Before and After

This project focused on contrasting life before and life after Housing First. The streets were depicted as dangerous, dirty, and hostile in comparison to homes, which were safe, comfortable, and clean. Specific themes centered primarily on the ways in which housing afforded increased privacy, psychological benefits, and opportunities to rest, reconnect with family, and to better oneself.

Increased Privacy

A lack of privacy that categorized life on the streets, whereas housing affords an increased privacy. Having a sense of privacy not only increased access to sanitary places to sleep, cook, and clean, but also it restored dignity.

Please Don't Let Anybody Walk in on Me Now

2016Tom, 55Housed 7 months
This was my bathing and dressing room before.


2016Tom, 55Housed 7 months
This is privacy.

Sadness. Lost Hope! Homeless.

2016Deanna, 57Housed 13 months
We used to take our showers in there. In the bathroom, you have to use the toilet and try not to sit down. Half the time there’s no toilet paper. And it’s just disgusting.

My New Bathroom

2016Deanna, 57Housed 13 months

Opportunity to Rest

Once housed, photographers needed a period of time to rest and recover from the recent trauma of homelessness. Although sometimes lonely, this period of rest was important for recovery.

This is Not a Posturepedic Moment!

2016Tom, 55Housed 7 months
This was my bedroom before Housing First. [I was] there at Punchbowl, probably a year and a half.

Wow! Safe, Good Night Sleep

2016Tom, 55Housed 7 months
My BED! My bedroom since Housing First, and I totally appreciate it. It was nasty out on the street. I’m safe where I live now. I have a bed. I’m comfortable, clean. I’m not getting ripped off. Next to that is the bathroom where I can take showers and stuff. I don’t have to take spit baths and stuff like that over at the capitol.

When I was living in my truck on the street, I was very uncomfortable, had people stealing things, vandalizing my truck, residents complaining. I had one resident making a complaint about me to the mayor's office, and I was asked to move from the areal by police. Now, since I am housed, I am very comfortable and secure and have no one complaining about me.


2016Akira, 59Housed 15 months

Comfort & Security

2016Akira, 59Housed 15 months

No Harness

2016Jet, 49Housed 6 months

My dog, Kolohe, pictured on my new bed & in my new apartment. The comforter and pillow "I LOVE SLEEP" was from my former case manager, Mikki. My dog didn't have her harness on or anything. This is COMFORT of living INSIDE! Comfort of being "inside" at last. I was homeless off and on for 15 years.

Opportunity to Reconnect

Housing also afforded the opportunity to reconnect with family members and friends. Hearing from old friends and family invoked a sense of joy and having a home to where they could invite friends and family was very important to recovery from homelessness.

Nothing but the Best

2016Mary, 55Housed 2 months

While putting together my care package, my daughter expressed how much she loves me by giving me her Biscoff instead of peanut butter. “That is just, when I first moved in, my daughter, I was at my daughter’s house, and she was making me a care package. And she was so happy for me. And she didn’t have very much in her cupboard, but she had like peanut butter and stuff; so, she gave me this and told me that – And then I found out that this is the best that I’ve ever eaten...She gave me the very best that she had that day...She made me that care package. It was all heart and love.”

My Goal & My Strength

2016Cora, 57Housed 13 months
These are all my children. They are my life and happiness. They inspire me to set goals and get ahead.

Waiting for My Daughter to Come Home

2016Cora, 57Housed 13 months
This is my home and this is my bedroom. I got this place through Housing First, and now I can have all my children here with me. God bless me and thank you.

Improved Mental Health

Many photographers confirmed that they experienced psychological benefits, indicating increased hope, self-efficacy, and self-esteem. Not only did they feel better about themselves and their ability to have control over their own lives, but also they felt that they had the agency to enact change in their communities and the capacity to “give back.”

It’s how people treat you when you're homeless. I feel they treat you like trash – garbage. When I got my apartment I felt like a waterfall, like plants growing by the water.

How People Look at You When You're Homeless

2016Mel, 63Housed 10 months

Water of Life

2016Mel, 63Housed 10 months

Beautiful Peacefulness

2016Deanna, 57Housed 13 months
Hope - Happiness - Grateful - Blessed. "God doesn't put us anywhere we're not supposed to be and it humbled me, made me so I don't have judgment, don't discriminate. It was rough out there. I got beat up, PTSD. But it is humbling. But still I got over it, and I didn't hold onto it.

Opportunity to Reach Full Potential

Housing allowed the opportunity to make good choices and to reach their full potential. While experiencing homelessness, individuals are in “fight of flight” and their life is categorized by constrained choices. On the other hand, life in housing afforded the opportunity to live in ways that were more in line with personal and spiritual beliefs and to work on their individual goals. No longer in “fight or flight” mode, photographers were able to reconnect with family, live healthier lifestyles, and to be contribute to their communities.

Lesson Learned being Homeless

2016Nelson, 58Housed 7 months

Just to survive, scavenging through garbage to find food just to have something to eat, no choice at that time... “Whenever I [was] hungry, if I could not shoplift, I go to the nearest garbage can that was just freshly thrown. What I do is if it was chicken or what, we washed it, and then we put flour and then deep fry it. That’s how filthy I was before. And I kept on getting sick. But what can I do? ...No more dignity...But now...I have a folder for all my receipts because it gives me back the dignified living. No matter what, now I won’t let myself to steal. So, now... I put God as the center focal point of my life and everything follows smoothly no matter the trials.”

A sailboat on a mooring ball (not at a slip or berthed). This represents a safe harbor – after being underway, i.e., out in the ocean where anything can and will happen. People cruising usually use mooring balls (instead of anchors). Once on the mooring ball, one has a feeling of safety – I find myself reprioritizing – using different parts of my mind. When flight and fight is managed, I find myself thinking of stuff and doing stuff that I never had time to prioritize (i.e., reassess) my goals. In my home, I feel safe and have awareness to tact life’s crap.

Sailboat on a Mooring Ball

2016Romy, 51Housed 8 months

But I did learn something from [my 14 years of experiencing homelessness]…You are what you do, is what you are. In other words, if you do bad, things, bad things will come to you. If you do good things, good things will come…So, the rest of my life I will be devoted to doing good, very good things, instead of, bad things. I’m taking the rest of my days to doing good for people. Helping people giving more than taking…What you give is what you get.

The Before

2016John, 66Housed 1 month
Where I lived for several years.

The After: Good Education

2016John, 66Housed 1 month

Promise of a New Day

2016Mona, 35Housed 7 months
Sunlight through the tree. God created the sun, plants, animals, and us. It makes the farmers work in the hot sun and the trees gives us shade to cool off. He gives us animals for food. Life evolves in a circle of life.