Survival

How to Survive if You End Up Homeless

homeless man

Contrary to the beliefs of some, homelessness is not a cushy occupation for people who just don’t want to work and would rather instead rely on handouts. No, being homeless is hard, miserable, and is actually a major threat to your health and continued survival.

You might not think that being forced to live out of doors without a home, house or apartment to call your own is a genuine survival situation, but you are absolutely, one hundred percent wrong.

Despite having all the modern niceties and conveniences of civilized life all around them, homeless people are deprived of an awful lot of things the rest of us take as given.

They do not always have easy access to water. They certainly cannot pay for food in the abundance that they should. Climate control is out of the question unless they gain access to a shelter or can temporarily go indoors somewhere.

They don’t even have a proper bed, instead being forced to scavenge one together from whatever materials they can find or, if they are lucky, a park bench.

Being forced into homelessness will put into doubt your ability to continually provide all of your survival necessities: shelter, water, food and security.

And this article will give you some tips for surviving on the streets or elsewhere if you are ever unfortunate enough to become homeless.

You Have to Be Tough and Resourceful to Survive Homelessness

I would invite anyone who thinks that going around homeless and panhandling to make a living is an easy, if shabby, way to do so to give it a whirl for a month, no cheating.

It certainly is not, and all available data for the homeless in America points to a pretty grim standard of living for the average homeless person.

Aside from being perpetually snubbed, scorned, ignored and dehumanized homeless people are far more likely than others to be targeted for robbery, murder and harassment.

Being homeless is only a hop, skip and a jump away from basically having your categorization as “human” revoked. Very few people notice, and fewer people care, when something like that happens to a homeless person.

If you should have the misfortune to wind up homeless the vast majority of people in society won’t even notice you when they go by.

You will effectively be out there on your own, and when you take into account the serious and constant threats to your health and bodily well-being from exposure, malnutrition and a lack of personal hygiene you will indeed find yourself in a harsh and unforgiving test of your survival acumen.

Not one, single thing is guaranteed for homeless people; the only thing you will be able to guarantee is what you can provide for yourself. Everything else is just a bonus.

If you were living out on the streets or in the sparsely populated fringes of civilization, and somehow lack the ability, skill or grit to procure or create what you need things are going to go from bad to worse. Your suffering will be unabated.

Depending upon the charity of others and homeless outreach programs is not a strategy for success.

Standing in grim testament to this reality thousands upon thousands of the homeless die every single year from diseases that are easily cured or prevented for the rest of us, from exposure to the elements and temperature extremes, or from illness brought on by malnutrition or drug abuse.

It sounds impossible when someone is in the middle of civilization in America and elsewhere in the world, but it is true.

I tell you all this, reader, to impress upon you how dire a survival situation it will be should you wind up homeless.

With ever-widening gaps between the lower and upper classes in the first world and constantly increasing economic uncertainty brought on by world events, it is the height of hubris to think that it cannot happen to you, that you cannot wind up homeless.

Check your ego at the door, sit up straight and pay attention. Every prepper should know what to do, and how to survive if they wind up homeless.

Survival Skills and Tips for Homeless Survivors

The wise man will always learn from the experience of those who came before him.

As sad as it is to say, there are a great many people who have already trod the path of homelessness and continue to do so. Some of them have been doing it a very long time and have become quite adept at it.

Being homeless and trying to survive on the oftentimes hostile or indifferent streets of America or any other major cities is a specialized survival situation that requires a variety of skills just like every environment on Earth.

You’ll need to know how to keep your head on straight, and you also need to know practical skills like providing shelter for yourself.

You will also need some expertise when it comes to staying safe, and how to prioritize your energy expenditure since your next meal is never guaranteed.

I have assembled a list of tips and procedures bellow gleaned from the experience of people who have lived that life and survived.

Don’t let your arrogance blind you to the wisdom contained below. Read these tips. Learn from them, and remember them in case you ever find yourself really down on your luck, just one of countless homeless on the streets.

Resourceful People Are the Only Ones Who Survive Homelessness

In any survival situation, and homelessness is certainly counted among them, it will be the preppers who can think on their feet, think outside the box and think quickly when the time comes to solve a problem.

And like any other problem, there are usually multiple ways to solve it. If your first attempt or solution just doesn’t work out, you can come up with something else. The answer is never to give up, sit down and accept your fate.

