TJ and Alie

Right now at this very moment, homeless people are sleeping outside in the freezing cold. In small rural communities like Ithaca, New York there are not enough services for the people that are in need. The cost of housing continues to rise causing more homelessness, but funding for social services continues to be reduced.

This past week people started saying a phrase I’ve never heard before. “Bomb cyclone” hit the Northeast causing areas in Central and Upstate New York to drop below zero degrees, yet even in negative temperatures over 20 people slept outside in a tent encampment known as the “Jungle.”

Many of the homeless men and women living in the Jungle have jobs, but the Ithaca’s high cost of housing leaves them no choice but to live in a tent outside.

TJ and Alie lost their jobs a few months back. TJ was able to get another job at a fast food restaurant, but it doesn’t pay enough for them to get an apartment. In America today homelessness has become affordable housing.

“We can help you, but we can help you stay in this situation” is how Alie describes support services. There is real truth to that. Homeless services never have enough funding, and in rural communities like Ithaca, getting support is much harder because there are fewer services than in urban areas. Added to that the layers of bureaucracy just to help even one person is maddening. The homeless services sector does not make it easy for people to get out of homelessness.

Alie’s last wish was to marry TJ. Just yesterday TJ asked Alie to marry him, and the couple got engaged. TJ’s last wish was to have enough funds to have an awesome wedding. If you’d like to make that wish happen here is a link to a GoFundMe page to help with the cost of their wedding.

If you’d like to support some of the amazing people trying to help our homeless friends in Ithaca visit their Facebook page here.

Homeless Couple's Love Keeps Them Warm in Ithaca's Cold Weather. Click To Tweet

Jeff

Jeff has been sleeping on the streets of Hollywood, California for a year. Jeff was devastated by the death of his cousin. He lost his job. Then lost his apartment. Jeff says after that he could not get back on his feet.

Jeff survives by panhandling. He says everyone thinks panhandlers make a lot of money but they don’t. One day, Jeff just made $2 and that was not even enough to get something to eat.

After a death in the family, Jeff took it hard and ended up homeless in Los Angeles. Click To Tweet

Joseph

When I first met Joseph, he was hard at work filling up large plastic jugs with water. People gathered around a public water source just like the images you see of people in Africa gathered around a well. The big difference is this is happening right here in America.

Over 400 homeless people are living along the Santa Ana River in Anaheim, California. Orange County’s largest homeless camp is massive. Young people and old people and families and every type person you can imagine are now living in makeshift tents doing whatever they can to survive.

Mohammed Aly, a lawyer, and homeless advocate told me that the main reason this homeless camp is growing is that in 33 of the 34 cities in Orange County homelessness has been criminalized. Homeless people have nowhere else to go but the Santa Ana River trail near Angel Stadium.

Just like in Third World Countries, people that stay in Joseph’s camp take turns making the daily trek to fill up jugs of water for drinking and cleaning! It’s almost inconceivable this is taking place in one of the wealthiest counties in the United States. Joseph was hurt really bad at work. He was on workers comp for many years. Joseph says he cannot qualify for SSI because he can still get around.

Joseph worked as a bank janitor while still living in the homeless camp. Joseph’s backpack was stolen along with his work keys, and he lost his job. Joseph says that not every homeless person does drugs yet the city treats everyone on the river bank as criminals. There literally is nowhere else for people to go!

After this interview, Joseph told me he goes once a week to the local church that gives everyone a bag of powdered milk, a box of instant mashed potatoes, two cans of vegetables and a pair of socks.

Joseph calls Orange County’s largest homeless camp home. Click To Tweet

Simon

Simon has been sleeping rough homeless in Central London for about a year. He lost some work but slowly he is getting a few jobs back.

Simon sleeps outside unless it rains. If the weather is bad, he will sleep on a train for the night.

The good news is Simon will be in housing soon. he’s seen the place but the construction is not finished yet.

Simon is homeless sleeping rough in Central London. Click To Tweet

Leonard

In this great country of ours, there are homeless people that sleep in a park directly across the street from the White House. The irony of that I hope is disturbing to more people than just me. At least for Leonard, he has found a purpose.

Leonard worked as a medic for 22 years. He says he started to talk about the wrong things and lost his job. He started to travel doing activism and occasionally working temp jobs. Leonard sometimes will sleep on a friends couch but most of the time he lived on the streets homeless.

