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 not staying anywhere. I’m homeless.
Sometimes I go to my mother’s house, but she doesn’t let me stay there a lot. Sometimes I sleep on my grandmother’s porch. They don’t really want me over there neither, sleeping in the house, so I have to sneak and sleep on the porch sometimes.
Sometimes I might sleep at a bus stop or something. It’s very uncomfortable, because sometimes you have to sleep on hard objects. I’m not humiliated now, but back then I used to be a little humiliated, so I wouldn’t carry a sheet or a quilt or anything. I would do it in secret. Sometimes when I stay out I might have to sleep on a bench, or I might just walk all night until it’s time to go somewhere where I can get some shelter, or some water, or some food.
It’s hard to get housing because there’s a waiting list and it takes a long time.
It’s been like three years.
My mother, she was on drugs. I get SSI [Supplemental Security Income], so she would take my money and use it for drugs and we’d end up getting kicked out. I couldn’t afford to live anywhere else, so I’ve been homeless ever since.
It’s my mother, she takes a great portion of my check, and she doesn’t feed me. She takes like $400 of my check. She buys food and she doesn’t feed me food. She cussed me out. She called me all type of names. My brother, he’s not working, but he feeds me every blue moon. He might give me a piece of chicken or something. But they don’t give me any money, sometimes I have to borrow money just to get food and stuff like that.
Like, last week, all I had to eat was a pack of noodles. It has a six back and it cost like $1.25, but that’s what I had to eat throughout the week.
They treat me very cruelly.”
Author’s Note: James was interviewed on H Street NE where he was staying.