Andrew (264) 04-06-13

Driving in Sarasota, I approached a major intersection and stopped for a traffic light. A man was pacing on the sidewalk holding a sign,"Homeless, Need Work, Please help, God Bless."

Such folks carrying signs has been a politically hot issue in Sarasota. The local law had banned people carrying signs at intersections which was enforced by police, so this had been practically unknown. Recently, however, the courts began reconsidering the sign carrying practice and placed a temporary injunction on these people being arrested. Immediately, many street corners became populated by sign carrying Homeless. Many think that this is often a scam, that the people are not really homeless, but are just looking for easy money. I am not sure how 'easy' such money would be.

Anyway, there was a bank on this corner, so when the light turned green, I turned the corner into the bank parking lot. Got the camera ready, a few bucks in my hand, and went over to meet Andrew. He was originally from Massachusetts, and has been living homeless in Sarasota for 13 months. Tents are much warmer in Florida!

Andrew says that he is not into booze or drugs. He retreats to his tent after dark, as that's when the druggies prowl for people to rob. A few weeks ago, Andrew had his wallet,with identity cards stolen, so he's in a holding pattern until they can all be replaced. I must say that he speaks very well and doesn't fit the homeless stereotype (at least MY homeless stereotype).

His mother still lives in Massachusetts. I asked him how she feels about his lifestyle. Andrew says that she knows that he's a survivor and is not judgmental.