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Homelessness is a health issue

By Karla Lozano

Youthcast Media Group®

I was amazed by how positive and upfront Roz Stewart was about the difficulties in her past life.

The Army Vet talked to students of Youthcast Media Group® (formerly known as Urban Health Media Project) about why she joined the military and how a bad relationship led her to being homeless, Roz also spoke about how her life has changed since she started living at the John and Jill Ker Conway Residence, where for the past three months she enjoys a city view from her efficiency apartment.

A teenager playing acoustic guitar standing next to a man.
YMG student Reggie Payne talks with Bill Chase (right) of the John and Jill Ker Conway Residence, in Washington.

In this building, there are 124 units which provides shelter to residents and offers affordable housing along with support services to those who’ve dealt with being homeless, mental health issues, addiction and food insecurity. Ms. Stewart says she has three adult children and prefers to be called “Roz.” She is outgoing and outspoken, as she and her friend and mentor, Linda Kaufman, debated several social issues.

Ms. Kaufman is an ordained Episcopal priest who works with the homeless. Roz says she was in the military for three years and then moved in with her former boyfriend, who she says mistreated her, emotionally abused her, and eventually kicked her out of his home.

Though all of this occurred, Roz maintained strong and decided to take matters into her own hands to find a home for herself since she was tired of getting disrespected all the time. Roz reinforced a lesson I learned a long time ago from a friend who was in a difficult domestic situation: "Although there are struggles in life you must take them into your own hands and find help to stay strong."

By Reggie Payne II

Who has the most problems in homelessness and poverty?

As a person who has been close to being homeless multiple times, I think about this question often.

Upon visiting The John and Jill Ker Conway Residence, I met Rosalind Stewart, a veteran who, as of April 5, had been living in an efficiency apartment there for three months and a day. For a person who was once homeless and looked struggle dead in its eyes, she is quick-witted, fun to be around and a little sassy. But, if necessary, Stewart said she will go “upside your head and downside your body.”

Reggie asks, "Do veterans experience the most problems in homeless and poverty?"

Stewart couldn’t say, but she did talk about her situation. She was living with her boyfriend. The relationship went bad, and when they split she had to move. “If your name is not on a lease here, you’re homeless,” she said.

She moved to a shelter for three months, then moved into the Conway Residence.

For me, she provided some perspective and insight on the experience of suffering from poverty and homelessness. It made me realize how much we all have in common with those who are homeless.

By Ashanea Parker

The John and Jill Ker Conway building is a residence where men and women in need of assistance can receive housing. The Conway residence opens efficiency suites to people who are homeless, mentally ill, and veterans.

Most residents were homeless and use the facility to get back on track. Recently, I met with a woman by the name of Rosalind Stewart. She is a veteran who had several hardships that led to her being homeless, but she remained humble.

Ashanea reports "Stewart’s determination and hard work led her to get back on her feet."

By Taqiyy Ludd

“I refuse to flip anybody’s burgers,” says Roz Stewart, a energetic woman who found herself homeless after a three-year stint in the Army.

Many of the residents who live at the Conway House were just like Ms. Stewart—homeless. Now they enjoy a sustainable life in a efficiency apartment just a few blocks form Union Station.

Students of the Urban Health Media Project visited the facility on North Capitol Street, SE, to hear how homelessness changed their lives and to hear advice about what to do if you find yourself in a similar situation.

Ms. Stewart and her mentor, Linda Kaufman, an ordained Episcopal priest who works with the homeless, made me think about several things:

  1. Too many U.S. veterans who served in war are homeless.

  2. Many are homeless because they have no personal network that can support them financially or help them with temporary shelter.

  3. The lack of jobs hurts everybody, especially African Americans.


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