Cushan

I was walking down a back street in Hollywood and ran into a small group of men and women setting up their tents for the night.Cushan and I started to talk. He was telling me that he is moving on up because he has the big tent. Cushan is homeless in Los Angeles.

One of the sights that always messes me up is when I happen to witness a person experiencing homelessness setting up an area to sleep for the night. In this great country of ours, people should not be sleeping on the streets – ever!

Cushan used to live in Detroit, but after 9/11, he lost his job at the airport and faced many challenges that resulted in him living on the streets! Even though he has been homeless for three years, he believes he has a bright future in front of him.

Cushan is homeless in Los Angeles. Click To Tweet

Roy

Roy is homeless in London, a Canadian city in southwestern Ontario, located just north of Lake Erie and the U.S. border. He says he has been on the streets for ten years now.

Roy worked for 21 years at the General Motors until the factory was closed down and the work sent oveseas.

When we first started to talk, I noticed we were standing in front of a no trespassing sign. Roy went on to explain the music being pumped outside is to keep homeless people from standing around on the corner.

If you live in Canada, please click on this link to write your Member of Parliament today and tell them that you think ending homelessness should be a top priority in the new National Housing Strategy.

Roy worked for 21 years at General Motors Canada until the factory was closed down. Click To Tweet

Robert

Robert worked all of his life. When he reached sixty-two, he had to retire on only partial Social Security. Robert received the full amount at sixty-five. He’s now sixty-eight and living on the streets of Los Angeles homeless!

Robert says that on the fixed income he receives that he can either pay for food or pay rent, but there is never enough money to do both. Robert has tried to live in SRO (single room occupancy) hotels, but with rent at $500 a month, he didn’t have enough left over and decided to make a go of it homeless. That was a little over three years ago!

We have a “Silver Tsunami” coming. The Baby Boomer generation is now entering into what should be their comfortable retirement years. Instead, because this last recession wiped out a lot more than hopes and dreams, seniors will enter into homelessness at an alarming rate. Los Angeles County is projected to become increasingly old in the very near future. By 2020, the county’s age-50-or-older population is expected to increase by 27 percent, and the population age 65 or older by 43 percent. Sadly, many will end up on the streets experiencing homelessness unless we take serious action now!

Angelenos can help end homelessness this Election Day. Vote YES on Proposition HHH to build as many as 10,000 permanent supportive housing units in Los Angeles. For more information and to learn why Invisible People supports Prop HHH please click here.

Robert is just one of many seniors spending their retirement years homeless in Los Angeles Click To Tweet

Linda

Linda worked as a dental hygienist but started to lose her vision and lost her job a little over four years ago. She is now homeless and sleeps on the streets of Boston.

Linda had her wallet stolen and with it all of her ID. She just received her birth certificate and she is working on getting the documents needed to get into housing!

Linda does not like shelters. She will stay outside until it gets extremely cold. Last year Linda says she got frostbite because she waiting too long to go inside!

After each video, I ask everyone to smile for a photo that I post on Instagram. It’s my way of combating the wrong perceptions given by needs-based images used in most nonprofit fundraising. When I asked Linda to smile she said she can’t smile because she has no teeth. She went on to share that two men had wrapped duck tape around her arms and she lost her teeth trying to rip the tape off to escape.

We must do everything we can to get these precious people off the streets and into housing!

Linda is homeless and sleeps on the streets of Boston. Click To Tweet

Walt

Walt is a displaced tech worker living on the streets of San Jose. He worked in the electronic industry for thirty years. Then around ten years ago, his job “went away”, and soon after he ended up homeless.

Walt claims to be “comfortably homeless.” He manages to stay warm. He manages to stay clean. Get gets off the streets into a hotel a few times a month. Although some might think this is OK, homelessness is never a way for people to live. Add to that Walt is a homeless veteran and a senior, he should not be on the streets of Silicon Valley.

Walk refuses to accept any kind of public assistance. He believes that type of support should go to women and families who need it. Instead, Walt plays his flute to raise the money he needs.

Walt is a displaced tech worker living on the streets of San Jose. Click To Tweet

Patrick

Patrick has been homeless in Austin for seven years. He likes to stand out on 6th Street and make people smile.

Patrick says it’s cold and it’s wet, but he calls himself an old country boy and he makes the best of it.

While I was recording this, a waitress from one of the clubs came outside to see what I was up to. She told me Patrick is a good person. She sees him helping people every day. She said he’s helped her a few times.

Patrick was panhandling. Once he got a few dollars, he went to a store and bought himself a sandwich.

