Homeless man turns abandoned construction site into home - KMSP-TV

Homeless man turns abandoned construction site into personal estate

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

A homeless man in the Wicker Park neighborhood decided recently to put his hands to work and build himself a home.

51-year-old Bruce Johnson, who says he's been homeless for several decades, built a simple but solid a one-room dwelling over the last two months, using cinder blocks left behind by developers.

"Nobody knows that I'm here or not, because I keep a low profile, I stay by myself," Johnson says of his home.

You can't see the building handiwork from the street because of a large green tarp. There were supposed to be nine condos here, but the project was abandoned. Neighbors say Johnson did a lot of cleaning up when he moved in.

"He's been a good neighbor. No issues from him," says Guillermo Arauz.

Johnson says his home keeps him dry, and he's now added a stove. He makes sure to drink lots of bottled water and get his meals at a nearby food pantry.

He said he's had issues with substance abuse and the criminal justice system, but now he's trying to go straight--living off the scrap metal he collects in nearby alleys.

"Yah know, in my past I've made some bad decisions, and today I'm not trying to," Johnson says. "Yah know that's why I'm scavenging the cans and the little metals I can find in the alleys and things like that."

Johnson may live alone, but he's not alone when it comes to being homeless. A recent analysis by the Chicago coalition for the homeless found that a 116,000 people were homeless over the course of the last year.

Johnson knows he won't able to stay here for long.

"I'm sure the city's going to follow up on this and come and say you know what, you got to move," he says. "You know, I'm just going to say okay."

Johnson says he has some family in Wisconsin, but he prefers to, as he put it, love them at a distance.

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