Few groups of people are invisibilized in our society quite like homeless people. We avert our eyes when walking down the street, pat our pockets to show we have no money to give them, and look at our phones when we pull up next to them at freeway exits. We fundamentally fail to even see them, let alone see life through their eyes.
The following social experiment, engineered by the New York City Rescue Mission, illustrates this point in a poignant and powerful way.
Elderly homeless folks are a particularly marginalized and invisibilized subset of this struggling population. As a result, six senior citizens–who currently experience or have experienced homelessness–collaborated with West Oakland’s Saint Mary’s Center to document their lives in order to humanize their communities.
The result is On Our Way Home, an exhibition showcasing the photos these elders took with disposable cameras. This Friday the artists will be on hand to show their work and address what we can do to end the growing epidemic of homelessness.
The Bay Area’s skyrocketing rents have been well-documented of late, and with that there is less incentive to build affordable housing. The most recent census data reveals that we have more seniors living in poverty than any urban area in the country, and yet few are looking out for their interests. “No one is building housing for extremely low income people,” St. Mary’s Center’s Executive Director Carol Johnson explains. “Where is an elder making $877/month supposed to live?”
Friday night’s event seeks to start the process of humanizing the people who suffer from homelessness and thinking more deeply about how we can help our community fight back against this epidemic. The exhibit is presented by St. Mary’s Center on May 2nd from 6 – 9 pm at Uptown Body & Fender 401 26th Street near Telegraph in Oakland. The exhibit will also be open May 5 – 16 from 8:30am – 5:00pm at the Uptown.