Oakland man whose stuff was trashed by 'Jogger Joe' still homeless despite donations

Lyanne Melendez Image
Saturday, October 13, 2018
Oakland man whose stuff was trashed by 'Jogger Joe' still homeless despite donations
Four months ago, Drew's belongings were thrown into Lake Merritt by a frustrated jogger. Now, despite the community rallying to raise more than $14,000 for him, he's still homeless.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Four months ago, we told you about a homeless man in Oakland named Drew whose belongings were tossed into the lake by a frustrated jogger. The community quickly came together to try to find him an apartment. More than $14,000 has been raised so far. But, Drew is still homeless and still living under the pergola at Lake Merritt.

We found Drew in the same spot we did a few months ago. This time, it seems he's added a tent.

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I asked him if he remembered us.

"If you were talking about music, other than that, no," he said.

I explained it wasn't about music, but about finding a home for him.

"It's not about finding a home for me, you see my videos on TV every day. I can buy my own home," explained Drew as he started to become agitated.

It was a cellphone video of a jogger throwing his belongings in the lake that prompted some in this Oakland community to help find Drew a home.

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To date, that GoFundMe effort has brought in more than $14,000. But donors started complaining, after noticing that Drew was still homeless, asking, "Can someone please update?" and "I heard that Drew doesn't want to move into a new place. In that case, please return the money you collected back to us ASAP."

One of the two people in charge of collecting this money, John Harris, finally responded with this statement: "We were able to use the money to get Drew housing, but he has refused this offer several times. He does not have an ID or bank account and we will not be giving him the money in cash. So we will be donating the money to local homeless rights organizations and give people the option of a refund."

A few people who see Drew on a regular basis say we have to stop throwing money at problems we can't solve.

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"Money isn't going to be the answer, it will help but we need resources out here," said Jesus Thomas

"There is no political will to figure out and ask Drew what do you want? Obviously maybe not living here at the lake is an option for you at this point, what do you want?" asked Kasey Brenner of Oakland.

I explained to her that I had just asked Drew he wanted and asked, "Let me just ask you this - is this where you want to stay?"

"Did you hear what I said? Go see who owns this, look it up. Look it up, I don't have anything else to say to you. OK, OK goodbye," he said as he walked away.