New Bedford Icon ‘Big Al’ in a Homeless Situation That’s Becoming Too Common
The scarcity of affordable housing on the SouthCoast is undermining the economic growth of the region.
If there's no reasonably priced housing available for the workers, then wave goodbye to having a talented workforce that gives employers the opportunity to hire the employees needed that increase business performance in the long run.
Massachusetts needs to build about 400,000 units in the next 15 years to meet housing demands, because without enough housing, not everyone has a place to live. The homes that do exist also then cost a lot more as people compete for a limited supply.
The cause for much of the homelessness is uncomplicated: there's a lack of housing. Just ask "Big Al," an iconic figure in the South End of New Bedford, who is homeless today after being forced to leave the place he called home after 20 years.
"Someone broke in and removed the copper piping, forcing the New Bedford Board of Health to condemn the place," said "Big Al," whose real name is Albert W. Vieira.
The 67-year-old former arm wrestling champion described his "dire situation," as he put it, frm a cramped room at a local motel.
"I'm worried about where I'll live after this," he said. "I started out with very little, and it looks like I'm right back where I started, only now with no roof over my head either."
Big Al's circumstances haven't gone unnoticed. Although he's still without a permanent place he can call home, living in a motel room, good hearted people have stepped forward to befriend and help him in his time of despondence.
State Senator Mark Montigny of New Bedford vowed to WBSM's Chris McCarthy that would he would help Vieira find a permanent home, and that he would ensure he had a roof over his head until then – even if Montigny would have to pay for it himself.
However, there are so many others who won't be as fortunate. Solving the housing crisis will take a major movement incorporating private and public resources, but something else is also at play here that defines our community.
As articulated by the Dalai Lama: "Just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into water, the actions of individuals can have positive far-reaching effects."