Are the homeless really the new zombie apocalypse?

This is a guest post and entry in our non-fiction writing contest  Cliff C

I, like most of you, am big into situation awareness. Seems I have had a blind spot for quite a while. A few days ago, I posted about my friend that was selling his photography studio and that someone had tried to break in a prop door in the back and as we were standing outside talking I saw someone come sneaking out of the woods across the street and head off down the road pushing a Kroger shopping cart.

There is a large expanse of woods just across from him but the real kicker is that borders on the county court building (not so lovingly called the Taj Mahal because of its domed ceiling, expanse of white marble and exorbitant cost.).

As we chatted he told me there was a village of homeless people living back in the woods. Among there is a goodly number of sex offenders. I knew the sex offenders were living some where in tents but didn’t realize it was there.

I get an email every time a sex offender registers in my zip code or is added to the rolls and had wondered why they had addresses like “tent #3” or “tent #5” and it seems they have grouped together with the homeless and have erected small villages for mutual protection and community. Now I find that there are at least 3 of these homeless villages set up encircling the downtown area.

During the day they spread out, go to the food pantry, go to the free clinic, look for odd jobs, or do whatever they have to do to be able to get by. At night they disappear and seek only the company of their fellow tent dwellers.

Now, when the SHTF we have roving bands that are capable of doing what they have to or need to in order to get by on a daily basis. Will these bands begin to roam, take over foreclosed houses and set up larger villages where no “regular” person is welcome?

How large a threat are these folks, knowing that among their numbers, there are convicted felons, child molesters and various other criminal types along with the large group of people who have no work, no place to call their own, and really own nothing.

I have not seen the “shanty towns” per se. Regular people are not welcome, there are rumors of booby traps or barriers to keep the non-members out. Even the police do not visit these areas. So, effectively the homeless may become the real zombies during a SHTF situation. They can already survive outside, they can make do with what they find and they seem to have utter disdain for other people.

If they decide to fall upon a grocery store during a grid down situation there is nothing to stop them. If they decided to take over a neighborhood the police will be too busy trying to protect the banks to spend any time with them. Are they armed? I know there are homemade and hunting knives, I know there are some guns since out of season deer have been taken, possibly bow and arrows. The felons are not allowed to have guns but who is going in to search them?

Perhaps the homeless are one of the biggest threats we will face during a grid down. They have nothing to lose, everything to gain and do not, as these groups seem to show, have any respect for anyone or anything. The other homeless are family, the rest are outsiders.

I live west of Atlanta and in a fairly large but unincorporated area and I’m aware, just from general conversation, of the three camps. How many homeless are living in abandoned buildings or under the underpasses or even down in the infrastructure of the downtown area? I have no clue.

How do you size the problem? How do you best defend against a group? How do you find out where they are and how many are there? Trends of petty crimes might point out some concentrations of homeless people.

A study of google maps with satellite pictures might enable you to find the camps. Asking the local police might give a clue. I am unsure how to find them. I can’t do anything about them. I can’t help them anymore than I already am by giving to the food pantries and making donations to the churches that have ministries for them.

Perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps when things get bad they will all die off. Maybe they won’t. Maybe they’ll be a force to be reckoned with. Perhaps they have a better idea of how the town is set up and where the sweet spots are and where the weak points are.

As I was watching TV last night and thinking about how things are getting worse (you can’t go to the mall without being accosted by a pan handler looking for a hand out), thefts of bags of groceries out of people’s shopping carts at the store, as they are loading their cars, it’s almost a game of snatch a bag and run away, are steadily increasing.

I don’t believe that the youth gangs, even though they are well trained and have a mission, are as much of a threat. They are fairly easily identified by the way they dress, the way they talk and the way they walk, but the homeless, in many cases look like regular working people, who have been doing manual labor. The cleaner they are the easier they can blend in.

So, perhaps the real zombie threat is now the homeless. What do you think?

This is an entry in our non-fiction writing contest where you could win:


  1. sw't tater says:

    Thanks in advance!

  2. Uncle Charlie says:

    Cliff, remember many times indecent exposure (depending on the local law) is just some kid taking a wiz because he drank too much and a lack of public rest rooms, especially when every shuts down in the wee hours of the morning. I’m not disagreeing with you, I’m just saying. When I was much younger I use to do that once in a while; once under a lamp post so I could see what I was doing! Not too smart, but then I was a teenager who drank to excess occasionally. Fortunately, the police never observed me doing so and the statue of limitations has run.

    • Chilly Beaver says:

      At one point in my youth I was questioned by 2 local law enforcement officials while caught with my pants down (literally) on the steps of the local courthouse. Where I could have received a public intoxication fine, as well as indecent exposure. Luckily, back in those days, the local cops were a little more tolerant with “stupid kids” then today. Thats probably because we never went out of our way to hurt anyone, always treated them with respect, and they knew that after they had seen our parents at the local coffee shop the next morning, there would be more then enough punishment doled out on the home front!

