If you took time to listen to the homeless,
what would they say?

In late 2006, David Habercom approached me with an offer I simply couldn’t refuse.

David is one of this area’s premier portrait photographers. In recent years, he’s established a reputation as a prolific photographer of homeless people. These aren’t snapshots taken from across the street; they’re high-quality studio portraits, intimate and human. They’re really quite amazing.

David wanted to talk to me about a revolutionary idea. He wanted to create a gallery exhibit where people could see his portraits of the homeless and hear the voices of the people he’d photographed. We’d hear about their struggles, their fears and their dreams. David wanted me to conduct, record and edit the audio interviews.

Once he described his vision for the project, I couldn’t say “yes” quickly enough.

Together with local video producer Bob Deck, we fashioned a temporary recording room in the supply closet of David’s Gay Street photography studio. On our recording days, David goes across the street to the Volunteer Ministry Center and recruits subjects. Then they come to the studio, sit for a portrait and I interview them.

Since we began, we’ve interviewed more than two dozen people.

“The Other Side of the Street” is a compilation of some of these interviews. These short audio memoirs are genuine, personal and powerful. Most importantly, they give us the opportunity to see homelessness from a different angle. It’s not simply a nebulous social issue; it’s life on the fringes of society, played out each day by real people.

We hope these voices find a place in your understanding of life on the other side of the street.

Sincerely,

Matt Shafer Powell  
News Director
WUOT 91.9 FM 

detail of Habercom photo detail of Habercom photo detail of Habercom photo detail of Habercom photo detail of Habercom photo detail of Habercom photo detail of Habercom photo detail of Habercom photo detail of Habercom photo detail of Habercom photo

Select any photo to view slideshow.
All photographs © David Habercom.

ARE YOU LISTENING?

In any given month, more than 1,600 people in Knox County find themselves without a home. And each has a rich, complex story to tell.

Beginning November 7, you can hear a new segment of this eight-week series live on WUOT every Wednesday during Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Following each broadcast, episodes will be made available on this website.

EPISODE 1, 11/07/07 >>

If you are seeing this rather than an audio player you may need to upgrade your Flash player to a newer version, or enable javascript on your browser.


EPISODE 2, 11/14/07 >>

If you are seeing this rather than an audio player you may need to upgrade your Flash player to a newer version, or enable javascript on your browser.


EPISODE 3, 11/21/07 >>


EPISODE 4, 11/28/07 >>


EPISODE 5, 12/05/07 >>


EPISODE 6, 12/12/07 >>


EPISODE 7, 12/19/07 >>


EPISODE 8, 12/26/07 >>

 

ARE YOU HEARING?

For more information on the state of homelessness in Knoxville and Knox County, please consult the following resources:

For more information on photographer David Habercom, please visit his website.