Buhl was on his way back from lunch one afternoon when a man he recognized as a former street sweeper begged him for $20. Buhl discovered the man had been fired for sleeping on the job and decided to investigate the matter further.
He discovered that the 12 stores up and down the street had been paying this man at the direction of real estate tycoon Tony Goldman. Goldman did not have the time to find someone else for the job so Buhl volunteered to get somebody. He went to the Bowery Residence Committee (BRC), a tax-funded operation providing homeless shelters throughout the city. Buhl says he asked the executive director if he could have one of his guys to sweep the streets. "If he does a good job sweeping, and does not go to the local bar and pass out every afternoon, then we will try to get him a job," Buhl told the director.
The executive director received the offer with enthusiasm and recommended two people. Buhl returned to SoHo and found another block where the stores were willing to pay for a street sweeper. "The executive director threw up his hands and said 'Hallelujah,! You could be my savior,'" Buhl recalls.