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A Night on the Streets

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Lorenzo
9 p.m., the Bronx

Lorenzo is one of a handful of people who live in a shallow space below an on-ramp connecting the parking lot of Yankee Stadium to the Major Deegan Expressway. His section has a ceiling that’s four feet high; he spends most of his time in a sort of permanent crouch, or asleep on one of the mattresses he’s dragged in from the garbage. In the morning he lights a charcoal stove to make coffee and then leaves to collect bottles and cans. On a good day he’ll make $50, most of which, he says, goes toward vodka and beer. This place isn’t dangerous, says the 55-year-old Mexican immigrant, who says he started drinking in the sixth grade. I thought about moving, but the alcoholism gets in the way. That’s the truth. When city outreach workers first met Lorenzo, he was sleeping under another part of the on-ramp with an even lower ceiling. They had to crawl on their stomachs to talk to him. Now they come almost every night to check on Lorenzo and offer him a place to sleep. Sometimes he takes them up on it. Permanent housing is another matter. The social workers aren’t sure yet if he’s documented; if he isn’t, he’ll have no benefit checks that could pay for a place to live.


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