Seattle One Night Count

Last night my girlfriend and I participated as volunteers in this:
http://www.homelessinfo.org/what_we_do/one_night_count/2013_press_release.php

It was actually quite a lot of fun, although I could have done without the 2am starting time. A whole bunch of volunteers divided up into groups, each of which was assigned a small part of Seattle. Each group thoroughly walked their area and counted homeless people. The intent was to get some good numbers on how many unsheltered homeless there are in Seattle during the winter.

Our group only ended up seeing a single homeless person, but other groups saw quite a few more. Here are the final results:
http://www.homelessinfo.org/what_we_do/one_night_count/2013_results.php

The gender of most of the homeless people could not be determined (1615 unknown gender). For example, the homeless person we saw was wrapped in many blankets, and given that we were not to disturb them, it was therefore difficult to determine their gender. But of the homeless whose gender could be determined[1], the large majority were men (897 men vs 205 women). Which shouldn’t be surprising to those familiar with existing homeless statistics[2].

There could be a variety of reasons for this disparity. But I couldn’t help but notice that the press release phrased this as “2,736 men, women and children had no shelter in King County last night”. There’s nothing particularly wrong with such a phrasing. But I couldn’t help but wonder if the gender ratio were reversed, would they have still used such gender-neutral phrasing? Maybe they would. I don’t know. But it caught my eye regardless.

In any case, I’m very glad I participated, both because it was fun, and because I feel good helping out with data collection. Solid data is important.

Footnotes:

[1] It’s worth noting, of course, that there was likely some amount of mis-gendering that happened for a variety of reasons (e.g. transgender people), but I think it’s unlikely to have biased the gender numbers substantially.

[2] However, it’s good to be skeptical of numbers where such a large proportion fall under “unknown”. It’s easy for there to be confounding factors–many of which we might not think of–that would make the known ratio not translate to the unknown ratio. So I would call these numbers on the gender of unsheltered homeless “suggestive”, but not definitive.

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  • http://valeriekeefe.tumblr.com Valerie Keefe

    There’s nothing particularly wrong with such a phrasing. But I couldn’t help but wonder if the gender ratio were reversed, would they have still used such gender-neutral phrasing?

    They wouldn’t have, and it’s a fucking travesty. Nobody should be homeless in a developed country, and the gender-presentation ratio in homelessness would be screamed to the rooftops by cisfeminists (I don’t call them cis feminists for a reason) if it were reversed. This stuff makes me sick. Men are no less deserving of compassion, a warm meal, and a warm bed, than women, and that the gender imbalance in homelessness is not something that gets more support when reported instead of erased is sickening.

  • typhonblue

    Heh.

    I can do you one better. A while back in my alma mater there was a presentation on homelessness.

    It focused on the unique needs of homeless women. Such as privacy, sanitation and health care.

    Think about that for a second.

  • Iggy
  • P John Irons

    Typhon,

    What is your opinion of the pro-eugenically reducing cis-male people in utero stance of the person your happily chatting away with here? See the “A [trans] woman calls out feminist indifference to trans women” thread.

    What the heck is wrong with this blog?

  • http://valeriekeefe.tumblr.com Valerie Keefe

    @P John Irons

    I don’t know about her opinion, but mine is that that’s both a massive mischaracterization and also that it’s once again derailing from the problem of homeless men not getting support, including from wannabe apexuals like you.

    Nobody should be on the street in a society this wealthy, and that we discard men to scavenge off of our leavings should be something of a cause for outrage, but it seems you don’t really give a shit about that in any way, shape, or form.

    Also, by your metric, promoting birth control and immigration at the same time isn’t ‘eugenics’ why, exactly?

  • typhonblue

    @ P John Irons

    I don’t agree with eugenics. I haven’t read the thread and I’m not going to. I’m adverse to dense jargon. As for condemning Valerie; If someone’s being a hateful jackass in the comments on the blog then you’ll have to be satisfied with your own judgement that they’re a hateful jackass.

    Since I’m not paid to pass judgement on commentators on this blog and doing so requires spending my time on something I have aversion too (wading through mountains of other people’s mental swill)… passing judgement on commentators is not a service I provide now or ever.

    Also my comment was in response to Xakudo’s OP.

  • http://www.genderratic.com Xakudo

    @typhonblue:

    It focused on the unique needs of homeless women. Such as privacy, sanitation and health care.

    Think about that for a second.

    Yeah.

    I remember when I was in high school, my younger (and female) cousin came to visit for a few days. My parents kicked my little brother out of his room during her stay so that she could use it. At that age, I wasn’t yet terribly fond of my little brother, but even so it just seemed stupid to me, and I spoke up. I remember my mom explaining to me how because she was a girl going through puberty she had special needs, or something along those lines. But my little brother and younger cousin aren’t that far apart in age, and he was going through puberty too.

