A man who was homeless for three years found a bank account that he had completely forgotten about with enough money to allow him to put down a deposit on a house.
John Helinski, 62, lived in cardboard boxes by a bus stop in Tampa, a city on the west coast of Florida and said that he had become “invisible”.
He told ABC News that he just “managed on his own” for the whole period and slept under benches so that no one would see him.
The account was unearthed when police and social security workers attempted to find temporary accommodation for Helinski, who was born in Poland, in a homeless shelter.
They needed to find identification for him and the account came to light when a housing official tried to trace a birth certificate.
The bank that it had been set up with had changed name in the intervening period, leading Helinksi to forget that he had established the account in the first place.
It had been called Landmark Bank but became a Bank of America in the intervening period.
Helinski assumed that he had nothing to fall back on but all the while he had been receiving Social Security benefits which, it transpired, were enough to put down a deposit on a home.
He told ABC News that he was “exhilarated and excited” by recent developments.
Police Officer Dan McDonald, who helped Helinski track down his identification said: “I think we’re both stunned. We weren’t quite sure what to say.”
Social Security’s website says that homeless people in the US have the same rights and privileges to apply for benefits as someone who is not homeless.
If homeless people do not have a bank account they can receive their benefits through direct mail to a third party or having a relative assigned as your representative payee.
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