[At a recent Thursday night PBJ Dinner in Tompkins Square Park]
Andréa Stella, executive director and co-founder of The Space at Tompkins, submitted the following post.
With the summer in full swing, a lot of our clients are coming back to New York, and we wanted to take a moment to give an explanation for a term that has been and will inevitably be thrown around while they're here.
Three reasons why we don't call our clients "crusties"
1) The term "crusty" is derived from "Crust Punk," a punk movement started in the 1980s out of England with followers who referred to themselves as "crust punkers." Being a "crusty" is like calling someone a Deadhead. 99% of our clients do not refer to themselves as crusties, so we don't either. The term gets thrown around a lot in the East Village because it's a quick way to define a group of folks who look a certain way, but that doesn't make it accurate.
2) When asked, "What do you consider yourself?" — almost everyone told us their name. The first time I asked someone that question, I felt like an idiot because I know that personally, I don't walk around introducing myself as, "Hi, I identify as a white female and my name is Andréa." I start with my name.
3) Our clients are individuals, and most of them are trying to transition out of their current situation. It may not always look like it to outsiders, but there are many complex issues right under the surface that each person copes with in their own way. Tagging someone as "crusty" deepens the stigma and does not promote positive change.
We're The Space at Tompkins, a harm reduction organization whose mission is to help homeless travelers move towards improved health and self-sufficiency. We've been doing this since 2009.
Learn more about The Space at Tompkins here.