For a class photo essay, I walked around downtown San Diego and passed out donuts to homeless individuals and met and spoke with them about their lives. It was an incredible experience. Hear their stories…
In 2015, San Diego’s streets housed the fourth largest homeless population in the country. In 2007, it was ranked the twelfth largest, but over the last decade it has risen to the levels of Seattle, Los Angeles and New York City in homeless abundance.
I wanted to meet these people living in the streets of San Diego. I went downtown on a Sunday morning with my friend. We bought some donuts at a 7-Eleven and walked around downtown, giving them away to homeless individuals and talking to them about their lives. I was nervous approaching people at first. We stayed away from those who were sleeping, arguing or looked intoxicated.
Some people were more timid when speaking to us. They weren’t used to people stopping on the sidewalk to speak with them. They questioned us and our motives.
We walked into a tourist-central park. It was aesthetically rimmed with tall palm trees, equip with a stone fountain and Starbucks.
I had a fantastic time meeting and talking with these people. Each time I approached one and struck up a conversation, it got easier and I became less intimidated. I realized that they were simply human beings with stories and who were, mostly, grateful for some conversation. My friend and I fully intend to revisit 4th Avenue, where Steven says he hangs out, to see him again. Now when I walk by homeless people I smile and say hello.
I feel very fortunate that I was able to have this touching experience. Homelessness in San Diego is a much larger problem than many locals think. Meeting some homeless faces helped me put a name—names —to this issue.