A 'New Homeless' Revisited: A New Job and New Hope for Candido Gonzalez

In October 2007, Candido Gonzalez was laid off from the New York City municipal job he had held for 19 years. It was the very beginning of the recession, and Gonzalez, a 48-year-old father of two, soon exhausted his savings. Six months later, he was living in the Bowery Mission, one of America's oldest homeless shelters.

Gonzalez had served as a community coordinator at the New York City Department of Sanitation's recycling bureau. But despite 19 years of service, he was only a "provisional" city employee, not a titled civil service worker, so when the city started cutting its budget, he was hit by the earliest wave of layoffs.

"When the recession and the budget cuts kicked in, it didn't matter how many years you had in the service, if you didn't have a title and were a provisional worker like myself, you were the first one to be let go," Gonzalez said last December, when DailyFinance first profiled him in our series, The New Homeless.

Last month, after three years of searching for a new job, Gonzalez was hired by the Davidson Community Center, a nonprofit community outreach organization in the South Bronx.

From Hard Worker to Recession Victim to New Hope

Gonzalez's three-year odyssey from gainful employment to a homeless shelter and back isn't unique. Since the beginning of the recession, some 15 million Americans have lost their jobs. Millions, like Gonzalez, have seen their life savings wiped out.

Many of the newly unemployed have become newly homeless. Earlier this year, the National Alliance to End Homelessness estimated that 1.5 million people would be made homeless over the next two years as a result of the recession. Today, some 50,000 New Yorkers have no place to live, stretching the city's shelters and homeless outreach organizations to new limits.

Founded in 1965, Davidson's mission is to "provide services to underprivileged children, youth, adults and seniors of the South Bronx through education, training, empowerment, and advocacy," according to the center's website. The South Bronx is one of the poorest collections of neighborhoods in the United States.

"It feels very good to be back working after three years," Gonzalez said this week. "What I like is that I'm helping the community."

The Mission "Really Opened My Eyes"

Gonzalez now serves as a merchant liaison for the nascent Burnside Avenue commercial district, a key project for the Davidson Center. The goal is to work with local businesses and the city to improve the local economy of Burnside Avenue and the surrounding area. For now, the job is part-time, but it was enough to get him back up on his feet. If he performs well, he's been told, he'll be brought on full time.

Gonzalez says his time living at the Bowery Mission, where he worked as an intake coordinator in exchange for a roof over his head, really brought home the importance of community service.

"Living and working at the Bowery Mission really opened up my eyes to what life in the community is really like," Gonzalez said. "It showed me how much we take for granted. I thought I had it bad, but every day, people come into the shelter just looking for food. It really changed my way of thinking."

Gonzalez resolved to try to give back to the community. In August, he was walking with his sister, with whom he now shares an apartment one block from the Davidson Center, when he decided to poke his head in. On a bulletin board, he spied a job opening for a community liaison and quickly applied. A week later, the center's executive director, Angel Cabellero, called and asked him to come in for an interview.

The interview went well, and before Gonzalez knew it, he was speaking to Aida Martinez, the center's chairwoman. He was hired!


In his new job, Gonzalez gives technical support to various business owners in the area. The Davidson Center is working to create a new business development agency to help boost the neighborhood, and Gonzalez works directly with the local merchants, addressing their needs.

"The business owners know they can reach me one-on-one," Gonzalez said as the phone rang in the background. "Now, excuse me, but I have to get back to work."

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I really don't want to sound prejudiced however, I noticed that Mr Gonzalez saw and ad and talked to Mr Caballero and was eventually hired by Ms Martinez. I wonder if this story would read the same if he was black with an English name or white with a Germanic name? This is an American problem caused by greed NOT the Republicans or Democrats.

October 18 2010 at 9:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


October 17 2010 at 9:49 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Is this a good story? Good. I tried to find an email for the"Davidson Community Center," where this man was able to land a job. As stated in the article: "they are a non-profit community outreach..." When I read their mission it sounded, in part, like a fraction of what..... does on a National level. Aside from the money generated by their Google advertisements I wondered how they got the money it takes to do all that they say they do. I am about finished after all my years with the so called non-profits. They suck-up a load of money and in most cases the money is spent to generate more money, and pay salaries. The big three have vacation homes, nice jets, spanking new automobiles, and more than we know. After hurricane Katrina I began to take a microscopic look. What happened to all of the money that was given by the good hearted Americans? How much, you may ask was never spent for the intended purpose and the reason that we gave so much. You may also wonder how much is still sitting in bank accounts. You may want to ask yourselves where your ten dollars went when you "Texted Haiti." There are many that I found who refuse to take from taxpayers. They will accept from those who give with an open heart. Would most Americans; the most giving people in the world, still donate if that money was not a tax write-off? I think that this is a very important question. What would happen if all of the so called charities were no longer tax exempt too? How much of a difference would this make in the national debt? I do know that small churches like Terry Jones, the would be Koran burner, would most likly dry up. Even that church in Gainsville, Florida that pickets the funerals of our noble fallen troops and is now being heard by the Supreme Court might dry up if they had to pay taxes. This is just a thought I wanted to share, I am still thinking about this. I have the most respect for the few, who seem to carry a heavy load, do the most good decade after decade and spend very little on themselves. A crystal church in Texas? A church three times the size of a football stadium. This must cost many millions. Money that churches could use to feed hungry American children. From my reading of the Bible, Jesus did not say that we needed big places to meet together. He had better ideas I feel.

