I was born in Brooklyn but raised in Bergen County New Jersey. When I moved back to NYC I got a job working security. I was staying with someone, but it wasn’t my place. They asked me to leave – I didn’t want to be a problem, but I didn’t have anywhere else to go. Even with a full time job, and a side gig doing legal support work, I couldn’t pay rent. I didn’t want to go into the system, but what else could I do? There’s only so long you can couch surf from place to place before you wear out your welcome with friends and family.
In the shelter, I found a flyer for some place called Picture the Homeless. It wasn’t a job, so none of the other guys in the shelter were interested, but I saw “Civil Rights” and “Housing Rights” and I said, ‘I need to be a part of this.’ What excited me about PTH was the people in the room. I have this passion about people. I was so happy to see the rainbow of people in the room, but what really blew me away was what they were saying. They looked just like me, they weren’t wealthy, but they knew the system backwards and forwards and really on point. I was feeling unbalanced and dis-empowered, and I didn’t have the vocabulary to express it or do something about it, but working alongside other homeless people showed me how.
The things I’m proudest of, with PTH, are the opportunities I’ve been afforded. The places I’ve traveled to. The growth I’ve experienced. The lives I’ve been able to impact. PTH has sent me to radio journalism school, given me the tools to help people tell the story of what’s going on in their lives, what’s been impacting them. I’ve done Know Your Rights trainings for street homeless people at soup kitchens, met nice people and taught them how to deal with the police on a basic level.