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Manhattan, NY - Homeless Man Living In Cardboard Box In Front Of B&H Photo Store Says Best Day For Him Is Shabbat

Published on: February 26, 2009 06:50 PM
By: NY Times City Hall Blog
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William Colon with his box on West 33rd Street. [photo credit:Corey Kilgannon/The New York Times]William Colon with his box on West 33rd Street. [photo credit:Corey Kilgannon/The New York Times]

Manhattan, NY - William Colon can sleep late on Saturdays.

Mr. Colon, 53, spends nights in a cardboard box on the sidewalk right outside the executive offices of the huge B&H photography store on Ninth Avenue, which is owned and largely staffed by Jews who close the store on Saturdays to observe the sabbath.

“The other days, I have to get the box out of here before they open, but on Saturdays, I can relax and leave it here,” Mr. Colon said as he put the finishing touches on his latest cardboard shelter, which for years he has been erecting on West 33rd Street, between Eighth and Ninth Avenues.

He methodically fastened the box to a sidewalk bicycle rack, using plastic pull-tight strips from a local hardware store. He spread neat plastic covering of clear wrap over the top to make a waterproof roof, on this brown flimsy home next to a dumpster full of demolition trash.

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“It’s fine sleeping in there, as long as nobody bothers you,” he said. “You’ve heard of camping? It’s like camping.”

Mr. Colon said he grew up in the Bronx in a family that had its problems. His older brother was his role model.

“One day I walked into his room and he’s sticking a heroin needle in his arm,” Mr. Colon recalled. “He said, ‘Don’t worry, you’ll be doing this when you get older.’ And he was right.”

Mr. Colon has spent time in prison for drug possession, and he has lost his teeth except for his molars.

“I have a hard time eating solid food,” he said. “I have to break it up by hand first.” He has kicked heroin, he said, and has to go up to a 125th Street clinic every morning to get his methadone. He said he lived for years in a spot under the tracks in Penn Station, but the police cleared him out after 9-11.

Yes, there are people who kick his box while he sleeps, but there are also ones who help him out, like the guy who bought him a Martha Stewart pillow and quilt set recently.

His clothes were clean and he wore brand new Starbury sneakers and a P.G.A. Tour golf hat. Inside his box, it looked comfortable and orderly, like a bunk in a Pullman car.

“I’ve been living in these things for 15 years,” he said. “I get the materials from the hardware store and fix them right up.” He had a blue plastic tarp underneath and a covering of clear plastic on the top to keep out the rain.

“I saw them delivering refrigerators down on 14th Street and just leaving the boxes. If you’re living on the street, that’s a home,” he said. “So I picked up four of them and flattened them out and brought them up here. So I’m set for a while.”


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Read Comments (29)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Feb 26, 2009 at 06:01 PM Oy Gevald Says:

Sheloy, sheloy, sheloy asani Goy!

2

 Feb 26, 2009 at 06:34 PM Fish and Cochunyo Says:

He has no dagos in his life

3

 Feb 26, 2009 at 06:20 PM Anonymous Says:

its a big pitty on such a person, and mike bloomberg when he sees this story in the times, he should go find him and put this person into a normal house not they should be busy with shtusim. and btw in thilim it says vrachmov al kol masov even a guy

4

 Feb 26, 2009 at 06:11 PM power up Says:

There is really a lesson to learn from this, this guy is more happy then a lot of people who live in 8,000 sf. Mansion.

5

 Feb 26, 2009 at 06:10 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
Oy Gevald Says:

Sheloy, sheloy, sheloy asani Goy!

Don't say that start talking to the homeless you will be suprised how many are jews

6

 Feb 26, 2009 at 06:04 PM Anonymous Says:

you go to bh

7

 Feb 26, 2009 at 06:04 PM Anonymous Says:

Why does'nt B&H offer him a job as a security guard and let him sleep inside the building??? That would be the biggest Kiddush Hashem

8

 Feb 26, 2009 at 07:12 PM Anonymous Says:

I guess he can afford to live in Manhattan.

9

 Feb 26, 2009 at 07:11 PM tenant Says:

at least he doesn't have 2 pay rent!!! lol

10

 Feb 26, 2009 at 07:11 PM I Can't Afford Obama!!! Says:

Dont worry Mr. Colon, Obama's tax & spend attitude will affect you as well - and it wont be good!

11

 Feb 26, 2009 at 07:11 PM Lebediger Says:

he's a very cute guy he sings lebedige songs when he prepares gis house at night

12

 Feb 26, 2009 at 07:32 PM hacnusas urchem Says:

It a kidish hashem that BH is letting him stay for so many years

13

 Feb 26, 2009 at 07:30 PM Anonymous Says:

This article also points out one of the unanticipated humanitarian benefits of yidden being shomer shabbos.

