In the summer of 2013, a man named Patrick McConlogue offered a man named Leo $US100 or the opportunity to learn how to code.
Leo was homeless, living on the streets of New York City, and McConlogue used to pass him every day as he commuted to work. McConlogue figured he could teach Leo a skill that Leo could then parlay into work that would eventually help him back on his feet.
Leo took the opportunity.
McConlogue, who first wrote about this on Medium, was ridiculed by tech writers from various outlets. But he kept his promise and taught Leo how to code, building an eco-friendly ride share app together by December of 2013.
The pair became a dream team, covered extensively in the media (we wrote about them here), and showing up on morning television shows like NBC’s “The Today Show.”
When Business Insider caught up with Leo months after the successful launch of his self-made and self-coded app, Leo was still homeless. It seemed he didn’t want access to the money that was available to him, which was being held in McConlogue’s account. It was too overwhelming.
On May 27, 2014, McConlogue told Business Insider: “[Leo] has a year to find a way, be it with a bank account or proxy, to claim his money, every penny, from my account. If he doesn’t want to do that, I told him to pick a homeless shelter and we’ll donate it.”
With that deadline fast approaching, Mashable caught up with the two men to see where Leo was at.
Leo, they write, is still homeless, over a year after the launch of “Trees for Cars,” his ride-share app.
Grand still lives on the same back alleys where he and McConlogue first met. Although he rents a storage unit, Grand occasionally keeps a shopping cart full of his possessions by a pile of sandbags near the Chelsea Piers in New York City. He no longer codes every day; Trees for Cars has long since disappeared from app stores, since he does not want to pay for server space for its upkeep. He occasionally takes on odd jobs as a welder, and whiles away time by walking around the High Line public park.
In a video interview with Mashable and McConlogue, Leo says he plans on getting back into coding but things have gotten in the way and he hasn’t been able to get over to the space where he codes.
When the reporter asks “why?” he sighs.
“Life,” he responds.
“Homelessness is not a feature of someone, or a condition,” McConlogue says in the video. “It’s not a way to describe someone.”
Leo says of his media spotlight: “You’re hot one minute, you’re gone the next.”
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