Person First Project – Ivy

Person First Project is a photo blog that seeks to give those currently or formerly experiencing homelessness in D.C. the chance to share their stories. In doing this, we hope to reduce the barriers that separate people in D.C. and spark a dialogue. The Person First Project aims to connect us – and to make us all feel a bit more human.

ivy 3 edits

“I’m originally from Georgia. I played for the New York Harlem Queens – the female version of the Harlem Globetrotters. We toured with them. We were clowns basically. We used to come on first and the Harlem Globetrotters would come on second. When I finished with them I thought, ‘I want to go see the nation’s capital!’ I was 22 years old.

I came to D.C. and I’d been here a week when I saw someone writing tickets. I thought, ‘I want to do that!’ They didn’t ask me anything about the job. I was in a room with six guys and we talked about basketball the whole time I was in there. They called me the next morning to tell me I’d been hired.

I put boots on cars for the government for 23 years. It’s called an immobilization technician, but everybody just called us ‘booters’. You change partners every three months, but they say me and Debbie worked like one person. We broke records and stuff. I got Booter Of The Year four times in a row. I got every award that you can give someone in my profession.

I worked until I got hurt. I fell down a flight of steps and I broke my right leg in six places. They put rods in and told me I wasn’t supposed to be walking. I was in intensive care for six weeks with this thing. They didn’t discharge me; I just left. They call me an AMA specialist – against medical advice. I went to stay with my friend and I wanted to go into the store when she was sleeping. I put on my jacket, got right up to the car, and I hit some black ice. I heard it crack before I hit the ground. The same leg; I broke it again in two more places. Teaching me about bones – it was the tibula and fibula.

I had a condo at Waterfront. My friend lived there with me. She was like me – no brothers or sisters or kids. That’s why my initials are I.T. – ‘cause I’m it. She passed…. She died at 43 years old. I was shocked. All that talent. She was a very talented young lady.

Since I was older, hurt, and I wasn’t working I tried to move back home to Georgia. It didn’t work. D.C. is just in my blood now.”

– Ivy

Author’s Note: Ivy lives at Open Arms Housing. The Mission of Open Arms Housing, Inc. is to provide permanent homes with a welcoming and supportive environment to women who are homeless with a variety of mental health issues. Their goal is to create safe, comfortable housing tailored to meet individual needs and to promote housing stability, using a Housing First approach.–

2 Comment

  • Such a sad story. Ivy could be entitled to worker’s compensation and, if she was a District employee (and not a contractor), it seems very likely that she’s eligible for a pension given her 23 years of government service. I encourage Ivy to reach out to Bread for the City or Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless for legal representation.

  • Oh my lord, this is a heartbreaking read. I am glad it sounds like she is at least getting good supportive services at this point.

    Medical issues should never rip apart someone’s life like this. Our safety net sucks.

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