Features

Interviews by Dave Kihara, Sharon Lerner & Coco McPherson. Photographs by Hiroyuki Ito, Mayita Mendez, Michael Schmelling & Michael Sofronski

Where are you sleeping tonight? A friend's house in Brooklyn, but that's not working out too good. I don't think that will last, so I might return to the men's shelter on Atlantic Avenue.

How do people treat you? They treat you as if you're an animal. If you're staying with someone, you got to do whatever they say. I don't think it's fair.

What should the city do differently? The city shouldn't charge for living in shelters. That's just going to make even more people homeless. Most people who are homeless don't even have GEDs. The city should give them some schooling to help them along their way. We're already poor, we're already homeless, what more do you want?


Beverly Fulce, 38

image

How long have you been homeless? Five years.

How did you become homeless? It all started when my mom passed and I wasn't on the lease. I went through the grief of being alone. You can't just jump up out of that. Mainly I've stayed on the streets in Brooklyn.

How do people treat you? People think it's mental, but it's emotional. Sometimes we feel like the bottom of the barrel, sometimes not. We have our ups and downs like them with their white-collar jobs.

Where are you sleeping tonight? I can't say off hand. I spent last night in an abandoned building.

How do people treat you? I socialize with the same people as before I was homeless and they treat me the same.

What should the city do differently? I would set up rooming houses. Shelters are too crowded. People need to be treated on an individual basis. Also appoint someone to deal only with this.


Israel Cortez, 42

image

How long have you been homeless? Three years.

How did you become homeless? I was living at my sister's apartment, but I couldn't stay there any longer. I wasn't getting along with her or her husband. And after one argument I left.

Where are you sleeping tonight? I'm sleeping in the veterans' shelter in Queens. I'm just staying here until I can move into an apartment in the Bronx.

How do people treat you? People are nice to me and help me out, but that's because I help myself. I show by example. I help other people out by volunteering at the veterans' shelter and by coaching my nephew's football team.

What should the city do differently? The city should send some people down to the VA hospitals and to the veterans' shelters. These are all vets, and they're living in homeless shelters. The mayor should come down and talk to us.


Robert Green, 56

image

How long have you been homeless? Ten years.

How did you become homeless? I spent six months in jail for beating up my old lady. When I got out, I couldn't go back there because she was afraid I'd beat her up.

Where are you sleeping tonight? I don't sleep in the shelters. In the shelters you wind up getting hurt or hurting somebody. The parks are dangerous too. I just try to find an abandoned building.

How do people treat you? I'm treated like dirt. If someone has to deal with you, then they will try to exploit you. I don't have a regular job, but I work. And whenever someone puts me to work, they exploit me. It's a financial rape situation.

What should the city do differently? You ever see all the scrap metal laying around the city? The city should pay some homeless people to ride along on sanitation trucks and pick up all the scrap brass and copper and steel. Then they could sell it and make a profit and get enough money to buy a place.


Sharlene Drayton, 21

image

How long have you been homeless? Two weeks.

How did you become homeless? I have three kids and a husband. We can't stay with my mother-in-law but they keep saying that we don't qualify for housing because my niece told their investigators that we could sleep there. I know she didn't understand what they were asking her. Now it's in my records that I have a place to sleep and they won't give me my eligibility. Now they want a letter from her saying we can't stay at her house.

Where are you sleeping tonight? They'll send us to Powers [Hotel).

How do people treat you? I can't tell you about the public, but the people who work for the city give you the runaround.

What should the city do differently? If the city is so concerned about children that they'll take them away from you and put them in foster care, they should make a bigger effort to get housing for families with kids.


M.T.K., 34

image

How long have you been homeless? Five years.

How did you become homeless? I'm mentally ill, schizophrenic, and, what's it called, bipolar. I've been drinking since I was three, addicted since I was 14. I smoke crack. I'm an inventor. I just need someone to invest in my ideas. I know how to make things to stop airplanes from falling out of the sky.

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
0 comments
 
New York Concert Tickets
Loading...