Another installment of "The Invisible Ones" of Washington, DC
I met Anthony inside of Union Station, in Washington, DC. He had just been warned by Security and the MPD that he could not remain there unless he was a passenger with a ticket or had some other business in the building. Panhandling was clearly not on the acceptable business list. Union Station has a new general manager who is has adopted a zero tolerance policy with regard to the homeless. Just weeks ago you might find dozens of people who were homeless inside the building, bothering no one, sitting quietly, resting or using the public restrooms. These days they are quickly targeted by security and made to leave or face arrest for trespassing. This was the case with Anthony.
Anthony agreed to this photograph and to talk with me in exchange for a small monetary donation. He tells me he has been homeless and living on the streets of DC for more than three years. I asked what he was doing prior to that and he told me that he was involved in a lot of criminal activity that allowed him to live the fast life. Anthony says, " he had fancy cars, fancy women, expensive clothes and a lot of cash." "I was a somebody, now look at me, I'm asking you for a few dollars so I can eat." When asked why he gave up his previous life Anthony says that "it came to me that all my friends were getting killed or doing hard time in prison and I just didn't see myself ending like that, so I walked away and here I am. No skills, no nothing." Anthony says he struggles every day with the choice he made but mostly feels he is better off. With warmer weather arriving in DC, it will be easier for Anthony living without shelter. He is a friendly and affable man who enjoys talking about his past life and easily engages strangers as he panhandles. If you know of someone like Anthony that you see as you go about your daily business, consider just saying hello or ask them if they need anything. I guarantee that you'll both be better off for the experience.