At 69, Chris Sprowal is living in Jersey City, spending his time with grandchildren and at a part-time job counseling people on public assistance. It is a well-earned semi-retirement for Sprowal, who was renowned as one of the nation’s leading activists for the homeless. In New York, he founded the Committee for Dignity and Fairness for the Homeless, and worked to improve execrable shelter conditions. In Philadelphia, he helped win 24-hour intake in homeless shelters, the right for people without fixed addresses to vote, and–by staging bath-ins at outdoor fountains–public showers.
But all that was before Sprowal succumbed to activist burnout, fueled by addiction–and became homeless himself. In the November issue of City Limits, Sprowal recounts his battles public and personal, and the price of a life lived for a cause. It’s part of a special section, “Back to the Old Neighborhood,” revisiting some of the hundreds of people who’ve shared their lives with City Limits over the last 25 years.
Also in the November issue of City Limits, on newsstands now: With its landmark tax lien sales program, the Giuliani administration is determined to make property owners pay up for taxes they owe. But when landlords get squeezed, it’s tenants who find they’re paying the price…. After the Twin Towers went down, demand for emergency food spiked up high. Will it stay there?…. It’s official: New York the third most segregated city in the country. How we let it get that way….and more.