“This is my house,” Bruce Thomas says while gesturing at a tent at the Tent City 4 homeless encampment on Thursday.
“I’ve been homeless about 10 years. Lost my wife and children to a drunk driver.”
The former D.C. lobbyist who once owned a waterfront home and sailboat now stays here on the property of St. John Mary Vianney Catholic Church with his milk crate furniture.
But Thomas is here by choice. He could afford an apartment if he wanted one.
“I was a lobbyist. I made more money than God. It’s not what it’s about,” he said. “It’s about people.”
To understand why Thomas remains here, you need to understand how Tent City works.
“You need the photo ID, and we tell them that we do (arrest) warrant and sex offender checks,” says Linda, who used to sleep in her car before working with Tent City.
“We have two computers that are used for going on Craigslist, looking for work,” she says while taking us on a tour.
In the TV tent we found newcomer Jeremy celebrating Thanksgiving the way he always has.
“Just enjoy some football and eat some food,” he said while watching the Patriots-Lions game.
A turkey was frying and volunteers were cooking and carving, preparing all the trimmings for a holiday meal for the homeless community.
Thomas serves as the camp’s elected advisor.
“I have the joy of seeing people like Jeremy come into this camp with no clue, no plan, no nothing, pretty much given up hope… leave, and it’s good.”
And that’s why he stays.