Photo of mailboxes.
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Street Sense vendors and friends have shared these open letters to President Obama as a way of highlighting their hopes and concerns for the future. Below are their thoughts. 

Hello Barack Obama,  

Congratulations for becoming our 44th president – our first African American president – of the United States of America. We welcome you and your family with loving open arms to Washington, D.C., to the White House. We love you Obama.  

Obama, I am writing you a letter concerning changes that need to be made here in America.  

  1. Concerning our American troops overseas, will they soon come home and reunite with their loved ones and be at peace? Our troops have served their term long overdue in Iraq. Please Obama we are asking you to send them home safe and make a change.  
  2. Also the cost of food is expensive – it is high in America, housing for the poor is high, jobs have been cut off, people are getting laid off. Can you please lower the cost in these expenses?  
  3. Also the tax cut needs to be addressed.  
  4. See what you can do to change the budget cut and our American troops.  

Thank You,  

Sybil Taylor 

A letter to the 44th oath taker; to the President of the USA,  

When you take this oath of office you are taking the oath for 3.5 million homeless Americans; you are taking the oath for 1 million Americans who sleep on the streets after dark across America. By the way, your new home is surrounded across America by 154,000 homeless veterans plus 1.35 million or more homeless children. When you turn out your lights at night, their lights will already be out, on the other side of the Iron Gate that surrounds your new home.  

Mr. President, when I was about six years old, that Iron Gate was not there. When the USSR took down their Iron Gate, we put up our own Iron Gate around your new home! That Iron Gates keeps the voices of the homeless out, those voices that are crying out for help across America.  

When you take your oath on January 20, 2009, think of the homeless.  

This is my oath:  

Where I Lay My Head  

I lay my mind, body and soul under God’s kingdom.  

My bed is the Earth, that He once walked among us.  

My TV is always on.  

I see many things as I look up at Heaven’s Gates.  

My MP3 player is always on.  

I hear the drums of the Rodent running around my bed.  

Then the sound of foot traffic walking up and down.  

My MP3 player has a mix sound to it.  

I hear the autos, doors opening and closing,  

Buses that stop at my front door all morning long.  

It’s that time; the TV turns off automatically,  

God’s Kingdom is opening its gates.  

He is letting the Ray of Hope shine over his Kingdom on Earth.  

Well, let me walk this Earth, until God’s Kingdom opens its gates once again.  

Bless you all.  


By L. Morrow 

Dear President Barack Hussein Obama,  

I would like to remind you of a former effort of yours that you seem to have been all but forgotten. On Oct. 25, 2006, you sent two men from your senatorial office in the Hart Building to the Franklin School Shelter so that they could tour the facility and be informed on the issue of homelessness. Their names were Ian Solomon and Nicholas Colvin. The tour was led by the Committee To Save Franklin Shelter (CSFS), a group that was later incorporated as Until We’re Home, Inc (, a nonprofit that spoke up for the rights of homeless people and advocated for solutions to homelessness. I was the field marshal/public relations specialist for the group, which has now been dissolved. After the tour, we never heard back from either man. We were left to assume that they were just part of an exploratory mission to see what platform you would run your campaign on.  

Nonetheless, homelessness remains a major problem in this and other nations. With the worsening economic crisis, many more people are becoming homeless. The headlines are full of stories of tent cities popping up all over the nation and municipal governments putting people up in hotels. I’m sure that you’re aware of the housing and employment crises. That’s not to mention mental illnesses, prolonged physical illnesses, domestic violence and chemical dependencies that often lead to homelessness. As it turns out, the homeless shelters are the collect-alls for the various problems and societal ills with which society is plagued. It therefore behooves you and your administration to address homelessness as you address the economic fallout that we hear so much about these days. I’d dare to say that it should be first and foremost among your economic concerns.  

I look forward to working with your administration to effectively combat homelessness.  

Yours Ever So Truly,  

Eric Jonathan Sheptock  

Homeless Homeless Advocate 

Dear President Obama,  

I am a young man 20 years your junior, and I have seen more than the average 23-year-old old should. I am currently experiencing homelessness, something that I heard you yourself have experienced, even though only for a day or two.  

I am sure you have an everyday picture of what I and many, not just in the District of Columbia but in the rest of the country, and the rest of the world, go through.  

