Chris Arnade is a Wall Street banker who likes to photograph and document people's lives in the Bronx. On his Flickr page he says, “I post people's stories as they tell them to me. I am not a journalist. I don't try to verify, just listen.” His portraits and the stories that accompany them are heartbreaking.
Vanessa: Hunts Point, Bronx
Vanessa, thirty-five, had three children with an abusive husband. She "lost her mind, started doing heroin," after losing the children, who were taken away and given to her mother. The drugs led to homelessness and prostitution. She grew up on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, but now spends her time in Hunts Point, "trying to survive everyday. Just doing whatever it takes."
She was standing on the cold street corner looking for business, wearing only flip flops and smoking with her two friends. When I asked her how she wanted to be described, Mary Alice jumped in and said "She's the sweetest woman I know. She will give you the shirt off her back, if she has one on."
Millie: Hunts Point, Bronx
Millie, 40, got into heroin at the age of twenty-three, and has been addicted since. The last seventeen years shes been in and out of rehab and jail (possession and prostitution) and mothered four children. Her first three children she gave to her mother, and when her mother passed, to her sister. The sister, unable to support them, gave them to the state.
When she found out she was pregnant with a fourth, a little over a year ago, she entered a methadone clinic. 'I was almost always clean, I really wanted it for myself and my child. When I was seven months I slipped, I did a speedball. The baby was born premature and addicted to crack.' This child was also taken by the state.
Soft spoken but direct when I asked what her dream was she said, "I just want my kids. I can't ever do crack or heroin again. I can't."