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The stories of the homeless on the West Coast of the United States.
More than 105,000 people sleep unsheltered on any given night in some of the biggest metropolises in the United States. Associated Press photographer Jae Hong travelled to Seattle, the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles to hear the stories of people without permanent homes. Many are driven to the streets by soaring housing and rental costs, and a booming tech economy that is leaving thousands behind.Another 63,000 people sleep in shelters or transitional housing with no safety net. The rising numbers have pushed extreme poverty into the open.
The photos in this gallery were taken in 2017.
Jorge Ortega, 40, on October 5 in Los Angeles. Ortega has been living on the street for more than 10 years after losing his job at Los Angeles International Airport. He has a 14-year-old son living in Washington. His son doesn't know he is homeless, sleeping on a pavement of Skid Row.
Tammy Stephen, 54, on September 26 in Seattle. Stephen lives in Camp Second Chance, a city-sanctioned homeless encampment in Seattle. 'Housing here is out of control. That's why we have so many people on the street,' she said. 'There's nowhere for them to go.'
Moi Williams, 59, on September 13 in Los Angeles. Williams, who has been homeless for four years, said he is comfortable sleeping on the street. 'I'm not bothering nobody. I'm not being bothered.' The homeless are easy to pass by on the street. It's harder when you look into their eyes. Their gazes hint at lost promise or a glimmer of hope. Some are sad, some placid, others haunting. Behind each person is a story that however vague offers some glimpse into their lives.'
Alicia Adara, 33, on September 27 in Seattle. Adara said she ended up on the street after losing a custody fight for her two children with her ex-husband. 'I don't do shelters. I feel like I'm in jail,' she said. 'I've been like basically a prisoner all my life. I need to do this. I need to be out here. It's freedom.'
James Harris, 54, on October 3 in Los Angeles. Harris has had AIDS for 30 years, he said. When medication stopped working, he got depressed and was evicted. Now he feels like an outcast, vulnerable and struggling to survive. He's hoping that as a veteran he can get permanent housing, though he missed an earlier opportunity because a stint in a shelter disqualified him from being considered chronically homeless.
Bennie Sayee Koffa, 66, at Camp Second Chance, a city-sanctioned homeless camp, on September 26 in Seattle. Koffa said he came to the US in 1990 and never returned as a civil war raged for years in Liberia. He has lived in Canada and sought refugee status in the US. He ended up homeless and living on the streets of Seattle after splitting up with his wife a year ago, he said.
John Ruiz, nine, in front of the RV where he lives with his family on October 23, in Mountain View, California. His parents and four siblings moved into the camper after they could no longer afford the rent in an apartment. John dreams of his family having a successful life together and maybe ending up in a home that might have a swimming pool and backyard. Or at least one big enough to have his own room.
Barry Warren, 52, on September 27 in Seattle. Warren says he has been homeless his entire adult life. After about 20 years without a home in California, he moved to Seattle, where he says the benefits are better and life on the street is safer.
Bernadette Ortiz, 39, on October 24 in San Jose, California. Ortiz recently gave birth to her fifth child. She and her fiance were living in a tent when she found out she was pregnant. The couple lives in a temporary shelter at a local church until their move to a studio apartment. 'I don't want to live in a tent ever again,' said Ortiz.
Harrison Perkins, 31, on September 27 in Seattle. Perkins said he and his fiancee ended up on the street about two months ago after she accidentally burned down her mother's kitchen. Perkins, a recovering drug addict, wants to go back to Cleveland, Ohio, where his family lives.
Robert Irwin, 72, at Camp Second Chance, a city-sanctioned homeless encampment on September 26, in Seattle. Irwin said he is planning a trip to Michigan to see his older sister. 'I have my own SUV, Chevy Trailblazer. I want to go in March. It will be my last trip.'
Dolores Epps, 41, on October 26 in Los Angeles. Epps, a mother of two children who has been homeless for five years, once had a job at a salon and still makes money cutting hair. 'I don’t touch everybody, only the people that are clean,' Epps said. 'All these dope fiends (drug users) are gonna keep looking like a dope fiend. You're not my problem. But if you're a clean person and you just want to get a little bit extra sassy or as a man look a little more handsome, then yeah.' Her mother has custody of her 15-year-old daughter and nine-year-old son.