Co-presented with Greenlight Bookstore: When award-winning journalist Lauren Sandler moved to New York City in 1992, homelessness was already considered a national crisis. The night she unpacked her bags, 23,482 people slept in the city’s public shelters. By the 2015 evening she met Camila, a twenty-two-year old homeless soon-to-be single mother, that number had ballooned to more than 60,000 people.
A master class in immersive reporting, THIS IS ALL I GOT begins as Camila goes into labor in a shelter in Brooklyn, and follows her to the overcrowded Bronx apartment where she lands after an untimely eviction. Sandler shadows her as she navigates welfare benefits, housing vouchers, child support, and what she must endure to stay in college and stay sane. Throughout, Camila’s intimacies—with people with whom she shares DNA, living space, desire, grudges, heartbreak—help us know this complicated character whose ambitions and passions are nearly as great as the constant crises she has no choice but to confront.
As Camila’s life pulled Sandler in deeper, and she became the primary relationship in her subject’s life, she became keenly aware that she was a white woman of privilege telling the story of a poor woman of color, and was compelled to answer the question: How does one remain a dispassionate observer while watching another’s spirit being crushed?
Nikita Stewart covers social services and poverty for The New York Times. In 2018, the Newswomen's Club of New York recognized Stewart for her coverage of homelessness, mental health and poverty. She has been a finalist for the Livingston Award and an Investigative Reporters and Editors Award. She is the author of Troop 6000: The Girl Scout Troop That Began in a Shelter and Inspired the World, which chronicles the triumphs and challenges of the first Girl Scout troop designed for girls in the New York City shelter system. The book will be published in May 2020.
Books will be available for purchase and signing courtesty of Greenlight Bookstore.
Lauren Sandler photo ©Justin Lane
Nikita Stewart photo ©Earl Wilson