John Lofton likes his spot on the grass on the north part of Balboa Park near Sixth Avenue. On days when he can't find work, he lies on his blanket and watches KPBS on a tiny portable TV. After CityBeat approached him, he launched into a knowledgeable diatribe on the mayor, the City Council and the funding of the winter shelter.
Born in Chicago, Lofton has lived in Miami and New York, but he's been in San Diego for the past 10 years, ever since his first daughter was born. He lost his job with a firm that conducts surveys after he signed on to a class-action suit against the company about a year ago. Then he separated from his wife. Sixty percent of the money he now earns from part-time work at Petco Park goes to pay child support for his three daughters, who live in Southeast San Diego with their mother. He takes the bus to visit them on 'donation days'-the days the blood bank buys plasma at $25 a pop.
If something were to happen to his ex-wife, 'and I'm not around, what happens to my kids?' he said.
The money he has left over won't pay for a flophouse room downtown.
'In Chicago and New York, there are agencies, places you can go,' he said. 'Here, in this city, amongst all this beauty and wealth, people won't even look at you. You're too big of a problem. There's a lack of soul here.'
Editor's note: This is the second installment of a new feature. Its intent to put a face and a name to homelessness. It's that simple.