As a surprise to myself, a story involving a homeless man who accepts credit cards, did not come from San Francisco… but Detroit.
A homeless man in the motor city is attracting nationwide attention after it was revealed that he accepts credit card donations via a Square reader attached to his phone. Abe Hagenston – known as “Honest Abe” – has lived under the 8 Mile overpass on I-75 for seven years.
“I take VISA, MasterCard, American Express,” Hagenston told CBS. “I’m the only homeless guy in America who can take a credit card. It’s all done safely and securely through square.com.”
For those unfamiliar with Square, it’s basically a reader you attach to your smart phone – turning it into a card reader. They cost about $10, and providers of square charge a percentage fee per transaction. He said this winter has been harder than normal, because the lack of snow means less work.
“People don’t realize how tough it is to come from nothing when you don’t have any family or any friends,” Hagenston told Detroit 4 News.
With tough times came ingenuity. He and a few others who are homeless sort of unionized to work together and panhandle in shifts. Here’s something the other news sources aren’t all reporting on: he also has a website, which he updates from the public library. Through his website, people can make contributions, hire Hagenston for odd jobs, and report fake panhandlers. “I’ve done some painting,” Hagenston said. “I’ve taken some other guys out on team jobs where I needed a couple extra guys to carry some things.”
In a video on his website, he shares an idea for an app that would weed out the fake panhandlers and an idea for a non-profit. “I’m trying to turn this situation into something that will not only help me but help others.”
His catch phrase also proves he’s got a decent grasp on marketing: “Being homeless is my business, now my business is being homeless.”
So what are your thoughts? Share in the comments below.