A thousand words beyond the Hill

Chet White

Eugene is one of the 2,000 “mentally ill outside-living, homeless people” living on the streets year-round in Cleveland, Ohio.

Eugene is legally blind, finding his way around seeing only shadows and highlights. He has lived the last nine years in the parking lot of St. Ann’s Roman Catholic Church, never straying far.

About 25 years ago, the federal government cut funding from mental institutions, known as de-institutionalization, leaving mentally ill people like Eugene to live on the streets, unable to care for themselves. There are over 500,000 others living on streets throughout the United States.

He wears dingy hand-me-downs, once worn by someone else. And his food, given to him by someone else, is stacked neatly on the window sill of the parish hall as if it were his cupboard.

Eugene and the thousands of others like him can’t help themselves. If they were sane you wouldn’t find them on the streets, especially not during the cold of winter, hoping to make it to the next day, with or without our prayers.

Chet White is a senior photojournalism major from Louisville. He can be reached at [email protected]