Lorenzo T.: Homelessness from the other side

As Lorenzo unpacks the H street-based hotdog chart where he works, the crisp November morning reminds him of other mornings he spent on this street – when he lived there.

Known by his friends as the “Dirty Bush Man,” Lorenzo, who would only give “T.” as a last name, lived on the streets of D.C. for about three years, before a friend and a little luck helped him land a job and a home.

After living as a homeless person in other parts of D.C., Lorenzo said he came to Foggy Bottom two years ago because the streets on campus weren’t as rough.

Without telling Lorenzo, a friend filled out a housing application for him, which started a many month process.

Eventually Lorenzo’s interview paid off – the Friendship House and the Georgetown Ministry Center helped find him a home in a converted hotel.

“I can shower, go to sleep, drink juice, eat cereal, brush my teeth,” he said. “[But] I’ve still got the homeless mentality. You can take the country boy from the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy.”

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Lorenzo has favorable memories of his time in Foggy Bottom. He befriended students who would bring him food or stop by his usual hangout spots like Washington Circle just to say hello.

Though, not all the students were kind, he said. Thursday and Friday nights were especially tough for the homeless community, he said, because of more frequent public drunkenness. Lorenzo said students would pick fights with him and that often ended in blows.

That violence upset Lorenzo, he said, because he believes the homeless are largely misunderstood.

“What people just don’t understand is that homeless people are smart people, you’ve just got to sit down and talk to them,” he said. “Some just don’t take the initiative to help them out. Most people look down on us.”

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