On the F Train
I got on an F train downtown some time around 3AM on a Wednesday morning to go see some friends and have a drink. The subway car was mostly empty apart from myself and the two other gentlemen boarding the car. I couldn't help but notice the pungent smell of urine and filth coming from the corner of the car. Then I realized that I was completely oblivious to a homeless man sitting in the corner of the car. The man seemed to be much older than most homeless men. He wore trash bags on his feet either as shoes or protecting whatever he was wearing under. He was rubbing his legs in such a way that it seemed as though he was cleaning himself. It was obvious that this man has been in this condition for years and that he hadn't had any genuine form of contact with another human being in quite some time. It was obvious that he was very mentally ill. As I waited for my destination my heart was absolutely breaking for this poor man. I wondered how he'd gotten here to the point of living this sad existence. Presumably living most of his life gawked at as a spectacle. Hiding from the rest of us. All I could do was timidly snap a shot of him as I sat not 12 feet from him. I didn't dare to try to actually compose the shot out of a sense of shame or guilt. I felt that it was all I could do.
Homelessness in New York City has reached it's highest levels since the Great Depression. The number of homeless sleeping in shelters has increased by 61% since 2002. Research show that homeless adults have significantly higher rates of serious mental illness, addiction problems, and other severe health problems.
There are about 50,000 homeless in shelters. Worse still, 21,034 of those are children.
The problem of homelessness is huge. The causes are variable but the effects are still tangible. The solution to the problem is unclear, but it is something that needs to be addressed.