Photographer Follows Pregnant Homeless Woman in LA Over 4 Years

Tears stream down Mckenzie Trahan’s face in Hollywood as the 22-year-old opens up about the trauma she’s been through in her life | Christina House/Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles Times recently published an article that spanned more than four years, documenting the trials and tribulations of a homeless pregnant woman as she prepared for the birth of her daughter and sought permanent housing.

PetaPixel talked to the staff photographer Christina House who was part of a three-person team that also included journalist Gale Holland and videographer Claire Hannah Collins. The long-running article the team created is titled: Pregnant, Homeless and Living in a Tent: Meet Mckenzie.

“Mckenzie was in a pretty tough spot when we first met her. [in 2018]. She was six-and-a-half-months pregnant and living in a tent over the Hollywood Freeway, and she was stripped of her belongings during a law enforcement sweep,” House says.

“I felt sad to leave her every day after filming. It was moving to witness her perseverance and to see her courage in working to change her situation. There was also a lot of joy between the moments of struggle and grief.

Mckenzie speaker
Mckenzie Trahan, 22, watches her boyfriend Eddie, 26, put his hand on her stomach near their tent in Hollywood | Christina House/Los Angeles Times
Eddie, 26, begs on a freeway ramp in Hollywood in hopes of earning money to date his pregnant girlfriend Mckenzie Trahan | Christina House/Los Angeles Times
Mckenzie with her daughter
Mckenzie Trahan, 23, keeps an eye on her newborn daughter Ann | Christina House/Los Angeles Times

House used a Canon 5D Mark IV with a 24-70mm lens attached to film the project, as it allowed him to navigate Mckenzie’s world “inconspicuously”.

Remarkably, House herself was also pregnant when she followed Mckenzie’s life: “It gave me a better understanding of the bond that parents have with their children. So everything she went through hit home, on a much deeper level,” she says.

Mckenzie Trahan, 22, and her boyfriend Eddie, 26, stay under a tarp in a Hollywood alley | Christina House/Los Angeles Times
Mckenzie shortly after the birth of her daughter Anne | Christina House/Los Angeles Times
Mckenzie Trahan, 23, carries baby Ann and her stroller up the stairs of their apartment | Christina House/Los Angeles Times

The editorial team spent time in the Hollywood tents that house Los Angeles’ large homeless population, where they accompanied Mckenzie to ultrasound appointments and were present as she faced rejection of housing programs. The three women also sat in the hospital waiting room for the birth of Mckenzie’s daughter.

“I witnessed the immense happiness of welcoming her baby into the world and her optimism for their future together. It became difficult to watch over time, as some of her hope and aspirations I can’t imagine the pain she felt inside when her daughter was taken from her.

Mckenzie Trahan, 23, opens a gift for her baby as her mother Cynthia “Cat” Trahan, right, watches from her nearby tent in Hollywood | Christina House/Los Angeles Times
Mckenzie Trahan collects her thoughts while a friend plays with Ann, right | Christina House/Los Angeles Times
*Mckenzie Trahan cries outside a courtroom in Bellflower, California. Trahan was charged with possession of a firearm and drugs after being arrested in a car with a friend | Christina House/Los Angeles Times

House says there are plenty of photos from the show she’s proud of, especially the sweet moments between Mckenzie and her daughter Ann.

“I think my reporting partners and I were able to capture Mckenzie’s journey and share her story in all its intricacies,” House says.

“I was happy to see the piece resonate with a large audience. I hope this started more conversations and helped people better understand the intricacies of the systems in place to help our homeless population and to address the intricacies of what leads to someone becoming homeless.

“I hope this piece has humanized Mckenzie and the many others who still live on the streets.”

Mckenzie Trahan, 23, dresses up for a job interview at her apartment in Arlington Heights | Christina House/Los Angeles Times
Shortly after Ann’s abduction, Mckenzie Trahan found herself living on the streets | Christina House/Los Angeles Times
After several months of living in a tent, Mckenzie Trahan, 23, receives an apartment thanks to a housing program in Los Angeles. Trahan lies on the ground in gratitude | Christina House/Los Angeles Times
Mckenzie Trahan, 23, sings for her daughter Ann at her home in Arlington Heights | Christina House/Los Angeles Times

The article can be read here and the reporters can be seen discussing the story here.


Picture credits:Credit: Christina House/Los Angeles Times

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