First day on the street: Reggie's story

Seven years ago, he was homeless after a layoff. Today, he's running the drop-in center for the homeless that helped him.

Reggie Cox became homeless in November 2012 after being laid off from his job in public relations

First day, sleeping out, sleeping outside. I went to the A.T.M. 24-hour banking area — lobby. And I'm looking around in there like, "Wow, I'm actually going to lay down and sleep here." I remember thinking, "I can't believe this is where I've come to the point where I'm actually sleeping in the banking area." But I was so tired and you're weary. So, you're weary, you're tired. So, at that point, you're just like, "I just want to sleep." When you're out here and you're homeless. I mean, you're dreading, you're dreading winter coming. This right here, this steady rain, a cold rain. And then sometimes it may not be quite cold enough for them to open to hypothermia shelters. But you're miserable.

Cox says a police officer told him about Charlie’s Place — a drop-in center that gives hot meals, clothes, haircuts, and medical care to people experiencing homelessness

Generally, I would come down to one of these benches down here a little closer to the White House. Some would sleep on the outer areas. They'd be you know; they'd be some here in the outer areas. And then I would I would generally come; it depends here, and I'd be a little more into the park here or over here. People generally come down even late at night, take pictures. One, two in the morning, even so, people were always talking.

In November 2019, Reggie was named executive director of Charlie’s Place — 6 years after coming in as a homeless man

You know, when you're tired, you were hoping things settle down soon. You know, you just, that's part of the experience. You can't. You don't have the option of being able to, "OK. Lights out. Quiet, everyone." So, you know, you have to go with the flow. I met some life-long friends. I mean, people that we became close. We were out here together, and we helped each other.