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The Chronic Homeless in Chicago

Lloyd DeGrane | United States

Chicago- Speedy stuck himself with a syringe before he finally found a useable vein in his neck

 

“Home is Where I Stay,” a common expression I hear in my photographic documentation of homelessness. Home may be a Chicago alley filled with rats, the dark and foreboding Lower Wacker Drive, a viaduct reeking of human waste and filled with used syringes.

In November 2015, I began documenting Chicago’s chronically homeless: the unsheltered who live outside. At first, their world was unknown to me. By early 2016, my eyes were opened wide. Thanks to a Northwestern University fellowship award to document housing in Chicago, I began to explore my city’s homeless encampments.

 I brought people food and clothing and we talked about living “outside”. I frequently visited. I learned their names and they learned mine, some have become friends.

I gained trust and began to photograph the chronically homeless. This is the underworld of my city, and I soon became immersed in it.

I hope to continue my work to shed some light on the issues related to homelessness in my city and other cities and towns throughout America.

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