I see Harry all the time. He hangs out on the corner of 9th and Taylor in front of Starbucks. Everyday, for several hours, he stares at the place where we are dreaming of planting a church. Harry has been homeless for years. Harry doesn’t stand with a cardboard sign or a collection cup. He stands selling a newspaper called Street Roots for $1 a paper. On a good day, Harry earns what he needs for his modest survival: $20 a day.
I stopped and spoke with Harry for a few minutes today. Business isn’t good right now. A couple of his regular customers have been relocated for their jobs. Even though the weather is getting better, people aren’t stopping to talk. In the past few days, he hasn’t made more than $10. This is a huge concern for him. If I’ve ever met someone with work ethic, it’s Harry. I’m in Director Park almost every week day. Harry is usually at his post. I gave him $5 for McDonalds and bought a paper. Harry gives the greatest hugs.
Street Roots is a cool organization. Every year, they give about 400 people the opportunity to sell papers in order to cover their basic living expenses. It gives homeless people the ability to have dignity while working toward finding housing. They make exactly $0.75 per paper sold. The paper itself is pretty good, though Harry admits most people don’t read it. It covers social issues and local events, and each issue has a profile on one of their vendors.
In a city swamped with a homeless crisis, it’s great to see people like Harry. He’s a guy who’s lost almost everything – except hope.