From photographer Brittany M. Powell’s ongoing series The Debt Project:
Debt Portrait #7, Oakland, CA 2013
James Riggs Davidson III (J.R.), Electrical contractor, $52,335.63 in debt. I bought a truck and moved to California where work was scarce. Then decided to go back to school to finish a degree. After graduation, I decided to start my own business and take on more loans needed for equipment and slow times. Within the second year of business, I had to buy new truck due to an accident. By the third year of business, I was making triple payments on most loans so as to pay off quickly… then the economy tanked and my triple payments were barely a single payment due to most lenders ramping their interest rates to cover “losses.”
Powell says of her experience shooting the subjects:
A lot has surprised me, but most of all I think it was how many people really do blame themselves before blaming the system. I was also surprised by how many people are attached to the idea of owning a house. When I interviewed a financial services rep, he told me he saw mortgages as liabilities, and that home ownership in our country is a scam, because banks are the ones who really own the property when a mortgage is involved. I interviewed an anarchist who told me the reason he didn’t want to file bankruptcy was because he feared it affecting his ability to buy a house one day. This added a new layer of curiosity and perspective for me when considering what the modern day American dream is and how we are expected to achieve it in today’s financial system.
See more of Powell’s work here.