Pauly says Street Stories has already proven the point. She was surprised to discover how many participants had prior photography or video experience, and how many different talents they bring to the table.
“Bernie will be the first to admit that she’s never been homeless and she has to rely on other people to reach into (that) world,” says Henry, who views Pauly as a valuable liaison between the homeless and policymakers.
“It can be fixed.”
The answers she began seeking during her PhD research still propel Pauly’s academic work. “It’s so simple,” she says. “It’s just so simple. People need houses to live in. People need food to eat. They need money to survive.
“One of the primary issues is that there’s no affordable housing,” she says, calling for a national social housing policy. In the interim, rent supplements are key to ensuring people are housed, she says. Third, it’s vital that people accept that “in a society as wealthy as ours, nobody should have to live without basic things they need to survive.”
Near the end of our conversation, she opens up about her motivations behind her work.
“I’ll tell you the two things that drive me. One is, that [homelessness] is simple, and it can be fixed.”
She pauses, and her voice catches a bit.
“The other thing that keeps me going is knowing that every night when I go to bed, there are other people who don’t have a bed. You know, when you get into bed, and it’s all warm and cozy and think, oh my god, somebody is lying on the cement. I can’t live with myself if I’m not actively trying to change the community I live in, because [homelessness] isn’t fair.”
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