Homeless man's family finds him in 'Tent City'

February 14, 2009 1:12:13 PM PST
One of the residents of Camden's "Tent City" has been reunited with his family. Neal Floyd had been sleeping under a tarp in a wooded area near a highway frequented by the homeless. The 53-year-old former truck driver from Paulsboro in southern New Jersey, a father of three grown daughters, was interviewed and photographed in a Jan. 28 story by The Associated Press about a statewide effort to count New Jersey's homeless.

Last weekend, Floyd's sister, Yolanda Shorts, was on her computer in North Carolina and saw the photo of her brother lighting a fire by his tent.

"I don't know why that particular Sunday I punched in his name," Shorts told The Philadelphia Inquirer. "All of a sudden, I see that article. My heart stopped. I was like, 'Oh, my God, Neal.' "Seeing his little tarp, it was heart-wrenching," she said.

"I was fixated on that picture. I wanted to keep looking at it. I wanted to get closer to his face."

Shorts decided to round up other family members and drive to Camden. They arrived Friday morning and found him in his tent.

"I'm just so glad you all came and got me," Floyd said when he saw them. "I just didn't want to be out there no more in the cold."

Floyd grew up in Albany, N.Y., and had a brief career as a professional boxer but later became hooked on alcohol and crack, Shorts told the newspaper. His kidneys failed in 1997, and Shorts donated one of hers.

Floyd was married to a woman who had three children when they met, but she died of a heart attack in 2006, Shorts said. That was when Floyd's world began to unravel.

"I just couldn't keep up," Floyd told The AP last month. "I couldn't pay the bills when she died."

Floyd said he had been on the street for more than a year but still dreamed of having a job and family again.

"I don't plan to stay outside for the rest of my life," he said.

Shorts told the newspaper that her family planned to take her brother with them back to North Carolina to start anew.

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