Thursday, May 16, 2013


Several weeks ago I met Charles on "the porch" where I sit on Thursday afternoons.

He impressed me then as a very smart, self-aware man.

"Today, Larry, I have a peaceful spirit.  That has not always been the case, back when I tried to 'act like God,' I was very, very different" he informed me in that first meeting.  Funny how deep folks seem to go immediately out there on the street.  No time for wasted words or small talk.  Tough reality only, please.

Last week when I saw him, he had a real problem.  His bike, the only source of transportation that he had, had two flat tires.  Charles picks up work wherever he can.  He stays in a night shelter or under a bridge, rides his bike to work where he cleans things up and catches out on odd jobs. Or, at least he did until recently.

It was an easy thing to help him get his tires fixed.

During that process, I asked him what he did for work.

"I do anything I can find to do," he said. "But, it's gotten lots harder.  Over in Deep Ellum they are telling us 'We can't hire people like you anymore.'  I told them, I don't know what you mean.  My name is Charles and I'm just here to work."  

It seems the Deep Ellum Association doesn't want homeless persons in their area, even if they are there to work.

Just one more example of why housing is so important.

Lots of people think shelters provide "housing."

Funny though, business owners and employers don't consider shelters "housing."  If they did, some of my homeless friends like Charles would be hired.

We've got to do better.

We've got to get people like my friend Charles into homes.

He has transportation.

Now he needs an address.

"If I had a home, Larry, I could get my little granddaughter out of foster care," he told me.

But, then, that's another story altogether. A story that breaks this granddad's heart.


Anonymous said...

Why would anyone trust him with his granddaughter? He apparently messed up not only his lift but his daughter/son also.

Anonymous said...

The crushing effects of generations in poverty is heartbreaking. And it just keeps going until someone or something breaks the cycle. Maybe a home for Charles will help.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:30: the spirit of compassion and mercy in your comments is truly moving.

Larry James said...

Anon, 111:30, you don't know Charles. But, I can say that comments like yours are why I allow comments. I believe it's important to understand the depth of the harshness of some folks who stand in the way of justice and compassion.

Anonymous said...

I do have compassion, but in real life Charles was not able to take care of himself or his child so what makes anyone think he can do better with a granddaughter?

Anonymous said...

He was expressing an aspiration. Clearly it is not reality when he is homeless. But whose to say he can't get to the point where he would be able to care for her? And why would anyone discourage him from trying?