Consider one of the quintessential problems of homelessness, coming up with food.

Chances are if you are homeless you’re already dead broke or really close to it, so what will you do to find food, and hopefully nutritious food, that is safe to eat?

Let’s look at things practically: one of your best bets will be to seek out an institution that gives out charitable meals for people in your situation. It could be a church, a food kitchen or some other outreach.

You could try panhandling for a little while and see if you generate enough money to go grab a little bit of grub. If you are really hungry and desperate you could go dumpster diving.

The more industrious homeless will collect cans and bottles to turn in for a paltry recyclable bounty.

How about if you are facing a more immediate threat, say bad weather, or rapidly falling temperatures? Even then you have multiple solutions to the seemingly pressing problem of you not having your own shelter.

You could try ducking into a publicly-accessible store, a place where you are unlikely to get picked off by gatekeepers, maybe a Wal-Mart or a gas station.

If you have a little bit of extra change you could grab a cup of coffee or a small meal, and sit down to eat it at a fast food restaurant.

If you are really in a jam all you should try to do is find an overhang to keep yourself out of the wind and rain, or gather some things to make a small improvised shelter.

Heavy-duty trash can liners are perfect for shelter building and, completely impervious to water.

As you can see from these simple examples, you will have to be just as resourceful and solution-oriented in a homelessness survival situation as one where you were lost or stranded in deep country.

Stay Mobile and Ready to Move

It is a sad fact that homeless people rarely get to stay in one place for long.

They are never a welcome sight, often treated with indifference, derision or outright hostility by common citizens and business owners alike. Police officers will often hassle them and keep them moving along so they don’t loiter in one place.

This extreme variability in how long they can remain in one place and rely on it means that constructing meaningful shelter is often out of the question.

No matter where they go, they will never know how long they can stay there before they have to grab their pack and get moving again.

If you have paid any kind of attention in any urban or suburban area you will have seen homeless people out carrying pretty much everything they own on their backs or, if they are very lucky, inside a wagon or a shopping cart.

The vast majority of these items will remain packed up and easy to move until they need them.

That is simply because if they have everything unpacked and spread out they will not be able to get moving quickly, either in order to seek shelter, avoid a threat or avoid arrest.

Chances are you probably take for granted that no matter what kind of day you are having, no matter how terrible your week has been, tonight, this very night, you’ll be able to lay your head down on your own pillow in your own bed.

If you are homeless, you will not have that luxury. You won’t know where you’re going to be able to set your head down 5 minutes from now, much less 5 days or 5 weeks.

But if you should discover that there is a shelter that opened up in order to provide bedding for the homeless at night (especially during the winter time or during periods of bad weather), you might need to move quick, and I mean really quick, in order to take advantage of it.

The same thing goes for the limited amount of food available at a church pantry or soup kitchen. No matter what your situation is when you are homeless, make sure you are always ready to go within a minute’s time.

Try to Stay Unnoticed

We already know that the homeless are rarely welcome anywhere for any length of time, even in public spaces.

This can be a problem if you have found a pretty good place to make camp, or just arrest for an extended period. You definitely don’t want to be ran off, and you certainly don’t want to be arrested or attacked.

Homeless people will rarely have the force of law backing them up if they are attacked or want to make a stand, no matter if they are right or wrong.

That is just the way it is. Legal interactions with police just never seem to work out well for them.

So how can one decrease their chances of being run off a good patch?

The very best thing you can do if you wind up homeless and don’t want to get hassled is to remain unnoticeable. Stay in the background, nondescript and beneath notice.

Just like any other survival scenario, there are people that won’t take kindly to your presence, or simply want what you have.

Your average homeless person will often have to fend off other homeless people who are more desperate than they are.

And of course, you can never underestimate the fact that there are simply some people who are flat-out bullies or plainly psychotic, and will beat you, steal from you, or even kill you just for a lark.

Generally if it is possible, you want to stay out of sight unless you have a reason to be in sight of someone. Try not to make much noise, and pay attention to light discipline, either with fire or flashlights.

Your body language also has a lot to do with this.

Unless your appearance is truly awful, if you comport yourself with a certain amount of composure and dignity people might assume you are waiting for someone, biding your time or doing some other innocuous activity, not looking like you are trying to shelter in place which will naturally invite them to run you off.

And however limited and grubby your possessions are keep your most valuable possessions out of sight, or play down what they are.

