How much does it cost to be homeless? According to a Seattle man, the price to experience destitution will set you back $2,000. Mike Momany, a 44-year-old resident of Seattle, operates a website called Real View Tours, where for a $2K, you can live “undercover” as a homeless person, reports MSN Now on Oct. 5.
Momany claims on his site that for the last two months he's been living intermittently on the streets, out of equal parts desperation and exploration. The so-called self-made homeless man says he learned “about all the great resources provided by our city. I also met many interesting people and experienced a minimalist lifestyle like none I'd ever experienced before.”
According to the website, the experience is called a “Course in Applied Homelessness,” and begins by “transforming your look and persona into that of an anonymous homeless person. You will get a nickname and a simple life script.”
Momany says that by living on the streets, he learned that “homelessness is nothing to fear; albeit nothing to aspire to either… You will gain a new respect for the folks that find themselves in this predicament.”
The 72-hour excursion into poverty is broken down by days. Momany plans out each day, as if he is a tour guide at an all-exclusive hotel. Here’s a sample of what Momany says you will do on the first day:
The first day we will start at the Public Market and visit some of its homeless gathering spots. We'll walk down to Pioneer Square, via the waterfront, and visit some favored homeless spots, including the Compass Center, a major resource under the viaduct. We'll wander over to the International District via the Courthouse on 3rd and James. We'll have to check in at our shelter, in the International District, by 7 p.m. so we'll pick up some fruits and vegetables on the way for dinner. –Day 1 of the Course in Applied Homelessness.
Momany admits that he has struggled financially and has been unemployed since mid-summer. He’s been living in a District hostel at night and using Seattle’s Central Library as his “office.” The former computer programmer calls the tour “educational.”
“It’s to bring an experience to people they can’t get very easily,” Momany said. “It’s really not to make money.”
As you can imagine, reactions to the excursion into paucity have not been too positive. Some wonder if the whole thing is a gag, others are shocked at what they feel is tactless exploitation.
“Tacky as hell,” wrote one woman on the tour’s Facebook page. “Homeless people are not exhibits.”
But before you log on and send a fiery post Momany’s way, consider this – The homeless man says his steep price is designed to attract only those “who really want to understand,” and that he’ll donate some of the money to the soup kitchens and homeless shelters visited on the way. As far as how much? Well, Momany isn’t saying.
So for $2,000, “you can spend three days eating at soup kitchens, sleeping on a bench, watching him use the Internet at a library, camping out at a shelter, panhandling, and talking with real homeless people about their lives,” says MSN.
Any takers thus far? Momany says he hasn’t booked anyone yet, and the only people that have reached out to him are reporters.
What are your thoughts on Momany’s homeless adventure? Strange curiosity or usurious moneymaking? Sound off below.