Leonard is using his time to educate people on the Fukushima crisis. He says Fukushima is the most devastating nuclear accident in the history of our planet. For the last six years, 300 to 700 metric tons of contaminated wastewater continues to flow into the Pacific Ocean.

Leonard is homeless and sleeps across the street from the White House! Click To Tweet

Robert

UPDATE: Robert now has a GoFundMe page here

Whenever you think about homelessness and panhandling, you need to think of Robert. Please share this powerful story with everyone you know.

I was walking in Philadelphia at night and saw a sheet tacked to a wall and a wheelchair. Next to the wheelchair was a sign that read “Disabled, Homeless, Denied Disability! I assumed a person was sleeping on the other side of the sheet, but I have a rule never to wake anyone up.

The moment messed me up. I generally do not share this type of photo, but this is the homelessness people don’t see but need to see!

The next day I just happened to see the sign again, but this time, Robert was in his wheelchair. A plastic cup was placed in his prosthetic leg to collect change from people as they passed by.

Robert was volunteering for Habitat for Humanity and fell off a roof. Someone moved a ladder and didn’t set it back right. The fall shattered both of Robert’s wrists, and he ended up losing a leg.

Robert has been on the streets homeless for a year now. During that time, he keeps getting denied disability benefits. He has found a lawyer to take his case, but the process takes time. Robert’s only means to survive is panhandling. He says begging is demeaning but he does not have another choice.

Disabled, Homeless, Denied Disability! Robert lost his leg falling off a roof while volunteering. Click To Tweet

Wilfred, Rose and Kobe

Wilfred, his wife Rose and their son Kobe live in an RV near South Los Angeles. This is the second RV they have lived in during their three years of homelessness.

Rose shares the living in an RV is hard. She says it’s unsanitary and they have to keep moving from one side of the streets to the next to avoid parking tickets.

You can hear the desperation in Rose’s voice as she shares there is nowhere to turn to get help.

Wilfred is disabled and has trouble standing. He has heart problems and complications from a recent stroke. He wants to work, but physically he is unable.

Through it all, Kobe is going to school. I can’t even imagine the emotions children must feel trying to fit in with other students knowing their family is homeless.

Homeless family shares about living in an RV for three years. Click To Tweet

Very special thanks to LAHSA 

 

 

 

 

 

Byron

The company Byron was working for moved to Canada and he lost his job. Right around that time, Byron had a couple of heart attacks, and he ended up homeless in Detriot.

At one time Byron was in housing. He was getting a Social Security Disability Insurance income, but they started to cut his check in half, and he could no longer afford rent.

Byron lives in a tent homeless in Detroit Click To Tweet

Delilah

Delilah is young and homeless. She says that previously she worked in a Beverly Hills hair salon and that homelessness is much better than cutting hair for angry, mean rich ladies!

Delilah says she is enjoying her freedom while she is young enough and healthy enough to have it. She wants to live a minimalistic and nomadic lifestyle.

Delilah relocated to Los Angeles three years ago and has been on the streets for six months. She had various living arrangments. Delilah’s last roommate throughout all her stuff and now she is just trying to make the best of it.

Delilah’s boyfriend has been homeless for many years and she started to live with him on the streets. She was already spending weekends with him in his tent, so homelessness did not come as much of a shock.

Delilah plans on traveling and then if she wants to change her lifestyle she says she will.

One of the foundations of Invisible People’s work is to present stories of people experiencing homelessness raw and unedited. Delilah’s story is a little different than most because from the outside it looks like she is choosing to be homeless.

The last few years I have seen more people deciding to live a minimalistic and nomadic lifestyle. Van dwelling is now a thing and becoming more popular. I think part of the reason is the high cost of housing and the lack of good paying jobs.

I used to think no one wants to be homeless, and that is the truth for the vast majority of people sleeping outside. Even the ones who tell you that want to be homeless, at one time they tried to get out of homelessness, but after hitting so many barriers, they just give up. It’s called “learned helplessness.”

I think Delilah’s story is important because so often homeless youth choose this lifestyle and then it’s nearly impossible to get out of it. The streets in any city are very dangerous, especially for young women. Although Delilah says she wants to be homeless there is a sadness about her. I do believe she is making the best of it and that love probably played the biggest role in her current situation. I just pray she gets off the streets while she still can.

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Delilah Says Homelessness Is Better Than Working in a Beverly Hills Hair Salon. Click To Tweet

Cody

Cody met a girl. They fell in love. He relocated to live with her. Everything was going fine until Cody left for a three day trip for work. When he returned, Cody says he walked in on his girlfriend cheating on him with his boss’s son. Cody reacted out of anger and passion with the end result of him ending up on the streets of Chicago homeless.

