Friday, July 16, 2010

Homeless as a hero?

Popular wisdom among many here in Dallas would try to convince us that homeless persons are not worthy of our time, attention or resources to assist in helping them change the direction of their lives.  Such opinions reveal a basic lack of experience with extremely poor persons.  Mom's wisdom that I shouldn't judge a book by its cover comes to mind just here. 

Several months ago, homeless persons camped out around a property denied for the redevelopment of Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) that would have benefitted them called the police to report thieves breaking into the empty building.  The owner subsequently provided the whistle blowers with housing. 

In our Destination Home housing program that provides formerly homeless persons PSH in private market apartments, some of our tenants formed a crime watch strategy and called police on several occasions to report drug activity on the property among the folks who were renting when they got there, not formerly homeless persons. 

Recently, I've read more than one story about the positive, even heroic actions of homeless persons.  The latest appeared in The New York Post and reported on the brave intervention on behalf of a woman who was being attacked by an assailant with a knife.  Unfortunately, the brave act that rescued the woman cost the homeless man his life.  What's worse, many people passed by the injured hero as he bled to death on the sidewalk.  Here's the beginning of The Post's report with video captured on the night of the incident: 

Stabbed hero dies as more than 20 people stroll past him
April 24, 2010

A heroic homeless man, stabbed after saving a Queens woman from a knife-wielding attacker, lay dying in a pool of blood for more than an hour as nearly 25 people indifferently strolled past him, a shocking surveillance video obtained by The Post reveals.

Some of the passers-by paused to stare at Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax last Sunday morning and others leaned down to look at his face.

He had jumped to the aid of a woman attacked on 144th Street at 88th Road in Jamaica at 5:40 a.m., was stabbed several times in the chest and collapsed as he chased his assailant.

In the wake of the bloodshed, a man came out of a nearby building and chillingly took a cellphone photo of the victim before leaving. And in several instances, pairs of people gawked at Tale-Yax without doing anything.

Later, another man stopped, leaned over and vigorously shook Tale-Yax’s body. After lifting the victim’s head and body to reveal a pool of blood, he also walked off.

Not until some 15 minutes after he was shaken by the pedestrian — more than an hour and 20 minutes after the victim collapsed — did firefighters finally arrive and discover that Tale-Yax, 31, had died.

To read the entire report click here.

Here's a classic case of a homeless person's contribution to the good of the community and the absolute failure of others who possessed more wealth, benefits and options than he. We'd do well to adopt a new view of our homeless neighbors. We may be disrespecting folks who might come to our rescue in the future.

1 comment:

Lorlee said...

That we have sunk so far as to walk past a dying man says things about our culture that I really don't want to contemplate. How can this happen?