This story and the images were captured by Humans of New York while visiting Women In Need (WIN) — a Robin Hood grantee aimed at helping homeless New York City women and their children transform their lives through a progressive and holistic approach.

“The landlord told me that he’d hold my stuff for two weeks. But when we went back to the apartment to get our stuff, all of our electronics were gone. And somebody had left the door open. My cat was gone. Her name was Kisses. I’d had her since she was two years old. I used to feed her with a bottle. I still have dreams about her.”


“Our building had so many violations that all the residents had to be evicted. Turns out the landlord hadn’t paid the mortgage since 2000. Some of us tried to stay, but it didn’t work. We moved to a hotel room for three days until we ran out of money. At that point we had no choice. So my partner and I ran to City Hall and got married, so that we could live in the shelter together. I never wanted to get married like that. We told ourselves that we’d have another ceremony once things are better.”


“I want to be a scientist.”

“What’s the best part about being a scientist?”

“Discovering bugs.”


“I want to go back to Virginia. We used to live in a house with two floors. My room was upstairs. We could go outside and play whenever we wanted. My friends always came over. Someone else lives there now.”


“Homelessness can be very confusing for children, and it comes with a lot of misconceptions. We try to untangle that confusion as soon as they arrive: ‘No, you’re not a bum. You don’t live in a cardboard box. You don’t stink. Mom is not a bad person. She isn’t crazy. This is not forever.’ We want to undo some of the trauma of homelessness because we don’t want children to view themselves as homeless for the rest of their lives.”


“It’s hard for a child to live in a shelter. They can’t invite their friends over. They can’t have sleepovers. They can’t have their own space. They can’t go to their room when they’re being punished. There’s no personal time for them to discover themselves without interruption. There’s even confusion toward the word ‘home.’ Sometimes they’ll say ‘I’m going home,’ but then they’ll correct themselves and say, ‘I’m going upstairs.’ We tell them that this is where they are staying while they make plans. This is only their home until they find a real home.”


“The landlord gave me a deadline of Sunday the 15th. On the 13th, I went to the guidance counselor at my daughter’s school, and she gave me forms for the homeless shelter. My back was against the wall. I didn’t have any other alternatives. Some days it’s OK. But some days I feel helpless and sad. On those days, I think back to the years when everything was going good. My daughter is a blessing. She’s been so strong through all of this. If she see’s that I’m sad, she’ll lay with me, hug me, and make sure I’m OK.”


“We’ve been in the shelter system ever since their father was murdered. We needed his paycheck to pay the rent. We had no choice. He had a good job at the Pepsi factory. We were engaged at the time, and we were about to move upstate. We were even planning to take a trip to Disney World. But when he died, a part of me died. I went into a depression. Everything was moving around me, but I was at a standstill. I didn’t want to do my hair. I didn’t want to be bothered with the kids. We used to go to the park and play, but after their father was killed, we were homebodies. I just wanted to stay at home and cry.”

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