Cody tries to sell his artwork to get enough money to get a room for a night or two. When he can get a room he can clean up enough to look for work, but he keeps getting denied employment because he is homeless.

Cody says that on weekends, a lot of people come around and give out food but there is no help to get off the streets and out of homelessness.

Please help support our work for as little as $2 a month on Patreon 

Cody ended up homeless after he caught his girlfriend cheating with his boss’s son! Click To Tweet

David

Eight years ago David was buying a two-story house. It took six months for his life to fall apart. David is now homeless in Boston.

David has slept outside in a tent for four years even in the winter that covered Boston with eight feet of snow.

David panhandles to survive. He says you do what you have to do. David is on a housing waiting list, but so far nothing has happened!

David says people should treat homeless people on an individual basis. He doesn’t drink or use drugs, but people wrongly believe every homeless person does.

David has slept outside in a tent for four years Click To Tweet

Jared

Jared is homeless in Austin, Texas. He says homeless is depressing and causes a mental breakdown. Jared says that people can die of they don’t find food or shelter.

Jared says that for some homelessness is a result of not making good choices. He goes on to say that getting out of homelessness is not easy, but it’s a blessing to get your life back and it makes you grateful.

Jared has been homeless for two years. He had a nice job and messed up. He then got sick.

Jared went back to college and currently has a job, but he is still sleeping outside. He is one of the thousands of working homeless in America.

Jared wishes that everyone could have the experience of homelessness so they would value the things they have.

Jared has a job but still lives on the streets homeless. Click To Tweet

Barnabas and Asia with their three children

Imagine raising a family in a small confined space with one child having cerebral palsy. Add to that little to no income. I honestly can’t even begin to understand how this family still smiles after living in an RV in South Los Angeles for the last two years! Homelessness was the only choice Barnabas, Asia, and their three children had after losing their apartment.

Barnabas worked at the airport. While moving bags, his supervisor stopped the cart to take a measurement at the wrong time causing Barnabas’s shoulder to be severely dislocated. Barnabas had to have surgery that placed three metal screws in his shoulder, and now he is not able to work.
Shortly after that Barnabas’s mother died. The family traveled to the funeral, and upon return, they were greeted with an eviction notice. With no job and no income and now no place to stay, the family moved into an RV.

Their son Zachariah has cerebral palsy and requires a lot of extra care. Because of the limited living space, it’s extremely hard to provide adequate therapy for Zachariah.

I love how this family all shared their wishes at the end. The good news is that part of the reason I was there was because Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority outreach workers are in the process of helping the family connect to a 3 bedroom apartment and other services.

Angelenos can help end homelessness this March 7th. Vote YES on Measure H to help end homelessness for 45,000 families and individuals across Los Angeles County within the next five years. It will also prevent homelessness for 30,000 families and individuals over the same time period, including women and children, veterans, seniors, foster youth, and survivors of domestic violence. More more information, please visit: voteyesonh.com

Imagine raising a family in an RV with one child having cerebral palsy. Click To Tweet

Very special thanks to LAHSA.

Joe

“Most days it’s pretty bad. Some days it’s a little better, but it’s never good”, is how Joe describes homelessness in Philadelphia. The day we met it was 30 degrees outside.

Joe says sleeping outside is not the worst part. The isolation and being invisible to people is what makes homelessness so hard.

The isolation and being invisible to people is what makes homelessness so hard. Click To Tweet

Mike

It was 30 degrees last night in Philadelphia, yet Mike sleeps in a doorway of a pizza shop downtown.

Mike broke his leg on the job. He went into a nursing home and had to relearn to walk. He lost his employment and soon after his apartment.

It was 30 degrees last night in Philadelphia, yet Mike sleeps in a doorway of a pizza shop. Click To Tweet

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.

Angelenos can help end homelessness this March 7th. Vote YES on Measure H to help end homelessness for 45,000 families and individuals across Los Angeles County within the next five years. It will also prevent homelessness for 30,000 families and individuals over the same time period, including women and children, veterans, seniors, foster youth, and survivors of domestic violence. For more more information click here.

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 March 7th. Vote YES on Measure H to help end homelessness for 45,000 families and individuals across Los Angeles County within the next five years. It will also prevent homelessness for 30,000 families and individuals over the same time period, including women and children, veterans, seniors, foster youth, and survivors of domestic violence. For more more information 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
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