As mentioned above, there are always people who are worse off than you are and are willing to try and take what you have.

Something like a nice rain coat or even a backpack that is in good shape could make you a target for theft.

Improvised Shelter Skills Will Save Your Life

Urban and suburban preppers are somewhat notorious for eschewing their skills and shelter construction for material preps like food, water, medical supplies and weaponry.

It is understandable why they might take shelter for granted, since they are surrounded by buildings at all times. This could still prove to be a mistake if any of these people were to lose their homes for any reason, be it to destruction or to homelessness.

Next to a lack of oxygen, a lack of adequate shelter, which helps you thermoregulate your body’s core temperature you can die in as little as a few hours from exposure; far, far quicker than from a lack of water, even.

Since the homeless must survive out-of-doors, pretty much all the time the ones that have managed to survive for any length of time have become very skilled at improvised shelter construction, and at staying warm or dry no matter the conditions. They have to be.

Your average homeless person knows if you are sleeping outdoors there are a few things you have to do in order to get any kind of night’s sleep, much less a restful one.

First things first, you never sleep directly on the ground.

The ground will suck all the heat right out of your body even in warm weather after temperatures start dropping at night.

improvised bed

If you are already cold and wet and lying on the ground, you are probably only a couple of hours away from hypothermia.

It might feel helpless when you don’t have access to a sleeping pad, you’re nice, high-tech sleeping bag or a hammock, but even the “greenest” homeless person figures out quickly that a thick sheet of cardboard or two between you and the ground will form a significant enough barrier to help you conserve your body heat.

Getting properly up off the ground using a bench is even better.

And speaking of maintaining body heat, what should you wear or wrap around you to conserve your body heat?

Most homeless people must be content with whatever clothing they can procure, and I’ll bet you any amount of money it isn’t going to be a nice North Face parka, either.

Once again you can use things that people throw away as trash or refuse as insulation, and surprisingly good insulation at that! Another homeless standby is newspaper; alternately you can use that heavy brown packing paper that comes in many boxes.

By taking this thick paper, crinkling it up, rolling it into a ball or sheets and then stuffing it inside their clothing a homeless person will trap more air inside their clothing and against their bodies where it will be warmed by their body.

A similar variation involves the same paper, but stuffed between two nested 55 gallon drum- or trashcan liners to make a sort of insulated sleeping bag. One can also make use of cloth, certain kinds of foam, and other materials for the same purpose.

This is a great example of adhering tightly to a survival principle in order to obtain a positive outcome, not slavish worship and reliance of gear.

Sitting around complaining about what you do not have will not do anything to keep you alive and doesn’t even burn enough calories to warm you.

All that matters is the principle, in this case insulating the air around your body in order to stay warm.

By focusing on technique, and not on their gear or rather the lack thereof, the homeless can show surprising ingenuity and success in sheltering themselves.

Learn Your “AO” Backwards and Forwards

Preppers trying to survive in any environment who don’t learn that environment inside and out, usually don’t survive for long.

I think I’ve made the case that your average homeless person is indeed a survivor in a specific environment, and I will guarantee you that the majority of them will be a wealth of information on a given area.

It might not be information that is valuable to your average person, but it is extremely valuable to people who need to survive the same way they are surviving.

They will certainly be able to tell you which parts of town are the safest, and which are the most dangerous. They will know which intersections, which shopping centers and which neighborhoods are the most charitable.

They will also know which ones are the stingiest and the cruelest. Your average homeless person will be able to tell you which restaurants they can linger in or near, and which they had better avoid at all times or step lightly if they step in at all.

Homeless denizens knows which cops will look the other way if they aren’t causing trouble, and which will go out of their way to hassle them. They will know which shelters are often open or have room, and which you can never get into.

They will know which dumpsters are easily accessible for food or building materials.

They will know which gas stations have the nicest bathrooms, including ones they can lock to get a little bit of privacy and time to themselves.

All in all, the homeless know that their continued survival and their outcomes are inextricably linked to the area they are in. Beyond the terrain and the geography, they will learn to read the attitudes and the “heartbeat” of a place.

They will generally know when people are in a good mood and more likely to help them, or when people are stressed out and more likely to avoid them, or even call the police on them.

More than anything, they will have a safe place or two in mind, a sort of hideout that they know they can run to if they need to be alone and be safe.

