Eric Sheptock has 5,000 Facebook friends and no home

Nathan Rott shares the story of Eric Sheptock, a self-described “homeless homeless advocate”:

Being homeless has become Sheptock’s full-time occupation. It’s work that has provided him with purpose and a sense of community. But it’s also work that has perpetuated his homelessness and, in a way, glorified it.

Sheptock, 41, wouldn’t take a 9-to-5 job that compromised his advocacy efforts or the long hours he spends tending to his digital empire, he says. He wouldn’t move out of the downtown D.C. shelter where he has slept for the past two years if it would make him a less effective voice for change.

“Too many homeless people have come to look up to me, and I can’t just walk away from them,” he says in a recent blog posttitled “Tough Choices.” “My conscience won’t allow it.”

Having 5,000 friends on Facebook is more important to Sheptock than having $5,000 in the bank. And he lives with the consequences of that every day.

NPR’s Pam Fessler also profiled Sheptock for All Things Considered back in June:

Sheptock became a homeless activist a couple of years ago during a big fight with the city over the closure of one of D.C.’s largest shelters. He started writing for Street Sense, a D.C. newspaper devoted to the homeless.

And he’s working with a production group called Streats TV, which does advocacy for the homeless. [...]

But some advocates in the city think he’s on the wrong track. They say the city’s plan to move the chronically homeless out of shelters and into permanent housing is working and that Sheptock is hurting the cause by fighting to keep the shelters open.

Sheptock is undeterred.