PROJECT LINK: BROKEN a year in the life of Steve & Michelle
(Published online 09/09/18) at The Press Democrat)
When Santa Rosa, California declared a homeless state of emergency in late 2016, they were part of at least 10 city and county governments to do the same on the West Coast. The following year, The National Alliance to End Homelessness estimated that on a given night about 553,000 people experienced homelessness in America. It wasn’t the statistics that moved me, but the people I saw day after day struggling to survive while huddled under Highway 101 in Santa Rosa when I began what would be a 14-month long project documenting the lives of one homeless couple. Steve Singleton and Michelle Last were living in a tent on 5thStreet when I met them on Valentine’s Day 2017. They generously offered up their privacy, their personal anguish and relentless struggle so that the public could see the face that’s so often hidden beneath a pile of blankets on the sidewalk. Titled, BROKEN, the project is simply a chance to look closely at one couple’s experience of being homeless in America.
I am especially grateful that writer Meg McConahey chose to join me in telling Steve and Michelle’s story after she immediately recognized the great public value in sharing their experiences. I also wish to thank Chad Surmick and Corinne Asturias of The Press Democrat for their unwavering support throughout the creation of this project and all the staff at both the PD and Sonoma Magazine for their compassion and their commitment to publishing BROKEN.
-Erik Castro, September 2018