Dec 2, 2006

Homeless in the District of Columbia

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Homeless woman in Georgetown district of Washington, DC (Washington, DC) During my trips to the District of Columbia, I have always been intrigued by the many homeless persons in the American capitol. Ostensibly the center of the richest nation on the planet, the city is also a mecca for the homeless.

Colleen says that she has been living on the streets in the Georgetown area for "about five years." With some street people, one never knows with any certainty that any given person is homeless, but one look at Colleen's shopping cart is enough to confirm that she is, indeed, homeless.

Articulate, somehwat shy, and looking more like a librarian than a denizen of the streets, Colleen said that she would "prefer to live somewhere else," but this is all she can afford at the moment.

"When it gets cold I can always head to a shelter," she said.

Homeless man in Georgetown I encountered Joseph as he sat on the M Street bridge over Rock Creek near Georgetown. He had several articles of clothing drying on the cement guardrail of the bridge.

Like Colleen, Joseph was a bit reluctant to talk, and it took a minute or two for him to warm up.

"I lost my place a few years back, and I didn't have any other choices," he said, adding that he has no family in the area. "So this is home now."

For most of the year "home" to Joseph is living under the Rock Creek bridge.

I think I spend more time when I visit DC talking to the homeless than I do hitting the tourist sites, and I'm not sure what that says about me.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

"I think I spend more time when I visit DC talking to the homeless than I do hitting the tourist sites, and I'm not sure what that says about me."

I think it says that you are a caring human being- not some hardened consumer without a soul.

:-)

microdot said...

These folks all have a story and most are probably more about what is real in America than most of the politicians!! To be homeless in Washington D.C.? It's a rough town.
When I go to New York now, I wonder what happened to all the homeless people that used to live in the East Village. Then I go to visit friends in the outer edges of the Bronx and Queens and I see that they have been pushed out of Manhattan and live on the fringes, out of sight, out of mind.

Mark said...

There seem to be more and more homeless every time I visit D.C. as well. What's worse is the drive through West Virginia though; those who aren't homeless are living in practically sub-human conditions.

I think the whole thing just smacks of America's whacked priorities.

Philip Stern said...

I was often in DC during the summer of 1983. Once, visiting the Lincoln Memorial at midnight, as my girlfriend and I ascended the steps towards the grand statue, we heard the melody of a flute. Inside, a lone African American man was serenading that greatest of Presidents -- or so we chose to believe. Perhaps the man was homeless -- in any case, I imagined him so.

Philip
Blog: HomelessManSpeaks.com

Hooda Thunkit said...

"I think I spend more time when I visit DC talking to the homeless than I do hitting the tourist sites, and I'm not sure what that says about me."

Mike,

It speaks to your curiousity, a Writer’s curiosity. You give voice to the unseen and unheard of society who are unable or unwilling to articulate their own stories. And you make us think of that which we would rather not think of, if left to our own priorities/wishes.

That said, most believe the popular story that many of the homeless are incapable, incompetent of questionable mental ability/stability, which probably doesn’t completely cover all possibilities.

The stories that you write each tell us more, completing the picture.