A photo of Charles Nelson.
Archive photo

 Charles Nelson was born and raised here in Washington, in Northeast. Growing up, Charles describes himself as a “superb young human being. I was going through the old American ways.” A Cub Scout and a Boy Scout, Charles was raised in the church. When he reached junior high school, he began hanging out with “the wrong company” and got involved with drugs and alcohol. He dropped out of junior high school, earned his GED, and worked in a variety of jobs, including a five-year stint as a shipping and receiving clerk, for Howard University Hospital. He has been homeless for over five years. 

How did you become homeless? 

I was incarcerated, and when I came out I worked in home improvements and landscaping. Basically, when I became a diabetic it decreased my working ability. And the diabetes got out of control and that kind of held me back on working. 

What is the hardest think for you about being homeless? 

I guess not really being supportive to my family and relatives the way I want to, and not having things I really want and really need. 

In your opinion, what are the major factors that cause homelessness in our country? 

I can’t say for our country, but when things are not going properly for people in homeless situations they feel let down by society. People really don’t take advantage of the value of life. 

Where would you like to see yourself in five years? 

In five years, I would just like to be comfortable. I don’t have to be above anything, just comfortable and helping more in society. 

What advice would you give someone who is currently homeless? 

Basically, they need to maintain and be more positive. And don’t feel like you are nobody, because you are somebody. You are important to somebody else because you are needed more than anybody else. The [worst] thing is when you fall and can’t get up, when you don’t try to get up. It doesn’t matter how people look at you being homeless, you have places that can give you that determination and that insight about being better. You can keep hope alive. You are just as important as anyone else, so don’t feel like you are left out, there are people and places here to help you in ways that you need. 

Favorite movies: Action and comedy 

Favorite Food? Breakfast foods – grits, and cinnamon oatmeal with raisins.