Venice Beach, CA -- "Hi there," I called out as "Ben" pushed his shopping cart along the famous boardwalk. He stopped and engaged me in conversation.
I asked Ben where he lives. He winced, looked off to the horizon and told me, "I live where ever I can find a place." After asking for a buck, I came back asking for a more specific answer to where do you live.
Ben told me that he lives on the streets about two weeks out of each month. He said the city of Santa Monica (west end of Los Angeles), provides temporary housing and /or monthly checks to those wondering the streets. He explained that the money pays for about a week in a cheep motel, then he finds other places to sleep. Ben told me his story of how he got to this place with a sense of pride.
I asked him if he could wave a magic wand, what would he want to change in his live. Without hesitation, he looked me in my eyes and said he wouldn't change a thing.
Ben said that during the warmer months, he travels the US and Canada. When it starts getting cold, cities give transients free bus tickets to Santa Monica. He said that Santa Monica is the place to be in the winter months, "Who can resist free food and a check just for being homeless?"
I ended up giving Ben that dollar in return for allowing me to take a series of photos and asking him questions. He was very grateful.