Jessica

Jessica was panhandling near downtown Boston. If she hadn’t approached me and asked for money, I would have never known she was homeless. The night before Jessica washed her hair in a bus station bathroom.

Jessica says she had five years sober, but then she lost her job and started to drink and use again. She eventually ended back out on the streets. Jessica explains trying to stay sober while experiencing homelessness is difficult, but she is trying!

If Jessica hadn’t approached me and asked for money, I would have never known she was homeless Click To Tweet

Shelly

Shelly is homeless in Hollywood, but she refers to herself as a “canner that sleeps outside”. Shelly survives by recycling cans. She says it’s just a band-aid until the economy gets better. Thing is, Shelly has been doing this for far too long, and the longer someone is on the street, the harder it is to transition back into a normal life.

Shelly has done a lot of traveling looking for work. At the time of this interview, she was sleeping in an ally. Shelly uses cardboard to sleep on. She says Amazon must be doing really well because she find so many boxes with the Amazon logo.

I have sat here for a bit looking at Shelly’s photo. I can’t image what she goes through on the streets of Los Angeles just to survive. Although she exudes a smile, that small layer of happiness is covering years of pain.

Shelly is homeless in Hollywood. Click To Tweet

Shaun

Shaun has lived on the streets of Philadelphia for 6 months now. When he first became homeless it was warm outside. The day of this interview it was deadly cold. Shaun is sleeping in a doorway laying on cardboard.

Shaun has lived on the streets of Philadelphia for 6 months. Click To Tweet

 

Special thanks to Charlie

 

Kelsey

Kelsey lives in a hotel room along with two newborn twins and two other adults.  Without income, they never know when their hotel stay will end. They live day-by-day trying to get funds for another nights stay and food.

Kelsey said she became homeless because of the lack of jobs in St Louis area.

Broke my heart when she said she doesn’t think about her future.

Kelsey lives in a hotel room along with two newborn twins and two other adults. Click To Tweet
Special thanks to Paul Kruse

Emily and her children

Emily and her husband live in a hotel near St Louis with their 4 kids and another one on the way.  When we walked in Emily  was giving her son a “time out” by sending him to the bathroom. There is no other room.  There is no privacy. My heart broke while visiting with Emily and her children. You can feel the nonstop stress this young mother must experience.

Emily’s husband lost his job. They then bounced around family until their car broke down and they ended up at this hotel. That was almost a year ago.

Living in weekly rate hotels often becomes a trap. It’s $1,000 a month to live there, which is often just most people’s paycheck. Emily’s husband is now back working and they have been lucky enough to save up some money, yet with an eviction on their record – finding a house or apartment to rent can be challenging.

Emily and her husband live in a hotel near St Louis with their 4 kids. This is family… Click To Tweet
Special thanks to Paul Kruse.

Moon

Moon sleeps in an abandoned building someplace near New Orleans. Earlier today, he had to take his pup to the veterinarian, and that took every cent he had. When I met him, he told me he had raised $2 in the last hour.

Moon had a job, but hurt his back. He was not able to go on disability because they said it was his fault.  Without income it was only a matter of time before he became homeless.

Earlier today I had a chat with a local outreach team that focuses on abandoned buildings.  When I asked the person if he knew what I did he responded “ya we have housed a few people in your videos”.  My hope is Moon will be one of them soon!

Moon sleeps in an abandoned building someplace near New Orleans. Click To Tweet

Russ

Russ lost his job in Winnipeg working with Mental Health Commission of Canada. For 4 years Russ helped people on the streets get the help they need. At the time of this interview he was sleeping rough in Ottawa, where he relocated to look for work.

Russ lost his job in Winnipeg and he was sleeping rough in Ottawa. Click To Tweet
Very special thanks to Ottawa Salvation Army and Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness.
  

Patrick

When I met Patrick he was living in a van with his wife and dog. They went from a 4-bedroom house to mobile homelessness, and at the time of this interview they were living in a Safe Parking program near San Diego.

Patrick was living in a van with his wife and dog near San Diego. Click To Tweet

Special thanks to Homelessness News San Diego

Kathryn

The majority of homeless people I know, if you saw them walking down the street, you’d never even suspect that they are experiencing homelessness. Kathryn is one of them.  When we were first introduced I actually thought she may be a staff person.

I met Kathryn on Skid Row. She came to the Los Angeles Mission from Las Vegas for their women’s recovery program. Kathryn says on Skid Row you see a lot of misfortune people and it’s very sad.

Kathryn ended up on the streets after losing a job. She tried working while being homeless, and that never seemed to work out. Kathryn relocated to LA because of the resources, and she says she sees food everywhere!

