A homeless man spent nine years building himself a large encampment in an Arlington park. This past month, after receiving complaints from passers-by, his makeshift home was torn down by city officials.
Francisco Fernandez Diaz, a man from El Salvador, built himself an intricate shelter that measured 150 by 150 feet, almost the size of half of a football field. According to Virginia transportation officials, Diaz spent a year making a fence, a year collecting items, and a third year building his house structure. His building materials were tree limbs, ropes, and pieces of clothing.
Bernard Roulston of the Virginia Department of Transportation told WJLA-TV that removing the structure required 10 trucks. But not everyone in Arlington thought the encampment needed to be torn down. In fact, Diaz was more to be admired than feared, according to one local woman.
“I figured if someone’s going to put in that much work building something so intricate, they’re not going to bother me,” said Elizabeth Lee. “They’re not predatory, really.”
According to county officials, Diaz prefers to stay on the streets instead of being in a homeless shelter.