Photographers' Blog

Homeless, sick and “thanking God for this wonderful place to live”

Reuters Boston Photographer Brian Snyder spent a very long and claustrophobic day in the tiny dark hotel suite where a homeless nurse, Tarya Seagraves-Quee, and three of her four children have been living in Massachusetts for nearly two months.

A record number of families are now being put up in motels due to high unemployment and the rising number of homes going into foreclosure, costing taxpayers $2 million per month but providing a lifeline for desperate families.

Seagraves-Quee has found refuge in a motel after losing her job in Georgia more than a year ago and going without health-care for about 10 months. She suffers from multiple sclerosis, Aspergers syndrome, anemia and lupus, and now is scared she may have cancer. Two of her children, aged 16 and 6, are autistic. After losing her job, and facing repeated physical abuse from a boyfriend, she spent $700 – almost all her savings — on airline tickets for her family to stay with relatives in Boston.

Being homeless has actually helped Seagraves-Quee get the healthcare she needs.  Everyday she makes phone calls for and fills out applications for public housing in an effort to get out of the shelter/motel.  Some of the towns in the area she contacted are simply not taking any new applicants; in others, the ”wait list” for housing is 10 or even 40 years.

Brian’s audio slideshow on the life of the Tarya Seagraves-Quee and her family follows. It is narrated by Seagraves-Quee, who is also a gospel singer:

The Wilsons: Climbing out of unemployment and homelessness

Dallas, Texas contract photographer Jessica Rinaldi spent three intensive, intimate and emotional days in the lives of Annette and Frederick Wilson and their family. The Wilsons have been homeless since they moved to Texas from Minnesota after losing both their jobs and then their home.

They ended up with their children and extended family in a homeless shelter but through assistance from the National Urban League they have now found some employment and income, and finally an apartment to live in.

Jessica’s audio slideshow, narrated by the Wilsons themselves:

Annette had been a bus driver in Minneapolis and Frederick was a forklift operator, but he had already been out of work for almost year before Annette lost her job. When Annette, who is a pastor in a Pentecostal church, lost her job and could no longer make the payments on her home she prayed to God for guidance and she says that God told her to move to Texas. They arrived in Texas with only $150 and drove straight to a homeless shelter. There they learned about a local job fair where they got in contact with the National Urban League who helped them move out of the shelter and into a motel room.

Tent city in Florida offers hope

Click here or on any of the pictures below to launch an audio slideshow.******A Florida tent city for hundreds of homeless people lies at the end of a dead-end street, but residents say they have not given up hope of a better life despite the U.S. economic downturn.************The Pinellas Hope camp, 250 single-person tents in neat rows on land owned by the Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg in a wooded area north of the city, has room for about 270 and has been filled to capacity since it opened two years ago.************”I could open the gates and have over 500 people,” said Sheila Lopez, the chief operating officer for Catholic Charities at the St. Petersburg diocese.******The camp has a food hall, bathrooms and showers, a laundry room and a few computers for residents to look for jobs and prepare resumes.************”This is a great place to be. It gives us a great opportunity,” said Alex, a resident who declined to give his last name. “We have a safe place to live. It sure beats sleeping on the street.”******The number of homeless people in the United States, one of the wealthiest countries in the world, is difficult to pin down, advocacy groups say, because most people are homeless for only a short period of time.************The National Alliance to End Homelessness estimates about 675,000 people are homeless on any given night during a one-month period. Between 2.5 million and 3.5 million Americans experience homelessness for at least one night in a year.******The alliance said it expects more than 1 million people to become homeless as a result of the current recession.