What does Homeless Look Like? Tina Case Volunteer Photographer
What does "homeless" look like? Do homeless people look different than you and me? You might think that homeless people are lumped into one big group. That they are all derelicts, drug addicts, drunkards - or that they are helpless, penniless, uneducated, unmotivated. But in the two months that I have been working with HousingONE.org I have learned a lot. I have painted over my own misconceptions and learned the following:
There are indeed homeless people who fit the generalities we have formed from quick judgement. And there are those who had a series of unfortunate events and are down on their luck.
A few weeks ago I wouldn't give a second glance at a homeless person. Now I see them in a new light. This man in San Francisco was kind, smiled, and didn't mind that I took his photo. I believe he said his name was Brent.
Recently I visited a homeless shelter. I was there with a writer and social worker. We were scheduled to meet two men who have been homeless off and on for over six years. They are well groomed, articulate and well-mannered. When the dice was rolled to determine their fate they happened to be born into a life of misfortune. They have worked most of their adult life, have friends and family, but they became homeless because of a difficult economy, bad health and bad timing. The goal of HousingONE.org is to get them back on their feet and whole again. Their lives are being transformed.
It was my first time being in a homeless shelter. There are rows of single beds and bunk beds divided by a low wall, the men's side and the women's side.
The cafeteria is nice and clean, and I even had lunch with a few of the folks that were there that afternoon.
A wall of lockers span one end of the room where folks can secure the few belongings they have.
The photos that follow are of the two men who are slated to be housed soon. Below, "L," is imagining what it would be like to have the "keys to success" - meaning the key to his own place.
And below "S," reminded me of a school teacher,- a PE coach. He's fit, incredibly polite and smart. He just got his degree as a medical technician.
It was an enlightening experience. When I sat down to have lunch with "S" he said he rarely eats with anyone. We had a great conversation. I learned that good, well-meaning people sometimes have unfortunate circumstances. I look forward to sharing photos when when "S" moves to his new apartment.
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