Billy Temple and his prized possession, his daughter's graduation photo.
Billy Temple and his prized possession, his daughter's graduation photo.
via the Houston Press/ Daniel Kramer

Houston Press Delivers a New Perspective on Homeless People -- Their Own

New Times Broward-Palm Beach wasn't the only paper in our chain to publish a cover story about homelessness this week. John Nova Lomax at the Houston Press wrote a feature that brought to life a perspective too often ignored -- that of the homeless people themselves. 

In the article, "Prized Possessions," homeless people in Houston explain which possessions they treasure the most. The piece is a not-so-subtle reminder that these people are much more than part of the urban landscape.

While reporting this week's story in the Homeless Voice shelter in Hollywood, I caught a glimpse at some of the things treasured by the residents: magazines, a Kindle, stuffed animals, a TiVo. It feels odd to create a character sketch through the prism of a particular possession, but the items kept safe and close by people who have very little are defining in a way that is both basic and profound.

Here is a clip from the Houston Press article:

Billy Temple  
Daughter's high school graduation photo   

...At a nearby picnic table, we found 54-year-old Billy Temple sharing a bag of hot and spicy pork rinds with a buddy. Though neither appeared to be drunk, a cap to a bottle of Cobra malt liquor rested on the table.  

Temple is 54 and a native of Pasadena. He spent 21 years as a long-haul truck driver, and then his heart gave out; after five heart attacks, he couldn't pass a company-mandated stress test. With his white-line fever days finished for good, he now lives off a $600 monthly disability check. He said that on some days -- like the warm and pleasant one we were enjoying -- his wasn't such a terrible life.

Not long ago, he shelled out over half of one of his disability checks to help fund what is now his favorite possession: a picture of his daughter Kay in her deep blue high school graduation robes. He said he sent her $400 as a gift shortly before the photo was taken, and added that his money went toward clothing her for that photo. "That was money real well-spent," he said, beaming.

....Read more of Prized Possessions here.

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