James makes his way across town to seek help with the purchase of his medications, because he doesn’t have the $17.99 for his seizure and anxiety prescriptions.

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James, 39, says he’s been homeless since April 2016, when he says his mother ran off on him. “She was the payee for my disability check,” James explains. Until I can get that switched back to me, I have no income.” James lives primarily in a small wooded area near downtown but manages to couch-surf from time to time with friends. James suffers from severe tooth decay, seizures, life-threatening allergies, anxiety and depression. “I’ve got a severe seizure disorder. I can have seizures at any time. I've got back pain and sciatica where it causes my legs to go numb where it's hard to walk. I've got several mental health problems. I've got bipolar with schizophrenia. I've got major depression, severe social anxiety and PTSD,” James says.

James says once he gets his Social Security benefits coming in again he will receive monthly benefits of $553 combined with $137 a month for food assistance and $236 a month cash assistance. He’s been surviving on $373 a month for the past four months. 

June 2016:  James sleeps outside in a small brushy area within The District where he fends off mosquitoes and unexpected rain showers. James says he recently got caught in a storm and tried to cover up with his sleeping bag but got soaked. He has been trying to live off his $373 a month in food and cash assistance since April, 2016, when he became homeless after he says his mom remarried and moved to another state without him.

June 2016: James sleeps outside in a small brushy area within The District where he fends off mosquitoes and unexpected rain showers. James says he recently got caught in a storm and tried to cover up with his sleeping bag but got soaked. He has been trying to live off his $373 a month in food and cash assistance since April, 2016, when he became homeless after he says his mom remarried and moved to another state without him.

July 2016:  James applies medicine to a wound on the face of a friend. James says he likes helping people. “Just buying things from certain people that need money is another way I help them out. Even though I don't have much I still do it to, just to help them out so they can get what they need. But it's making it harder on me cause I'm not watching what I'm doing and getting more careless with it and putting more people before myself. A friend of mine that has a three-year-old daughter needed help with the electric bill, so I took $50 out of my check and a $40 winning lottery ticket and gave it to her to help feed and keep the electricity on for that little girl,” James said.

July 2016: James applies medicine to a wound on the face of a friend. James says he likes helping people. “Just buying things from certain people that need money is another way I help them out. Even though I don't have much I still do it to, just to help them out so they can get what they need. But it's making it harder on me cause I'm not watching what I'm doing and getting more careless with it and putting more people before myself. A friend of mine that has a three-year-old daughter needed help with the electric bill, so I took $50 out of my check and a $40 winning lottery ticket and gave it to her to help feed and keep the electricity on for that little girl,” James said.

July 2016:  Wearing a long sleeve coat in the heat of the day to protect against poison ivy, James clears brush for someone he met recently. James says he offers to help people with odd jobs. He says he doesn’t ask to be paid anything, but usually receives tips.

July 2016: Wearing a long sleeve coat in the heat of the day to protect against poison ivy, James clears brush for someone he met recently. James says he offers to help people with odd jobs. He says he doesn’t ask to be paid anything, but usually receives tips.

August 2016:  James helps a friend tear down a motorcycle for parts. “I just try and help out whoever I can. If I see somebody needing help, I’ll stop and do it. I don’t even have to be paid for it; it’s giving me something to do to help others,” James said.

August 2016: James helps a friend tear down a motorcycle for parts. “I just try and help out whoever I can. If I see somebody needing help, I’ll stop and do it. I don’t even have to be paid for it; it’s giving me something to do to help others,” James said.

August 2016:  Tired, with blisters on his feet from walking all over town, James and a girlfriend wait in line at the Horizons Soup Kitchen for a hot meal. James says all he has to do is clean and cook to stay with her. After about a week, the relationship ended and James was back out on the street.

August 2016: Tired, with blisters on his feet from walking all over town, James and a girlfriend wait in line at the Horizons Soup Kitchen for a hot meal. James says all he has to do is clean and cook to stay with her. After about a week, the relationship ended and James was back out on the street.

August 2016:  Just two days after being released from the hospital for dehydration, James is again admitted to the hospital for treatment of pneumonia. James said he was “chewed out” by an ER representative for showing up too often. James says a month later he went to the ER with a burning sensation in his chest and his throat was closing up. “I didn’t have my EpiPen and wanted to be sure I wasn’t having an allergic reaction, but the ER care coordinator said I shouldn’t be coming to the ER for that.” James says he has allergies related to bee stings, seafood, iodine, cherries, pineapple, and coconut that can be life-threatening.  “The Blessing care coordinators in the emergency room, have pulled me in their office, saying that six times is too many times to be in an emergency room a month. I told them half the time it's because I'm having seizures and people are mandated to call an ambulance at the places I'm at. My seizure medication isn’t working, so I’ve been having more seizures. I had ambulances come, I’ve been woke up from the side of the road by the police and others calling the ambulance thinking I was dead. I’ve got a severe seizure disorder. Sometimes, I get a warning when one is coming on and sometimes I don’t. And they're still saying that's too much for me to be there. So now if I have a seizure the ambulance shows up, I just sign the paper and I refuse treatment.  Even though I was at Blessing for dehydration and in-patient for two days for pneumonia, they still say that, I'm trying to think of the word they used, ‘abusing the ER privileges,’ is what they said over the phone to me the last time I talked to them.”

