Homeless In Seattle: Man Offers Course In Applied Homelessness

By Emma Koch - NBC33
By NBC Bay Area

Homeless In Seattle: Man Offers Course In Applied Homelessness

October 10, 2013 Updated Oct 10, 2013 at 10:55 AM EDT

SEATTLE, Wash. (KNTV) -- A homeless Seattle man is offering three-day tours for people looking to experience the homeless lifestyle, for $2,000.

Mike Momany operates a website called Real View Tours where he's offering a "Course in Applied Homelessness."

"You will gain a new respect for the folks that find themselves in this predicament," the website reads. "You will see the seedier side of Seattle in a new light and have an experience that you will never forget. Embrace the Experience!"

Momany says he has been living as a homeless person for the last two months out of desperation and exploration, according to his website. He previously worked as a freelance computer programmer while living in a vehicle, which eventually led to him becoming homeless, according to The Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

While living without a permanent residency, he says he has "met many interesting people and experienced a minimalist life style like none I'd ever experienced before."

For his course, Momany says he first changes a customer’s “look and persona into an anonymous homeless person,” according to The Toronto Sun. Then, Momany takes them to places in Seattle frequented by homeless people and finally to a hostel.

Currently, women are unable to take part in the tour due to hostel’s rules, according to his site.

Momany has been staying at a hostel at night and using a library as his makeshift office by day, according to The Seattle Post-Intelligencer. He says the website is not a joke, according to UPI.

"It's to bring an experience to people they can't get very easily," Momany said.

But not everyone is fond of his idea. The Facebook associated to Momany's website has received a number of negative comments from visitors, claiming his course exploits the homeless.

"This is horrible," wrote one woman on the Facebook page. "It is one thing to bring attention and awareness of the homeless situation in our community, but to charge $2,000 AND take away a bed from someone who has no other choice? Repugnant."

As of Oct. 3, no customers have taken advantage of his tour.

Below is the latest post on his Facebook page:

I have removed the ability to comment on this website because a number of people were using it to call me names, use derogatory language and threaten me. I can appreciate when somebody dislikes something and has some constructive criticism to share but this has gone way beyond that so my suggestion to the folks who've been inclined to disparage me; do so on your own site.

In response to the critiques; here is a message thread from one of the least aggressive people.

Melody Burson wrote

This is horrible. It is one thing to bring attention and awareness of the homeless situation in our community, but to charge $2,000 AND take away a bed from someone who has no other choice? Repugnant. I also can't find where you are licensed to do business in the State of Washington.

My Reply

Hi Melody, I understand how you feel about my fee but in my analysis this is what I have to charge to do this service adequately. I do give a 25% discount to Churches and Social Service Professionals. I also donate to the services I visit. I do not use any of Seattle's homeless resources. As far as licenses go; they are in process and will be complete when I begin the first tour. If you think the concept has merit but the price is to high; please offer the service yourself at whatever price you choose.

This is a concept I developed to bring a heightened sense of awareness to individuals who might already be donating substantial funds to homelessness but want to get a keener understanding of what it actually means to be homeless. I believe that when these individuals fulfill this experience they will be inclined to donate more towards homeless eradication.

Oh yes Melody I wish I could be on that sailboat too!

A Comment Left on the Huffington Post Article:

I've watched you all, on the morning commute, rushing past to your 9 to 5's. Sometimes, you throw your spare change in my cup, but you never look me in the eye. "HOMELESS"!? I have a name! You write nice checks to charities, but do you ever ask how it is spent or is it a convenient way to again, never look me in the eye and ask my name.....such a simple way to acknowledge my humanity. You pay taxes so government agencies can address the problem without inconveniencing you, but do you ever inquire as to their efficiency. Money siphoned from the coffers in the guise of "administrative fees". Talk about scam artists, charity and government is full of them.

Right or wrong, con game or an unusual approach to advocacy, this guy has done more to start the conversation on what needs to be done than anything I've seen yet. This is so "in your face" I see it more as a call to action to the individual rather than passing the responsibility of your community to a neat and tidy organization, not a con.

So if you think $2000, is a bit steep, fine. Before you judge, buy an extra cup of coffee and a bagel, go to the passenger bridge and have a nice conversation with Duane. He'll educate you more than any text book social worker ever will.

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