Editor’s Note: FOCUS is a multimedia series that highlights the diversity and depth of our community through interviews and photographs.

New Jersey native Vladmir Berzansky has always been on the move. From riding freight trains across the country to trekking across Oahu, he has travelled and seen more of the U.S. than the vast majority of Americans.

“I like to walk,” he said in a recent interview with Civil Beat. “When I first got here I walked around the island. It took me two weeks.”

The warmth of Hawaii was a relief to Berzansky, who spent most of his life outdoors digging ditches, carrying loads and doing other forms of hard labor.

“When I came here 30 years ago, it was only $120 for a one-way ticket from Los Angeles,” he said.

But the years of hard work took its toll, causing Berzansky’s back to give out. Unable to perform the jobs he usually did and keep up with the rising cost of living, Berzansky became homeless. He is one of thousands in Hawaii who has lived on the streets.

After sleeping by the bus stop for many years, Berzansky, now 73, moved into Next Step Project, a shelter managed by Waikiki Health Center. He is now receiving Social Security disability insurance and hopes to enter a home for the elderly.

Listen to his story:

Got the perfect person for FOCUS? Email Nathan Eagle at neagle@civilbeat.com.

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