Shelter

Roy the Bag-Bumper

Roy was a sweet guy – bright, articulate, with middle-class expectations and outlook. But he was homeless – and a hoarder. In the world of Nightwatch, you have to pack everything with you wherever you go. The shelters are just overnight flops. Our Dispatch Center, where people are fed and sent to shelters is way too full of people to take care of stuff. Roy had rigged up 3-4 bags which he slung across his shoulders. Duffle bags, various shapes…

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gomer

Last night an ancient one, barely able to walk shuffled across the wet sidewalk to the front door of Nightwatch. His cab ride was paid for by an exasperated hospital social worker. The hospital didn’t want him. The shelters are all full. The boarding house with cheap rent is torn down. He has no friend to call. No loving wife or sister or daughter with a couch, for a night or two. He has only the gray-wool blanket given to…

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Stereotypes? Nope.

Two weeks ago I returned from my Thursday night rounds, visiting homeless camps and shelters. It was about ten to midnight. At Nightwatch, all the homeless guests were fed and sent off to shelter. There was one last guy – a young man – sitting at one of the tables, pouring over a math textbook. He’s doing algebra problems. He cackles as he figures one out. I’ve been working with homeless people for more than 30 years. This was a…

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