On Ave. D, Homeless Brace For Snow

Homeless on Avenue D IChelsia Rose Marcius Felix Gates, 57, shoveled stranded motorists out of snow piles during December’s snowstorm. For many of the East Village’s homeless, the inclement weather can bring new opportunities to make money by performing odd jobs.
Homeless on Avenue D II

Snow for the homeless of Avenue D is a mixed blessing. They can earn quick cash shoveling out stranded motorists, but it is not enough to get them off the streets.

Take Abraham Rosado, for example.  Mr. Rosado, who’s 56, has earned money during winters on Avenue D by shoveling snow. To keep warm, he seeks out sidewalk grates and liquor stores.

It is a wearing routine when the temperature dips below freezing and, according to AccuWeather.com, Mr. Rosado will have more such days to endure. The last week of January is forecast to include a few more days of snow and possible rain with little sun.

That means Mr. Rosado may make a small profit wielding his shovel. But it also means that the only sustained periods of relief from the outdoors that he will likely be able to count on will come during dinner hours at a local soup kitchen.

Many of Alphabet City’s homeless helped commuters last month plow through piles of snow in exchange for a small fee.

Others like Shea Darnell Belle, 30, a homeless man born in the East Village, said they offer assistance for free, or next to free.

“One lady had me shovel out her car,” he said. “She asked, ‘What do you charge?’ and I said, ‘What you can afford.’”

Felix Gates, 57, who sells cigarettes on the corner of Avenue D and Ninth Street, watched during the late December blizzard as some motorists struggled to restart engines that sputtered and stalled. Some of those people left their cars unattended for a few days until the snow was cleared. Their misfortune ended up providing a boon to some homeless men and women who managed to get inside the vehicles and use them as temporary shelters.

Others, of course, slept outside, even in frigid temperatures.

“Many of them sleep on the steps, on stairways before the police tell them to go to a shelter.” Mr. Gates said. “You see people move from one spot to another, just trying to stay warm. I’ll be glad when it’s all over.”