You must do the same thing if you ever end up homeless.

Avoid Fighting at all Costs

Your average homeless person that has all their wits about them knows that they must avoid fighting at all costs. Anytime a homeless person gets in a fight it ends badly for them even if they win.

Fighting means injuries that they can ill-afford to have treated, loss of possessions and even imprisonment.

It might be a terrible blow to your ego to have to endure the insults, accusations, laughter and spitting from haughty, cruel people, but no matter what they say you must remind yourself to simply walk away or ignore it.

If someone is attacking you and there is any chance at all that you can escape, you have to do your best to ensure you can. Fight only if you have no other choice and must defend yourself.

The vast majority of fights that will ever ensue aren’t even for reasons of life and death. They are about ego, and nothing else. Why would you fight and risk everything over something so stupid?

You don’t need anyone else’s approval and you don’t even need your own dignity most of the time. You need to survive if you’re going to improve your situation, and it is hard to do that if you are severely injured with no way on Earth to get quality and ongoing medical care.

Aside from injury and your health you will certainly be risking all of your possessions if you get into a scuffle.

You Must Stay as Clean as You Can

It is no secret that many homeless people smell very badly, with filthy clothes, hair and skin. Such is the toll that lack of access to soap, showers or baths and other grooming care on demand will exact.

Even if they have access to the facilities or to a safe place to bathe they probably don’t have much money for anything more than a simple bar of soap.

In the same vein, oral care will probably go out the window, and many homeless endure missing or broken teeth alongside other mouth, teeth and tongue maladies.

It is essential that you budget for and find a way to keep up with a hygiene routine if you become homeless.

A dollar store toothbrush, tube of toothpaste and bar of soap along with some foot powder can go a long way towards keeping your body clean, and your skin and mouth free of infections caused by filth.

Some of those maladies might be just annoyances, rashes, hives and things like that. But as minor and aggravating as they might seem, given enough time and enough filth they can develop into full-blown infections, or even abscesses.

Especially for broken teeth in the mouth, infection leads to major agony in a very short time span, and will become completely debilitating shortly after that.

In parts of the world without proper dental and medical care, abscessed teeth are actually a common cause of death.

Not for nothing, if you smell good, or at least don’t reek, and appear clean, people are more likely to help you.

There comes a point where you can become so filthy, so grubby and so nasty that even people with huge hearts will find it difficult to interact with you.

It is in your best interest and also a survival imperative to keep as clean as you can under the circumstances if you are homeless.

Make a Friend

The idea of a lone survivor is popular in fiction, but is rarely a concept that works out well in real life.

It is definitely an attractive idea to rugged individualists, with the notion that if you are skilled enough, motivated enough and strong enough you can handle everything that the world will throw at you.

There is just one problem: it is almost never, ever true. If you have paid attention to homeless people in the suburbs and the cities of America you have likely noticed more than a few of them moving around in pairs.

The reason why they do this is simple: there is safety in numbers. Also having another person that you can trust, at least nominally, will help your mindset and also make light work of other tasks.

Misery may love company, but suffering right alongside someone else can ease the pain of both of you.

Most importantly, two people are much harder to jump than a lone individual.

When you consider what we learned in the section above about bullies and psychopaths preying on the homeless, it makes sense to have a sort of survival wingman to help keep you (and you keep them) safe.

The task of surviving is hard enough no matter how many people you have with you, but it will be excruciatingly difficult if you are trying to go it alone.

With no one to watch over you as you sleep and no one to watch your back the chances that you will be preyed upon or just run into a problem like an injury or sickness with no lifeline is too high.

It might seem like an insurmountable task if you are homeless – trying to find someone, also homeless, who is trustworthy. That being said, making friends is pretty much the same wherever you go, and no matter what the situation is.

You’ll have to talk to people, feel them out, create some kind of bond through sharing and mutual courtesy, and then decide to take your chances together.

Consider a Dog

More than a few homeless people have a canine companion and that is with a good reason. Dogs are certainly excellent and friendly companions, but plenty of preppers might overlook their survival value.

A good dog, even a small one, is sort of a survival multi-tool, able to serve as an early warning system when you are sleeping, and also a sort of humanizing link to people that might be able to help you who otherwise would ignore you simply because you are homeless.

Also not for nothing, a warm and furry dog will help you stay warm and cozy when temperatures start falling, and many dogs can easily survive temperatures that will be troublesome for a human being thanks to their fur.

