Ray - "I was born in Salisbury, Maryland in 1959. My wife died a little while back of an aneurism. A vein popped in her brain and she died. I was there when it happened. I tell you, I am a veteran of the 1991 Gulf War and this was the hardest thing I have ever been through. I didn't know how to handle things and started drinking heavily. I still love her so much. My wife took care of all of my paper work and kept things in order because I don't know how to take care of myself. See, I am under-educated. After she died, I lost my job and me and my four kids lost our house. I have two boys and two girls who are 13, 15, 17, and 19. My sister helped us out at first, but then she threw us out. Three and a half months ago, me and my kids ended up on the streets of D.C.. We live on the steps of a church. We tried the shelters, but got bed bugs. It is better on the streets.
"Living on the street means I have to do a lot of panhandling, a lot of begging, and sometimes I steal to get food for my kids. Now, I don't drink as much, but when I get stressed, I may have a beer or two. And it's a lot of stress being one parent with four kids on the streets. Whatever happens, I don't want the system to get no part of my children. They are not going to take my kids and put them in a foster home. These are my children."
William - "I am 17. It was pretty nice growing up in Salisbury. We lived in a small town and I love the country life. My Mom and I had a good time together before she passed. We used to sit back and talk about a lot of things together. Back in the day, my Mom took us to D.C. all of the time to see the monuments and parks. Since she passed, I have been spending a lot of time with my Dad. I am trying to help him get his act together and slow down his drinking. Sometimes, I feel like I am a parent, too.
"My friends probably don't know that I am here living on the streets as we just upped and left one day without saying nothing to nobody. It is tough living out here on the streets, but I am trying to make things better for us. Sometimes you have to take things one step at a time. Now, I am trying to find some type of job as some of my brothers and sisters are too young to work. I will do whatever: cleaning, selling papers, construction, stock clerk, security guard, whatever. I miss the country life now that we are in the city, but this city seems to be pretty alright. Everybody is so nice. Sometimes, it even reminds me of Salisbury. "
Ray, left, is pictured with his son William.