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 went from a $2,800 a month, two bed, two bath condo to sleeping behind a condominium building and hiding underneath the steps ….I can recall the steps I was under. I think they were about three feet tall. I could sit underneath there. Living under there in the winter time, trying to stay warm, wondering if you were going to have to move first thing in the morning, in a blizzard. I was homeless before, on the street, in a blizzard. I can remember being blown across the street. I literally had to grab a hold of a pole to stop moving because of the wind. To stay warm on the streets in inclement weather is quite a challenge.
And then … I’m very conscious about my hygiene, about cleanliness. My wife and I, when we were together… have you ever seen the Odd Couple before? Felix and Oscar? My wife used to call me a black Felix. Being a marine too …so imagine the struggle of trying to keep your appearance up and stay clean. Everyone not wanting you to use their facilities. I used to go into a Starbucks or something, I’d go in there, in that bathroom and transform. I’d have bubbles everywhere. I’ve been fortunate and blessed that I was always able to find organizations that would assist me with hygiene products, clothing; little odd jobs here and there.
It takes a lot out of you, because a homeless individual has a much longer day than the average person. Whether he’s on the street or in the shelter, he has to hit the street and get moving at a very early time; it’s usually six in the morning, regardless of the weather. If you’re on the back dock somewhere, security’s coming in and you got to move on because what most people think of as the ‘real people’ are coming to go to work. Homeless people, and homeless veterans, are people too.”
– Robert (formerly homeless)