The cliche that "one man's trash is another man's treasure" is never more accurate than when it's applied to Los Angeles's Skid Row neighborhood. At first glance, the area seems littered with junk. Ratty tents, overflowing shopping carts, and rolling suitcases that double as mobile storage lockers are everywhere. This environment breeds disease, and Skid Row had to weather a tuberculosis outbreak last year.
The city of LA—eager to sanitize this gaping wound of poverty in order to welcome deep-pocketed developers—attempted to seize the possessions of the Skid Row homeless in the name of public health.
A 2012 court injunction halted the clean-up effort, when advocacy groups pointed out that the "trash" that the city was so eager to throw away was actually the only property these marginalized citizens have left.
I went down to Skid Row to document the many varied possessions of the residents, and explore how they express their right to ownership.
Michelle, 42. Skid Row resident for 10 years. "This is my whole life right here."
Possessions: Her dog Skippy, wheelchair, dog bowl, new shoes, chair, hoodie, bag, and luggage full of clothing
Alex AKA "Joker," 45. Skid Row resident for 90 days. "Everybody's shit gets stolen every day."
Possessions: Bible, gloves, tarp, shopping cart, blanket, radio, hat.
Kevin, 38. Skid Row resident for 108 days. "Ephesians 4—the Bible."
Possessions: Backpack, blanket, luggage full of clothing, shampoo, bag.
Caroyln, 63. Skid Row resident for "eons." "Me, that's all I need."
Possessions: Shopping bag full of blankets, clothes, shoe collection she shares with her partner.
Roy AKA Cowboy, 65. Skid Row resident for 3 years. "If I leave here, everything's going with me."
Possessions: Clothing in bags covered with tarp; tent with sleeping bag, pillows, blankets, boombox, binoculars.
David, 38. Skid Row resident for 15 years or, as he puts it, "3,000 years."
Possessions: Shoes, blankets, beanie, a few cans to recycle.
Mack, 47. Skid Row resident for four months. "Belongings are extremely detrimental to one's survival."
Possessions: Crutches, hoodie, pants, pot, phone, umbrella, small bag, computer motherboard.
Ray, 18. Skid Row resident for two months. "I do gospel rap. My possessions are like life to me. Always keep your possessions on you 'cause you never know what life has got in store for you."
Possessions: Blanket, books, Bible, notebooks, sweater.