After living on a cardboard box, homeless man finds fat bank account

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TAMPA, Fla. -- A formerly homeless man in Tampa, Fla., has brighter days ahead thanks to the work of a caring case worker and police officer. They helped a 62-year-old man get identification, and in doing so, helped give him a better life.

John Helinski was homeless for three years in downtown Tampa.

"I remember having a cardboard box and sleeping by the bus stop there, and sleeping underneath the benches there and no one would see me," he told WFTS.

Now, he's got a locker, a bed and a dedicated case worker at a new 24-7 one-stop-shop housing center for homeless in Hillsborough County. But his story gets way better than that.

Helinkski needed identification, so case manager Charles Inman and Tampa Police Officer Dan Macdonald went to work. Eventually, they got the Polish-born American citizen a driver's license, a social security card and his name back.

But then, Helinski got some even better news. He discovered an old forgotten bank account at a Tampa bank branch. A bank account with money in it. A substantial amount of money -- social security benefits -- piling up for years. It was enough to buy him permanent housing.

"I guess I'm exhilarated, excited, you know," Helinski said.

"I think we were both stunned. we weren't quite sure what to say," MacDonald said.

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    • Lisa Porter

      Most likely Social Security Disability, not retirement. I think most people, even homeless people, would know that they had applied for these benefits if they have all their faculties. I believe this may not have been the case with this guy. This is probably why it took the help of others to find the bank account and the reason he was homeless to begin with. In other words, mental or development issues.

  • Martin

    The whole thing about this story is the “fat” bank account and yet thats the one thing you all left out.


    • Cathy

      Yes, put a number on much he’s worth now so every loser can find him and steal it. It’s his business not anyone else’s Just see the story for what it is, a homeless person getting helped off the street. Feel good story!

      • Rodney

        Kathy I am with you on the feel good story. So many want to down someone else. I guess if this was to happen to them they would stay in the card board boxes and give the money back to the government. Why do people want to look for something bad in everything, are their lives that pathetic .

      • Mary

        I entirely agree with you. His numbers are are his business alone. It is a wonderful feel good story, I wish news outlets would run more of them.

  • Margaret

    He’s on 62, so he could not possibly have a build up of social security, must SSI or SSD. Glad he’s on his feet.]

  • MarioSmario

    This story shows you that in our society losers who can’t function in society can do well by doing nothing and wait for their government checks to pile up. Sickening, truly sickening.

    • lily

      Wow mariosmario can i say bitter much it’s so sad to see the darkness of sone people but it’s ok because thank goodness there are many others with a good heart like that officer and the social worker.

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