James, 70, returned from Los Angeles to his hometown of Quincy to take care of his ailing mother. 

dpi 17inch Poverty APRIL_James Friday night april 7 2017.jpg

James says that after his mother died, disagreements within the family ultimately led to his homelessness. He variously sleeps outside, or for a few days with a friend, or when he can get a voucher, a few days at the Welcome Inn, or when he can afford it, a cheap apartment.  His only income is a monthly Social Security check for $541.

November 2016:  James eats canned goods and potato chips for his Thanksgiving meal at “the slaughterhouse” where he rents a small room for $100 a month. The small room has a twin bed, a lawn chair and a cooler for a refrigerator. He shares two common bathrooms with six other tenants, but for months only one is in working order.

November 2016: James eats canned goods and potato chips for his Thanksgiving meal at “the slaughterhouse” where he rents a small room for $100 a month. The small room has a twin bed, a lawn chair and a cooler for a refrigerator. He shares two common bathrooms with six other tenants, but for months only one is in working order.

March 2017:  James says his apartment building should be torn down. “It’s got bugs, mice and rats. This place is like wide open 24/7 and people come in and out. Sometimes they get high and have sex, sometimes just simply to use a bathroom, and nobody gives a damn. It’s a disgrace.  I don’t need to be here, but I can’t find help getting a place I can afford.”

March 2017: James says his apartment building should be torn down. “It’s got bugs, mice and rats. This place is like wide open 24/7 and people come in and out. Sometimes they get high and have sex, sometimes just simply to use a bathroom, and nobody gives a damn. It’s a disgrace.  I don’t need to be here, but I can’t find help getting a place I can afford.”

April 2017:  James awakens in front of Catholic Charities on Maine Street and wraps himself in his sleeping bag to stave off the morning chill.  “I prefer hot weather over cold. I’ll soak a T-shirt in water and put that on at night. I’ll sleep like a baby.”  James will gather up his things quickly to avoid being approached by police.

April 2017: James awakens in front of Catholic Charities on Maine Street and wraps himself in his sleeping bag to stave off the morning chill.  “I prefer hot weather over cold. I’ll soak a T-shirt in water and put that on at night. I’ll sleep like a baby.”  James will gather up his things quickly to avoid being approached by police.

April 2017:  James finishes a cigar early one morning after sleeping in a cedar grove next to the History Museum. “Man, it was cold last night. I ain’t used to this shit.” A few days later, police officers told him he had to leave. “They were nice about it but now I have to find a new place to stay.” 

April 2017: James finishes a cigar early one morning after sleeping in a cedar grove next to the History Museum. “Man, it was cold last night. I ain’t used to this shit.” A few days later, police officers told him he had to leave. “They were nice about it but now I have to find a new place to stay.” 

April 2017:  James walks through Quincy’s South Park looking for a hidden-away spot to set up his tent. James was renting a room at the Welcome Inn the past five days but left because “there were too many drugs going on there. “  I’ve had nothing but pain and anguish since coming to Quincy, from L.A. this time around, he says. “ I have to figure out what to eat tonight.”

April 2017: James walks through Quincy’s South Park looking for a hidden-away spot to set up his tent. James was renting a room at the Welcome Inn the past five days but left because “there were too many drugs going on there. “  I’ve had nothing but pain and anguish since coming to Quincy, from L.A. this time around, he says. “ I have to figure out what to eat tonight.”

April 2017:  After searching for more than an hour, James finds a suitable spot in South Park to pitch his tent. He'll be discovered within days by someone walking his dog and decides to find a better secluded area.

April 2017: After searching for more than an hour, James finds a suitable spot in South Park to pitch his tent. He'll be discovered within days by someone walking his dog and decides to find a better secluded area.

April 2017: After weeks of living outside, James is invited to borrow a bedroom from a friend for a couple of nights.  “These mattresses are too soft, they will kill my back.” Grateful for a roof over his head, James decides to stay and sleep on the floor.

April 2017:After weeks of living outside, James is invited to borrow a bedroom from a friend for a couple of nights.  “These mattresses are too soft, they will kill my back.” Grateful for a roof over his head, James decides to stay and sleep on the floor.

April 2017:  After a sleepless night, James rests his head on a table at the Horizons Soup Kitchen.  “You have to accept the fact, damn.  The more you resist knowing the fact that you’re homeless, the worse it can be for you mentally and emotionally.”