    The biggest irony is that my younger cousin was, I think, actually made uncomfortable by the whole thing. She didn’t want to kick my brother out of his room.

  • http://www.genderratic.com Xakudo

    @P John Irons:
    I haven’t looked at that thread lately, but based on other comments of Valerie’s that I’ve seen, I find it difficult to believe that she is pro-eugenics in any way near the way you appear to be insinuating. If you would like to provide quotes (with surrounding context, not just snippets which can be misleading) then we can discuss that briefly here. But briefly is the key word here. I would prefer to keep that thread in that thread so that it doesn’t spill out and drown out other discussions in this one.

  • Harrow

    “2,736 men, women and children…”

    Well, that’s better than the usual “xxx people, including women and children”. I’m seeing this frequently in reports of civilian massacres in Syria, and it makes my skin crawl. Now downplaying adult victims in favour of children, that I can sort of understand.

  • SucculentFishsticks

    Iggy, this is the bibliographic reference to the study referred to in the article, for posterity’s sake. It’s better to cite it directly rather than quote a newspaper.

    Harland, Ken and McCready, Sam (2012) Taking Boys Seriously: A Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Male School-Life Experiences in Northern Ireland. Department of Education and the Department of Justice. Department of Education, Department of Justice and The Centre for Young Men’s Studies,University of Ulster. 112 pp. [Research report (external)]

    http://eprints.ulster.ac.uk/24270/

    I don’t think it’s been peer reviewed yet or added to any reference databases.

  • P John Irons

    @Xakudo:

    Here is my justification for the accusation I made.

    @Typhon:

    I appreciate your limited ability to follow comments on other threads. Unfortunately, I don’t think you can sidestep the potential impact on your reputation just by ignoring the issue. Multiple commenters in that thread have expressed their dismay and bafflement at how Genderratic has devolved into a site where one needs to carefully explain why eugenics is wrong, of all things.

  • http://valeriekeefe.tumblr.com Valerie Keefe

    Unlike with gatekept trans men and women who face an elevated risk of self-harm, PJohn just won’t let this die.

    Can we stop talking about theoretical not-existing kids and start talking about actual men who die from street violence and hypothermia and tuberculosis et cetera?

  • typhonblue

    @ P J Irons

    I don’t have time to moderate this blog.

    After the Great Spam fiasco of last month I can’t even log into this blog.

    That makes this blog essentially unmoderated. Thus the only person responsible for what Valerie says is Valerie.

    You’re welcome to twist that to me having some sort of responsibility for what she wrote. I accept peoples right to regard me as an asshole.

    Although being regarded as an asshole not for anything I’ve directly wrote but for something someone else wrote on someone else’s thread on a blog that isn’t really moderated is a new one on me.

  • http://dannyscorneroftheuniverse.blogspot.com Danny

    Well that’s interesting.

    First I want to give a bit of background before I say what I want to say.

    I grew up in a very rural area (boonies, out in the cut, “the country”, if you will) from there I lived in a medium sized city for about 5 years and then I was back in my rural home town for 8 more. Last year I moved to a small city.

    Through out the years I’ve visited large cities and small cities while on travel and in that time and travel I can say this one thing.

    I have never seen a homeless woman in my life. I’ve seen plenty of homeless men in day. Lots. But never a homeless woman.

    Now I’m not trying to say that this means that there are no homeless women of course. But to go my entire 32 years of existence and never see a homeless woman go very contrary to the constant chiming that women make up the majority of the homeless and that they are a uniquely under served group.

  • http://www.genderratic.com Xakudo

    @P John Irons:
    And here is my response. Thank you for keeping it in the other thread. Now let’s resume on-topic discussion in this one.

  • http://www.genderratic.com Xakudo

    @typhonblue:
    You can’t login? Shoot an me email with the problem, and we’ll get it sorted out.

  • Copyleft

    There’s that darn male privilege again–men hogging all the good homeless spots!

  • http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/ DaisyDeadhead

    Danny: I have never seen a homeless woman in my life. I’ve seen plenty of homeless men in day. Lots. But never a homeless woman.

    “Bag lady” does have an entry various dictionaries, so they do exist:
    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/bag+lady

    You tend to see “bag ladies” in the very largest cities… New York, San Francisco is where I recall seeing them, and they usually ride the subways all day. There are always bag ladies near the bathrooms in Port Authority. In drug addict circles/12-step groups, women would say “I was one step away from washing out my underwear in Port Authority” or some other reference to this.

