Daily Mail | Ryan Gorman, December 2014
A New York homeless man is about to launch his own app after learning how to code through the generosity of a software developer who passed him every day during his commute.
First announced on Medium last month by software developer Patrick McConlogue, 23, ‘Finding The Unjustly Homeless and Teaching Them to Code’ came to him after seeing the homeless man, who goes only by Leo, on his way to work every day.
The original proposal was this: Mr McConlogue offered the homeless man two choices – $100 or a free laptop, wireless hotspot, coding books and daily coding lessons. Leo took opportunity over cash.
‘I can go through $100 in a few days. In a week,’ Leo told Business Insider. ‘But he told me I could have a laptop and learn how to do something and I figured it could turn into something more.’
‘It’s really hard to convince people that you are not a bad person, or a drug addict or a crazy,’ he added.
‘How are you gonna do that when you are homeless, and that’s how the homeless are depicted? It’s not always a negative thing but people don’t know that.
Leo worked for MetLife until losing his job in 2011, he told BI. Out of work, he was priced out of his neighbourhood when luxury condos began to take over. He soon found himself in an unthinkable place – he was homeless.
This background perhaps helped Leo stand out in the sea of New York homelessness.
Calling the poverty-stricken man ‘a genious,’ Mr McConlogue wrote of the increasing awe with which he looked at Leo as he ; rattled off import/export prices on food [and] the importance of solar and green energy.’
‘He is smart, logical, and articulate,’ the charitable developer added.
McConlogue made a deal with Leo. He would provide a Samsung Chromebook, a wireless hotspot, three coding books, a solar charger and something to hide the laptop in, as well as daily one hour coding lessons.
The rest was up to Leo.
So it began, lessons started outside every morning at 8am sharp. In four weeks he’s gone from having no idea what coding was to almost finishing his first app.
‘Yeah! I mean, I thought coding was something that went over like, a dessert,’ Leo told Business Insider.
Lessons start with a fifteen minute review of the day’s previously created code, which is stored on the website Nitrous.io, McConlogue told BI.
Lessons then go into a 15 minute rapid-fire coding session followed by 30 minutes of actual teaching by McConlogue, he added. The classes are taught outside in a park surrounded by a highway and a construction site.
With the plan beginning to realize its goal, some feel that Mr McConlogue is using Leo for his own fame, according to BI. When asked, Leo dismissed the notion.
‘I don’t really care about all that, what do I care? I’m learning something, right? I know I’m learning something and that’s what I care about. Patrick’s my man,’ he told the site.