Blown away: Homeless man from Kips Bay kept his block clean and lost his home due to his problems


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An eccentric homeless man from Kips Bay who calls himself Zioni has spent months cleaning the exterior of a closed Indian restaurant, Deccan Spice NYC, just steps from where he lives.

Now his camp, installed under scaffolding, has been emptied for construction.

When New Yorkers spy on homeless settlements, complaints of piled-up trash usually follow. Yet Zioni considered himself the sole owner of the encampment at the corner of 28th Street and Lexington Avenue, and he took it upon himself to make sure the sidewalk was free of trash and other debris.

Compared to poorer settlements, Zioni’s was rather tidy. Built with found and donated furniture, he created a living room on the neighborhood sidewalk.

From a couch, desk, office chair, and even a makeshift bed, he had furnished a personal dormitory amidst the strong autumn winds and foot traffic. Yet where it stood out from the countless other encampments found around the Big Apple is its apparent dedication to cleanliness.

The camp consisted of a sofa and chairs. Photo by Dean Moses

“I’m here Monday through Sunday,” Zioni said with a smile. He explained that many of the items he received were all donated by members of the community.

Erected against the wall of a closed restaurant and with the hustle and bustle of New Yorkers to and from the 28th Street subway station – just a block from his encampment – Zioni ensured the maintenance of his block.

At the end of November, Zioni told amNewYork that he didn’t want any issues, but he also didn’t care that someone lost respect for him because he lived on the streets. However, he says there were some unsavory individuals lurking around his encampment attempting to steal his property and harass him.

“People try to steal my stuff all the time, but life is tough,” Zioni said.

Often seen with a dustpan and brush in hand, Zioni was forced to leave her camp in December due to ongoing construction work. The sofa and chairs have disappeared, leaving in its wake only the bare pavement and the workman’s facade.

Zioni sweeping the area. Photo by Dean Moses

Dean Connolly, a builder working at 120 Lexington Avenue, says he’s impressed with Zoni’s dedication to the area and even sees him returning to clean.

“The trash can over there is full. This is unusual because homeless people are generally not very cooperative. He looks like a good guy, ”Connolly said.

The local owner of New Foods of India, a small food bazaar across from the old camp, shares this sentiment.

“He used to come and buy lottery tickets, smoke or something, but never any problem. He came in the morning to do the housework and smoke a cigarette. He wouldn’t ask for money, ”Atein said.

Although Zioni no longer sleeps on the corner of East 28th Street, locals say they still see him with his dustpan sweeping the area.

The sidewalk after removal. Photo by Dean Moses


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