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Man with golden voice: A great story, but does it help cause of homeless?

The Cinderella story of Ted Williams, the man with the golden voice, is bringing hard-to-find attention to the cause of the homeless. 'Homelessness is not sexy,' says a Skid Row center official.

Ted Williams, the homeless man with the golden voice, now sporting a new haircut and clean clothes, shows reporters where he has been living on the north side of Columbus, Ohio, Wednesday.

Doral Chenoweth III/Columbus Dispatch/AP

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The formerly homeless “golden-voiced” Ted Williams is strolling into his second act – professed to be clean and sober for more than two years and now the object of massive media attention, recipient of job and home offers, and participant in the requisite teary reunion with his mother.

A recession-weary nation clearly loves this Cinderella story. His YouTube video has received millions of views and counting.

But is this a good thing? Does a singular case of one down-and-outer-made-good really help when funding for homeless centers nationwide is drying up and record numbers of formerly middle-class Americans are on the streets?

“Absolutely,” says Deborah Billar, vice president of development for the Weingart Center, a Los Angeles Skid Row organization that serves up to 600 homeless people. “Anything that contributes to the dialogue around this urgent problem is a good thing,” she says.

Ms. Billar points to the Steve Lopez-Nathaniel Ayers story a few years ago, depicted in the 2009 film, “The Soloist,” about a real-life classical musician who has become homeless. Actor Jamie Foxx, who portrayed the cellist Mr. Ayers, became involved with the issue of homelessness through that film, she says, and recently recorded a public service announcement for them.

“Los Angeles has the dubious distinction of being the nation’s homelessness capital,” she notes, with a homeless population of 48,000 across the LA County.

The recession has dried up all sorts of public and private funding, she says. Normally, “homelessness is not sexy,” she says, “so anything that puts this issue back into people’s conversation we welcome.”


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