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Exploring the Expereince of a Housing Crisis

Photovoice is a grass-roots initiative often implemented by individuals and communities that are marginalized. Individuals create a photograph with an accompanying narrative to raise awareness and educate others about their perspective and the need for action and advocacy.

In 2010, a group of women and men experiencing a housing crisis set out to photograph the places, scenes, and moments around Allegheny County that captured what homelessness meant to them.
With the support of our community partner Community Human Services and Michael Yonas, PhD, these women and men used the Photovoice approach to record and reflect their own experiences, strengths, and concerns. By sharing real, individual experiences, the Photovoice Project seeks to promote critical dialogue and enhance knowledge about living in a housing crisis and to inform awareness, resources, services and policies designed to assist people experiencing homelessness.

The bird- “He was the only one, not with the flock, he was too old… but also used up. Sometimes with the family they want to through you away or don’t want to deal with you… and just like a baby or old, they are vulnerable.”

Hygiene- “If you’re homeless your house is outside. If you go to the bathroom outside your get fined by the cops. And if you go to the library they don’t let you clean and what not, understandably.”

Fear- “I walked into this blind thinking… well they don’t have to be homeless. I’m not homeless, I fought to keep a roof over my head… this means something to me, that could be me sleeping on that grate.”

Pride- “He is another example of someone with pride because I see some guy tried to give him food and he wouldn’t take it… turn around took a couple steps and he’s digging in the garbage.”

Services - “They are not going to pick you up and put you in an apartment, short of that though they have different things…”

Encampments- “It’s people that you feel comfortable with, that you can depend on.” “If you look close there are bags and like a mattress and like a little camp… this is his house, this is where he stays.”

Police- “We need people like law enforcement to come and intervene… they have to come in with their authority because they have to… say this is the final straw. You gotta do it this way or you go to jail.”

Picking a safe spot: “You have to go out and hunt for a nice spot and sometimes you have to gout for a week or a month just to find that one place that you feel comfortable staying.” “Well you figure you the “Staties” from the Parkway, plus Pittsburgh Police, plus Port Authority. Every one of them covers routes… and at night there isn’t much foot traffic either…”

“True friends ask you how you’re doing… it’s a two way street. You both look after one another.” “I am trying to meet people that I can learn off of… I know a lot of people but I have only made a couple of friends.” “Friendship goes a lot further than a lot of people think. It’s not just sharing things…”

”My dog was my life, they're terrific.” “They say dogs are man’s best friend and I believe that… He helps me. He’s my buddy, he’s my friend.”

“This one photo is of my med’s because if I wasn’t on them I wouldn’t make any friends. So that is a big part of my life.” “If you’re healthy, if you’re clean, you feel good about yourself. When you are healthy, you start to feel better and then your health gets better. You are in another frame of mind.”

“getting my own place, I miss doing my own cooking” “As far as hopes, I’d like to have a relationship or get back into something serious with a woman and trying to make it work. I am tired of hugging my pillow at night. That’s a big step….To have a secure relationship with somebody where you don’t have to feel belittled or ashamed. It boosts your moral and your self esteem…”