S. Huston: Poverty-stricken deserve respect

As an advocate for Homeless Voices for Justice, I commend the Sun Journal for publishing Rachel Lowe’s guest column (March 4).

I have seen a pattern of upcoming new policies and legislation that only demoralize people who live in homelessness and poverty. Terms such as “fraud,” “abuse” and “welfare cheats” are too frequently used in the new system of helping those who really do need help. They stigmatize and put down people who live in poverty.

We don’t have to look far to see this in action.

A recent bill in Augusta would require people to show photo identification to buy food using their EBT cards. To a mother buying formula for her baby, how more demoralizing can it get?

A Skowhegan homeless shelter has shelter residents’ labor for the city to pay off the shelter’s outstanding sewer bill. The increase of homeless people using the bathroom and showering has raised the bill and shelter residents are now paying their bathroom dues with labor. How more demoralizing can anyone get?

People who live in poverty deserve to be treated like any other Mainer — with respect. When society puts people who are poor into categories such as “cheats” and “ditch diggers,” it is not giving a hand up, it is giving a throw down.

It is time we all take a hard look at how we, as a state and people, are casting stones at our friends and neighbors who happen to live in homelessness and poverty.

Steve Huston, Portland

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PAUL ST JEAN's picture

..."and shelter residents are

..."and shelter residents are now paying their bathroom dues with labor. How demoralizing can anyone get?"
Heaven forbid that someone should be asked to do something in return for charity they've received. Why, that's almost vomit inducing.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture



PAUL ST JEAN's picture

I told you last week, you can

I told you last week, you can only take a conversation with a 4 year old just so far. What part of "wrong" is confusing you?

Robert Bartlett's picture

How is it considered

How is it considered demoralizing making sure you are who you are with a picture id? How about the government take away the assistance, now what? Should we just allow anyone access to things like food stamps without any verification?


Bernice Fraser's picture


Is it demoralizing to show an ID when cashing a check? I have been doing it for years and never once felt demoralize, but grateful that someone was looking out for me to make sure I was the person on the check. Why would it be different for an EBT card? And as far as working to help in a shelter why not? If you stay in a hotel even the cheapest one, you would have to pay. You would think that even the poorest would have enough self respect as to think he should get anything for free and would want to help to keep a shelter's cost down so that it can continue to stay open to provide for others. There are no free lunches in this world some one is paying for these services, and those using these services should be expected to help out in reducing the cost.
What is demoralizing is for the tax paying public who are trying to keep their family going see the many who are unwilling to help themselves and demand or expect to be given all their needs and then complain about it. If you are able to push a broom, scrub a toilet, wash some dishes, make a bed, do it and do it with a smile for the bed that was provided for you, or the meal that you just ate, or the nice hot water shower you just took. Wouldn't you feel better about yourself knowing that some way you helped out? Ben Franklin once said make it easy to be poor and many will become poor. No one is denying that some need assistance, but they should do all they can to help themselves and those who are assisting them.

Ask your self what kind of help these people would get in a different country? Then pull up your booth straps and help others by helping out yourself.

 's picture

the problem is that those who

the problem is that those who abuse the system are hiding behind those truly in need. these cowards not only take funds away from those who really need it, they also benefit from your blanket protections. is making a person prove that they are who they claim demoralizing? not anymore then working 2 or 3 jobs to support yourself and your family just to watch ebt cards going for iphones, jewlery, ciggerettes, liquer, and lap dances. protect those in need, but get the slouches off the payroll.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

I love it...

I love it when these topics come up. I enjoy reading the posts, especially the ones demoralizing the poor for not working.
Don't get me wrong. I feel everyone has a right to their opinion. Its just that people can be so cruel without even knowing it. I know they don't mean it. It would be like me posting the proper way to restore an antique car. I don't know the first thing about antique cars.
I am poor though. I cancelled my Facebook account because its nothing but a bragathon. How would you like to impress all those people you went to school with, with a post like this:
I was able to retire at forty six years old. I then returned to school got two more degrees in three years through accelerated coarse programs. Then I landed a job making more money than I knew what to do with.
I was unfortunate enough to become ill. I tied to continue to work, but was forced to take disability by the company. I was fortunate that I had the company disability to fall back on. Problem is the monthly pay is a fraction of what I was making. Hope all is well with you guys.
I'm lucky, yes I'm poor, but to me being poor is relative. You have to make what you have work. Its one of the hardest jobs I've ever had.
Just remember the next time your going to give someone a hard time for being poor. You don't know the whole story. And the most important thing to keep in mind.
Every one of us is just one little virus away from being rich to being poor.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Well stated,Frank...There,

Well stated,Frank...There, but for the Grace of God, go I.

ERNEST LABBE's picture

Steve is it

Steve is it demoralizing to you when you have to how a photo ID to use a debit or credit card? Yes there are truly needy people out there, However there are also cheaters and takers.

How demoralizing is it for you to go to work every day? What is wrong with someone giving a bit of sweat to pay for wht they are receiving?

 's picture


Are you smoking your lunch again???

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Lunch at midnight?

Lunch at midnight?

 's picture


this is Dan we are talking about. Time of day is not relevant.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Good point

Good point


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