(MoneyWatch) Living without a roof over your head isn’t the type of experience most people would want, but one man is hoping to convince customers to shell out $2,000 for an inside look at homeless life.
Called “The Urban Sub-Experience,” the three-day tour in Seattle touts itself as a “course in applied homelessness,” transforming clients into a homeless person with a new name and life story. After visiting spots frequented by the homeless and staying in a shelter, clients can “try [their] hand at panhandling or sleeping on a park bench.”
The man behind the tours is Mike Momany, 62, who himself became homeless after his contract programming business slowed down, CNN Money notes.
While Momany’s objectives may be virtuous – he says on his Facebook page that he wants to “add to the process of poverty eradication by exposing out of the box thinkers to some of the inner sanctums of homelessness” – the effort isn’t receiving a warm welcome from everyone.
“Just like slavery was: making a profit off of the misery of others,” one commenter on CNN.com wrote. “Just as America[n] healthcare is: making a profit off of the suffering and misery of others. Just as paying to see the suffering and misery of the homeless.”
The tour comes as many U.S. cities continue to struggle with homelessness, including Seattle. While the overall U.S. homeless population has declined almost every year since 2005, the number of homeless people in Seattle has increased by 15 percent since 2007, according to CNN.
Los Angeles and New York are also struggling with an increase in their homeless popluations, with the former witnessing a 15 percent jump from 2011 to 2013, the Los Angeles Times reported last month. New York, with the country’s biggest homeless population, has seen its number of homeless residents by rise by a quarter in the same time period.
Momany’s tour has come under criticism for taking up social services needed by real-life homeless people. Still, the crash-course in homelessness has yet to take a warm bed away from a person in need, according to CNN. That’s because Momany has yet to convince anyone to sign up for his tour.