Million Dollar Mary?

On Sunday the Herald News printed an article entitled “Life on streets is desperate choice“. This details the story of Mary Forys homelessness and that of even more in Passaic City and County. The artcile states “The homeless woman is a familiar part of the Main Avenue landscape. Business owners call her “Smelly Mary” for her unpleasant odor. Police have arrested the 53-year-old woman more than a dozen times for loitering, panhandling and drug use. Mayor Samuel Rivera said he’s received calls about her soiling herself in the post office. Some passers-by give her dollar bills or cigarettes, others simply yell obscenities.”

The more we read the more she sounds like the Million Dollar Murray of Passaic City.

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This is a portion of the article. To read the full article click here.

Life on streets is desperate choice
Sunday, December 2, 2007

By MEREDITH MANDELL, HERALD NEWS

Red tape suffocating some

PASSAIC — Mary Forys sleeps curled up in a ball behind a garbage can to shield her from the wind.

The homeless woman is a familiar part of the Main Avenue landscape. Business owners call her “Smelly Mary” for her unpleasant odor. Police have arrested the 53-year-old woman more than a dozen times for loitering, panhandling and drug use. Mayor Samuel Rivera said he’s received calls about her soiling herself in the post office. Some passers-by give her dollar bills or cigarettes, others simply yell obscenities.

But most ignore her as they walk by talking on their cell phones, running to catch buses or picking up children at school.

Mary is just one of an estimated 1,300 homeless people on any given day in Passaic County and among the 349 chronically homeless, according to the county’s Point in Time survey, part of a one-day effort to get an accurate snapshot of homelessness in the region. 
 
The reasons people remain homeless for years are complex. Many suffer from mental illness or drug addiction. Some avoid shelters because they refuse to accept curfews or zero-tolerance rules. Others feel less safe in a shelter than on the street. In Mary’s case, police said they have tried bringing her to a shelter or a hospital, but she steadfastly refuses.

“She just wants to be left alone,” said Detective Andrew White of the Passaic Police Department. “On the police end, we can only do so much. We can bring her to the hospital but if she refuses any kind of medical treatment, that’s up to her.”

Jane Grubin, the city’s human services director, said if someone comes to her office seeking help, the city will try to get them into a shelter. The city’s municipal alliance runs free HIV testing and drug intervention programs, but if people do not seek help, Grubin said, there’s not much else that can be done.

“It’s not against the law to destroy yourself,” she said.

To read the full article click here.