Person First Project – Allen “I’m okay…. But, it’s just… help. I need help.”

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.


“I’m okay…. But, it’s just… help. I need help.”

What kind of help?

“That’s just it. I don’t even know. I’m good financially; I’m on social security. But the steps are what I’m having trouble with. The steps to get my own place, having my own food, never asking nobody for nothin’… that’s where I want to be at.

Say if you were in my shoes. You have about $1,100 you get on the third of the month. You ain’t got bills or a place to stay. No phone. No responsibilities, no nothing. I’m homeless. How would you manage? For me, soon as I get it, three days and it’s back to square one. Spent because I smoke K2.”

Doesn’t that scare you? I’ve heard a lot about the side effects of K2.

“I ain’t gonna sit here and lie. The other day – this dude was passed out by Union Station. He had a joint and a cigarette. I don’t know what was in that blunt, but next thing I know my blood pressure was 120/60 and I was in the hospital. Took this blunt and it put me in the motherf*cking hospital.

This is my real first time being homeless. I’ve been out here a couple weeks now. It’s messed up. My life is so glum. My life is so dull. I mean, I’m not going to sit here and stress, but I kind of have to because I can’t call my baby’s mother on the phone anymore. I can’t talk to my child anymore. I can’t even send them money. That’s messing me up. That’s really taking its toll on me right now.”

– Allen

Author’s note: We met Allen in a small park at New Jersey Ave and 1st St NW.

12 Comment

  • Oh jeez. I hope this guy wants help – he seems moderately motivated to get help, but the tone indicates the motivation is diminishing….

  • Hoping he finds help and motivation to get back on his feet

  • If this isn’t a looking glass into the current K2 epidemic within the homeless community, then I don’t what is. Genuinely sad.

  • Hey pop, do you (or the interviewer) provide the folks in this series any info on services available to them? Are there any good services for the type of situation this man is in? It’s rough for him and rough on the community. The two times I was sexually assaulted in DC, it was by homeless men. When the last guy got arrested, I felt awful, and not just because of what was done to me. Yes, glad the police caught him and charged him. But damn, he needed help more than anything. That was obvious to me even as I was shocked and upset by the assault. Instead, he’s just out there again, on the same corner he attacked me.

  • Go to NA. If you want help, it’s available, but you have to ask for it.

  • Heartbreaking.

    Good luck, Allen. We’re pulling for you.

  • Allen sounds like the kind of person who is perfect for the programs being tested in many urban areas that move away from “carrot and stick” approaches and focus on getting people apartments first and foremost. Then, once they have a place to live, they are offered counseling, drug addiction treatment, etc., and according to a story in the Post last May the programs have been very successful. I would think that, with his monthly income from SS, if Allen just had a place to live he would be in a good position to tackle the rest. I wonder if the mayor’s new expansion of the District’s homeless program would benefit him?

    • Accountering

      Agree with this. Housing first seems like it is for people like him. He has his $1100, and he knows he can’t get a place to stay, so may as well just blow it on K2. Hopefully if you tackle the housing, you can get him back to having a phone, and contact with his kid, and the ability to send the kid/mom some cash, and from there hopefully a job.

  • I hope he gets help–there is a lot of it out there, though it’s not always effective (or effective for everyone). If he is getting $1100 a month in Social Security, he has a disability, which can make a lot of things harder on top of whatever else he is going through.

  • Except that 120/60 is a normal blood pressure

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