There is No They

Eric Elmore

There is no they is a photodocumentation of homelessness in Phoenix, AZ (The Valley). It is a photodocumentation of those humans experiencing homelessness, as well as the individuals & small groups providing direct assistance & mutual aid to those humans.

Homelessness is a crisis for one human. The word “crisis” fails, however, to describe the extent & rapidly increasing severity of homelessness for the thousands of Valley residents, estimated at last count – a severe undercount – at over FOURTEEN THOUSAND. This is double the previous official count. “Official” resources aimed at relieving, NOT resolving homelessness remain wholly inadequate. Officially, the Valley offers up just over one thousand shelter beds.

Poverty & homelessness within the United States still remain widely demonized, stereotyped, portrayed, & internalized as moral failings attributed solely to an individual. Most Americans know that there is a significant “homelessness problem.” This “problem”, however, is typically pawned off, pushed aside, & put away for large, amorphous organizations & institutions to deal with. “It is not MY problem”…so it goes.

65 to 70% of Americans, however, live paycheck-to-paycheck. No meaningful social safety net exists in Arizona or the U.S. as a whole. The vast majority of Americans are consequently… ONE job loss, ONE illness, ONE injury, ONE crisis, & ONE very short step away from homelessness themselves…myself very much included.

The assistance currently provided by large public & private institutions remains & is becoming progressively more inadequate. The number of humans experiencing homelessness is increasing significantly, as is the number of people experiencing severe economic insecurity, pushing the vast majority of Americans to the edge of homelessness. The direct assistance & mutual aid provided by individuals & small groups to those experiencing homelessness & near-homelessness is consequently critical, & becoming increasingly more so as homelessness & economic inequality & insecurity continue to skyrocket.

This project has two fundamental goals. The first goal is an (elevated) awareness that the homeless humans we both mentally & physically pass by, that we consider an “other”, & those providing direct assistance/mutual aid to them are, in fact, us. The second goal, founded on the first, is a call to action for those who are housed & not currently involved in relieving & resolving homelessness to personally get involved in a meaningful way. It is a call for direct action.