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Life, Death, and the Streets In Between

Oral Histories of People Who Died Without Homes

Introduction: 15 Lives

From 2019-2020, the National HCH Council interviewed clinicians, administrators, and consumers of homeless health care to create the first national collection of oral histories of people who have died while experiencing homelessness.

The resulting stories—15 lives spread across the United States—illuminate the perspectives and personalities of people who have died without housing. Our hope is to illustrate not only their lives but the conditions that led to their deaths to reduce stigma, spotlight barriers to care, and bring attention to the preventable tragedy of homeless deaths.

Erroll Hibbett

Nashville, TN
January 5, 2019

“You could see the toll of life on his face, but there were also bright eyes and a smile at all times.

Armenia Daniell

Mobile, AL
September 1, 2010

“There was no autopsy . . . it was natural causes. And it was so sad that she’d worked so hard, but she died happy. “

Ken Goslin

Nashville, TN
2011

“I liked seeing his transformation from ‘nobody’ to ‘somebody’ … he found his worth while dying.”

Mia

Albuquerque, NM
December 2018

“We live in the Western Skies area, and I say today that Mia is living in the skies looking down on the skies.”

People without homes are dying across America.

The men and women in these stories

came from cities across the United States.

Tabitha Bass

Miami, FL
May 2018

“Each moment with her was different. She just had a very funny, sarcastic, ironic sense of humor… And she was a writer.

Calvin Bradshaw

Worcester, MA
December 11, 2011

“He was always doing candid shots of homeless people in the community… I feel like he saved a lot of people. ”

Michael Owens

Nashville, TN
October 10, 2019

“I think he kept really close to the vest in terms of who he was, but he was just really benevolent, kind presence.”

Wendy Thomas

Houston, TX
2013

“She was a street advocate—a women’s advocate—especially for people in shelters. She could see me.”

Why do people without homes die?

Learn about the connection between homelessness and health.

Horace Horton

Nashville, TN
February 8, 2016

“He’s the person that everybody would dismiss. But once you … see beyond that, there’s this really soft core.

“Alan”

New York, NY
2019

“The subways weren’t working with a massive snowstorm… He dragged his oxygen tank through the snow to get to us.”

“Coffee George”

Nashville, TN
2019

His two favorite things were bicycling and coffee. Period. And we nicknamed him “’Coffee George.’”

Angela Johnson

Nashville, TN
April 2010

“She would just be freezing cold all the time… Even with that, she would have a paintbrush in her hand… ”

What can you do to stop homeless deaths?

Join us in working toward a world in which no
life is lived or lost in homelessness.

Larry Saylor

Nashville, TN
June 12, 2019

“…About 48 hours in he said, ‘Call an ambulance.’ They brought him back to life one more time.

Theodore Maddox

Baltimore, MD
February 2017

Teddy had a hard façade but a soft smile…

Ethelinda “Dawn” Wooten 

Nashville, TN
August 15, 2019

“She was a mother figure, there to protect…”

Dedication: For Britton Hill and all who have lost their lives while experiencing homelessness

This website is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $1,625,741 with 20 percent financed with non-governmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit HRSA.gov.

Copyright © 2019 National Health Care for the Homeless Council, Inc. 

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