The Homeless Coder


A few weeks after the launch, he had made about $10,000.

But as at last update, Leo the Homeless Coder is still homeless. He has yet to touch a penny of his money.

When his app launched, he was center of national attention. No one has followed up on Grand. Grand and his teacher Patrick, the 23-year-old programmer who taught Leo how to code, haven’t really wanted media attention.

But the other part of their story is as important as the first. It provides deeper insights into the mindset of a homeless person, and the challenges with trying to find quick, easy solutions for people.

It’s a much more complicated story than anyone would have expected.
The whole point of the experience, or at least the goal when the two started out, was to teach Grand a skill that would help him make money to sustain a life off of the streets.

But if you want to get technical, the original goal has yet to be reached: Patrick taught Grand how to code and, though successful, the man is still sleeping on park benches and on flimsy cardboard boxes. Patrick McConlogue, for all intents and purposes, did not “solve homelessness.”

The result seems to echo the statements made by the project’s biggest critics — not everyone wants to be saved. Fixing homelessness is a lotmore complicated than everyone thinks. 
For everyone who has declined a homeless person a dollar or two because they should just “get a job” — it’s not that simple. Does it mean you should empty your pockets on every corner? Of course not. But empathy comes free. And in the case of Leo Grand and Patrick McConlogue, teaching a man to fish won’t feed him for life, unless the man is willing to pick up the forkim

“Is it difficult? Yes. Do I want it to be different? Yes. Am I walking away? No. We’re still a team. He’s a friend now,” McConlogue said. 

And Grand, who holds McConlogue in the same regard, says he’s happy.
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Frederick Damasus is a tech enthusiast and blogger who has a passion for creativity and innovation. He is a self-taught graphic designer and currently delving into web design and development. He loves photography and volunteers his spare time to inspire children in orphanages through dance. He is a trained Petroleum Engineer but found himself in the AID/Development sector. He currently serves as the M&E/ICT Manager at the Center for Creative Development Strategies, an NGO based in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria.

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