    • Cliff in Douglasville says:

      Uncle Charlie, when I posted the new list of sex offenders in my area I didn’t include their ages. The statutory rate offenders was 23 when it happened. He could have had a 16 or 17 year old girlfriend, it’s not unheard of.
      For the indecent exposure it was a 46 year old man that committed the crime 3 years ago. I seriously doubt that he was caught taking a wiz behind the building and then put on the sex offender list for just that but I could be wrong. It was my error in not putting in the ages since they are germane in this case.

  3. Hmmm, interesting topic and I feel I should chime in even after coming late.

    Well, sweeping generalizations are gonna be wrong at some point. But depending on how it goes down, I think there are a few categories that are going to get more notoriety than the bad type of current homeless.

    Jocks and thugs mushed together; people who have been in aggressive categories before. I’m not sure what happens to the high-school bully once he graduates.

    I think that the credit-card users who are used to more than 2,500 calories a day, and those who are used to a comfortable existence on the edge of their means, are probably going to be quicker to unsavory methods.

    Then you get the homeless, and I imagine that the non-confrontational ones are going to be the problem once the dumpsters stop containing anything edible. (Bears in a drought issue.) They’ll sneak in during the night and try to steal your beans without waking you up.

  4. Oh, and…. well can we all pretend I found a polite way of putting it?

    I had trouble making breaks in my posts for this topic, too… but please don’t post more than 8-10 lines without hitting the enter key. (Or go back and find places to form internet-paragraphs of two sentences.) I know that grammar and possibly spelling doesn’t need to be perfect on the internet, but white space is easier to read on a screen.

    Nothing personal, I realize the passion involved. I’m not even sure how many people made long-posts. Please and thank you.

  5. Cliff, the vast majority of individuals who are classed as “homeless” are not actually homeless but this is what we’ve been accustomed to thinking by the word choice. Homelessness translates to a nomadic, vagabond lifestyle and the majority of “homeless” people are not nomadic. Most are simply setting up a temporary shelter (aka “home”) without paying for a shelter or for maintenance or taxes. I believe that the “homeless” are freeloaders because they are taking (or recycling) free materials they have scrounged and are making do with very little. They are living low, some would even say living simply. Some are living ‘off the system’, others are in a mode of survival. The big common denominator though is that the “homeless” are generally NOT homeless — they will set-up-home anywhere they are able to squat, no matter who’s property they squat upon.

    Lifestyle is a choice and these people who are “homeless” or “freeloading” choose a different set of values than we have. They have opted out of a normal, law-abiding society that is based on consumerism and a monetary system. They’ve opted out for a variety of reasons. I’ll guarantee some have made it into the “Occupy” movement too. Maybe there’s more drama/excitement doing that than just hunkering down in a tent pitched along the wood’s edge.

    Not all of these people are substance abusers despite the incorrect computation of statistics. Glad to see a good number of folks who challenged the resident expert on everything.

    Cliff, my take on “trust” with a group of “homeless” people would be no different than any other group of people. Trust is earned. With me, there would be no extension of trust with one stranger or a group of strangers.

    Very good post — I enjoyed reading this, although late to comment.

  6. Daaswampman says:

    Does it matter what the problems or cause of homelessness is? They are a hazard. Daaswampman

  7. JakeKasota says:

    I deal directly with quite a number of homeless people on the central California coast and just want to report some first-hand observations. Yes, there are plenty of messed up, alcoholic, drug-addicted, socially deviant homeless people out there. But from what I’ve seen the overall percentage isn’t any higher than your average office environment. A far larger percentage of homeless people are mentally or emotionally “disturbed”. I use that term very loosely because the vast majority seem to have fallen victim to the “Kicked Dog Syndrome.” They simply were either pushed beyond their capacity to cope or woke up to The System and made a conscious decision to… do what? Get Off The Grid.

    Along with the creeps, freaks, and students of modern chemistry out there wandering around there are also famous musicians from the 1960’s and 70’s (I’ve talked to them personally and listened to their music. Chances are you have too.); authors with dozens of books on the market (I’ve talked to them personally and read their books); ex-nuns, psychologists, counselors, business owners, working stiffs, and lots of people who DELIBERATELY got out of their homes before foreclosure and are living in their cars, RV’s, vans, tents, or the bushes by choice in order to save enough money to get out of debt; get off the grid; and get out of dodge. These people still take bathes regularly, eat three meals per day, wash their clothes once per week, cut their hair, and go to work every day in their offices. In fact, you can’t tell their homeless just by looking at them, smelling them, or talking to them. A surprisingly large number of them spend their daylight hours sitting in office cubicles!

    A short story: Just last week I walked up to two of my homeless friends in a local park. One of them had scored several large boxes of about-to-be-discarded sealed wrapped foods that had just been dropped out by the dumpsters at a local supermarket courtesy of a sympathetic employee. My two friends were dividing up a dearth of excellent foodstuffs for themselves and other homeless people and they told me to take as much of their food as I wanted.

