A wealthy Chinese businessman offers a free lunch to hundreds of homeless people at a swank Central Park restaurant, but angers them when he fails to keep promise to give them each $300. Vanessa Johnston reports.
A Chinese millionaire hosts a luncheon for homeless New Yorkers at a swank Central Park restaurant Wednesday. Several hundred people showed up. They dined on seared tuna and filet mignon. (SOUNDBITE ) (Mandarin) CHEN GUANGBIAO, CHINESE MILLIONAIRE, SAYING: "I have helped millions of people and would like to encourage the press to interview people who've actually received the help from me, rather than listening to those people who may be jealous, who might have a lot of negative things to say about what I have to offer." Chen Guangbiao, who made his fortune in the recycling business, not only provided the food -- but also the entertainment. NATS Singing "We are the World" But the event was not without controversy. Chen had promised a gift of 300 dollars for every guest. Many were angered when he didn't keep his word. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CLARENCE TAYLOR, A HOMELESS MAN, SAYING: "I'm down on my luck. I have bills to pay and that would really help me get above the ground. And it's sad." SOUNDBITE (English) CHRISTINE FOWLER, A HOMELESS WOMAN, SAYING: "If you're going to say you're going to give it to the people then that's what you should follow through with. I mean personally the way I look at it is -- your word is what actually counts to people. I mean if they can believe in you, they can believe in what you do." Craig Mayes, executive director of the New York City Rescue Mission -- a homeless shelter which helped organize the event -- explained the change of plans. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CRAIG MAYES, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NEW YORK CITY RESCUE MISSION, SAYING: "I told Mr. Chen if you give cash to homeless, some of them are going to go out and buy drugs and go and buy alcohol. It's not a good idea. So we're going to take his generosity and translate it into some physical need that they actually have that we can take care of." Chen said he would increase his donation to the Rescue Mission.