Published August 26, 2009
For one homeless Australian man who considers begging for money a full-time job, the long hours on the street have landed him a middle-class salary, The Daily Telegraph reported.
Ken Johnson, 52, spends up to 16 hours a day, seven days a week, sitting at a Sydney intersection that can net him $400 a day from generous pedestrians, and has brought him a steady income since the late 90s.
Even on slow days the drifter pockets $75 to $100, in Australian dollars.
"I'd be really disappointed if I did a long Friday and I only had $250,'' Johnson told The Telegraph. "I knock off when I feel like it, or if I've done brilliantly. But on those good days, you might be on such a high that you go for a few more hours and get a bit more money.''
Johnson says his earnings go towards helping a friend in need of a liver transplant, or directly into his bank account.
The hours are long and monotonous but Johnson's time on the street sitting with his sign has earned him up to $50,000 a year, the equivalent of about $42,000 in U.S. dollars.
Johnson's sign reads, "Needing support for major family exp(enses) including just heaps for medicine. Paying up is a big grind. Please leave me alone, if you are the abusive nasty sort."
As to why he is still homeless, Johnson says it is a choice.
"Inner-city accommodation was, and still is, just off the face of the earth — it's just too expensive. I was unemployed at the time," he told The Telegraph of the year he moved to the city. "So decided to sleep on some concrete steps while I was in Sydney and I just got used to it.''
An Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) spokeswoman told The Telegraph "rough sleepers" represent about 16 percent of the homeless.
"Of those who do sleep on the street, only a tiny minority choose to do so, as a lifestyle choice," she said. "For most people who are homeless, there is no choice."