Another installment of “The Invisible Ones of Washington, DC.”
This is Robert Williams. Robert spent more than a few years of his life living without shelter. He now has a housing voucher through HUD as part of the housing program for veterans. Robert is also a fierce advocate for the rights of people who are living without shelter. He is a frequent contributor to and vendor for the Street Sense Newspaper in Washington, DC. Before I knew anything about Robert this is what took place – I happened to walk by Robert this past Friday. What I noticed was a man standing in an alcove of an office building near the Farragut North Metro stop, surrounded by pieces of cardboard. I simply stopped and said, “hello, I’d like to help you out if I can.” Robert’s eyes welled up with tears and he began to cry, saying that he had been out on the street for hours and no one had so much as looked at him let alone said hello. He enveloped me in a bear hug and thanked me again and again for this simple act of human kindness – saying hello. Robert and I spoke at length about the problem of invisibility for people living without shelter, particularly veterans who are homeless. I must say that in all the years that I’ve been photographing people who are homeless this moment was especially powerful for me personally as it made clear the pain of invisibility and the healing power of human kindness.
Please take a moment to learn more about Robert. You can do that by visiting Street Sense and listening to the audio piece. Here’s the link.http://goo.gl/XQH5a2 Robert is also a prolific writer for the paper, simply search for his name in the Street Sense web site to find the archive of his work.