Another installment of the Invisible Ones of Washington, DC
Michelle is one of the many tent dwellers living under the train track overpass on L Street NE. I was walking by and happened to notice her cleaning out her small tent. After introducing myself and explaining the Invisible Ones photoproject, I asked her if If could make a photo of her. She was happy to oblige but insisted that she be allowed to freshen up a bit. She later emerged from the tent with make up, lipstick, her hair slicked back, a dress and jewelery. Really quite a transformation. She suggested the spot that you see where the sun was illuminating part of the wall. She then began striking poses asking to see each subsequent shot until she liked the one that you see here. I asked her if she had done this before and she said that when she was much younger she had done some modeling. Michelle says she’s been on the streets for about 10 years and has only recently acquired a tent to house her posessions. Like many homeless women, she avoids the shelter system because she perceives it to be dangerous. She does seek out a few church sponsored shelters for food when panhandling doesn’t generate enough money. Michelle wasn’t willing to divulge much more about her personal circumstances beyond saying that she’s seen a lot of trouble. I compensated Michelle for her time with a monetary donation.
If you pass under the L Street overpass, Michelle’s tent is at the end of the row nearest to 2nd Street on the North side of L. Stop and say hello, it will help her and those like her feel a little less invisible.