Daniel is 58 years old and originally from Puerto Rico. He came to New York City with his mother and younger brother in 1998, as there were no jobs in Puerto Rico. The three of them lived together in the Bronx, and all three were able to find employment in the city. His brother worked as a bicycle messenger, his mother worked as a domestic, cleaning private homes, and Daniel became a security guard in a small department store in the Bronx. Daniel's brother did not like living in New York. He had some friends in Philadelphia and moved there about 15 years ago. Neither Daniel nor his mother stayed in contact with him, and Daniel has not spoken to his brother since he left.
Daniel married and moved out of his mother's apartment but remained in the Bronx with his wife. They did not get along well and divorced about ten years ago. At that time, he moved back in with his mother to keep expenses down. However, his mother died in 2014, and the small department store where he worked went out of business the following year. He was unable to pay the rent and has been homeless ever since.
police will not bother him. If he lies down across the seats, he will be asked to sit up or be taken off the train.
Daniel has been working with a social service agency on 14th street in Manhattan but could not recall the agency's name. They are in the process of helping him get a new birth certificate. All of his identification was stolen when he was hit in the side of his head, knocked unconscious, and taken to the hospital. He said that after that incident, he stayed alone and no longer socializes with other homeless men. He also does not want to go to the shelters because he believes they, too, are unsafe.
Daniel's experience is that most pedestrians are kind to him, giving him money and food. I asked if he had eaten today (it was three o'clock in the afternoon), and he said yes. Someone brought him a whole pizza and hot coffee. He said he needs to see a psychiatrist because he has been having difficulty remembering or being able to focus. This has always been a problem for him but has worsened since his head injury. He has had appointments at a clinic, but he frequently forgets the time and day of the appointment. The agency with which working is also trying to get him a room and an appointment with a
Psychiatrist. Because he is unable to keep track of time and days, the agency will come to him when they have a room and an appointment. They know where to find him because he is in the same place every day from 3 to 6 PM. He is able to keep track of that time but not of appointments.
Daniel appreciates people stopping to not only bring him food but just to talk. It makes him feel good about himself. There is a man who comes by once or twice a week to speak with him. He gave Daniel a cell phone for him so he could study the bible. They go across the street together to the small park and talk about God. When the man comes by, he gives Daniel a big hug. He loves that the best. And he showed me how they hug.
Daniel may sleep on a concrete pillow every night, but he is a softie at heart. He is looking forward to a room of his own, new identification papers, and new friends.