What do you do when you pass a homeless person on the streets?
Say hi when you walk past them?
Just pretend there is no one there?
Or do you look away while pushing your AirPods just a little bit deeper into your ears?
We often think of homelessness as something people call upon themselves. ‘You should’ve worked harder, done better’. But anyone who actually had a conversation with a homeless person knows this is far from true. People become homeless through bad luck, loss, and grief. And when you acknowledge that, aren’t most of us just a couple of misfortunes away from living without a home?
For the 900th anniversary of Utrecht, Stut Theater and Straatnieuws created Straatslim (2023), a play with and about (former) homeless people. During the performance, the audience met six men without a home that were trapped in the system.
A street news vendor.
A man who ends up on the street after his divorce.
A refugee waiting twelve years to hear whether he can start a new life or not.
An accountant who encounters cocaine for the first time at a staff party.
A dreamer who hoped to find good fortune.
And a boy who, at seventeen, became homeless for the first time.
For the accompanying photography of Straatslim, I’ve captured these men as society so often treats homeless people: invisible. As we try our hardest not to look and not to see.