    In my hometown, I only saw the same one, over and over, fishing cigarette butts out of the trash cans and/or picking them up off the street and lighting them. This bothered me enough (and I saw her often enough) that I started giving her cigarettes myself. She would take them from me and then and run away fast, as if you might ask for it back. She talked to herself at the bus stop in front of the state capitol. She had hacked her hair off (only way to describe it) and wore old flannel shirts, so at first glance, you might think she was male. But when she talked to herself, did it in a childlike-soprano so you did a double take.

    Homeless women do exist. They are usually pretty far gone. Farther gone than most homeless men, which I think is why they are the ones who end up homeless. According to my friend who ran the homeless shelter, her observation (not scientific, just her estimate) the ratio was like 100 men to 1 woman (homeless).

    Interesting thread, good reading all the way around.

  • P John Irons

    Since about 1997 I’ve frequently seen a homeless man I mentally nicknamed “Fidel Castro” (due to the beard) on my commutes.

    Sometimes I’d see him walking towards a neighbouring municipality, sometimes I’d see him walking back. Almost as if that was what he did all day: walk the same 10km to and fro.

    All this time he seems to have worn the exact same dust brown jacket (presumably, more due to dust than any intrinsic colour the jacket may have had).

    I’ve often wondered what his story is, and why he’s been walking to and for more than a decade.

  • http://dannyscorneroftheuniverse.blogspot.com Danny

    Daisy:
    Homeless women do exist. They are usually pretty far gone. Farther gone than most homeless men, which I think is why they are the ones who end up homeless. According to my friend who ran the homeless shelter, her observation (not scientific, just her estimate) the ratio was like 100 men to 1 woman (homeless).

    Interesting thread, good reading all the way around.
    Oh yeah no doubt that homeless women exist I wouldn’t try to deny them. But by your own anecdote the majority of homeless were men.

    As far as I can tell I think it’s not that the majority of women make up the homeless but rather we are being told this by people using that lens that says women are more important than men so even if the numbers are nowhere near the same women must be having it worse.

    And while I’ve never been to mega cities like San Fran and NYC I have been to large cities like Orlando, Baltimore, and DC.

  • Jared

    I think a confusing factor is that general usage of “homeless” refers to people sleeping rough, whereas often official statistics may include everyone without a home of their own (so “couch surfers” get counted). My guess is that women are probably more able to obtain this kind of shelter (based both on people’s disdain for failed men and women being better positioned to move in with a lover).

    This would account for statements along the lines of “most homeless are women with children” despite that demographic being rarely spotted on the street.

    (Not that this kind of trick to shift focus from those who are most in need of shelter to those in least need of shelter isn’t still misandrist as shit)

  • Ginkgo

    “I have never seen a homeless woman in my life. I’ve seen plenty of homeless men in day. Lots. But never a homeless woman.”

    Danny, this goes way back, I think. When I was little I used to hear about hoboes, mostly in connection with the Depression. Those were always men. I think thta was because there was almost no point in a women leaving even starvation and trying to find work.

    Daisy is right – visibly homeless women are in large urban centers, and they are often quite far gone. One reason may as jared says that homeless women cna more easily get some kind of shelter – not an actual home, but shelter – so they are less visible.

    There may be another reason. It may be much less safe for a woman to live on the streets. they may be getting killed and not be there nay more ot show up in the homeless stasts. I read about homeless men getting killed, usually by kids, but not so much about women – so i don’t know.

    Valerie, you make the main point. The sitaution is bullshit. But disposability, and nt just male disposability, has been part of this fabric sinc the beginning. The plantation system was started with white, with vagrants and transportees from the Islands. That didn’t work out so well? No problem – import replacements from Africa, damn the expense, just make it pay. Waves of immigration reinforced this and made humans the truly renewable resource. If you ever get the chance, go through the Port of Entry at San Ysidro (it will take hours), between Tijuana and San Diego, the busiest in the world.

    Well, it’s time to rethink old certainties.

  • Iron Lightning

    This is very serious and it’s complete bullshit. I must have seen about a 100 homeless men but I’ve only seen 3 homeless women. I don’t think that they’re getting killed in large numbers as society seems to me to value the lives of women more than the lives of men which is why so much funding goes into women’s health while very little goes into men’s health and why men are still obligated to serve in the draft while women are not.

    I give money to every homeless person I see. To make a change you have to do what you can. A few dollars is nothing to me but it may mean the difference between life and painful death by starvation for a homeless person. If we all just spared a few dollars to every homeless person we saw then there would be no more homeless people.

    This thread is too depressing, so here’s a funny joke:

    http://www.explosm.net/comics/3018/