Broke, divorced, and after losing his business, Hakeem found his salvation through his Muslim faith. He scraped up $500 to purchase a run down house on the north side of town and now repairs cars from an abandoned two-car garage across the alley from his house. Turning a small room of his house into a place for meditation and reflection, he continually writes original phrases of wisdom, inspirational quotes, and factual tidbits on his walls that guide his moral and spiritual life. Always positive of mind, he doesn’t see himself as a victim anymore, but someone who accepts adversity as a metaphor to building ones character.
Many houses on Goldengate Street that were abandoned have been taken over by squatters who have retro-fitted the heating systems with wood burning barrel stoves. The house was raised by the city in 2015.
Michael lost his feet after he jumped out of the second floor window of a burning building. He recently moved in with his girlfriend and three others into a small run down house just east of Eastern Market. He often wheelchairs over to the I-75 and Mack Ave. freeway entrance or to Comerica Ballpark during home games and waits (he never asks) for donations.Sadly Michael and a friend were killed by a hit and run driver one evening in August of 2013 while returned from a Tigers ball game.
Local churches often hire security guards to watch parishioner’s cars while church services take place.
A family working together to make a small flower garden in their yard. One of the only family's on Goldengate Street that own their house, Tissheama is married to Dr. Bob, a local chiropractor who runs the Golden Gate Cafe, a vegetarian restaurant as well as the Innate Healing Arts and Ecological Center.
Hakeem took over an abandoned garage across the alley from his house where he fixes cars.
Greg worked for the Department of Parks and Recreation for 12 years but was laid-off last year. At 53, his prospects for re-employment are slim but he's hopeful something will come up.
William has been living on this spot for the past two years. In the winter he moves into a shelter, but the other eight months of the year he prefers to live here. His location is very visible so he receives daily donations from repeat visitors on a regular basis. He also keeps a very neat house.
Tyree Guyton is a well known local artist and the originator of the Heidelberg Project. This is only one of the many installations he has produced around the city, but the main focus of his work is found here, http://heidelberg.org.
Another sign painted by Andre Ventura who has placed hundreds of hand painted signs around the city that address social, political, and economic issues facing the city.
Glen lives in a camper trailer on an abandoned empty lot with no running water or electricity. He has lived at this location for seven years where he built a high wooden fence around his camper for security. He maintains his property with meticulous care, decorating his yard with folkart sculptures and planting artificial flower arrangements. Extremely inventive, he often makes his own electrical contraptions, like a pedeling bicycle generator so he can recharge his 12volt car battery (see next image). RIP Glen - 2015. Glen parished in a fire that consumed his camper trailer in February. It is thought that his kerosene heater exploded and trapped him inside.
Glen was demonstrating the power of his bicycle generator by making a light glow and playing the radio.
Josh often DJ's at parties so he sleeps a lot during the day.
A group got together and made a dirt bike course in an abandoned city park just a few blocks from Comerica Park where the Tiger's play. Zach wiped out pretty badly just moments before I took this photograph, but he was unfazed.
A group of teenagers re-purposed an abandoned tennis court into a popular BMX course. Long abandoned, the Brewster-Douglass Housing Project, built in 1935 was the first inner city housing project built in the United States. Joe Lewis, world heavyweight boxing champion trained here, Motown legends Diana Ross, Mary Wilson, Florence Ballard, and Smokey Robinson once lived here, as well as actress Lily Tomlin.
Shane is from the East coast. He left the corporate world in search of a more fulfilling life. His journey ended in here after he read an article about people living sustainably off the grid in a neighborhood in northeast Detroit. He admits that it’s a difficult existence, but there isn't any stress in his life anymore and he's never been happier.
Glen'Shell had been suspended from school for fighting, but since her reinstatement, she has stayed out of trouble and her grades are above average.
Rodney lives with Mary his mother during the summer months on Goldengate Street, but when the school year starts he will move back in with his father who lives in the suburbs.
Carrie is a prostitute who picked up a John who raped her and then cut large clumps of her hair off with a butcher knife. Her brother, who she lives with in an abandoned house introduced her to heroin six years ago and she hasn't been able to bring herself to go through the pain of withdrawal. Sadly she passed away from a heroin overdose in 2015.
Damien and Margaret live in the "brick House" on Goldengate Street. Damien had just recently been diagnosed with lung cancer and will start treatment with chemo and radiation therapy.
One of several portraits I've made of Tom over the years, one of my favorite people in Detroit.
Shawn lives in an old water pumping station that was used to cool the electrical current that supplied service to the city's trolly cars.
Sophie and Steve are Greek immigrants who moved to Detroit in the 60's. They've owned their tavern, Steve's Place, for over 43 years, making it the oldest, continuously run establishment of its kind in the city.
Diane was homeless and staying at a friends house temporarily.