'Homer the Homeless Goose' memorialized and ready to go out on the road

As bizarre as this seems, in all seriousness "Homer the Homeless Goose" has been a revered figure in the homeless community in Austin since the late '80s.

At Martinez Brothers Taxidermy Monday morning, you could hear singing coming from the lobby.

At first glance, it looked like the group had gathered to pay tribute to a 27-year-old bow-tie-wearing Goose that's been dead since last March and it turned out that is what they were doing.

"He's been sitting on a shelf in pieces for months until we got our act together so we thank you for storage," shouted Lori Renteria.

Renteria, Godmother of the Goose, thanked Taxidermist Alex Martinez for helping the Goose look a little less...dead.
As bizarre as this seems, in all seriousness "Homer the Homeless Goose" has been a revered figure in the homeless community in Austin since the late '80s.

"He actually led parades down Congress Avenue up to the Capitol.  He was the best ambassador the homeless people had and it really did change hearts and minds," Renteria said.

Renteria says it all started in 1988 when a group of Austin's homeless were upset the city was spending so much money on preserving rare birds like the Warbler.

"And the homeless people said 'this is ridiculous.'  They care more about the birds than they do about the people.  And that's why we ended up with the bird," Renteria said.

So the group took Homer hostage so to speak and threatened to cook and eat him if the city didn't do something about ending homelessness.
Well he didn't end up on the dinner table.  In fact, he visited the Democratic National Convention in 1988.  We found some footage of Homer in action in the Fox 7 Video Vault.
Since then he's been somewhat of a celebrity -- spending his retirement years at the Austin Zoo where he died last March at the very-old-for-a-Goose age of 27.
After they raise funds for a glass case to put the stuffed Homer in, the Challenger Street Newspaper is taking him on tour.

"The road show is going to consist of churches and schools to educate people about homelessness," said Valerie Romness, director of the paper.

But why now? 

According to the Ending Community Homeless Coalition (ECHO), as of January there were nearly 1900 homeless people in Travis County.  More than 600 unsheltered.
Homelessness is still a problem.  But as Renteria says, whose husband is Council Member Pio Renteria, Austin has a council and mayor that cares about the issue.

"Until we had the 10-1 system, the voice of the homeless and the poor were really not being heard and with the 10-1, there isn't a single district in this city that isn't dealing with a homeless camp in their neighborhood," Renteria said.  "You can give people their dignity back.  And that's what we need to do in Austin."

If you'd like to see Homer -- his first public outing in his...current state...will be at City Hall in March.

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