My Rights

My Rights

by Jim Tabb

I have a right to work

    But I have no ID,
    No phone,
    No residence,
    No transportation,
    No references,
    No clean clothes,
    No place to wash or shave
    And if I do find work,
    I can’t cash my check.

I have a right to sleep

But no shelter is available,
and the city took my bedding.

I have a right to eat

    But I have no food or money.

I have a right to rest

    But not in public places.

I have a right to use a bathroom

    But no public toilets are available.

I have a right to vote

    But I can’t register without an address.

I have a right to sing

    But when I do I’m cited for public disturbance.

I have a right to use a library

    But I can’t get a card,
    Can’t check out a book,
    Can’t go on the Internet,
    Without an ID and Address.

I have a right to live

But not in Marietta.

I’m Homeless

    At least I still have that Right!

They are still out there



(updated from a June post)


6 responses to “My Rights

  1. Check out Dignity Village at:
    The name says a lot!

  2. I can without a doubt relate to this poem for I am a Navy Vet of 16 years service. I was homeless for a very long while. I am also a greatful recovering Alcoholic and as of May 24th of 2011 I will have 15 years of sobriety. Thats also 15 years that I was told at rehab that I wouldn’t make. This poem says it all and I don’t think it left out anything except be given back my self respect for I lost it some where out there.

    • Thank you Allen and good luck. Keep recovering, keep the faith. It does seem that poem was written for you. Self-respect is something you have to keep and restore. It helps if others respect you, but the “self” part is yours to keep. thanks for writing.

  3. For the past 12 years, up until March 11, 2011 I worked for the Homeless Housing Assistance Project. But due, I think, to a really bad accident which shatter the upper part of my right arm and from that point on could not complete my assigned tasks I was let go.

    I want more than anything to continue assisting the homeless but appears that the county I live in, Branch County,Mi doesn’t want to deal with it..If this is true then I feel so sorry for those that are homeless.

    There is, I found out, a church that will house over night fourteen (14) women and children but no mention of the male population. However,looking back at my time of being homeless the men were never given the same opportunities as women and children. Ya know that’s really sad because when it comes to in-climate weather your sex should not be the determining factor of being able to be given shelter. This coming Tuesday I will be in touch with a person at the Coldwater, Mi news paper and maybe I can stir up some interest. Wish me luck. Or rather wish the homeless luck. Allen Conley

    • Thank you Allen. I’m sorry for the problems you have incurred due to the accident. I thank you for your desire to continue working with the homeless. Keep in mind that many churches and ministries that work with the homeless have limited space and know that even the homeless have privacy needs, particularly when it comes to women and children. They also recognize that the homeless population has a disproportionate share of abusers and mental disabilities as a fact of life. They are called to help, it is their mission to help, but feel constrained to make their help protective and safe. So they have to make a choice along gender, age, or family lines. Often the choice comes down to choosing women and children over men, or choosing families over individuals due to their facility limitations.. I’ve seen places that split up families by gender requiring one to go one place and the other miles away to another. It’s not fair but it is better than nothing. Good Luck on finding a way to continue helping.

  4. For anyone out there needing intake forms, how to create an Microsoft Access Database for collecting needed data when working on behalf of the homeless population, what the basic items they will require after being housed or where and how to locate these people just let me know. This is what I did for the past 12 years.

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