SAN JOSE (KPIX) — A San Jose auto mechanic is trying to fix the homeless problem, one car at a time.
Larry Townsend took a walking tour of the encampment with homeless advocates, where cars and RV’s have been piling up for years.
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”Some things are beyond repair, yes,” Townsend said.
He’s part of a new effort to get unhoused folks living in the camp back behind the wheel of their cars that broke down and were left for dead, until perhaps now.
“But anything that’s salvageable, we can fix it,” he said.
Just ask Lynn, a woman who was homeless and spent her bottom dollar on a used Isuzu Trooper two years ago.
”A month after I bought it, the transmission went out completely and it was just parked,” she said.
Then Lynn heard about Townsend’s Automotive, a downtown San Jose family business where two generations of Townsends are known to have a soft spot for folks struggling on the streets.
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”My dad always extended good faith to customers and people in need, so I wanted to keep that going,” Townsend said.
He fixed Lynn’s Trooper let her drive it away and pay off the bill a little at a time on good faith credit.
She found a job, permanent supportive housing and now helps feed others who are unhoused.
“It made this whole world of mine completely change,” Lynn said.
Townsend is now trying to help others who are under a deadline to vacate the encampment which is being swept to make way for an expanded Guadalupe River Park.
“A lot of the clients that we have, they live in their vehicles,” he said.
He charges some based on what they can pay, does extra work for free or gives them a break on labor, just so their cars are safe and drivable.
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“If I can do good will for others, they’ll bring more clients to me and everybody wins,” he said.