April 2017: After a sleepless night, James rests his head on a table at the Horizons Soup Kitchen.  “You have to accept the fact, damn.  The more you resist knowing the fact that you’re homeless, the worse it can be for you mentally and emotionally.”

May 2017:  After sleeping the night tucked into a small enclave on Maine Street, James hopes to find a spot to set up a cheap tent he purchased recently from Wal-Mart. “I let myself get bogged down with all this stuff this time after living in an apartment for five months.”  He struggles with carrying a backpack, suitcase and grocery bags of belongings. “After living in that efficiency apartment, my body isn’t used to this … staying outside.”  Within a week, James got rid of the large suitcase.

May 2017: After sleeping the night tucked into a small enclave on Maine Street, James hopes to find a spot to set up a cheap tent he purchased recently from Wal-Mart. “I let myself get bogged down with all this stuff this time after living in an apartment for five months.”  He struggles with carrying a backpack, suitcase and grocery bags of belongings. “After living in that efficiency apartment, my body isn’t used to this … staying outside.”  Within a week, James got rid of the large suitcase.

May 2017:  James washes up in a public restroom.  “I know what it’s like to be hungry and freezing.”

May 2017: James washes up in a public restroom.  “I know what it’s like to be hungry and freezing.”

May 2017:  During the week of the Gus Macker Tournament in Quincy, James sifts through garbage looking for an extra plastic bag to replace one that is torn. James says once a Quincy police officer was going to take him to jail while he was getting food out of a dumpster, but when another officer intervened, he was only given a ticket for having a hole in the backside of his pants. He says he has to go to court over that.

May 2017: During the week of the Gus Macker Tournament in Quincy, James sifts through garbage looking for an extra plastic bag to replace one that is torn. James says once a Quincy police officer was going to take him to jail while he was getting food out of a dumpster, but when another officer intervened, he was only given a ticket for having a hole in the backside of his pants. He says he has to go to court over that.

May 2017:  Hidden on a small brushy piece of land in the District, James wakes from a restless night.  “My joints and muscles used to be strong, but now I ache all the time.”  His tent was later stolen when he had to abandon it for a week after suffering a serious leg injury.  His tent and belongings, including his Bible, are gone.

May 2017: Hidden on a small brushy piece of land in the District, James wakes from a restless night.  “My joints and muscles used to be strong, but now I ache all the time.”  His tent was later stolen when he had to abandon it for a week after suffering a serious leg injury.  His tent and belongings, including his Bible, are gone.

June 2017:  James rests at the Welcome Inn after he injured a leg in a fall on a sidewalk. “It felt like somebody picked me up and slammed me to the concrete.”  He went to the emergency room. “It ached and throbbed, but they wouldn’t give me anything for the pain.” The Salvation Army gave him a voucher for the Welcome Inn room. “I’m ignoring not having anything to eat today. I was supposed to get my Social Security check on the first, but something’s wrong with my SSI card, so my bank says it will take 7-10 days to straighten things out, so now I’ll have to go at least a week without any money.” The knee brace cost James his last $60.

June 2017: James rests at the Welcome Inn after he injured a leg in a fall on a sidewalk. “It felt like somebody picked me up and slammed me to the concrete.”  He went to the emergency room. “It ached and throbbed, but they wouldn’t give me anything for the pain.” The Salvation Army gave him a voucher for the Welcome Inn room. “I’m ignoring not having anything to eat today. I was supposed to get my Social Security check on the first, but something’s wrong with my SSI card, so my bank says it will take 7-10 days to straighten things out, so now I’ll have to go at least a week without any money.” The knee brace cost James his last $60.

July 2017:  James arranges a bed in a spare bedroom of a friend. He manages to stay at the location for only a few days until he leaves, because of the number of people using drugs and crashing at the residence.

July 2017: James arranges a bed in a spare bedroom of a friend. He manages to stay at the location for only a few days until he leaves, because of the number of people using drugs and crashing at the residence.

July 2017:   James dresses himself in the morning behind a  wall near Maine Street where he slept the night before. After someone stole his tent weeks earlier, James is reduced to sleeping on a concrete pad secluded near a small parking lot.

July 2017:  James dresses himself in the morning behind a  wall near Maine Street where he slept the night before. After someone stole his tent weeks earlier, James is reduced to sleeping on a concrete pad secluded near a small parking lot.

Share James' Story