The co-founders of Backpacks for the Street had barely parked the van on West 32nd Street in the shadow of Penn Station when homeless men and women approached in need of the items they were handing out, food, hard warmers and COVID-19 supplies of masks, hand sanitizers and gloves.
Homelessness in NYC is at an all-time high, accounting for 14% of the nation’s homeless population.
Nearly 71,000 people are living in NYC shelters nightly, including 22,511 children, up 82% from 10 years ago. That does not include the 5,000-plus men and women living on the street.
“HOMELESS. NOT HOPELESS.” That’s how 21-year old Ben described himself to us when we met him on New York City’s UWS during the height of the Coronavirus pandemic. He’s been living on the street for more than a year and refuses to give up hope.
“Has COVID killed kindness?” his sign asks? Fortunately, as he noted, we proved it has not.
“DIDN’T THINK ANYONE CARED!” So said Kai, who’s brimming smile said it all when he not only everything inside the backpack, especially the snacks: “I’m all about those snacks.”
But what really moved him and made the biggest difference was the COVID supplies.
“You guys are life savers. Seriously, thank you.”