Several years ago, professional photographer Charlie Abrahams volunteered at Pine Street Inn, and was so struck by our mission that he generously offered to partner with us on a project to capture portraits of guests in our shelters. Charlie worked tirelessly to create Portraits of Humanity, capturing the emotions, reality and hope of men and women struggling with homelessness. Four of the portrait subjects who moved into permanent housing allowed Charlie to follow their story and photograph them after they had moved beyond shelter.
Richard was photographed as part of this moving series, and later moved into permanent housing.
This is his story.
"Pine Street had a surge of people who were eligible for housing and that’s how I got a voucher. I chose a neighborhood that I know. Pine Street staff were all hands-on. For the first year that you are housed, they go over everything with you and then after that, they give you space to be stable on your own. But if you need anything, they are still there to help.
What I like the most about my new home is that I see rabbits and chipmunks in the morning. And everything is there, all within walking distance. The first morning in my new place I woke up early, around the time that you have to wake up in the shelter, and it was weird not hearing people’s voices around me. But that is what I was waiting for the whole time I was there at the shelter–to get housed.
I am now doing the workforce development program and seeing it from a different perspective, being in a setting where you know them and they know you, but from a different side. They have also been really hands on and matching me up with my skill set. And, I overnight stock at the market in my neighborhood two or three times a week. Things are working out.
What I want to say to people about homelessness is that it’s not a condition, it’s a situation. Situations are not meant to last forever. It may take a while, but persistence pays off. For a period of time it wasn’t all good, and I still had to put on my poker face. I didn’t make my problem your problem, and I wasn’t going to spread negativity. I’ve had stressful moments, and went through all the emotions at Pine Street in the midst of everything. But in the long run, it all paid off."
For more information on Charlie's work, visit https://charlieabrahamsphotography.com/