October 17 2010 at 7:57 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Linda Spy

Our vets coming home are living on the streets within a year. This is horrible. No way to know how many are living in tents in that veterans village. No place to go and no jobs...shameful! Some of them resorted to drugs, jail to get shelter and just hit bottom after being taken care of in the service. No way to wash clothes and having only two pairs of jeans and shirts. I would open my home to someone if I knew it would help someone,,where is the compassion of people? Where are the family members to open their homes to these ex service men/women?

October 17 2010 at 7:35 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Linda Spy's comment

Linda, you state a painful question. Where has the mercy and compassion gone? People do not want to give unless they can wite-it-off on their taxes. Many people, with the big bucks, start foundations which have massive tax advantages. I like Bikefree.org they are a registered 501c so all gifts are a write off. Their mission is for the children of our fallen and wounded troops. I appreciate Focus Adolescent Services, who for decades have refused to become a registered charity. They told me that they felt like what is stated in Matt:6 something like do your good deeds and then shut up about them Too many need to have national media attention before they help others. hummm? gates, buffett, hollywooders. Linda, many of the vets that you speak of have children and wives. What will become of them?

October 17 2010 at 8:05 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

As a retired military member with more than 26 years service, Congress has turned their back on myself and ALL military veterans. Officers get a better deal. They collect flight pay up to retirement date then disability the next day and pay NO taxes on it. As for myself, Congreess (it was Republican at the time) took ALL retiree's dental care away to pay for their 100% pay raise. America (read as Congress and they are elected by the people) do not give a damn privately about veterans. Kids are comiong home now with injuries never seen before and the VA has no funding to research things like internal brain trauma caused by IEDs and road side bombs. They say the percussion leaves the brain with grey areas that are like mush. And Reagan made it illegal to allow the VA to help veterans apply for benefits they are due. Now there are Veteran's Benefit Associations manned by the American Legion, Disabled Vetyerans of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Vietnam Veteran's Associations. If I was on welfare, I bet I could go to the welfare office and be told how to apply for free hand outs there, but God forbid a veteran or military retiree get HELP from the government. I was told that the cost of helping veterans was too great BY MY SENATOR! My reply is to stop making veterans if you cannot take care of them or keep the promises made to them to lure them into combat. Americva prefers we dies off early and fast to save the government money. Wish I spent my life as a bum, the government would carfe for me then.

October 18 2010 at 9:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Well I bet this guy voted for "Change" and he got what he voted for PLUS he wanted to "spread the wealth" so people in Kenya are thankful to this guy

October 17 2010 at 7:31 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

I find it so sad that our own government will allow all of this to continue, especially while helping other countries and bailing out companies when they fail. Our government should be assisting the people!!! You never see any member of our government in a shelter or taking a pay cut!!! Our very own President spends more time on vacation than working, while we pay for it!!! Something has to give!!! PS...Be sure to vote no on amendment 4!! **JUST BE SURE TO VOTE!!!!!**

October 17 2010 at 6:12 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to realestatepost's comment

I think you are 21 months too late to be talking about "our president" spending more time on vacation than working. That would be the other guy that left our nation with the biggest recession since the great depression and two wars and tax breaks for the wealthiest among us. So as long as you remember the facts as they happened, that was our president bush who only knew how to take time off.

October 17 2010 at 8:06 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Hi Millionaire

Everybody has an answer! Congratulations to the gentleman. I wish him the very best. fannie Mae and Freedie Mac began this--Barnie Frank, Chris Dobbs, Obama---And if you go back to the Senior Bush and Clinton you will find elements of its beginnings. You will find the people were complacent and we are accountable also. The Congress which supposedly has far more power than the President was the majority Democrats for the last two years of Bush and now we have the same liberals and more. Do you want more of the same? Let's destroy the middle class and make them welfare too! Wouldn't that be wise? Yes it would if you want to totally control the people. Congress and this President are bent on total control and beyond Socialism. How about another stimulus or taking all our people's 401K's and putting them in Social Security so they can take more. Business is not as usual. R. or D. the people are speaking out and watching. We are rising up and we love our country. Lame Duck Congresses that let Obama do whatever he wants are not needed. Remember they have their own retirement and their own social security. It is not yours. Congratulations to this gentleman. In a country of plenty, no one should be out of work, those on employment should be required to do community service and get retrained and we should applaud the successful and learn from them

