With Au Bon Pain and other Smith Center businesses closed for construction, some of Harvard Square's homeless have been forced to look for new places to spend their daytime hours. For some, the Garage in Harvard Square has filled this gap.
According to Gail Bucher, president of the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter Corporation, the Smith Center renovations—and the closure of the stores that populated it—have displaced the homeless population that would often pass time on the center's premises.
A man who identified himself as "Kimbo Slice" and said he has been periodically homeless for twenty years now frequents the Garage.
“Au Bon Pain was a good place to sit when it was cold, but now it’s gone,” he said. “With the construction there aren’t many places to go anymore, so now I hang out around the Garage."
Slice added that most businesses in the Garage were kind to him, and that he sometimes goes to the Starbucks in the Garage to get a free drink, where he said the staff are quite generous.
Amit Luthra, a manager at Chutney’s in the Garage, though, said the increased homeless presence outside of Chutney’s has hurt his business.
Luthra stressed that he did not blame the locals for their circumstances and was sympathetic to the difficulties experienced by those who are homeless, but that the Indian eatery would not “entertain them by giving them free food.”
Despite some restaurants’ reluctance to hand out food to those who are homeless, other establishments donate their surplus food to local homeless shelters.
“Our shelters are pretty well stocked and that’s because at the end of the day many of the businesses take the food that is left and bring it to the shelter,” said Denise A. Jillson, the executive director of the Harvard Square Business Association. “So there is some benevolence.”
—Staff writer Motoy A. Kuno-Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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