If you’re able to befriend and keep a larger breed of dog, the bond between dog and master might be valuable for security purposes since even an untrained dog is a significant and intimidating deterrent to people who would harm you, and more than capable of inflicting serious injuries with a bite.

Even the cowardly dog that has an impressive bark and snarl may be all the security you need!

Also, it is well-documented anecdotally (even if science cannot quite put their finger on it yet) that many dogs have a sixth sense when it comes to feeling out people’s intentions.

Many dog owners will tell you that they don’t trust anyone their dog doesn’t trust; no ifs, ands or buts. Your trusty dog may be the only warning sign you get that the person you are dealing with has ill intentions.

Keep Your Mind Right

Mindset is everything in a survival situation, and that applies double to homelessness. This is one part where being homeless is actually quite a bit different from a typical survival situation where you are perhaps stranded away from home out in the wilderness setting.

The survival situation will go on and on and on. In a way, you are home; the streets are your home. There is no warm and happy reunion waiting for you if you are found or rescued. No one is coming. It is up to you.

For this reason it is essential that you strictly regulate what thoughts you allow yourself to think. Your thoughts become your words and your words will become actions.

If you give in to panic, despair or resentment it will only harm your efforts to survive and edge you ever closer to giving up entirely.

Don’t laugh this off. Many survivors who are not facing much of a trial, or even worse, ones who are sitting pretty with fully stocked pantries inside intact homes, have been found dead from suicide because their minds gave out before their bodies did.

Don’t let that be you! As long as you are alive there is hope!

In speaking with homeless people on all of my travels and occasionally for work, I noticed one consistent factor among the “veteran” homeless, if you want to call them that.

They all accept their situation. That’s it. They just accept it without negative or positive emotion.

Most of them will focus only on solving the problem right in front of them and the problem for the day, nothing else. They have anything else left in the tank, or they have a surplus then they will try to focus on the problems of the future.

There is nothing to be gained from despair. Being calm in the midst of a situation that seems so horrible does not mean you are crazy or not in touch with what you are facing.

Time spent thinking clearly and regulating your thoughts is never, ever wasted. Panic will always be the enemy, and despair will forever be something to fight.

Conclusion

However you personally feel about homeless people and the homelessness situation in America and elsewhere, never be so arrogant to believe you will never join their ranks.

Thousands of people have made that mistake before, and it cost them dearly when they found themselves with pockets turned out on the streets with nowhere else to go and no assets.

Humble yourself, be willing to learn from their experiences, and make their wisdom part of your own.

The homeless deal with problems that most of us cannot dream of, but if you ever have to join them you will need to know what to do just the same, for you will be in a genuine survival situation.

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About Tom Marlowe

Tom Marlowe grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, He has the experience in helping civilian shooters figure out what firearms work best for them.
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12 thoughts on “How to Survive if You End Up Homeless

  1. this all just assumes that you’re as weak and ignorant as he is. I’ve been homeless several times and I got out of it easily. For starters, most of those people get $700 a month SSI. They can all sell their plasma for $60 a week. they can all fly a sign at intersections for $100 a week. they can all do odd jobs on Craigslist for $100 a week. they can all buy a $50 bike off of craigslist. they can all draw $100 a month food stamps. They can all get $100 a month of staple s from the Food Bank, or at least, could before Corona. They should have seen the end coming , and before they were totally broke, bought an old $1000 minivan to live in. Not long ago, I lived in such for 3 years, on 5k a year. If they’d set up a storage unit, they’d have a place to leave tools, extra clothing, etc. That means that they could lilve in an old $500 car, if they’d gotten the right kind of car, like a hatchback.

