Matt Keating is a singer/songwriter who lives in Lower Manhattan with his wife Emily. In a recent post on Facebook, he described his friendship with a man who took shelter outside his building, and how he helped this man receive his federal stimulus check.
This is my neighbor Jamal. We became friends about a month ago when I met him taking shelter outside of my building under the construction scaffolding that’s been put up for a while now. He is currently without a home and asks politely for any help from me whenever I walk by so I started giving him something every once in a while whenever I had it. He was very grateful and we struck up a conversation about politics and the current situation of inequality in this country.
About two weeks ago, as Emily and I were leaving to do our weekly visit to the Union Square Farmers Market, he came up to us and showed us that his shoes were falling apart. His soles were flapping and it was wet out. Emily is a shoemaker so she asked if he wanted her to glue them when she had a chance. He was thankful. So we walked away but realized he needed help sooner than that so we went to the Good Will and bought him some new sneakers for $10. When we brought them to him, he cried with tears of joy and kept saying how kind we were. It made me feel good to be able to do something tangible for someone in need but I felt upset that he was still out there in the cold during this pandemic.
So when last week I saw this article about how houseless people still qualify for stimulus money I immediately thought of him. I ran out and found him very despondent. It was cold, and he seemed out of it and almost beyond help. I pulled up the article on my phone and showed it to him. He mumbled something about having tried to get the first stimulus check back when his father died last year and seemed to qualify but that he had made a mistake which made it so he couldn’t get it and so he just gave up. He had a phone and he kept trying to find the email to show me but he couldn’t find it. Finally I just told him he should go to a tax office and look into it. He asked me for change, but I didn’t have any so felt bad and kind of despairing about the futility of it all.
So imagine my surprise when today walking into my building, he ran up to me excitedly telling me how he ended up taking my advice, went to the tax office, and he is not only qualifying for the $1400 but the money from last year…$3200 in TOTAL!!! I could tell he wanted to hug me but we kept our pandemic distance. He told me that not only is he getting it, but all the guys who hang out there are getting it too. And that he won’t be having to take shelter here for very much longer. As I walked away, he said, “thanks neighbor”.
I just want to say, I’ve never felt so good about anything I’ve done in my entire life. Please, if you have any relationship with any people in this situation near you, pass on the info. Here is the article.