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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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