To me the solution is simple options: give those who want to live on the outside a place to go and at least have some normalcy, maybe adopt a vacant lot for old abandoned trailers, trains and other mobile structures with hygiene facilities available. Also mandate that all hotels and motels in the area reserve six rooms a night.  

Those steps will ultimately reduce not only the number of people on the streets but the hypothermia deaths as well. If these things can be implemented then I’m sure the end of homelessness will be next.  

Yours Truly,  

Reginald Black 

To President Obama,  

Let me begin by expressing my profound congratulations for your election to the office as President of the United States of America.  

The outpouring of people who voted you into office shows the diversity of this nation. Despite ethnicity, economic and social status, we can come together to select an individual through acclamation, based on the merits and the potential of an individual.  

One group concerns me, and is often neglected. In many cases, this group is shunned by society. In fact, they are considered a burden. The group I am referring to is the homeless community. I believe due to a lack of understanding and the stereotypes associated with the home- less, many people and organizations do not believe they are worth saving. I say to you a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. If a weak link is not attended to, then it will compromise the integrity of the entire structure.  

We are all aware of the economic hard times, and we have a tough road to travel ahead of us. We understand sacrifices must be made and accepted by all the people. Let us make smart budget cuts, concentrating on the efficiency of programs, and add a degree of transparency to the explanations of such reductions so those who will suffer will understand and know these sacrifices must be made for the betterment and economic recovery of the entire society.  

Finally, Mr. President, it is my sincere wish you display many of the skills you have enacted thus far. You have yet to be officially in office, but you have, in my eyes, conducted yourself as a statesman rather than a politician. Thank you for this opportunity to express my views.  

Jesse Smith Jr.  

[email protected] 

Dear Mr. President,  

I’d first like to say, you’ve made a change in history today. Many men want what you have accomplished, but they dream on without taking a step forward. I’m very proud of you, sir. I’m just one of many, but I think you will do very well in making a change to our nation and country, the United States of America. I wish my grandparents and parents were here to see the history made on January 20, 2009. I can imagine the joy on their faces and in their hearts. 


Phillip Andrew Howard 

“The Audacity of Shoes”  

Dear Mr. President, Mr. Obama, if you walked a mile in my shoes you would see a man sleeping near a dumpster as rats scurry around his bags looking for food, food he probably collected from the various soup kitchens and organizations that come to the park.  

Photo of President Barrack Obama sitting at a desk, while on the phone, with his feet propped up on top of it. His shoes are worn and have holes in the center of the soles.

Photo by Sherri Watts.

Walk down 14th St. and you will see a homeless woman shouting broken sentences and obscenities at passersby – just another victim of mental health facilities closing down during the Reagan era.  

As I walk several more blocks, I come across abandoned buildings and row houses that could be converted into housing for the homeless for just a fraction of the money the Bush administrations have spent on the Iraq wars.  

I pass teenage boys who are jobless and looking for work but cannot find suitable jobs. They resort to selling drugs on the street corner and some will surely become victims of homicide. Please help them find jobs by creating a job program for teens and youth in the inner cities.  

I now pass a clinic that has a long line of people waiting for services. Some have no insurance or cannot afford it due to low paying jobs or immigrant status. Please, Mr. President, institute a national insurance plan.  

If you walked a mile in my shoes you might also see black and Spanish men waiting at the day labor center for jobs that are surely underpaid. Please help them find suitable employment to avoid being exploited by such companies. 

A famous person once said, “Be the change in the world you want to see.” I don’t think he meant gentrification, as I look around me and see where whole neighborhoods have lost their identities, replaced by luxury high-rises and condos. Mr. President, please help the working class find affordable housing.  

On another corner I spot a man with a shopping cart piled high with his belongings and he sits begging for “change” and of course, taped to the side of the shopping cart is the Washington Post’s special collectors’ edition of you and your family at your victory address to the nation. It would be a shame not to have his dreams fulfilled by getting him off the streets.  

And if by chance this letter reaches the inner confines of the White House and you come across it on your desk in the Oval Office, I ask you not to forget the taxpaying citizens, homeless and formerly homeless, who helped put you in this position of great responsibility. Their hopes and dreams are part of the change you talked about, and the “hope” you mention in your book, “The Audacity of Hope,” and if you can indeed change their situation for the better, than we will feel safe knowing that as a people the world can be changed. This is something we can believe in. Yes, we can.  


James Davis