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    Posted March 17, 2012 by

    Mikeb1 and 14 other iReporters contributed to Open Story: South by Southwest 2012
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    Homeless Ignored At SXSW


    Homeless Hotspots, a short marketing gimmick, a quick phrase describing a fun place to get a tech services, and new way to see homeless people. Six days ago the news broke that SXSW had a vender who was using human beings as a hip new marketing tool. The vendor claimed that the company was helping the homeless; but the homeless say otherwise.

    At th ARCH Homeless Shelter I spoke to a woman who had been a part of the project. “I haven’t gotten the money they said I’d get:” She told me on a condition of anonymity, “They paid me twenty dollars for six hours work, said I would get paid later anymore that was coming to me. They didn’t say how they would decide if I got more or how they were going to find me.”

    $20.00 for six hours work is about $3.33 an hour, and in Texas the minimum wage is $7.25. If what she said is true it means that this company was paying these people very near to four dollars less than the minimum wage.

    Though the story initially broke on Monday, the homeless remain forgotten. In downtown Austin revelers walk drunkenly past the homeless shelter, and more often than not ignore the many people who are still sleeping on the concrete all around the edges of SXSW.

    A homeless man I spoke to outside the shelter told me he knew that in the long term South by Southwest would generate money for the city and that some of it would eventually filter into the shelter, but that SXSW was also doing nothing to assist the homeless community even as it displaced them.

    Attempts were made to contact SXSW to obtain their side of this story but no calls were answered or returned.

    So I ask you, would it be too much for SXSW to deliver some sandwiches, and maybe start up a couple of donation boxes for the shelter? After all, SXSW takes place in these people’s homes, in the very places these people usually sleep: If we are going to push them out of sight can’t we at least keep their needs in mind?

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