Woman seeks to help homeless man living in lobby after 5 years

Update as of 3:30pm on Dec. 17, 2015: Out-of-state family members of Robert Barnes have reached out to News 12 The Bronx. They say they were unaware he was homeless. News 12 The Bronx, Pemberton and Barnes' family are now all in touch to get him the help he needs. Below is the previous story.

A woman is working to help a homeless man living inside the lobby of a public housing building for nearly five years.

Tenants inside the Claremont Village apartment building at 1428 Webster Ave. had complained that for five years a homeless man was living in their lobby, but now a social worker who saw the story wants to help him.

Jonelle Pemberton, saw News 12's story on Facebook Tuesday, commenting through social media, "I'm personally going to go over there tomorrow and see if he'd like my help," so she did just that.

The man, who some tenants call "Blue," Robert Allen Barnes, is a 61-year-old who says he used to live with his grandmother inside the apartment building, but after she died he had nowhere else to go.

Barnes says most tenants will tell him to go home, but also says they don't understand that the building is his home.

Pemberton says this is a common reaction for many living on the streets, "A lot of homeless shelters have rules and regulations, people who are chronically homeless just don't want to or can't comply with certain things." She says there are many others options besides a shelter. According to Pemberton, she plans to come back with an outreach team to offer Barnes other resources.

Barnes says he will take all the help he can get.


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