Homelessness in Lancaster County




Unable to carry many possessions, the homeless keep only their necessary belongings

A Lancasteronline Special
By Susan Baldrige
Photography by Casey Kreider


Without a home and unable to carry many possessions, the homeless in this community keep only their necessities with them. It's an interesting perspective to see in this photo essay what they have, because it's all they have. Photographer Casey Kreider and reporter Susan Baldrige conducted interviews with eight homeless people this summer who allowed LNP to see what they take with them every day.

John Walter, 61

"I feel like I'm stuck in limbo," said Walter, adding that he spent 21 years in jail in Mifflin County and now wants to start over. He has a plan for a new kind of farming but said a local shelter threw away his plans. He carries shaving cream, a razor, deodorant, Irish Spring soap, a straw, detergent, small towel, sunglasses, toilet paper and a sleeping bag.

Jacque George, 31

George arrived here from Tampa, Florida because he has family in Bird-In-Hand and he has a wife and son who live in Middletown. He would like to have a job as a laborer because he likes physical work. He carries asthma inhalers, spearmint gum, a marker, cologne, a toothbrush, chips, wallet, iced tea and empty film container, all in a backpack.

Collin, 44

Collin sleeps on a friend's covered porch every night. He came from Washington state in 2001. His wife and three children live with his in-laws. He cannot stay with them because of his record. He served time in the Laurel Highlands State Penitentiary. Trained as a welder, Collin works temp jobs and gets to them on a bicycle he owns. He also has a laptop that he keeps covered in a plastic grocery bag and has a phone, a pair of extra shoes and a lunch container.

Ben Poor, 25

Poor is originally from Maine. He was living with his mother and two older sisters who live in Lancaster County before he became homeless. He last attended Ephrata High School after moving many different times. He said he spent several months in Lancaster County Prison for stealing money orders and for fighting. He carries his possessions in a small cart including an apple and a banana, a pillow, the New Testament, a sketch pad, journal, pens, water bottle, snacks, mouthwash, Vaseline, cotton balls and matches.

Stephanie, 32,

Stephanie is the mother of four boys: Josiah, 7, Giovanni, 10, Jaydyn 4, Jordan 11. She traveled here from Georgia where they had spent two months with her boyfriend. The family now resides at the Water Street Mission. "I was homesick for Lancaster but I had no where to stay," she said. Her boys will attend Carter & McCrae Elementary while at the Mission. She carries her health insurance access card, a baseball cap that she needs for work at a local pizza shop, a wallet, keys, purse, a worn basketball a battery-operated charger, hand sanitizer and a change jar her children are filling when they find coins.

Ashley Rineer, 30

Rineer and her 8-year-old daughter La'Nyshia live at the Water Street Rescue Mission after spending two weeks living in a vehicle in a public parking lot. "My daughter is so happy to be at the Mission where she knows she can take a shower and get clean," said Rineer. They have some clothing stored in their room at the Mission and carry a purse, cigarettes, a medical insurance card, two dollar bills and their flipflops.

John Slowakiewicz, 26

Slowakiewicz was living with his mother in a Lemon Street apartment until she got behind on her rent payments and they were evicted. She moved to the YWCA, he said, and he moved to the streets. He eats at local churches and sleeps anywhere he can. He misses sleeping on a pillow and hopes to get a job. He carries a library card, Captain America graphic novel, a wallet, deodorant, lighter, phone, water bottle and a sweatshirt.

Monica, 30

Monica and her 8-year-old son, Kayden, live at the Water Street Rescue Mission. They live off and on with her mother or with friends. She was waiting for a more permanent room there as soon as the Mission cleared her drug test. She carries a basketball, small case of cosmetics, Sponge Bob drink, sunglasses and a soda.