Living near Washington, D.C. all my life, I was aware of homelessness at a very young age. In Farragut Square, the heart of downtown D.C. at least 10 different homeless men and women live in the park—in the depths of the D.C. winter and the heat and humidity of the D.C. summer.
Many homeless are veterans, evident by the camouflage print on their personal items. This story in The Washington Post this week resonated with me the effect of seeing homeless people on the streets:
“We tend to see people for who they are at the moment,” said Gunther Stern, executive director of Georgetown Ministry Center, which serves homeless people. “We look at the homeless man sitting on a crate and we think, ‘Smelly beggar.’ We ask ourselves how they can live like that. . . . But many also were full of hopes, dreams and possibilities beyond comprehension before mental illness struck them down.”
Here in Valencia, homelessness has been connected to the economic crisis and the lack of jobs available. During my stay in Valencia, I seek to find the connection between the economic crisis, migrants and homelessness.
As is the case in most of southern Europe, Spain faces and economic crisis and an influx of migrants. These two aspects of Spanish life and politics interact on the social and economic level.
In the next three weeks, we will be speaking to migrants, the homeless, Valencians and everyone else on the street on their view of the economic crisis in Spain. In addition, I am trying to set up interviews with city officials and police to get the legal and political perspective of this situation.
The questions that we would like to have answered, include:
From where are the migrants and why have they come to Valencia?
What is the migrant community like, internally?
What do Valencians think of migrants?
What do migrants think is the biggest economic problem in Spain?
What do Valencians think is the biggest economic problem in Spain?
How has the economic crisis contributed to homelessness in Spain?
What is being done to alleviate the pressure from the economic crisis?
In a multimedia collection of stories, we will attempt to answer these questions. Taking into account the perspectives of all involved and putting a human face on the crisis.
Follow me and my partners Cynthia Pleitez and Michelle Vargas as we seek to answer these questions and understand the deeper struggles under the perfect façade of this beautiful Spanish town.