Place A Homeless Man Called Home

Neighbors In A Block Of 26th Street In The City Mourn Death Of Andre Haney, Whom They Considered One Of Their Own

November 07, 2009|By Julie Scharper | Julie Scharper,julie.scharper@baltsun.com

Andre K. Haney ran errands, washed cars and swept up leaves for the residents of a secluded block in the city's Harwood neighborhood. The residents - many of them elderly women who have lived in their homes for decades - gave him money and food, and brought him inside for holiday meals.

At night, he slept on the porch of a vacant house.

"He was our homeless man," said Elnora Barnes, 73. "We all fed him. If it was raining or cold, we'd say, 'Andre, why don't you come inside?' But he always said he wanted to stay outside."

One morning last week, neighbors awoke to find that Haney was not perched on his usual spot on the porch next to Barnes' home. They later learned that the 47-year-old had died; the circumstances are unclear.

The residents of the 500 block of 26th St., a tight-knit bunch known as the "26ers," are accustomed to working together. They created a park on an adjacent stretch of Greenmount Avenue and sought help from the city to renovate the abandoned homes on their block. When drug dealers started loitering on the corner, they barraged the police with calls until officers drove the dealers away.

Although many of the residents of the block live on fixed incomes, they gave what they could to Haney.

"It's a family block," said Jean Sherrod. The 72-year-old has lived here for three decades and, like Barnes, she has relatives living across the street.

This week, the neighbors joined together to honor Haney's life. They tied teddy bears, candles and a bottle of beer onto a utility pole and piled stuffed animals on the stained, tan chair where he sat to chat with construction workers and watch renovations on a house across the street.

On a board on the porch of the empty house where he slept, they tacked red silk roses and scrawled, "We love you Andre" and "You will be missed."

Haney used to live in an apartment a few blocks away and would occasionally shop for housewares at a thrift shop that Barnes owned at the time, she recalled. When he became homeless, he brought his mattress to the porch of an abandoned house and started doing odd jobs.

He visited two nearby shelters for baths and meals, but the block was home to him, neighbors said.

"Our whole neighborhood was crazy about him," said Larry Wilkes, adding that he and his wife often brought Haney meals or gave him money. "He was just a really good guy."

Wilkes was among a handful of neighbors who attended a service Friday afternoon at the March Funeral Home on North Avenue. Relatives sobbed as they sang "I know He watches over me." An aunt recalled him as a smiling, playful child, but few words were spoken about his adult life.

Back on 26th Street, a small black cat stalked along the porch where Haney once sat. The older women who fed him sat at home, talking about how they missed the man.

"All of us look out for each other here," said Barnes.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.