HOMELESSNESS IN AMERICA
This body of work focuses on those in search of home, a place where they feel safe and a sense of belonging.There are more than half a million homeless people spread throughout the United States. In New York City, there are about 60,000 people without homes.
The American flag is to give the men and women in these photos a sense of protection. The flag is meant to be like a blanket. It is a safety raft.
Homeless people are invisible. I photographed them with the flag to make them visible. I wanted them to be seen. The flag in my photos is washed-out and faded. It is the reflection of the half a million Americans in search of a home. This is the story of the other America. The men and women in my photos live on the margins of society, dispersed on different street corners and alleyways. I wanted to show portraits of as many people as I possibly could together, side by side, in order to unite them. I wanted to create a sense of connection.
I am 60 years old, and I have me homeless for 6 months. I have 8 children and 10 grandchildren. I had my first child when I was 17 years old, and I have never been married. Homelessness doesn't discriminate, the same people you see go up the ladder , you see come down.
"My name is Jerry, I am 41 Years old and have been homeless for many years. I am a painter and a musician and used to run my own art gallery in Soho. My daughter Vylette Moon died at birth 4 years ago due to the severe negligence of midwives. After I lost, her I went into a deep depression, and as a result lost my partner, my home and my life. We come into this world without any green, and we can't take it with us when we go, it's the green in between that makes us stupid."
He is an artist and his paintings say " F-k Wall Street" & " Don't drink the Kool- Aid ". Ryan is 32 years old has been homeless over 10 years off and on. His best friend was murdered. His friends call him "Joe Grimmy". He hides his paintings all over NYC, because he can't carry them around with him.
"My name is Shanon, I am 20 Years old and from New Jersey. I was living in a dysfunctional family environment and eventually my step- mother threw me out of the house. Being homeless and sleeping in the streets every night is very hard"
Known as "Tyson" like the boxer. He was an orphan and never had a family so now he takes care of a large community of homeless people like his family. Tyson stays up at nights to make sure that everyone is protected. Everyone shows him respect and love. He advises everyone and helps as much as he possibly can. He is 45 years old and has been homeless for 23 years.
US Veteran with PTSD. Did 4 tours in Afghanistan. Know as "Mike the Boxer", a former boxer. Cried as soon as the flag was placed on his shoulders 40 years old. Been homeless for 4 years. A former electrician left his job in order to serve his country. He said that "He was thankful to be alive". Had severe trauma..
Originally from California. Has been homeless for 7 years. He offered to buy me a cup of hot tea. he was barefoot...
Melven is a very kind and generous man, and has been homeless for many years. He offered me to buy me a cup of coffee.
Wilfredo has been homeless for 6 years
Victor is 47 years old and has been homeless for 20 years. His father was murdered when he was a teenager, and he doesn't have much family. He was hit a lot as a child and lived in an extremely abusive family environment. He left home at a young age, became homeless and has been on his own since.
Timothy is 25 years old and has been homeless on and off for 6 years. He says "the less I have, the more I have". He made bad choices and got into a lot of trouble and eventually left his home where he used to live with his mother and father. His family wants to help him but from a distance, he feels like he's changed, but he's still not welcome back home. He needs a place to put his things, but he can't get any help or support from his family.
Juan is 64 years old and has been homeless since the 70'S. Hes on welfare and has health insurance, but doesn't have a home. He lost his mother and sister both in on month, then lost his home and his job. Works odd jobs now and then just to get by, but doesn't have a permanent job because he doesn't have permanent housing.
James is a 43 year old poet and has been homeless for 13 years. His foster mother passed away when he was 13 years old, and he has been in and out of group homes since then. His best memories are of when his mother was alive, and he used to watch TV with her and spend time with her. James is on his own and doesn't have any family.
Jack is 54 years old and has been homeless for 1 month. He is divorced and has 2 kids, whom he misses very much. He used to work in landscaping but lost his job. Hes from Connecticut and used to own his own home, but took a loan out on his house to put his wife through nursing school, but was unable to pay the loan back and lost his home.
Gunther is 32 years old and has been in and out of jails and institutions his whole life. He works in the medical field in geriatrics and hospice care. He has been clean for 9 months. His mom helps him out once in a while, but he doesn't speak to the rest of his family at all. His best memories are of when he still had his own home.
Darlene is 59 years old and has been homeless for 2 years. She used to live with her family and when they passed away she lost her home because her name wasn't on the lease. She is an activist for the homeless and fights for their civil rights. She is involved in an organization that is run by the homeless called: www.picturethehomeless.org
Carlos is 49 years old and has been homeless for 22 years. He stayed with his sister and her kids for a year, but it didn't work out and he had to leave. He lost his mother in 1993, he doesn't speak to his father at all and his sister is the only family that he has left. He misses his family a great deal and cried when talking about them. He had a very abusive childhood. Carlos is very Ill and is staying at different NYC shelters trying to avoid getting worse due to the cold weather.
Bernard is 36 years old and has been homeless since he was 17 years old. He lost his mother when he was 16 years old. He lived with his sister for a few years, but they couldn't get along, so he went out on his own and became homeless.
