According to a New York Times report, Times Square is down to its last homeless person.
Homelessness has risen in other parts of the Big Apple. But Times Square, one of the many flagships of the NYC brand, has made major inroads towards cleaning up its act, a trend that began back in the early nineties under then Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Tactics in the war on homelessness have changed over the years in New York. While in the past the emphasis may have been on the stick, today the carrot is more in vogue. Social workers have courted the lone holdout, an African-American man who goes by the handle Heavy (see photo). While their daily offers of free housing have fallen on deaf ears in Heavy's case, he is the last of seven hardcore street people who held out until just last summer.
But Heavy appears to be well respected by the long-time locals around Times Square. He's polite, well-groomed, adequately-dressed, finds coffee to drink, cigarettes to smoke, food to eat, a little spending money from generous strangers. Heavy even has a mission: he says he's "a protector of the neighborhood." And who's to say that he isn't?