When I was a child...
a photo documentary of homelessness in America
Ask any child what they want to be when they grow up and you will most likely hear,
“When I grow up I want to be a doctor or an astronaut, or a teacher.”
You will never hear, “When I grow up, I want to be homeless”.
On any given night in America, more than 580,466 Americans are living in the streets, under bridges, in the woods, living homeless. Each January, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development conducts a Point in Time Census, a literal counting of our homeless, as well as an extensive research study examining the many facets of homelessness. This information helps us to better understand our nation’s neediest people.
How is it that we have failed hundreds of thousands of Americans, more than 106,364 of whom are children under the age of 18? How is it that we allow fellow human beings to literally freeze to death on the streets of the richest country on the planet? Once again, homelessness increased in 2020.
Over the past three years, I have made it my mission to learn what the homeless have to teach us all. This photo documentary shares the stories and portraits of our homeless from Miami to Seattle. It dispels the many myths surrounding the homeless and shares the struggles of homelessness in America. The goal: To educate all Americans about our homelessness and to unite us in our effort to end this epidemic. I had hoped that the pandemic would help others understand how one can lose everything they have worked for through no fault of their own. Sadly, I was wrong. In city after city I have only seen a continued anger, a continued judgement against our homeless. In Austin, Texas, a city I love more than any other, a vote was just taken on May 1, 2021 to make it a crime to sleep on the street, in a park or anywhere in public. Where are these beautiful humans supposed to go???? The Mayor has been relentless in his efforts not only combat homelessness in Austin but to provide permanent solutions to end homelessness in Austin. This recent vote to criminalize being homeless, now compounds the problem. I am left to guess that as long as the homeless can't be seen, they don't exist for them. They are fooling themselves if they think being homeless couldn't happen to them.
What is most infuriating, as I watch the homeless die, is that it doesn't have to happen. I did the research. I paid for it out of my own pocket and then compiled the data. But no matter how many times I give it out to congress men and women, to governors, governors spouses, mayors and city council members, it makes no impact. I mean really, how could the homeless possibly know what they need??
As I write this, I think of those I met in Chicago where in the winter, they are exposed to temperatures well below zero or those in Austin who will endure temperatures this summer that will be over 100 degrees. The homeless are telling us what they need to get back in the game. So, why won't we let them play?