'Hoodies for Hobos' raises eyebrows in Seattle

SEATTLE -- Between Bust-A-Move and the "Sopranos" pinball machine, Brad Johnsen thinks about Street Fighter and life on the street.

"We're successful and able to give back something," he said.

Johnsen runs Add-a-Ball in Fremont, a videogame arcade with a bar inside. It's become a popular spot for 20 and 30 somethings with a little extra coin in their pockets. But Johnsen wants to use that little extra to help the homeless by giving out hooded sweatshirts.

That plan is starting to get him in trouble.

"Those hoodies go to the hobos, the bums, whatever you want to call them, the less fortunate," Johnsen said.

Johnsen started the "Hoodies for Hobos" campaign last month, posting pictures of Facebook of homeless people with the caption "I will post a pic of every new bum we spruce up."

Advocate Elaine Simons said she was appalled.

"I feel their intention was good but they lost any support from me when they got to the derogatory terms," she said.

Simons does not like how Add-a-Ball as she put it, made the homeless "walking advertisements."

"I feel it leans toward exploitation," she said.

Johnsen understands the concerns online and in person, but says his regulars help pitch in and the rhetoric doesn't much matter when people have warm clothes they wouldn't get otherwise.

"You can call them 'Urban Campers' if you will, if that's the PC term that everyone wants me to use," he said.