    I asked how much they wanted for all that stuff and you know what they said? “Nothing.” They didn’t want a damn thing. I told them I couldn’t take any of it because I wasn’t homeless and they should give it to the people who were. They said “It’s okay. We want you to have this because you’ve been nice to us. You’ve been a friend and treated us like real people and you’ve helped us out when we needed a few dollars for gas, or a lift to a store, or to the post office, or to the flea market, or to the library.”

    I don’t mind telling you I just about broke down and cried right there people. I mean, what the hell do you say to a statement like that coming from a person in that position? I’ve had some good paying jobs over the years, and I’ve been offered a lot from time to time, but never EVERYTHING. These guys have a very real battle just to survive every night because while there’s a dearth of programs to get them BS food stamps and clothing not one program (here locally anyway) will give them blankets to keep warm with at night! And not one program offers them any kind of cash allowance to run their heaters (if they even have any)! (Oh no! They’ll just use the money for booze or drugs! Of course if they come back under and submit to The System something could probably be done…)

    Most of these people are out there because the system beat them into the streets, just as it’s doing to millions of other Americans every day. These people have no desire or incentive to re-enter the society that is represented by this system, and who can blame them? Certainly not anyone reading this blog! Who wants to re-enter this slave system?

    I’ve been a prepper for some time now and I’ve steadily compared what I’ve read here and on other blogs to what I’ve learned from these people by watching them and talking with them. We’re more alike than you might realize. Yes, these people go out into the parks and bushes every night after they close to the public. There most of them build small campfires; cook their meals; maybe do some housekeeping chores; and perhaps chat with one another. Many nights they also fight off-many times by hand or with a knife-bears, mountain lions, snakes, coyotes, raccoons, rats, and a dearth of other not-so-nice critters that are just as hell-bent on taking away what little they’ve got as the people employed in those disgraceful “Help The Homeless” programs. I can assure you this type of thing happens. Homeless people who get mauled by animals NEVER have their story told in the papers.

    My personal feeling is there’s much that can be learned from those homeless people who are not too far gone yet. It’s been my observation that those who aren’t are highly mobile (by foot, bike, or vehicle), inventive, creative, extremely adaptable, well organized, hard working, and very giving and supportive once YOU earn THEIR trust. What they have going is something better than any so-called commune I’ve ever heard of. They build their own Rocket Stoves and Dutch Ovens from scrap. They can build all-natural toilets that are better than any sawdust toilet or portable you can buy. They use a sealer from nature on the roof of their vehicles and rips in their ponchos. They not only know edible roots, gourds, and mushrooms but also which taste the best!

    Lastly, most of them don’t even have BB guns, let alone firearms. The closest the majority of them come to weapons is knives and sling-shots (both of which may be bought or self-made). They survive by discretion, not offense. They are Moving Target Survivor Subscribers. They are not looking to go hunting for-or confronting-unfriendly or unknown humans. They don’t NEED to. But they too set up their defensive zones and egress routes. They know how to blend in and disappear if they chose to. They know how to thoroughly go-to-ground. They know how to build delay into ingress routes to buy them time to make their egress from the area.

    Basically, they want to be left alone to live as they choose every bit as much as we do. And I’ll tell you something else. Many of them who are down at the ‘homeless’ bottom are in the process of, or already have, re-discovered their own humanity and love and cooperation with their fellow humans. I have found a larger percentage of decent people there at in The Great Outdoors than I have at The Office.

    Anyway, that’s just my .02.

  8. I think that knowing whether the people in the camps are dangerous is a matter of education. I can tell you that the majority of Sex offenders that are homeless are not there by choice. They are there because living restrictions make it impossible to find a place to live and the label makes it almost impossible to find a job. I can also tell you that a Sex offender is not armed (even with a make-shift weapon) they are regularly checked by the government and their living quarters are searched for weapons–to violate this means going to prison. The reason they take such precautions to keep “normal” people out is because of the fear of vigilantism. I cannot tell you that none of these people are a threat but I can tell you that of the thousands and thousands of people on the Sex offender list most are not dangerous. Their crimes are benign like urinating behind a tree and someone sees them or a teenager looking at teenage porn on the internet. I know a lot of people think there must be more to these crimes for these lives to be ruined but I am here to tell you there is not…it is estimated that only between 2 and 3 percent of the almost 700,000 people in the US on the Registry are actually dangerous child molesters. The remaining people are just regular folks who made one really stupid life altering mistake…many are young men that turned 18 while their girlfriend was still 17…they are now on the list and many of them are since married to their sweetheart but it doesn’t matter…the fear you should have is not of the homeless but of the apocalypse that is the police state the US is becoming (one where people are put on a public registry and labeled like a Scarlett letter) where people are denied the simple basic rights of finding a job and a place to live.