In 2005 there were 55 homeless people living regularly in Times Square. Since the nineties, the number had been dwindling, and it continues to do so (though there has lately been a 34 percent boost in homelessness elsewhere in the city). Now there is only one. From the Times:
His name is Heavy, and he has lived on the streets of Times Square for decades. Day after day, he has politely declined offers of housing, explaining that he is a protector of the neighborhood and cannot possibly leave, the workers who visit him every day said … Little is known about Heavy, even his full name. Heavy is a nickname, part of his last name, a fact he surrendered after more than a year of daily visits from workers. He declined to be interviewed.
Heavy hangs out at 48th and Seventh, and codges snacks and change from bodega owners and neighbors who affectionately call him a “sweetheart.” “He’s kind of iconic,” said Rosanne Haggerty, the president of the group Common Ground, which tries to help the homeless in the area. “He would leave for periods and then return, and some days we would actually succeed in getting him inside. But he has this fascination with the life in Times Square.” We have to say, we wish he’d talked to Times reporter Julie Bosman. His answer to our regular “21 Questions” query about the new and old Times Squares probably would have rendered all other answers moot.