- Associated Press - Sunday, January 24, 2016

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. (AP) - A former homeless man is now making a difference in the lives of other homeless people in the St. Augustine area.

Paul Johnson hopes his work will help people to understand that homelessness is a society-wide problem, The St. Augustine Record (bit.ly/1OPZprF) reported on Sunday.

Johnson told the newspaper that many people think they could never become homeless. And he said people often have misconceptions about why people are living on the streets.

“That we are all bad people and thieves and drunks and drug users,” he said.

Johnson, 55, became homeless after losing his job in his home state of Virginia. He headed south with just $100 in his pocket and began working construction jobs.

Johnson now works as an outreach coordinator for Home Again St. Johns, a local charity. He changed his name when he came to St. Augustine and began a life helping others.

He says many homeless people head south to Florida in search of warmer weather. Johnson and others worked to distribute clothing, blankets and food to the region’s homeless during a recent cold snap.

Johnson and other advocates for the region’s homeless are always working on a census to determine the number of homeless living in the St. Augustine area.

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Information from: The St. Augustine (Fla.) Record, https://www.staugustine.com

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