14

 Feb 26, 2009 at 07:19 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #7  
Anonymous Says:

Why does'nt B&H offer him a job as a security guard and let him sleep inside the building??? That would be the biggest Kiddush Hashem

if he wanted to work he wouldn't be homless. if he wanted a shelter he wouldn't be homless living in a box. he is a crazy retarded like all homless.

15

 Feb 26, 2009 at 07:16 PM bigwheeel Says:

Reply to #3  
Anonymous Says:

its a big pitty on such a person, and mike bloomberg when he sees this story in the times, he should go find him and put this person into a normal house not they should be busy with shtusim. and btw in thilim it says vrachmov al kol masov even a guy

...And what about a gal???...! But, seriously. Mr. Colon sounds like an intelligent person with good hands. If he has no record of being involved in violent crime, he should be rehabilitated [through one of the City agencies, or volunteers] by teaching him a trade, and he can then start living a normal life by getting a job and getting off the street!!!

16

 Feb 26, 2009 at 08:18 PM Anonymous Says:

Bloomberg is going to charge this guy rent if hears he has been doing this for 15 years.

17

 Feb 26, 2009 at 10:56 PM mike Says:

what he does when its freezing?

18

 Feb 27, 2009 at 04:27 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #7  
Anonymous Says:

Why does'nt B&H offer him a job as a security guard and let him sleep inside the building??? That would be the biggest Kiddush Hashem

Why should they trust him? Why should they give him a job? They are nice enough to let him be outside the door. Do they know him are they comfortable with him? This is crazy.

19

 Feb 27, 2009 at 03:46 AM Obama's Plan For You Says:

Isn't this the Democratic Plan for America? Get the people hooked on drugs. (NJ approves Medical Marijuana) Then the unemployed and drugged up can get SROs in your hometown. Jobs as community organizers. And all of this paid for by Global Warming CAP AND TRADE

20

 Feb 27, 2009 at 01:01 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #7  
Anonymous Says:

Why does'nt B&H offer him a job as a security guard and let him sleep inside the building??? That would be the biggest Kiddush Hashem

Umm...because he is an ex heroin addict and B&H is filled with expensive equipment. Mr Schreiber pays TAXES for guys like this and doesn't owe them a thing.

21

 Feb 27, 2009 at 12:25 AM yuntshe Says:

For a good night's sleep, you go to B&H

22

 Feb 27, 2009 at 09:07 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #3  
Anonymous Says:

its a big pitty on such a person, and mike bloomberg when he sees this story in the times, he should go find him and put this person into a normal house not they should be busy with shtusim. and btw in thilim it says vrachmov al kol masov even a guy

Bloomberg? He'll ticket him for loitering and slap with a property tax bill...

23

 Feb 27, 2009 at 10:44 AM Ben Kochba Says:

Reply to #7  
Anonymous Says:

Why does'nt B&H offer him a job as a security guard and let him sleep inside the building??? That would be the biggest Kiddush Hashem

Why dont you hire him as a security gaurd at your house and he can sleep in your house.

24

 Feb 27, 2009 at 10:57 AM Neviah Says:

We should all learn to be happy with what we have, from this homeless man.

25

 Feb 27, 2009 at 11:37 AM Anonymous Says:

Tomorrow they'll be 400 homeless camped out at B&H...Then when B&H gets tired of their cutomers being harrassed they'll be singled out as "orthodox jewish business hates the homeless"

26

 Feb 27, 2009 at 01:02 PM Anonymous Says:

I think he was better off in prison. At least he had proper food and shelter!!!!

27

 Feb 27, 2009 at 12:58 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #4  
power up Says:

There is really a lesson to learn from this, this guy is more happy then a lot of people who live in 8,000 sf. Mansion.

Can you prove that statement!? From where in his 5 minute digression did you deduce that nonsense? Is it the fact that he has nothing else in life to look forward to but drugs and refrigerator boxes? Use your common sense next time!!!!!!!!!!!!!

28

 Feb 28, 2009 at 11:45 AM Dakota from Omaha NE Says:

Reply to #14  
Anonymous Says:

if he wanted to work he wouldn't be homless. if he wanted a shelter he wouldn't be homless living in a box. he is a crazy retarded like all homless.

This is just exactly what all people worry about when they see a homeless person crasy, well I am home less my wife and I are both home less we live on the river here in Omaha because that is the only place we can find to live they will not rent to a felon, and as for your qote it only fair in your eyes only that all home less are crasy but only if you were one you would think quite differently I am positive put your self where we are for 24 hours and will walk away with a different point of view..... thank you

29

 Mar 01, 2009 at 01:11 AM Anonymous Says:

I read there are over 30,000 homeless people living in NYC. Their is less the 10,000 people that live in the city I live. That mean NYC has a homeless population of more then 3 times the population of my city. I want to move to NYC. I live in a box in NYC if so may people are doing it in NYC.

30

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