New York City. Mayah. 8.1.17


If I am being honest, we ended up passing Mayah solely because a wanna-be hip hop artist, who was eagerly pawning his "newest and greatest CD", informed us that there were kittens in her general area. It turns out, he wasn't wrong. Along with her boyfriend, Mayah did have the company of a kitten.

"This is strictly temporary" were the first words that came out of Mayah's mouth when we approached her. She went on to explain that she and her boyfriend had moved to New York with the promise of public housing; however, it all seemed to be taking far longer than either of them had  anticipated. Mayah continued on - her candor obviously beginning and ending with us - as she made mention that her family was unaware of her current living arrangements. They believed they were experiencing NYC as renters; a secret that would have a short shelf life, as their plan was to return to Massachusetts within the next month or so.

While we weren't exactly able to understand the situation that resulted in Mayah and her mini family to live on the streets, it was important to us that we understood her experience, albeit temporary. Like many of those we had spoken to prior, she told us tales of money being stolen and actions from the public that are powered by stigma. Their experience with the police force has been nothing but positive and their engagement with other homeless individuals appeared to leave a bad taste in Mayah's mouth. The generosity, however, was far superior than what she had witnessed in other areas of the US; specifically Miami, where a generous onlooker was fined $500.00 for giving a sandwich to a homeless man.

Our conversation with Mayah, although brief, was encouraging. It led me to look back on everyone we have spoken with and it was then that I realized that while it is not often spelled out in certain terms, they all believe their homelessness to be temporary. Here's hoping Project Humanize can help their belief to become reality.