I have been homeless since the 70's. I served in the Vietnam War and was in the Marine Core. I am 60 years old, and I have PTSD. I am originally from Puerto Rico. All I want is a warm place to sleep, a shower and a warm meal to eat. I have watched many of my close friends die on the streets throughout the years. We are a community, and we try to take care of each other. (Nelson had tears in his eyes while talking about watching his friends die in the streets)
Lester is originally from South Africa,Cape Town. He is 30 years old and has been homeless off and on for years. Used to be a professional golfer and wants to return to golfing, as he loves it. But has a bad heroin addiction and has been sober several times , but he keeps relapsing over and over again. His mom wants him to come home to South Africa and has offered to help him with the ticket. Lester said that he is so grateful for her, and the unconditional love that she gives him.
John is 51 years old and has been homeless for 7 years. He lost his job didn't have much savings and lost his home and became homeless. His mother passed and he doesn't have much family in NY. John has a daughter and is in a committed relationship. He said " we live in one of the richest countries in the world and we can fix everyone elses problems, but we can't fix our own..the way the American system works is, divide and conquer.."
Marcus is 36 years old and grew up in California. He has been homless off and on for 10 years. He used to work in constructiona and maintenance. He has 2 kids but is unable to send them money becuase his SSI has been stopped. He said " I am mentally and phsically broken".. and that you can't look to someone else for your sence of self..and that he is looking for some solitude and that he wants to be able to take care of himself and his kids.
Star is 21 years old and has a 2 year old daughter named Elani. She was evicted from where she lived with her grandmother. Her Daughter is in the shelter system, her mother is in the shelter system and her father is in jail. she used to live in the bronx.
Carlos is 40 years old, from the Bronx and has been homeless for 9 years. When he and his wife divorced, he left and gave their section A housing to his wife and 4 daughters as he didn't want them to lose their home. He became sober when he found out that he has Hep C, and has been sober for 4 years. Carlos served 2 years in the US Army, from 1997-1999. Carlos gets to see his daughters once a month.
Charles has been homeless for 4 years, is 32 years old and was born in Brooklyn. He used to work in a law firm where he photographed car accidents, he also worked for a film company in the food department. He misses his son very badly.
Israel is 38 years old and the father of Ishmael who is 3 years old and was born in the shelter system. Ishmael's mother abandoned them both and Israel is raising his son on his own while living in the shelters in NYC. He stopped using drugs when his son was born and he has been sober for 3 years. They have been waiting for housing for 3 years for, but no news as of yet.
Joseph is 50 years old and a United States Veteran. He has been homelss for 1 month, and has PTSD and a bad leg injury. He came to New York from Philidelphia to get his 2 daughters out of foster care because his wife got her 4th DUI and the state took her daughters away. He served in Iraq in Fallujah and witnessed very horrific things. The US government stopped his disability and owes him $34,000.00. He is a Christian and wants to work very badly.
Dallas is 28 years old and has been homeless for 4 years. He got divorced and everything went down hill from there. He said he is "subtracting himself from society".
Is 21 years old and has been homeless for 6 years. Lost his mother and his home. Originally from Texas, and is hitchhiking through the US.
67 years old veteran, has been homeless for 6 years, he is still waiting for housing. He was stabbed and slashed in the back with a box cutter in a NYC homeless shelter, so he refuses to ever go back to a shelter. His mother is an addict and his father is an alcoholic. His wife killed herself in a heroin overdose after the murder of their daughter. He tried to kill himself with an overdose of pills, but survived. He still wishes he wasn't alive and says that his life is like a bad movie.
Originally from Africa but has been living in the US for 10 years. He is 29 years old and has been homeless for 1 year. He is from Salt Lake City where he used to attend college. Doesn't want to go back to Africa because there is a civil war happening in his country so he wants ot stay in the US no matter what.
Albert is 41 years old and from Mexico and he has been homeless for 2 years. He lost his job and became homeless. He used to work in construction.
He is 38 years old, and has been homeless for 6 years. Is originally from Mexico and didn't speak much english.
Luie is 35 years old and has been homeless for 7 years. Is originally from Mexico and didn't speak any english.
Lucus has been homeless for 5 years and he is 34 years old and originally from Mexico. He lost his job as delivery boy and then lost his home, all he wants is a job.
Spent 15 years in jail. Is 65 years old and has been homeless for over 30 years. He said he's just trying to survive. Was very sick.
Has been omeless for 3 years and was very sick. Wouldn't take his hat off, and didn't speak english.
Zoe is 34 years and has been homeless since she was 14 years old. She was adopted and lost her home in a fire. She is originaly from Texas, and is married, her husband is homeless too. She said " No one is imune to homelessness, it can happen to anyone".
Has been homeless for 10 years and is originally from Mexico. Didn't speak any english.
He is 58 years old and has been homeless for 4 years. Spent 15 years in jail. Has 9 children, and came to New York looking for them. Wanted to tell his kids that he just wants to hug them, and that he's sorry for not being a better father figure.. and he wishes that he had spent more time with them. He is originaly from Florida.