Hanging with the Homeless

This is Buzzy, such a friendly, happy guy.
This is Buzzy, such a friendly, happy guy.

It was the perfect night. My boyfriend had a rare night off of work, and I was dressed up and downtown on a Saturday night.

We had just finished eating dinner and were about to go get a few drinks, when we were approached by an older man in a brightly colored vest and hat. He quickly introduced himself and tried to sell us a newspaper.

I started to get annoyed. It was cold, and I just wanted to get inside a get a beer or glass of wine. My boyfriend listened to the guy tell his story. (I am so glad he did!) It turns out the man standing in front of us was homeless, but instead of begging for money he was selling newspapers. He was a street vendor for the Cleveland Street Chronicle.

Buzzy wrote an article this month on pg. 11.
Buzzy wrote an article this month on pg. 11.

Seth bought the newspaper from the vendor and gave him a few extra dollars. I took the paper and followed Seth into the bar. I was hooked. I had to learn all I could about this newspaper.

I started doing my research and found out that the Street Chronicle is run through the NorthEast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless. You can check them out here: http://www.neoch.org/the-cleveland-street-chronicle/

I contacted one of the Directors for NEOCH and he put me in touch with one of the Street Chronicle’s vendors. His name was Buzzy.

Buzzy and I sat down over Subway sandwiches to discuss what it’s like to be homeless, to be a Chronicle vendor and more.

Christina Graw: First off, thanks for taking the time to talk to me Buzzy.

Buzzy: No problem, mam.

CG: How long have you lived in Cleveland?

Buzzy: My whole life, I was born and raised here.

CG: How many years were you homeless?

Buzzy: For about 15. I spent about 10 years in an old warehouse, on the west side of the Flats. A rich guy from NYC owned the abandoned building and caught me staying there one night. He told me if I looked out for the place, that I could stay there.

CG: Really? Did other people stay with you?

Buzzy: Yea, from time to time. I had other homeless friends who would come and go.

CG: How did you make enough money to survive on the streets?

Buzzy: I panhandled a lot. I would ask people for money and wave a little white cup around. I used to panhandle a lot in front of the West Side Market.

CG: How did become a vendor for the Street Chronicle?

Buzzy: Well, an organization called the Homeless Grapevine came through and started selling newspapers the way the Chronicle does now. I was told that I could no longer panhandle. So, I decided to start selling the newspapers. Eventually, the Homeless Grapevine was renamed the Cleveland Street Chronicle.

CG: How do you like being a vendor?

Buzzy: I love it! Being a vendor helps me be responsible, and I also get to meet a lot of great people. Being a vendor really changed my life.

CG: Is it true that you just moved into your own first apartment?

Buzzy: Yes mam!

CG: How do you like having your own place?

Buzzy: It’s better than sleeping outside.

That pretty much concluded my conversation with Buzzy. I found him to be polite and very friendly. I learned so much from this experience. Buzzy told me that all vendors purchase the newspapers for 35 cents and then sell them to the public for $1.25. Because of his job with the newspaper, he is able to own an apartment, and provide for himself.

So, if you are out in Cleveland, or any other big metropolis and a street vendor stops you to buy a paper, please do so.

6 thoughts on “Hanging with the Homeless

  1. There’s a street paper in SF too, a guy sells it to me every weekend at the market. He’s a poet and writes for it, I’ll have to send you a copy with his stuff. ❤

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