Home-Less: The Shape-Shifter

24 min
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 (Mark Fiore/KQED)

James de la Nueve: it’s a new name for a fresh start. He really messed up his life in the last few years – kicked out of college, kicked out of the house – and he was ready to start again, and get it right this time.

But he was going to have to do it from the streets. Going to calculus class, studying at the library, all the while pretending, for the sake of his classmates and professors, that he’s not homeless.

“I’m going hard at school," he says, "but at the same time I have to deal with, just, keeping myself alive."

James is like a modern day Jay Gatsby, born to a poor family, but striving for greatness. He’s on a mission to transform himself. But the new identities he's creating - sometimes James himself can't keep track.