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TUESDAY July 6, 2021: 'The INVISIBLE' by Pulitzer winning Sacramento Bee Photographer Renée C. Byer: 'I'm trying to keep it together' Kristi Phillips and Anthony Slain, homeless with three children, move between a camper and hotels in Sacramento over several months in 2021. The number of homeless families in Sacramento continues to grow. California's homeless problem has been out of control for decades. Then came COVID-19. The result has been a deadly combination of medical crisis, human hopelessness and bureaucratic red tape as the state, reeling from the effects of the virus, tries to rebound with a plan for the 160,000 homeless people. That number eclipses any other state, and accounts for half of the country's entire unsheltered population. Sacramento Mayor Steinberg is ready to take a daring step to combat the homelessness crisis engulfing the region. He wants California's capital city to be one of the first in the U.S. to establish a legal right to housing and shelter. See the plight of a homeless family in Sacramento. Welcome to 'The INVISIBLE'
© zReportage.com Story of the Week #793: TUESDAY July 6, 2021: 'The INVISIBLE' by Pulitzer winning Sacramento Bee Photographer Renée C. Byer: 'I'm trying to keep it together' Kristi Phillips and Anthony Slain, homeless with three children, move between a camper and hotels in Sacramento over several months in 2021. The number of homeless families in Sacramento continues to grow. California's homeless problem has been out of control for decades. Then came COVID-19. The result has been a deadly combination of medical crisis, human hopelessness and bureaucratic red tape as the state, reeling from the effects of the virus, tries to rebound with a plan for the 160,000 homeless people. That number eclipses any other state, and accounts for half of the country's entire unsheltered population. Sacramento Mayor Steinberg is ready to take a daring step to combat the homelessness crisis engulfing the region. He wants California's capital city to be one of the first in the U.S. to establish a legal right to housing and shelter. See the plight of a homeless family in Sacramento. Welcome to 'The INVISIBLE'
KRISTI PHILLIPS, 47, says she likes to color to distract her from all the stress of being homeless. She sits in her car with her son TYREE FRANKLIN, 11, at left, after they arrived at South Natomas Community Park to camp overnight because they could not afford to pay for another night in a hotel.
© Renée C. Byer/The Sacramento Bee/ZUMA Press Wire
ANTHONY SLAIN, 45, looks on as his daughter SHYANN SLAIN, 7, tells KRISTI PHILLIPS, 47, a secret inside their camper on Saturday. Both parents say they don't get much sleep in the camper because they are always afraid the police will come and tell them to pack up and move.
© Renée C. Byer/The Sacramento Bee/ZUMA Press Wire
KRISTI PHILLIPS, 47, takes a break with daughter SHYANN SLAIN, 7, while cleaning her kitchenette inside the Residence Inn where she has been living with her family in Sacramento. 'I have anxiety really bad and its starting to make my anxiety worse for me and I'm on the verge of nervous breakdown but I can't let the kids see that,' Phillips said as her eyes filled with tears over their housing situation. Phillips says she works six days and only takes off on Sunday to provide for her family of five.
© Renée C. Byer/The Sacramento Bee/ZUMA Press Wire
SHYANN SLAIN, 7, does homework on her computer as her sister ARYANNA SLAIN, 8, hugs their father ANTHONY SLAIN, 45, while their brother TYREE FRANKLIN, 11, sleeps on a sofa bed the children share in a Residence Inn in Sacramento.
© Renée C. Byer/The Sacramento Bee/ZUMA Press Wire
ARYANNA SLAIN, 8, holds her stuffed animal as she operates her computer with her broken arm in Sacramento. Her mother KRISTI PHILIPS takes a break while making mashed potatoes and pork chops for dinner in the Residence Inn where they are now staying. Her hope is to someday live in a house but for the past year they have been living in hotel rooms and a camper they own when they are unable to pay for hotels.
© Renée C. Byer/The Sacramento Bee/ZUMA Press Wire
KRISTI PHILLIPS, 47, comforts her son TRYREE FRANKLIN, 11, who wasn't feeling well on a sofa bed inside the Residence Inn in Sacramento. After three years of homelessness the children started calling the hotels they stay in home when they aren't staying in their camper.
© Renée C. Byer/The Sacramento Bee/ZUMA Press Wire
KRISTI PHILLIPS, 47, consoles her daughter SHYANN SLAIN, 7, while the family of five stays in a crowded hotel room wondering how long they can afford to be there before they are back camping in their camper in Sacramento. Phillips works three jobs and one as a cashier at Rite Aid but still can seem to get her family out of this cycle of homelessness.
© Renée C. Byer/The Sacramento Bee/ZUMA Press Wire
KRISTI PHILLIPS, 47, cleans up the kitchenette in a hotel alongside her daughters SHYANN SLAIN, 7, ARYANNA SLAIN, 8, and their father ANTHONY SLAIN, 45 in Sacramento. She works six days a week and takes off Sunday but still can't seem to afford an apartment in Sacramento. The family has been going between hotels, their van and camper but feel blessed to not be out in the elements in a tent.
