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James Davis

James was born in 1957 in Charleston South Carolina. He has five sisters and four brothers. After September eleventh both of his parents died of cancer within six months. This aggravated his depression. He was suffering from chronic depression and was put on Prozac, which he rejected, and another anti-depressant after that. He did not take the medication. His depression led to marital problems and he lost security clearance at work. He came to Washington DC to stay with a cousin and look for work in the private sector. He wanted to get away from defense work.
His cousin's house was foreclosed on just as James arrived. His cousin moved in with a friend and James had no place to go. He went back to Union Station with all his luggage. He slept there for two weeks. He would go back and forth between there and the greyhound station until security at each station made him move.

He saw people sleeping in Franklin Park and he decided to try sleeping on a bench. A week later the temperature dropped. People in vans came by and offered to take him to a shelter, but he did not go because of stories he had heard about shelters. He was awakened by a biting cold wind at three in the morning and took shelter inside the doorway of a building. He was awakened for a second time when a rat ran across his face. At this point he knew he had to find a better place to stay.

He checked into the holiday inn for the night then he went to the Central Union Mission. There he got a warm bed, breakfast, a shower and a place to store his belongings. He was able to start searching for a job. He got a job through a temp agency working in Rockville, MD. He tried to get a job repairing circuit boards for the government but could not get security clearance. He went on unemployment and continued to look for a job. The National Coalition for the Homeless came by recruiting Street Sense Vendors. He became a vendor and excelled. He started recruiting and joined the speaker's bureau.

He worked on the Bring America Home Act collecting signatures. He's been on the Jim Lehr News Hour and in the New York Times. He trains vendors two days a week and recruits them. He got his security clearance back last October and is going to work in Taiwan when negotiations between the Chinese and Taiwanese finish. He is able to pay for a room and pay child support with his street sense wages. He enjoys speaking and informing the public about homelessness.

The lack of affordable housing and a universal living wage are the main causes of homelessness. Good shelters have a courteous staff, and are clean. Church missions tend to have better food and be better run. In five years he would like to be in partnership with his brother in Baltimore. If he were President he would appropriate more money for creating affordable housing other than section 8 for those who work minimum wage jobs.

He appreciates the support at High Schools and Colleges where he has spoken and hopes he has been an inspiration.

National Coalition for the Homeless
2201 P Street NW
Washington, DC 20037-1033

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Page last modified: Oct. 11, 2011

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