Backback Bill, John Horn, myself, and Greg
at the U-Haul lot on Fourth Street.

Welcome viewers. This is my first experiment in publishing on the world wide web. In the future, I plan to publish additional projects and photographic essays on social issues that affect our community and our citizens.

Over a period of ten months in 1994, I spent my days with the homeless of Covington, Kentucky. I observed this enigmatic population from the inside of their community: I ate with the homeless at soup kitchens and from dumpsters. I tried panhandling with a few of the people I met, although I wasn't very successful. I also did a little "rubber tramping," which is when you call your car your home.

I worked to gain an understanding of their homelessness by being a part of their community and treating them like I would any other person - like human beings. Underneath their dirty surface I found that many of the homeless are like you and me. They have hopes, needs, desires and dreams as we all do. Unfortunately, the realization of their hopes and dreams is often hampered by a severe addiction to alcohol.

Many of Covington's street people will tell you that they are homeless by choice, and they enjoy their freedom and lack of responsibility. Others will tell you that they are not homeless, that the shanty or "hooch" they sleep in is their home.

This photographic essay invites you to the world of Covington's homeless. It is a world which exists on the fringe of cities from state to state across the country.

Living day-to-day without knowing where your next meal is coming from, or where you will be sleeping, is not an experience most of us will ever have. For the homeless it is a daily chore that must be completed to ensure survival.

I began this project feeling that solutions to the problem of homelessness were plentiful. I wasn't sure what the specific actions might be, but I hoped that through this undertaking I would have a better understanding of the possible answers to this complex and dynamic problem.

Now that I have completed the project, and I find their society is less enigmatic, I am farther from any practical solutions than when I began.

-- John Decker

All photos © 1994 John Decker
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