My name is Glenn H Austin.
      That's me on State Street. I am a professional photographer and for for about 30 years I have done weddings, portraits and all the other stuff that studio photographers do. I am currently semi-retired and I am doing the kind of work that I always wanted to do. That work, like the State Street Family project, is aimed at making a difference, at doing some good in the world.
       Last summer I was walking down State Street and, as usual, I started to cross the street to avoid Peace Park. It suddenly occurred to me that I was prejudging those people in the park. I didn't know anything about them, I just knew that I found it embarrassing to be panhandled. I walked into the park and sat down. I discovered a whole world that I hadn't known existed.
       I spent last summer learning that hardly anyone likes to beg in the streets, that there is a welcome for anyone who wants companionship, and that there are a lot of poor people in Madison. I discovered that the city wants them to go away, that the police hassle them, and that they are mostly really nice people.
      I have a lot more photographs of the State Street Family than are on this website and I would like to do a book. Of course I don't have the vaguest notion of how to go about that, so if you are an expert in the publishing field I would appreciate any help or advice you can offer.

      If you have any comments or criticism on this website that you would like to give, I would enjoy hearing from you. My email address is
       If you need pictures, and can use what's here, and if I agree with your politics, and you ask before using them, I will probably give you permission.
       Give money to panhandlers. Our society doesn't do much for the poor so give them the money directly. No they don't just use it on drugs and alcohol, they mostly use it to buy food. Consider it a small tax.

Some basic information about the poor and homeless in America.
        Over the past year, over 3 million men, women, and children were homeless. The population of the United States is 300 million. What that means is that 1 out of every 100 people in this country are homeless.
      There are 32.9 million people living in poverty in America. That's nearly 1 out of every 8 people. The official poverty line is a family of 4 with $18,100/year income. On the Poverty USA web site I found this amazing piece of information: "Many experts believe a more realistic poverty threshold for a family of four would be in the area of $30,000 a year - and that a more accurate estimate of the poverty rate in America would be 30% of the total population. (Economic Policy Institute, 2001.)" That's nearly 1 in 3. Think of that; almost a third of Americans are in or near complete poverty.
         Read a few pages at Poverty USA and take the tour there. You will begin to think that America is in the third world. Actually the United State is one of the richest countries in the world. One poor person said it best, "It's like going hungry at a banquet".

Some links to more sites about the homeless.
I want to give you some convenient references to web sites containing information about homelessness in America. You can do your own search by entering "American Homeless" in any search engine.
Poverty USA
National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty
        The Causes
        The Solutions
National Coalition for the Homeless
The Circle of Friends for American Veterans
Open Sky Press
Dignity Village

An interesting book to read.
Nickel and Dimed: Surviving in Low-Wage America by Barbara Ehrenriech
        This is a book about what it's like to be a 6 to 7 dollar an hour worker in today's economy. Read it and be angry.