“Last year, I probably spent about 300 bucks in gifts. This year, one gift will be $300.”
Spend 10 minutes on the corner of 124th Street and Lexington Avenue and you’ll get a quick glimpse into two longstanding issues in East Harlem: drug addiction and homelessness.
There are seven recycling machines stretched along the wall of the Rainbow clothing store on the corner, offering money in exchange for aluminum, plastic and glass. The most common visitors of the recycling engine, also known as a redemption center, are either homeless or living in local shelters, says manager Auto Ferril, and many of them are either still on drugs or recovering drug addicts. Ferril opens the center at 6 o’clock every morning. In some cases, the change his visitors earn in exchange for digging through garbage for recyclable materials is their only income. Continue reading