August 2016: Just two days after being released from the hospital for dehydration, James is again admitted to the hospital for treatment of pneumonia. James said he was “chewed out” by an ER representative for showing up too often. James says a month later he went to the ER with a burning sensation in his chest and his throat was closing up. “I didn’t have my EpiPen and wanted to be sure I wasn’t having an allergic reaction, but the ER care coordinator said I shouldn’t be coming to the ER for that.” James says he has allergies related to bee stings, seafood, iodine, cherries, pineapple, and coconut that can be life-threatening.

“The Blessing care coordinators in the emergency room, have pulled me in their office, saying that six times is too many times to be in an emergency room a month. I told them half the time it's because I'm having seizures and people are mandated to call an ambulance at the places I'm at. My seizure medication isn’t working, so I’ve been having more seizures. I had ambulances come, I’ve been woke up from the side of the road by the police and others calling the ambulance thinking I was dead. I’ve got a severe seizure disorder. Sometimes, I get a warning when one is coming on and sometimes I don’t. And they're still saying that's too much for me to be there. So now if I have a seizure the ambulance shows up, I just sign the paper and I refuse treatment.

Even though I was at Blessing for dehydration and in-patient for two days for pneumonia, they still say that, I'm trying to think of the word they used, ‘abusing the ER privileges,’ is what they said over the phone to me the last time I talked to them.”

August 2016:  During a break from making rounds to the food pantries in town, James takes a moment to play with a friend’s dog. James says he likes to write poems, but then his depression kicks in and his whole mood changes. “My mood goes from upbeat to down low, almost suicidal thoughts,” he says.

August 2016: During a break from making rounds to the food pantries in town, James takes a moment to play with a friend’s dog. James says he likes to write poems, but then his depression kicks in and his whole mood changes. “My mood goes from upbeat to down low, almost suicidal thoughts,” he says.

August 2016:  Meeting a friend at a local laundromat, James wipes sweat from his face. “I learned my grandmother died today. I cried for 30 minutes,” James said. “It’s faith that keeps me going, I don’t know what tomorrow will bring.”

August 2016: Meeting a friend at a local laundromat, James wipes sweat from his face. “I learned my grandmother died today. I cried for 30 minutes,” James said. “It’s faith that keeps me going, I don’t know what tomorrow will bring.”

August 2016:  After walking 26 blocks in the August heat to attend church, James sits by himself at a church picnic following services. The meal is the only source of food he will have that day.  “The friends I had would let me stay until my food stamps or my SSI check kicked in. I'd help pay the rent and help put food in the house and the next day, within a day or two, they'd kick me out because they got what they wanted. They figured I'd be the perfect person for that, because I'm living on the street. It just brings my self-esteem back down to where it was, back down real low. Sometimes it just makes me feel like I'm a welcome mat everybody walks on to get what they want and then when I actually need help, there's nobody there to turn to.”

August 2016: After walking 26 blocks in the August heat to attend church, James sits by himself at a church picnic following services. The meal is the only source of food he will have that day.

“The friends I had would let me stay until my food stamps or my SSI check kicked in. I'd help pay the rent and help put food in the house and the next day, within a day or two, they'd kick me out because they got what they wanted. They figured I'd be the perfect person for that, because I'm living on the street. It just brings my self-esteem back down to where it was, back down real low. Sometimes it just makes me feel like I'm a welcome mat everybody walks on to get what they want and then when I actually need help, there's nobody there to turn to.”

August 2017:  Escaping the rain, James has moved his meager belongings to an area under a local bridge where he will remain dry. 

August 2017: Escaping the rain, James has moved his meager belongings to an area under a local bridge where he will remain dry. 

“It’s faith that keeps me going, I don’t know what tomorrow will bring.”
— James K.
August 2016:  Walking back from moving his meager belongings from one spot to a drier spot in the anticipation of rain, friends try to help straighten-out James’ dislocated knee. James says, “no matter what situation you’re facing, its always best to keep your eyes fixed ahead towards the brighter light and it will always get better.” That’s what this whole thing is about, helping each other.”

August 2016: Walking back from moving his meager belongings from one spot to a drier spot in the anticipation of rain, friends try to help straighten-out James’ dislocated knee. James says, “no matter what situation you’re facing, its always best to keep your eyes fixed ahead towards the brighter light and it will always get better.” That’s what this whole thing is about, helping each other.”

