Homeless man speaks out - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Homeless man speaks out

January 30, 2003

Albany-- Homelessness isn't just a big city problem. We saw proof of that recently when two men were found dead in an abandoned building. They apparently built a fire for warmth, but the building burned. What other choices did these men have?

Charles Craft is homeless. The 63-year-old man searches for his next meal in a dumpster full of garbage. He points and says, "If there's one little bad spot on it, you cut the bad spot off and the rest is good, like peaches, oranges, apples."

How did he end up on the street? He explains, "I got disabled and the pension I got coming in was not enough for me to live, eat and rent a place, just not enough."

Craft has been on the streets for ten years. His home is a camp by the river. He says, "I'm safer there than in an abandoned house somewhere."

On Friday, a homeless man was found dead in this abandoned building that caught fire because he was trying to stay warm. Another body wasn't discovered until Monday. Craft says, "One I knew very well and the other I knew briefly, but they were homeless."

Craft says Dougherty County has an abundance of homeless people and not enough shelters. He explains, "A lot of them more so than anyone ever realized. Salvation Army and Mission don't have room for all of them."

The Salvation Army houses both men and women, but not children. The Faith Community Outreach Center takes in women and children only. Center Director, Janice Thompson says, "Hopefully if someone sees someone in that situation. Refer them to somewhere and not let them maintain in that kind of situation."

The Outreach Center also gives out blankets to stay warm. Craft says, "First Come first serve, that's the way it is. Survival of the streets."

Craft admits he's not happy with this way of life. He sighs,"I live one day at a time." He says most homeless people like himself were hard workers, but through bad circumstances they end up on the streets, holding on to hope that their lives will turn around.

The Family Community Outreach Center in Albany will give out more blankets Saturday from ten until two. By next week, they'll be able to house 20 women and children. The program helps them find a job and a new home.

posted at 6:30PM by kathryn.simmons@walb.com

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