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Community rallies behind beloved homeless man, posting more than 100 flyers to help him find a job

Community rallies behind homeless man
Community rallies behind homeless man 02:10

Johnell Johnson makes it a point to say hello to people who walk past him on West 22nd Street in New York City. He's so well known on the block, residents have dubbed him the honorary mayor.

But while Johnson lives in the Chelsea neighborhood, he doesn't have a home. He has slept on the same stoop on the street for over a year. 

Local residents have not only gotten used to Johnson being there. Many of them have also formed friendships with him, and they've stepped in to help. 

Johnson found himself on the streets after a 20-year relationship ended in a bad breakup. "I took a fall… it really killed me," he told CBS New York. On the streets, he greets families, businessmen and even well-known defense attorney Ron Kuby, who gives him hugs.

Jennifer Mallicote and Julie Benlevi spearheaded the effort to find Johnell Johnson a job. WCBS

Neighbor Jennifer Mallicote is glad she took time to stop and chat with him. "It was that one time I sat down and had a conversation – quite honestly, it's changed my whole outlook," she said. 

Mallicote and other neighbors have rallied behind him in an effort to help him get a job. Mallicote got him an old cellphone, since employers had no way of contacting him. 

"It could be any of us at any time," Mallicote said. "He doesn't ask for anything. He just gives you a greeting and there's no way you can't greet him back and be grateful."  

Another neighbor, Julie Benlevi, put up more than 100 flyers, marketing Johnson for jobs. Benlevi has also gone to interviews with Johnson, who has decades of experience in the food industry. 

"We want to get him off the streets before winter time," Benlevi said. 

Residents also got Johnson a membership at a local recreation center where he can shower and shave.  

Recently, Johnson shared an update. On an Instagram page his neighbors set up to help him gain opportunities, he said he got a job at Gran Tivoli restaurant in the Soho neighborhood of New York City.  

"I'm looking forward to sleeping in a bed as soon as I am able," he posted.

Over 100 flyers were hung around the neighborhood, marking Johnson's talents. He recently updated his Instagram followers that the campaign worked – he received a job at a restaurant. WCBS
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