Hank's Take: Dissecting our use of 'homeless'

- What was supposed to be a good deed is sparking some serious debate: A woman buys a meal for a homeless man at a Port Richmond restaurant. When she gets the receipt, what she sees written on it has her fired up. Is it a case of homeless-shaming?  

When Rayvonna Coffee bought a meal for a homeless gentleman at the Aramingo IHOP, the receipt came back with the word “Homeless” on it.

“It's the same thing,” she says. “Because I have a name. He has a name. It's rude.”

The man does have a name — Charles Metz. He's been on the street since March, and he says the check didn't bother him much because he has bigger concerns.

“It did bother me a little, but being out here like this, I can't let stuff like that bother me,” he says.

When FOX 29’s Hank Flynn spoke to the IHOP manager, she said “homeless” was used because she hadn’t known Charles’ name and wanted to make sure he got the food. She added that the restaurant regularly helps out folks who need a meal.

Rayvonna's sensitivity and defense of Charles' dignity still weighed on Hank.

“It's a struggle he's going through right now, and that… that doesn't identify who he is,” she says.

Hank asked individuals he sees on the street each day in Old City like Thomas Hufnell how they would react in such a situation.

“It would offend me,” he says. “It definitely would. I would feel a little degraded, you know? Put down.”

Jeff lost his leg in the Navy. He says the difference is in how the word homeless is used.

“When you say ‘Are you homeless?’ Yes, I'm homeless, but ‘that homeless guy?’ No, that's not who I am.   That's what I'm going through, so there's a difference there.”

The franchise owner released the following statement:

“We want to apologize directly to the guest who placed the order, and to the gentleman who received the meal – actions such as this are not reflective of our values and could be interpreted as insensitive, or even offensive,” said Emad Elgeddawy, franchise owner of the Aramingo Ave IHOP Restaurant. “While there was no malicious intent behind the ticket notation, it is a good teachable moment for the entire team and an opportunity to refocus our efforts on providing an outstanding guest experience at every touchpoint.”

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