Lived on the streets for 20 years. Now calls The Prince George his home.
Ray has led an exceptional life. The oldest of seven kids, Ray was born in New York City and grew up in North Carolina with his grandmother. He returned to New York when he was 12 and spent most of his time “running the streets” His mother and some of his family still lived in Chelsea, but Ray preferred the streets, “trying to make a little money here and there.” He dropped out of school after the 10th grade and took to deejaying. He performed in a number of famous venues throughout the city and with a number of well known DJ’s and musicians.
In 1963 he took a bus down to Washington DC and participated in the March on Washington and watched Martin Luther King deliver his famous “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial. Ray also spent some time on the streets in Los Angeles, California during the Watts Riots and even made it to Woodstock to see Jimmy Hendrix play his famous rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. Ray explains being homeless at that time as being different than it is these days. “People would just open their homes to us and gave us things, we didn’t have to ask for help.”
In the mid 1970’s — a time when Park Avenue was lined with refrigerator boxes full of homeless people — Ray called the area underneath the 59th Street Bridge his home. He lived there for a number of years and built a hut that protected him from the cold. He would take aid from the “original” Midnight Run trucks and ate at nearby churches. In the mid to late 80’s, he remembered the 28th street area where The Prince George is currently located, to be an area popular for prostitution and drugs. It was a different time then and although Ray struggled with substance abuse throughout most of his life, he made ends meet by picking up odd jobs throughout each city he called home at the time. He would sweep up in front of stores for shop owners, he helped street vendors push their carts to the location for sales that day and he even did some construction work.
In 2004, Street to Home staff first approached Ray asking him if he wanted to come inside. Three years later he found himself moving in to the uptown YMCA and 9 months later—after 20 years living on the street—he made The Prince George his home.
Ray has been clean since 2000 and since living at The Prince George, he has connected with family members. He regularly participates in the various reading and writing trainings offered onsite through the tenant services office. He’s thriving at The Prince George and is proud to call it home.