The dead body found in Marion Square of Downtown Charleston Thursday morning appeared to be that of a homeless woman, Anita Tedder, that often stayed at Crisis Ministries on King Street. Stacey Denaux, Crisis Ministries Executive Director, says they are currently working on ways to reduce the number of homeless people in these shelters. They have posted billboards around Berkeley, Dorchester, and Charleston counties, two of them read: “Get a job, you bum,” and “If you don’t look at them, they’ll leave you alone.” Denaux says they want them to be noticed.
“The billboards are part of our awareness campaign that we have launched that sord of uses some irony and some sarcasm to draw attention to the issue of homelessness in a more localized way, or just in a way that provokes thought,” says Denaux.
And with the current state of the economy, Denaux says the billboards are meant to be ironic.
“It is certainly harder for people to get employed, although, we still often get the comment ‘why aren’t homeless people out looking for work?’ And the point of the billboard is to challenge that notion, it’s certainly not that simple to go out and get a job, particularly in this economy. So, someone who is unemployed and homeless may very well be looking for a job 6, 7, 8 hours a day, but if others in the community are having that challenge as well, it’s certainly compounded by the fact that someone may be homeless,” says Denaux.
As for the homeless who know about the billboards-
“They get the irony. They understand, they certainly know it’s not as simple as just going out and getting a job, particularly those who do pound the pavement and fill out applications six and eight hours a day. So, they appreciate what we’re trying to do as an organization and really support us in our efforts to draw attention to a very important issue,” says Denaux.
Crisis Ministries is usually filled with about 150 people a night.