Online readers react to "Gimme Shelter"

In response to our recent feature:

I think this is an incredible article. I am a social worker and work with many people who battle the beast of homelessness and street life everyday. I think it's wonderful you exposed your readers to what it's like in the life of a homeless individual.

Comment by Michelle
from Minneapolis

An interesting article to read Thanksgiving night while cuddled in a "Why didn't I buy the one rated for 20 below?" sleeping bag; perched upon a lounge chair with goldfish crackers and CLIF bars that won't be eaten because one's belly is still bursting from the carnage of dinner but were brought "just in case"; swaddled in last year's "I really need a new coat" Columbia jacket with matching ear muffs, scarf, and "I would have bought mittens instead of gloves if I knew it would be this cold"; flanked by friends one trusts and a portable heater plugged into an outlet that used to power Christmas lights—waiting outside overnight for Best Buy to open so one can grab a 50" plasma TV for the bargain price of $899.99 (Limit 1 per customer. Minimum 10 per store. Great odds!).

Comment by Heather
from Roseville

A week. One week on the streets, knowing full well he has a home to go back to, and Matt Snyders calls himself reporting on the experience. Bullshit.

Comment by Dwight Hobbes
from Minneapolis

This really is not about homelessness at all. It is about exploiting the issue of homelessness to satisfy some sort of need on the author's part to do something he sees as "cool" or "adventurous." In his story, he does not report any conversations or interactions with people, homeless or non-homeless, of any substance. He takes money from people on false pretenses, he paints a well-worn and stereotypical image of people he observed—that is right, observed, like ants under a magnifying glass—and makes assumptions and value judgments about them. Do we have to have one more person's voyeurism to add to the plethora of media drive-bys that take place around this time of year? Why is it "cool" to have a non-homeless person write a story about their "faking it"?

Comment by Margaret Hastings
from Minneapolis

It was good to see an article about homelessness in a paper with your circulation. Hopefully someone sitting and sipping their $10 coffee will read it and have an epiphany (Good God! There are those homeless folk!). The article, while well-written and a valid experiment, was not without one fatal flaw: Dude got to go home after it was over.

Comment by Sam
from Minneapolis

I think this was a nice read, short and sweet. I'm sure being on the street for a week cannot truly assess the mental and physical challenges of being homeless, but it takes you into a third-party view of the conditions you might be faced with. I myself have been homeless for 13 years, but I do what I need to do to live comfortably. I'm of sane mind and still young, my circumstance is of my own doing, bad decisions and a lot of mistakes. If you was to ever see me you wouldn't believe I was homeless, because I always have money and nice clothes, but it wasn't always roses, even though this might not be the case I still don't have a place of my own or a place to call home.

Comment by brad
from Minneapolis

That was dumb. How self-serving can you get? I can't believe this guy really thought he was doing anyone a favor by sharing with us his "homeless" experience. He should have donated the money he got to the shelter he exploited, and apologized to them for taking advantage of their services for the betterment of his shitty career in journalism.

Comment by Liz
from Minneapolis

The author did not claim to solve the problem of homelessness, or even to discover some of the causes with this article. What he did claim to do is exactly what he did: walk as much in the shoes of a homeless person as he could for a week. Some of these comments are clearly written by people who felt powerless to help and/or threatened to have their faces shoved in a problem that is going on all around us, and as a defense mechanism decided to go on angry rants about the article rather than just appreciate it for what it was.

Comment by Kari
from Minneapolis

 
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