Detroit is one of the strangest places you’ll ever visit, and also one of the friendliest. The city centre has been all but abandoned. They call it ‘The Donut effect’. Middle class families have moved further and further out of town, into suburbs which have their own shopping malls and become self – sufficient. The centre dies, leaving a skyscraper graveyard, and the poor in large crumbling houses now worth next-to-nothing.
Detroit has an estimated six thousand to seven thousand homeless population. They sleep inside abandoned buildings, sheltered under trees or pieces of cardboard. People say they look like zombies from Night Of The Living Dead. Seeing them aimlessly walk the streets, where every grate pumps out eerie geysers of steam it is easy to understand why.
The largest concentration of homeless are situated in an area of the city called the Cass Corridor. It was on these streets that we met Raymond. I remember how thin his red sweater was for that cold October day.
We were there to photograph many aspects of the city for a book project, and homelessness was an important one of them. We chatted to him for a while and when I asked if I could take a photo he replied ‘what kind of a drug is that?’. He was on his way to one of the Salvation Army’s soup kitchens. As we got back in the warm car and drove away we didn’t speak. Someone had painted ‘Jesus will be here soon’ on a wall. I hope he’s not far away.