September 2016:  James is exhausted after a series of restless nights. “The last few months I ain’t been sleeping hardly at all, and I don’t know why. I think it’s my insomnia kicking in again. I’ll sleep wherever I can. Last week I stayed at a friend's house that didn't work out, so I slept in the gazebo in Washington Park two nights in a row. I slept over at another park and then I stayed in my wooded area, or under the bridge. If I'm under the bridge, I gotta make sure all the rocks are out of the way, so I don't cut myself or poke myself while I'm asleep, and just preparing myself where I can see, so if I hear a noise, I can be at a vantage point where I can see all around me and make sure it's nobody coming up on me.”

September 2016: James is exhausted after a series of restless nights. “The last few months I ain’t been sleeping hardly at all, and I don’t know why. I think it’s my insomnia kicking in again. I’ll sleep wherever I can. Last week I stayed at a friend's house that didn't work out, so I slept in the gazebo in Washington Park two nights in a row. I slept over at another park and then I stayed in my wooded area, or under the bridge. If I'm under the bridge, I gotta make sure all the rocks are out of the way, so I don't cut myself or poke myself while I'm asleep, and just preparing myself where I can see, so if I hear a noise, I can be at a vantage point where I can see all around me and make sure it's nobody coming up on me.”

September 2016:  James and a girlfriend snuggle for warmth while spending a cold, rainy fall evening sleeping under a bridge. “I’ve actually prepared and got clothes hidden now in different places so if I get wet, I know they're dry and I can go to those places and get my dry clothes. But it's difficult preparing for something like this cause with mother nature, you never know when she's gonna let go. I go through Ladies of Charity to get my clothes each month.” James says the Quincy Housing Authority (a Section 8 public housing agency) has a three month waiting list. “It’ll be winter before I can find a place to stay through them,” he says.

September 2016: James and a girlfriend snuggle for warmth while spending a cold, rainy fall evening sleeping under a bridge. “I’ve actually prepared and got clothes hidden now in different places so if I get wet, I know they're dry and I can go to those places and get my dry clothes. But it's difficult preparing for something like this cause with mother nature, you never know when she's gonna let go. I go through Ladies of Charity to get my clothes each month.” James says the Quincy Housing Authority (a Section 8 public housing agency) has a three month waiting list. “It’ll be winter before I can find a place to stay through them,” he says.

September 2017:  On a warm afternoon, James hangs out with friends at Washington Park, while waiting to meet a friend he met online. He will sell his phone for some cash, so he'll have some spending money until the first of the month.

September 2017: On a warm afternoon, James hangs out with friends at Washington Park, while waiting to meet a friend he met online. He will sell his phone for some cash, so he'll have some spending money until the first of the month.

November 2017:  James walks to the public bathrooms at Washington Park and finds the facility is closed for the winter months. The bathroom at the park serves as a restroom and a place to clean up for those who are homeless in Quincy. 

November 2017: James walks to the public bathrooms at Washington Park and finds the facility is closed for the winter months. The bathroom at the park serves as a restroom and a place to clean up for those who are homeless in Quincy. 

November 2016:  Without warning, James has a seizure while staying with acquaintances who are renting by the week at the Welcome Inn. The two hold James down so he can’t hurt himself. The couple took James in for a few nights, after he paid for a room for a week. That was after someone stole his sleeping bag and pillows from under a bridge where he had been staying.

November 2016: Without warning, James has a seizure while staying with acquaintances who are renting by the week at the Welcome Inn. The two hold James down so he can’t hurt himself. The couple took James in for a few nights, after he paid for a room for a week. That was after someone stole his sleeping bag and pillows from under a bridge where he had been staying.

November 2016:  On a cold November morning, James makes his way to Catholic Charities for a cup of hot coffee. A week earlier James said he was attacked and struck in the face. Hiding for three days to recover, James missed his opportunity for a free meal Thursday and Friday at the Horizons Soup Kitchen and the Saturday meal at Salem Church. “I haven’t had anything to eat since Thursday," he said.

November 2016: On a cold November morning, James makes his way to Catholic Charities for a cup of hot coffee. A week earlier James said he was attacked and struck in the face. Hiding for three days to recover, James missed his opportunity for a free meal Thursday and Friday at the Horizons Soup Kitchen and the Saturday meal at Salem Church. “I haven’t had anything to eat since Thursday," he said.

January 2017:  James makes a call on his cell phone. Many in poverty qualify for an “Obama phone,” a basic cell phone with limited monthly minutes. With the lack of existing public pay phones, it’s essential to have a personal cell phone to make and keep appointments, seek housing, jobs or assistance.

January 2017: James makes a call on his cell phone. Many in poverty qualify for an “Obama phone,” a basic cell phone with limited monthly minutes. With the lack of existing public pay phones, it’s essential to have a personal cell phone to make and keep appointments, seek housing, jobs or assistance.

January 2017:  James stands in the center off his room in an apartment he now subleases with friends. After nearly a year of being homeless, James seems to have found a place that may work out for him. “I’ve come a long way from my little spot in the woods,” James said. 

January 2017: James stands in the center off his room in an apartment he now subleases with friends. After nearly a year of being homeless, James seems to have found a place that may work out for him. “I’ve come a long way from my little spot in the woods,” James said. 

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