It's not as gimmicky as it sounds: Queens-based artist and activist Yusef Ramelize is spending the week of August 21st as a homeless man in Grand Central in an effort to raise money and awareness for the issue, in a campaign he's calling, appropriately, Homeless for One Week. We spoke to Ramelize, a creative manager at a publishing company by day, about the project.
Ramelize is bringing virtually nothing with him—"water and a digital camera," he says, to document his experiences on his website. He hasn't talked to the MTA, which prohibits people from sleeping at Grand Central. "I don't think they'd like the idea too much. But I've seen people do it, and if I can't sleep there, I'll find someplace nearby," he said. His boss has been "very supportive" of the project, giving him the days off separately from his vacation allotment.
It's not the first time an artist has played homeless, but Ramelize insists his week is no stunt: "Homeless for One Week is an annual project, and every year I pick a different charity to donate to," Ramelize told us. In previous years, Ramelize has spent a week homeless in Union Square and in various subway stations, with money going to the Food Bank. This year, the money is going to CAMBA, a Brooklyn-based nonprofit. "I don't just want to go around telling people about [homelessness]; I want to do something, make a sacrifice, and inspire people to make their own sacrifice," he said.