This is Deshawn
Deshawn was sitting on the sidewalk near Trader Joe's with his cup. I put in a dollar and asked if we could talk a bit. He nodded. He said he has been homeless for several years, but wasn't sure if it is three or four. Sometimes, time is just a blur.
Deshawn was born in Baltimore and raised by a single mother. He lived with her until the onset of Covid. Life was hard, but his mother was able to keep a roof over their heads and make ends meet working as a domestic. However, she lost her job at the beginning of the pandemic and within a few months, they lost their apartment. His mother was able to move in with a relative in North Carolina. It was an already overcrowded apartment with no room for Deshawn. He thought his chances for work would be better in New York City, so he traveled to the city. He has been unable to find work. He thinks it is because people are not hiring because of Covid.
Deshawn is 36 years old and has a daughter who is 13 years old. She is living with her mother in North Carolina. He has not seen her or been in contact with her since he moved to New York. He connected with a Social Service agency that is helping him find a room so that he does not have to continue living on the streets. Although he wants to work, he is unable to apply for a job as he has no identification, no address, and not even a change of clothing. He said everything he owns is with him as he sits on the sidewalk.
I asked Deshawn if he had eaten today and he said sort of. He had a cup of coffee and a buttered roll that someone purchased for him early this morning. As we were talking, a young child of 6 or 7 years old came over and handed him a banana. The child's mother was standing nearby and he thanked the child and the mother.
I asked what life is like for him living on the streets. He said it is awful, especially in the winter when it was bitter cold and he had to sleep in the subways.
The police have not bothered him and sometimes brought him food. He is grateful to the social service agencies that distribute food for the homeless and the hungry.
Deshawn's plans for the future are to live in a room provided by the city and establish residency and identification so he can apply for a job. He is willing to do any kind of work. He said he is a hard worker and will be a good worker for whoever hires him He is willing to do whatever is necessary to have a soft warm pillow, but for now, he has to use his concrete pillow every night.