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Jo Clifton is the Politics Editor for the Austin Monitor.
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Homer the Homeless Goose resurrected
Tuesday, February 23, 2016 by Jo Clifton
Although he died last year, Homer the Homeless Goose will continue his work educating Austinites and acting as a goodwill ambassador for the homeless, according to Lori Renteria, who describes herself as the goose’s godmother. Renteria held a news conference Monday along with Valerie Romness, director of the Challenger Street Newspaper, to announce their intention to raise at least $10,000 to provide Homer’s body with a protective display case, a rolling trailer and presentation display boards concerning his life and history as mascot for Austin’s homeless. Renteria, the wife of City Council Member Pio Renteria, recalled Homer’s history, beginning in 1988 when a group of Austin street people took the bird hostage and threatened to cook and eat him if the city did not do something to end homelessness. That certainly got people’s attention, and Homer became the mascot for local homeless people. However, Renteria explained that life on the street was unhealthy for Homer. She talked her family into adopting Homer after being told that he would live only five to seven years, Renteria said. However, Homer stayed at the Renteria house for 18 years and spent his last days at the Austin Zoo, passing away last year at the age of nearly 27. Romness intends to resurrect the stuffed goose, taking him on a road show to schools, churches and nonprofits to help individuals understand that each person can do something to help the homeless, even if it’s just a friendly wave, Romness said. Homer is being resurrected now, Renteria said, “because we’ve got a mayor who is committed to ending chronic homelessness in Austin.” In addition, she said the adoption of the new Council system with 10 single-member districts means that all Council members have – and are aware of – homeless people in their district. “Until we had a 10-1 system, the voices of the homeless and the poor were really not being heard,” she said.