Store Owner Has Quietly Housed Homeless People in Basement for 14 Years: ‘They Don’t Have, And I Do’

A Brooklyn bodega owner has quietly housed homeless people in the store’s basement for 14 years, The New York Times reports.

Candido Arcangel has taken in homeless men from park benches and street corners, some with mental illnesses and violent pasts, because he says he can’t stand the idea of them being left out in the cold.

Arcangel has had to keep his good deeds quiet because his store is not permitted to house people.

But he says he will continue to bring people in from the cold, “Because they don’t have, and I do.”

Between six and a dozen people live in his basement at any given time, he told The Times.

Via NY Times:

There are a few rules: Men must be in for the night when the bodega closes at around 10 p.m.; after that, they may leave, but cannot return until the shop opens at 8 a.m. Mr. Arcángel does not charge a fee, and he pays for whatever electricity is used by the men, which he estimates costs him about $400 a month. It powers the lights, a hot plate and a large-screen television someone found on a street corner and lugged inside…

The men say they respect Mr. Arcángel. They straighten their shoulders when he passes them begging on the street, and police themselves when one of their number becomes unruly. Mr. Arcángel, with a raspy voice and easy, cartoonish smile, says he has never been robbed by his overnight guests.

The homeless visitors try to heed his daily exhortations to leave each morning and search for work, and there are some success stories: The first man to whom he ever gave shelter calls the bodega regularly, he said, to share updates about his recovery, his wife and children.

William Arroyo, 57, has lived under the bodega for five years after he was released from prison for murder.

“We are wolves. We are men who cannot be domesticated,” he told The Times. “Here is the wolf den.”

Arroyo says Arcangel provides something no shelter can: kindness. “Someone who will say, ‘Hello, blessings. How are you?’”