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A man plops down on the stoop in nearly 100-degree heat outside the Falcon grocery store on North Main. He loiters, leaning on his black rolling suitcase, doing little of nothing.
Alida and George Rodriguez, who greet many of their customers at the store by name, don't know the dark-haired man. They assume he's waiting for mealtime at one of several nearby soup kitchens.
George goes outside to see if he needs some help. Inside, Alida explains that some patrons might not stop by with the man sitting there because they don't want to be asked for money.
And, if he comes inside, she fears, the worst could happen. Last year, Alida, 76, was assaulted and temporarily held hostage by a vagrant man at the corner store her father founded decades ago.
That's why she and dozens of area residents have signed a petition filed in August asking for the city's "civility ordinance" to include Near Northside. The regulation prohibits sitting, laying or sleeping on sidewalks from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. in six central Houston neighborhoods.