Another installment of “The Invisible Ones” of Washington, DC.
Chris was sitting on the sidewalk outside of a busy Starbucks in the trendy NOMA neighborhood of Washington, DC. Ist & M Street is very busy during the morning rush as the ATF headquarters is just a block away as are several large office and residential complexes. There is often a line out the door at this Starbucks. This morning was like that so Chris was literally just an arms length from passersby. Inspite of this close proximity his cup was empty as he repeated his panhandling mantra, “Any amount will be used for food and God will bless many times over.” It appeared that no one was in need of any blessings. I sat with Chris for awhile and learned that he has been living on the street since 2003. This after he lost his job as a child care aide at a daycare center. The center closed and he could not find work. He also developed a neurological condition that caused his right eye to not focus properly and eventually become paralyzed. That led to a period of alcohol abuse and a steady downward spiral to the street. Chris says he’s been clean and sober for several years but still can’t find work. He was born in Washington, DC but no longer has any family here so he survives by panhandling and using the shelter system in the Winter which he finds to be dangerous, preferring instead to sleep under a bridge overpass or in a bus shelter. He gladly agreed to this photograph in exchange for a food voucher. After I left him I watched for awhile from across the street as he quickly assumed his cloak of invisibility on this busy morning.