Accompanying the photographs in Jake Anderson's book, "Homeless Souls," are personal statements from the men and women he traveled the country photographing. Some are pleas for help. Others read more like apologies. Most are explanations for why they are homeless.
They are sick or unemployed, addicted to drugs and alcohol. They are lost or broken or running from demons that have chased them their whole lives.
This, from a sad-eyed man named Sonny living under a bridge in Austin: "I think what happens to you when your young affects you your whole life. I've never been able to love but I have so much love to give. I just wish I would not be so scared to do it."
As moving as Anderson's photos are, their words serve as a searing reminder that homelessness is much more complicated than a paycheck or place to live.
It's a lesson we all learned recently with Ted Williams, the "golden voiced" homeless man who went from an Ohio freeway off ramp to overnight celebrity to now, rehab. It was a sad, if predictable, turn to the second-chance fairy tale. But it's also a much-needed reminder that there isn't one quick fix to homelessness that grows and strains our shelters and programs.
In a statement explaining his project, which will be highlighted in an exhibit at the Hartford History Center at Hartford Public Library, Anderson writes that his book was in reaction to his early indifference to the homeless. In his travels, he said, he learned that the men and women "need warm, genuine relationships as much as a place to stay."
The opening exhibit is Sunday, January 23, 2011 from 2 to 3 p.m. at Hartford Public Library's Hartford History Center, 500 Main St.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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