© Renée C. Byer/The Sacramento Bee/ZUMA Press Wire
KRISTI PHILLIPS, 47, packs up her families belongings with her children from left TYREE FRANKLIN, 11, ARYANNA SLAIN, 8, and SHYANN SLAIN, 7, inside a room at the Fairfield Inn. 'Im just trying to keep it together for my kids,' said Phillips.
© Renée C. Byer/The Sacramento Bee/ZUMA Press Wire
KRISTI PHILLIPS, 47, pushes a bag with extra blankets and pillows the children used inside the Fairfield Inn as her son TYREE FRANKLIN, 11, holds a carton of eggs and pushes a vacuum she used to keep the room clean while moving out. The family have been living between hotels and living in their camper or van for about five years.
© Renée C. Byer/ZUMA Wire
TYREE FRANKLIN, 11, helps fasten his families belongings on top of their van as his mother KRISTI PHILLIPS, 47, consoles daughter ARYANNA SLAIN, 8, as another daughter SHYANN SLAIN,7, waits inside the van. The family was moving out of the Fairfield Inn and headed to a park to camp after they ran out of money to pay for another night. They have been homeless on and off for about three years.
© Renée C. Byer/The Sacramento Bee/ZUMA Press Wire
ARYANNA SLAIN, 8, right, and SHYANN SLAIN, 7, left, enjoy snow cones at South Natomas Community Park where they will camp for the night after their parents ran out of money to stay at a hotel. The homeless children along with a brother and their parents have slept in their Toyota Sienna van, in the background, a camper and hotels over the past 5 years. The family has been on the waiting list for a Housing Choice Voucher, formerly called Section 8, for 11 years.
© Renée C. Byer/The Sacramento Bee/ZUMA Press Wire
KRISTI PHILLIPS, 47, hugs son TYREE FRANKLIN, 11, in the parking lot of the Fairfield Inn as they got ready to move into a camper in South Natomas Community Park because they ran out of money to remain in the hotel. I'm not going to stay outside if I have money I'm going to stay in a room so they can have a bath,' Phillips said. If my kids are dirty they are going to take my kids' (away from me).
© Renée C. Byer/The Sacramento Bee/ZUMA Press Wire
TYREE FRANKLIN, 11, jumps on a van to help his father secure the families belongings as they were moving out of their room in the Fairfield Inn. The family ran out of money and were headed to camp overnight at South Natomas Community Park.
© Renée C. Byer/The Sacramento Bee/ZUMA Press Wire
SHYANN SLAIN, 7, eats a meal from Del Tacos as her father ANTHONY SLAIN, 45, uses his van's battery to generate electricity as he set up a camper for them to sleep that night in the South Natomas Community Park parking lot. The parents say they usually leave the car running all night and sleep in shifts to keep the children warm.
© Renée C. Byer/The Sacramento Bee/ZUMA Press Wire
ANTHONY SLAIN, 45, shines a flashlight inside a camper to check on his family at South Natomas Community Park. He said it really hurts when he hears his daughter referring to their hotel room as home 'It just crushes me every time,' Slain said.
© Renée C. Byer/The Sacramento Bee/ZUMA Press Wire
As the sun goes down ANTHONY SLAIN, 45, keeps the motor running in his van to generate electricity in a camper after they couldn't pay for another night at the Fairfield Inn motel. Although they have camped at the South Natomas Community Park before and know a few other homeless people they say they worry as they hear people walking by at night and don't know if they are safe.
© Renée C. Byer/The Sacramento Bee/ZUMA Press Wire
KRISTI PHILLIPS, 47, works on housing applications in a camper as her children played in the park. The family of five had been living in a room at the Fairfield Inn when they ran out of money and set up camp at South Natomas Community Park. Phillips works three jobs, stocking shelves at various stores and working as a cashier at Rite Aid.
© Renée C. Byer/The Sacramento Bee/ZUMA Press Wire
Renée C. Byer :: zReportage Photo

Renée C. Byer is an American documentary photojournalist best known for her in-depth work focusing on the disadvantaged and those who otherwise would not be heard. Byer’s ability to produce photographs with profound emotional resonance and sensitivity earned her the Pulitzer Prize for feature photography in 2007 and made her a Pulitzer finalist in 2013. Renée has covered local, national, and international stories for The Sacramento Bee since 2003. Renée work has been published in books, magazines, newspapers, and on websites worldwide and was the basis for a 2009 TEDx Tokyo talk that received a standing ovation. Renée’s most recent book project “Living on a Dollar a Day: The Lives and Faces of the World’s Poor,” invites you to help put an end to global poverty. Renée traveled to 10 countries on four continents to report on this story, with a forward by the Dalai Lama. The book has won numerous accolades worldwide, including the IPA’s First Place for a Documentary book. Byer’s reportage is proudly represented by ZUMA Press and been featured in award winning zReportage.com a record ten times, as well as DOUBLEtruck Magazine. When not on assignment, Renée can be found sharing her passion for photography at lectures and workshops worldwide. Renée C. Byer lives in Sacramento, California, USA.:793



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