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Facing the Faces of Homelessness

It’s a tough subject, no doubt about it. Many people avoid using the word “homelessness” just as much as they avoid the people on the street living in the condition.

That’s a big part of the problem, according to long-time Long Beach resident David Freeman. His photo exhibit “Homeless Faces and Places” opens this Sunday, Sept. 23 at the First Congregational Church in Downtown Long Beach located at 241 Cedar Ave.

“I want to give a big thank you and a lot of credit to the First Congregational Church for even hosting this event,” David said. “Most traditional museums and galleries will not touch a subject like homelessness with a 10-foot stick for fear of upsetting patrons and donors.”

Freeman has spent his retirement combining a passion for photography with his activism for affordable housing and helping the homeless.

He admits he doesn’t have all the answers to this growing problem in America, but one of his main goals is to humanize the homeless—show them as people like you and me. His pictures certainly do just that. Some of them are shocking. But Freeman asks that people just “reflect” as they take in the images.

“I’ve learned that when I approach someone for a picture, everyone reacts differently,” Freeman said. Some threaten me but most are so happy to be treated like a person. I talk to them just like I would talk to anyone else. It’s so rare that they start to trust me.”

Images in the exhibit were shot in Long Beach and the surrounding area. Attendees will see homeless on streets, alleys and riverbeds of the Santa Ana Riverbed Encampment, the Plaza of Flags and Courthouse in Santa Ana, Mary’s Kitchen in Orange, as well as areas in Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Anaheim, Costa Mesa, Fullerton, Downtown Los Angeles, and more.

“It is intended to bring awareness to the depth and scope of the homeless problem, and to present the opinions and comments of many advocates for the homeless,” Freeman said.

During the exhibit’s opening, the public is invited to not only see many of these touching images (some of homeless people within Long Beach you may recognize,) but also to participate in a conversation about the issue.

Freeman wants people to gather and talk about the feelings, struggles, and problems that are presented by these amazing and real images from Long Beach and Los Angeles.

“It’s a problem we all need to participate in solving, otherwise nothing will change,” Freeman said.

Visit the First Congregational Church this Sunday between 11:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. to join in this important conversation. The exhibit will be displayed through October and will be visible during normal church hours.

David looks forward to bringing together two worlds that have become his life: a community of neighbors and friends who live in homes and those who don’t but are still people nonetheless—just like you and me.


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