WORCESTER — Carlos Lopez stands up from behind his desk and casually rolls up both sleeves.
A river-like row of scarred and scabbed-over skin ripples for at least a foot along each bared arm — the ribbons of old needle marks openly revealing the middle-aged man’s troubled past, which included heavy bouts of drug addiction, jail time, and a life on the streets.
“If it were not for this place, I would be dead,” the 43-year-old said. “It’s as simple as that.”
“This place” is a weathered two-and-a-half story house located on Beacon Street, near busy Hammond Street.
Smack in the middle of inner-city Main South, it sits in a neighborhood where gangs are known to rove about and where drug dealers peddle their wares. It’s in an area where the wailing of police sirens is heard frequently and where the pop-pop of gunfire occasionally breaks out.
The house itself is spacious but sparsely furnished. Its drab gray shingles look like they will soon need to be replaced and the roof needs work. There’s little art work on the walls inside to cheer up the inhabitants.
This is clearly not a home where there is a roaring fireplace to warm its occupants on a chilly New England fall night, and there are no expectations that the smell of freshly baked cookies will drift out of the utilitarian kitchen.
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