Gathering his crutches, Herb Vann helped himself up off the sidewalk. He had been sitting in front of the Rite Aid on Broad Street and Oxford Avenue, looking slightly disheveled with a plastic bag wrapped around his right shoe and asking for 75 cents to catch a bus.
To a passerby, Vann may have looked homeless when in fact, he has never been without shelter and offers money to homeless people if they’re polite.
“If the person comes at you like they’re going to take [the money] or rob you, I say, ‘Get the hell out of here,’” Vann said, swatting his hand through the air, “but everyone needs some money sometimes.”
“Sometimes even I have to ask for money to catch a train or something,” Vann said, both his crutches tucked beneath the armpits of his puffy red coat. “But we should help the homeless get something to eat because they’re helpless people. They’re weak.”
Because he sees their misfortunes, Vann said the support of the shelter system is crucial for people battling psychological problems or drug addiction.
“There are people who are really messed up in their minds,” Vann said. “ It’s important they get off the street when it’s cold and the shelters help them get medical [care] and housing.”
Ashley Nguyen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.