For nearly 24 years Anthony Crawford called the streets of Washington, D.C., home. That all changed on July 15 when he signed a lease and was handed the keys to his own room at a men’s transitional living center.
“The first day I got my place I went shopping to get towels, sheets and pillows. I took a nice long, hot shower,” he said. “Stayed in and relaxed with the air conditioner.”
Crawford’s room at the Father McKenna Center came furnished with a twin bed, small refrigerator, dresser and a TV stand. He plans on getting a television soon, and is looking for the perfect place to hang his Pittsburgh Steelers banner. The center houses 30 men in single rooms on 15th and Park Road in Northwest. The men share the bathrooms, kitchen and backyard. Crawford thinks the spacious yard will be good spot to have the housewarming BBQ.
When Crawford told his sister the good news she was excited for him; “She said, ‘it’s about time and congratulations. I knew you could do it.’”
Besides selling Street Sense, Crawford works as a guide for the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH). He helps participants in the NCH’s 48 Hour Urban Challenge events, where students learn how to survive on the streets. Now, Crawford walks past the area on Connecticut Avenue he called home for so long on his way to work. Sometimes he stops and thinks: “I’ve come a long way from that corner right there.”
Crawford’s way out of homelessness began with a chance meeting three years ago. He was standing on the street when a man approached him and asked if he could take his picture. He agreed and the guy gave Crawford $10, no strings attached. The man turned out to be Reed Sandridge, a businessman, blogger and philanthropist. Back in 2010, when Sandridge found himself between jobs, he embarked upon what he called a “Year of Giving” project. Each day he offered a different stranger $10. Then he blogged about the people he met.
Crawford and Sandridge kept in contact and became friends. Sandridge, who is now a board member at Street Sense, promised to help Crawford get off the streets. He put Crawford in contact with Pathways to Housing who in turn reached out to Catholic Charities. Crawford then began the application process. A few weeks after he took a physical exam and passed drug and alcohol tests, Crawford got word that he was accepted into the center. Pathways to Housing paid his security deposit and Sandridge paid the $425 first month’s rent. Crawford feels confident he will be able to make his rent each month.
“I definitely feel as though homelessness is behind me. I will make it.”