One Ignored Homeless Man In Philly
One homeless man in Philadelphia has nothing but a few pennies, a newspaper, and an Eagles hat to help get him through the cold winter season in downtown Philadelphia.
On a calm Sunday afternoon, South Broad Street in Philadelphia is bustling with its rich fine arts venues and fancy restaurants. As theatergoers and shoppers consume all that the city has to offer, this homeless man hopes for just one dollar in his plastic cup.
Brandon Hawk was quietly perched on the corner of 15th and Walnut Streets, reading a newspaper. His tiny plastic cup had nothing but two pennies in it. The most noticeable words on his sign read, “HIP SURGERY” underlined in big letters.
There were crowds of people walking past Hawk, going in and out of the luxurious stores on Walnut Street, eating in the surrounding restaurants, and lining up for the next show at the Academy of Music. However, Hawk’s small plastic cup was nearly empty despite the hordes of people all around him.
Brandon Hawk, 31, is medium build and was wearing a sweatshirt, jeans and a green Eagles hat to keep warm. He has been living around the Center City area since October of 2014. His mother is in prison, he has never met his father, and he has no brothers or sisters to take care of him.
Hawk identifies himself as being from both Philadelphia and New Jersey. “When my mom wasn’t in prison, I lived in Philly, when she was in prison, I lived in Jersey,” Hawk said.
On Christmas Eve of 2013, Hawk found a lump on his stomach. After taking a trip to the hospital, a CAT scan showed that he had multiple abscesses on his spine. Hawk had a tube running from his inner-arm to his heart, where he was receiving antibiotics to treat the abscesses and rid his body of infection.
After being hospitalized for two-and-a-half months, Hawk lost his job and was later evicted from his home. Immediately after being evicted, a friend allowed Hawk to stay in his home in a spare room, however he was not able to stay for long.
“A friend of mine let me stay there until this October. [When] him and his wife got back together and their kid moved back in, the spare room was his room, so I had to leave,” said Hawk.
Since he has no other family or friends, Hawk turned to the ritzy streets of Center City Philadelphia, right off of the Avenue of the Arts section of South Broad Street, hoping to collect enough money to get back on his feet.
Hawk’s downward spiral continued two weeks after becoming homeless, when he slipped on ice in front of his friend’s house. “Unfortunately it was in front of a friend’s house, so I didn’t sue him,” Hawk joked. As a result of his fall, doctor’s discovered a chipped bone in his hip, which then became infected and required two hip surgeries.
“They had to go and scrape out the joint and drain the joint fluid, cut out some dead muscle and tissue and put a drain in. I had a drain sticking out, and infection was coming out of it. About a week later, I had to get a second surgery done,” Hawk recalled.
According to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, there were over 5,000 homeless individuals in Philadelphia in 2014. About 400-500 of these people are in Center City and living directly on the streets.
Hawk is unsure of how or when he will be able to overcome his current homelessness. For now, he will continue pleasantly sitting on Walnut Street, reading his newspaper and watching the passersby, hoping for a few more pennies in his cup.