Our Streets

In the fall of 2015, just ahead of Colorado’s winter, Denver sent the full force of its police department and SWAT team to destroy five tiny homes that people ‘living without homes’ had built north of downtown.

Something in me snapped: Denver, what a bully!

Denver has over 6,000 people without homes, and over 3,000 trying to survive on its streets. It is an ugly business. In 2012, Denver passed an urban-camping ban making it illegal for the homeless to protect themselves with “any form of cover or protection from the elements other than clothing.” Violations can bring a $999 fine or a year in jail.

I began walking those streets where the homeless are trying to survive, photographing the faces of those my city has abandoned.

In 2020, people experiencing homelessness in Denver was estimated at 4171 with 996 living unsheltered on the streets. 220 people died on those Denver streets in 2020.

In 2012 Denver passed an urban-camping ban, making it illegal for people experiencing homelessness to protect themselves with “any form of cover or protection from the elements other than clothing.”

Mark and Jessica


“I’ve never set foot in a shelter. I’d go hungry first.”

Mark, “I’ve been homeless since I was 11 years old. When I wasn’t in prison, I had an apartment, and I lived with Jessica. I’m 43 now.

The police stole my bike. For this new bike, we found pieces of it behind a dumpster in Glendale. We put it together, and I can ride her in the front, a chariot! The dog has a home in the back.

As we were getting ready to go live in the streets, I didn’t want Chico to have to feel the strain of it, so I made him the best seat in the house. I just felt like if we had a place to sit down and rest, that things would just be better for us.”


"It makes it easier for me to be invisible."

"Born and raised in Denver, my parents were homeless when I was born. Went to High School in Westminster, where my dad finally got custody of me when I was 14, after not knowing him forever. He beat up my Mom when I was a little kid, and he went to prison. Violently beat her up with chains. Proceeded to do the same thing to me for 5 years after that. I made a couple of reports, nothing ever happened.

I turned 18 last December. My Mom is homeless too, she's living in her car, up north, she drives around. My Mom has a brain tumor, she's 40. She stopped taking her meds because they were too expensive. Like $500 a bottle. She just couldn't pay for it.

I was living down by the Greyhound station, the park. They have steam vents down there. Is it safe for you to be down here? Not alone. I play music, I've been playing for 10 years. I've taught myself everything I know. I make decent money playing. When the bars close, guess who's still playing music?

There's a lot of violence out here, and sometimes you have to defend yourself. The police fuck with us every night, no matter where we go.

I don't like doing things like government assistance, I don't want their help. I shouldn't have to rely on society when I don't want to be part of society. Even on an emotional

level, like the expectations are hard. I'm an anarchist dude, I used to hop trains and shit. Never had an ID. I don't want to get one. It makes it easier for me to be invisible."


“This is my Neighborhood”

“I stay on the streets now, pretty much in front of the mission (sleeping quarters upstairs are not wheelchair accessible.) I grew up in Curtis Park. This is my neighborhood.

I’ve been in a wheelchair for about 3 years. Something just happened with my back and my legs with my nerves not acting right. The doctors, it’s always three visits to get anything done. It’s the same drill for everything. Come on, man. I don’t like that. I don’t need more mind games.

It’s been a financial strain because I get no money. I’m not getting food stamps. No ID. All my stuff has been stolen twice. Out here I’ve got friends I consider family, we’re all out here struggling together. All going through the same things.”


“I’ve never set foot in a shelter. I’d go hungry first.”

“I lost my place, I was renting a janitorial closet on Ogden with the plumbing, electricity, $450 a month. I’m 28. I can’t get an ID, so I can’t get help for getting off heroin.

My mom passed away 4 years ago, my grandpa died on the same day. My anxiety is just through the roof.

I’ve never set foot in a shelter. I’d go hungry first.”


“Or I sleep outside, what's the choice?"

A fourth-generation Coloradan, DJ, lived briefly at Resurrection Village, the tent city north of downtown. "Suddenly had the blind light of reality smack me upside the head. I walked out of CU in 1997 with a piece of paper, English Lit, thirty-eight thousand dollars in debt, and went, well, what do I do now? And, yes, I knew there wasn't going to be a job waiting for me at the end. I wasn't able to get employment; wasn't able to get the student loan thing settled down."

"I still have that debt, can't get a telephone, can't get anything that's got any sort of credit required. It's been so long now, I have no idea what it would be like to go purchase something, getting a telephone, an apartment, you know, these are all tied in. They look at that background check, do a credit report to rent you an apartment."

"Spent a couple of years down at Denver Health as a prep cook. Staying in a hotel was affordable back then. Now, 90% of my income is spent on rent. Or I sleep outside, what's the choice? "


"Gotta have support."

"Yeah, I wanna work, having a hard time getting them to hire me anywhere. Walmart greeters, I'm overqualified, I'm like, really? Come on, I just want to work, that's all. I've worked all my life! I'm on housing lists all over town, a bunch of different ones for 4 years.

I raised five kids, mostly by myself. I single-parented a lot. I had two husbands, but they were not there a lot. One was an over-the-road truck driver, so gone a lot, and the other was in a working band, traveling, rehearsing.

I had to grow up tough. I mean, moving every 3 1/2 years is really tough on a kid. New people, new schools. That was really tough for me. I'm an Air force brat. My dad had a bar here in Denver, I worked as a bartender and waitress.

I'm an alcoholic, I'm trying really hard to quit drinking. It's just slow, ya know? I'm doing really well, I've cut down so much it's amazing. I still have the DTs, it hurts, it hurts your body, it hurts really bad sometimes. I had quite a few sober years under my belt. It just, I don't know, some reason or another, I fall back.

I have friends that I can stay with now, friends that keep me safe. (My rape last year) Was pretty traumatic. I don't like to talk about it too much cuz it just makes my anxiety go way high.

Gotta have support. My friends, we can talk about how we feel. We help each other out in this aspect. We're empathetic, and we know what each of us is going through, so we help in whatever way we can. Make it easier on each other."