“There were people asleep, stretched out on pieces of cardboard… I circled around again to show my children this is what happens when you don’t live a good life.”
Like many people, Detra had a preconceived idea of why individuals became homeless. Her perception didn’t change until she escaped a psychologically abusive relationship and entered the shelter system herself. Despite working multiple jobs, Detra couldn’t afford rent and endured the many realities of shelter living, like timed showers and sleeping 30 people to a room.
“I was working 2 jobs, living in a homeless shelter in NYC and was told I make too much money to even get food stamps.”
During her four months in a shelter, Detra experienced compassion from many strangers, like the shelter volunteer who encouraged her to tell her story to Humans of New York and the couple who listened to her story—and even invested in her—after a chance meeting at Starbucks. For Detra, these moments gave her hope and courage.
Detra is currently a homeowner. She also performs music and one-woman plays about where she’s been and where she’s going. You can keep up with her here.