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March 26th, 2009
12:47 PM ET

An SUV is home for jobless duo

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Richard Barboza, left, and John Nilsen are among those struggling in the current economic recession."]

By John Zarrella

FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida (CNN) - Richard Barboza sits behind the steering wheel, patiently working a crossword puzzle. There's no rush. Time is one thing Barboza has plenty of.

It's just after sun-up. The streaks of light shimmer off the car windows. In the back of the Ford Explorer John Nilsen stirs. This is home. Clothes are kept in a suitcase. Food is wherever they can find it.

"It's definitely not something that you ever see yourself being, homeless," Nilsen says.

But homeless they have been for the past six weeks, ever since the money ran out and they were evicted from the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, apartment they shared. Nilsen had lost his job, and Barboza is waiting for disability checks to start arriving.

The line of homeless men and women has already started to form at the food bank when the two men walk up. The faces are always the same, with a few more added every day.

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Filed under: Economy
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Richard Barboza

    In response to some of Linda's comments and questions... The Social Security check goes directly to the bank or if the person in Fort Lauderdale does not have an account, there is free mail service at The Cooperative Feeding Program....When one is waiting for Social Security checks, there are some shelters around if you can get into them; otherwise one sleeps in the SUV if one is lucky enough to have one. The illnesses and my case; a badly messed up leg from an accident a year and a half ago, two strokes, insulin dependant diabetes, high blood pressure, bipolar and a few other things. John is no longer in the area and I do not feel comfortable discussing his disabilities, but it is suffice to say that they are debilitating and life-long. As far as families go, that is a private matter. It was John's and my intent, when we were approached by CNN, to enlighten the South Florida community as to the general problems that homeless people face and the options that are open to them, including the feeding programs, etc. that are available. Unfortunately, these programs and their needs were not addressed. If anyone reading this is sincerely interested in helping those less fortunate, please contact your city or town officials for the programs in your area and contact those programs directly. Almost all of the programs depend on donations; both material and labor. I hope that this clears up some questions. I would like to thank, in advance, anyone willing to help out those in their community and John Zarrella and /cNN for caing about those less fortunate. Richard Barboza

    May 19, 2009 at 4:18 am |
  2. Linda

    Not sure what to say about this story but a few questions come to mind.

    1) If one of these guys is waiting for disability to be paid, where is he planing to receive the checks. Is he paying for a PO box somewhere?
    2) What sort of disability allows you to sleep in an automobile, even if it is an SUV? Can not imagine a back problem. or joint problem allowing that sort of cramped environment. But I could be incorrect.
    3) The younger man looks pretty healthy, is there nothing he can do that would pay a dime there in Fla? If the answer is no, maybe they should consider relocating.
    4) What about family? Are both of these guys without any family members?

    March 27, 2009 at 7:37 am |