October 17 2010 at 3:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Hi Millionaire's comment

If you really want to go back and see where it all began, you need to go to 1982 and take a good long hard look at Reagan and his voodoo economics. His DEREGULATIONS and the beginning of shipping jobs over-seas! Papa Bush did not like his ideas until he became his V.P., then it was very easy to look the other way. If there is something that as a Democrat,bothers me and would agree with you on is that, yes, Clinton too messed up with NAFTA. But my God where was your outraged when Bush screwed our country? Where were you when his Congress did whatever the hell they pleased? When he and his administration lied us into an eligal war. and Fannie Mae and Freedie Mac?????? Really, you want to put that on the Democrats??????????????????????????????? Talk about selective memory!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

October 17 2010 at 8:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Nick Santoro

the sooner the lower classes realize that this struggle was started by Bush and gang of rouges maybe the informed will vote Democrats in. wall streeters got off with a slap on the rist and the dishonest banks and gagansters should of been thrown in jail. a ny times article put it beautfully wall street is in denial and when mr. ferguston movie comes out"inside job" maybe americans will wake up to the biggest Ponzi scheme pepertrated on niave investors what a joke when i read even Moody's made trail trucks loads of money with their triple A ratings and the reegulators turned their eyes cowaldy away. the youth will fix it all you big fat cats how can you look at your children in their eyes.

October 17 2010 at 10:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Nick Santoro's comment
Brenda everett

Nck get your facts Bush was President and remenber the Democratic were in control in house and senator And you don't think our President now is air head who has no ideal on how to run this country but hes knows how to take vacation,and spend money

October 17 2010 at 12:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Nick you got your facts just right. Many American's seem to have selective memories, which is very tragic!! The worst recession since the great depression! Bush gave tax cuts to the top 2% earners in this nation and to coorporations during 2 wars. Who the hell does that? We borrowed money from China during his adrminstration like it was going out of style. The first bail out came during his administration (another thing so many choose to either forget, ignore or simply lie about it). The biggest problem is that the stimulist moneys were not big enough. We could have put people to work on fixing our roads, schools, many outdated airports and the list goes on. Anyway, this article is about one of the victims of these hard times, and I am really happy that for this man the story has a happy ending. It took 8 long horrible years to get where we are, it is not going to be fixed in two. Mr. President you have done some good, you need to do more. Screw the Republican so-call Leadership in Washington, we know they will do everything in their power to see you fail. Too bad that they are so damn short sighted and dispicable, because if you fail we all fail. God Bless America and God bless us all regardles of who we are, because we are one.

October 17 2010 at 1:01 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

When my husband lost his job, we were living in an RV ... it is cheaper to live in an RV (and save for a home) then live in an apartment until you can own a house. We were looking for a permanent home ... after several job losses ... and the job loss came totally out of the blue. We had even found the home we wanted. We had the down payment. All gone. Why is it that my husband applied for jobs all over the place, in other parts of the country and this man did not? I had to leave my daughter and move 2600 miles away for that job because we had bills to pay and we feel honor bound to pay off our debts (medical, vehicle, etc.) That job lasted until the severance clause (18 months) in the contract gave out and the owner stuck with his daughter's threat to leave or fire my husband made the dishonest choice to fire my husband. Not because he did not do his job, a huge improvement over the last people in his position, but because family came first ... even when the daughter was in the wrong. We got some family help to move back "home" and into our little RV, again. My husband changed professions completely and now has a steady job again, so far ... his previous industry is completely shot now and the people in it are barely surviving for the most part. There are jobs out there. You may only make enough to keep your head above water. We lived in a boarding house while at the last job for 22 months. But our bills got paid, we both worked ... albeit mine was not a money maker per say ... and we have weathered yet another job loss. We have no savings ... used up with the job losses over the last ten years ... we have no home, no land, no medical insurance and I am still looking for a job, applying weekly, over and over again. The job market is precarious at best, and I am up against people half my age with way less experience/education ... they can start the "newbies" out at some minimum wage, that they think I won't work for. (Every employer wants a Ph.D. employee for a GED wage.) My husband's job is the primary, so I go where he goes. I am glad Mr. Gonzalez has a job now, but why didn't he look further then his own neighborhood for a job in those three years since he was the primary bread winner in the family, or so it seemed? He had skills, talent, and a steady, good work history.

October 15 2010 at 4:13 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

I am so happy for you, Mr. Gonzalez. You have been through a lot, but hopefully, the rest of your life will be happy, without worrying where you will live and what you will eat.

October 15 2010 at 3:13 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply