do you think social media can help the homeless problem?

“Huh, I don’t know I’ve never thought about it. I think more of the help has to come from mental health programs. The world doesn’t need anymore social media.”

Concluding Remarks:

This interviewee offered similar answers as the second interviewee. This interviewee also doesn’t think social media can help homelessness. I do agree with him that mental health programs should be the primary ones helping, but once again social media can be a primary use for spreading messages.