Another installment of "The Invisible Ones" of Washington, DC.
I saw Rosie panhandling just inside the entrance to the Farragut North metro station on a busy Friday morning. She was sitting on the concrete floor holding out a torn and dirty cap in the direction of the rush of morning commuters coming and going at this stop. When I sat down next to her she asked if I was the police. Apparently the MPD has been asking the homeless to move along when they are sitting in certain public spaces. The area around Farragut North is known as the "Golden Triangle" and is currently part of the city's beautification campaign. It's worth reading this blog post from Diana Pillsbury regarding this issue.
After Rosie was satisfied that I wasn't with the MPD she was willing to tell me a little about herself. She says she is 83 years old and been homeless for 17 years. She came to DC from Kentucky after her husband died hoping to live with his relatives. This did not turn out as expected and she has been living a marginal existence ever since. She will sometimes make enough money panhandling to get a $20/week room in a flop house but mostly she tries to sleep at a women's shelter or in the park. Rosie is not in good health, she has a lesion of some kind on her nose along with a wheezing cough and arthritis. She is not optimistic about making it through the Winter.
Rosie's presentation is terribly sad and pathetic as she sits there propped against the concrete wall. She is not aggressive or offensive in anyway, yet she is not given a second glance by dozens of morning commuters. She is invisible to them. Rosie was agreeable to allowing me to take her photograph in exchange for a cash contribution. There is something very wrong with the priorities of my city when a woman such as Rosie is reduced to begging at a Metro station.