Steve Denker started collecting scrap metal when he was a kid growing up in the Gravesend Projects in Coney Island. He has made his living this way on and off for almost 40 years.
“Scrap metal was always something to fall back on, when there was nothing else,” said Denker, 50.
Denker recently served 13 years in prison in California for burglary. He was paroled in January, 2008, and came back to New York to live with his mother in Sheepshead Bay. Since then he has returned to collecting scrap metal throughout South Brooklyn to make a living. He has been unable to find other work.
On a good day, Denker can make several hundred dollars. But he struggles both with a gambling and a crack cocaine addiction.