Kathryn ended up on the streets after losing a job. Click To Tweet

Special thanks to the LA Mission

Michael

After returning from tours of Iraq and Afghanistan, Michael found himself back in America with a drug and alcohol addiction, which quickly led to job loss and then homelessness.

Michael is homeless in Syracuse. I met him “flying a sign” on a subzero winter day just to get a few dollars to survive. Weather report at the time of this interview was around minus 15 °F. I had to take my gloves off just for a moment to setup the camera, and the tips of my fingers burned like they were on fire for the next half hour. Michael said he had been standing there for 2 hours. Luckily, Catholic Charities is providing shelter for him at night, but the day before on the same corner, I gave socks and gloves to a man who is sleeping outside during this weather.

When I asked Michael what he wanted the world to know about being a homeless veteran he responded: ” for a person to be homeless it’s a shame, for a veteran to be homeless it’s a tragedy.”

Please watch this powerful video on veterans homelessness.

Michael is a homeless veteran in Syracuse. Click To Tweet

Special thanks to Syracuse Rescue Mission

Norman

Norman says when he first hit the streets of New York City he didn’t know anything about homelessness. He didn’t know where to go. He didn’t know where to sleep. He didn’t know where his next meal would come from.

The night before this interview, Norman slept in a subway station. Even now, after a few years being on the streets, Norman shares about how unsafe it is just trying to get a nights rest.

Norman tried the shelter system, but because of conflict as a result of the person next to him using drugs, he was asked to leave and was told he had to wait for an extended period to come back. Norman says the NYC shelter system basically just warehouses people and offers little or no help to better their lives.

When I asked Norman for his 3 wishes he responded, “Get out of homelessness. Get out of homelessness. Get out of homelessness.”

Norman didn't know anything about homelessness. He didn't know where to sleep. Click To Tweet
Very special thanks to Hanes.

Lars

I am pissed! I am so mad right now! I just hate ignorance! More on that in a moment.

I met Lars in San Diego a few months ago. Lars was laid off from his job of 5 years, and when unemployment extensions ran out, he had no choice but to live in his car.

Lars was lucky that he found Dreams for Change, a nonprofit that helps support people living in their vehicles. I wrote about the program here: People Living in Vehicles Need a Safe Place to Park, Not Fines or Jail

While traveling this last month I saw that Vista, California was trying to shut down one of Dreams for Change parking lot programs at a local church. I did happen to visit that church, but all the stories, except for the interview with Teresa Smith, CEO of Dreams for Change, were recorded at another church parking lot outside of Vista.

Why I am so mad is I just learned that they did have to shut down the program at the church in Vista. This article says neighbors started yelling obscenities at the homeless and volunteers and made angry phone calls to the church, which made the situation unsafe.

I just wrote and than backspaced a bunch of obscenities myself.  Ignorance along with lack of any compassion or common sense makes me insanely mad!

Neighbors of Cornerstone Church in Vista – YOU SUCK! Homelessness is getting worse, and the best way to fight homelessness is to support programs like Dreams for Change that are helping people get out of homelessness.

Lars was laid off from his job of 5 years. He had no choice but to live in his car. Click To Tweet

 

Special thanks to Homelessness News San Diego

Johnny

Johnny is homeless in San Diego. His former boss retired and Johnny lost his job. Then the recession hit and he could not find employment.

Johnny has been assaulted and robbed several times, yet he says at the same time he has met a lot of great people.

Johnny was interviewed via Google Glass. Google picked Invisible People for their Explorer program, so we are still trying to figure out the best use to bring you the story of homelessness. It does give a different “point of view” feel. We would love to hear your feedback on how we can make better use of Google Glass.

Johnny is homeless in San Diego. His former boss retired and Johnny lost his job. Click To Tweet
Special thanks to Homelessness News San Diego

David

David is homeless in San Diego. He relocated for employment, but when that didn’t work out he ended up on the streets.

David does not drink or do drugs. Unless you knew him and his story, you probably would not even know he was living on the streets.

David says that there are resources, but most are focused on drug addition or mental illness, so he is having a hard time finding the help that he needs.

David is the first person I interviewed wearing Google Glass. Google picked Invisible People for their Explorer program, so we are still trying to figure out the best use to bring you the story of homelessness. It does give a different “point of view” feel. We would love to hear your feedback on how we can make better use of Google Glass.

David is homeless in San Diego. He relocated for employment, but when that didn't work out. Click To Tweet
Special thanks to Homelessness News San Diego
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