    I”ve heard it claimed that they have no addy, so they can’t get a debit card and that’s the only way that plasma buyers will pay you. Well, that’s recent, within the past 5 years, and all it takes to get around it is offer half of a $20 bill around places like the plasma sales, place, the SS office, the unemployment office, Aldi’s stores, the day labor place. Somebody will want tbe other half of that $20 bill! Presto, you have a ‘mailing addy”. With a mailing addy, you can get your driver’s license, SS card, birth cert, plasma card, Ask around, search the net, learn things! They can save their money. Some banks have no minimum deposit. They can rent a 5×5 ft storage unit for $30 a month. But no, they’d rather blow it on booze, tobacco, gambling (mostly lottery tickets) dope, women, etc. The SA mission always serves supper. Some church serves lunch. You’ve now got the tremendous advantage of free wifi, free computers (at a library) Join a 24-7 gym, like Planet Fitness, which costs a whopping $10 a month, so that you’ll h ave access to a shower, toilet, wifi, electricity for charging, a legit place to park. Pay for a $1 hour per semester class at a junior college and the parking fee, and you’ll have another place to hang out. For signing up for full time classes, you’ll be given a 3k Pell grant, which covers your tuition and fees, and a 6k loan, which will buy your van and set you up.nicely. You can take half time classes for 12 years, man, for half as much money and as long as you’re so enrolled, the loans are deferred. If you’ve no college nearby, check out online classes from Panhandle State college in Goodwell, OK, or Cameron U in lawton OK. Online costs more, out of state residents have to pay more, but you can still get a check in the mail for a $4000 college.loan.

    1. Yep….I’m convinced no one needs to be homeless unless their mental status, or desire for drugs outweighs their living conditions. I had a guy that came off Craig’s List to come help me here on the farm. When my work was caught up, he moved on to a job with a construction company, but I stayed in touch with him over couple years, and he would come help me off/on during that time. He & wife were living in a crappy place with lot of driving to get to work (she never did work to any amount, which was one of their problems…they had no kids BTW), so I offered him a deal.

      Couple acre place near me was for sale, decent mobile home on it….I’d buy it, rent it to him for 300/mo and he would work for me 2 days month. Real deal compared to his previous situation. Went fine for about 6 months…..then he fell out with his job. So I got him a job at a pallet manufacturing place literally he could walk to work from. Lasted a few months there, and another “falling out”. Rent got late, working for me didn’t happen….turns out Meth was his problem. Finally had to kick him out, last I heard, they were living in their car at Walmart parking lot. I sold the property. I did everything I could to help the guy, and in the end, Meth won.

  2. I am a retired police officer from a next door suburb of Detroit. I had a lot of contact with homeless people.

    First, many homeless people are that way because they are mentally ill or substance abusers, Many have families close by, but their illness or dependencies have driven their families away because of constant theft or violence. They often continue those anti-social behaviors out on the street. Some used to own their own homes, but drug and alcohol abuse used up their money and they couldn’t pay rent or the mortgage.

    Some “homeless” people are not. They might look homeless and continue to beg, collect bottles, and steal, but go home to sleep. Home might be a family member’s house who hasn’t kicked them out yet, or even their own place.

    My city had an old bearded man who who set up shop on the main drag boulevard strip every morning. Suitcases, backpacks, etc.The high school kids called him “Santa” and were scared of him (although he never was violent that I heard of, but he would yell at the kids if they came too close). We used to get calls from people telling us about the “poor homeless man.” When evening came, he gathered his stuff, walked across the street and went into his apartment for the night. I talked with him several times over the years. He was nutty as a fruitcake, but hanging out like that during the day was just his lifestyle. He wasn’t stupid as he wasn’t out there in the middle of winter when the hawk was out. I was in his apartment once and while not lavishly furnished, it was OK and much more comfortable than the street. He also kept it neat and clean. So he was nutty, but he wasn’t lazy.

    Many people complain that the government should do more for the homeless. Bear in mind that many of the homeless put themselves in that position (admittedly, not all). Michigan used to have a law called “Golden Rule Drunk.” This allowed police officers to pick up homeless drunks on nasty weather nights and lock them up. They got a cot in a warm, dry building and a decent hot breakfast meal in the morning (at my department anyway). After breakfast they were released with no charges (unless they did something stupid while locked up). Sometimes, the drunks would come into the station lobby and ask to get locked up on Golden Rule. Getting locked up on a Golden Rule was gratefully accepted in 95% of the cases. Then, “the government” decided that alcoholism was a disease and not a crime, and Golden Rule Drunk was revoked. Now the police had no tool they could use to help out some of these homeless people on appropriate occasions. Now, if we arrested them, it had to be for a crime and they were stuck in the criminal justice system. We (the cops) did not like losing GRD and neither did a lot of the homeless people.

      1. ed,

        Not only did loss of GRD affect the homeless and mentally ill, it also affect the police a couple of ways. Because of GRD, they didn’t see us as the enemy. As a result they gave us all kinds of information and tips about things happening on the street, and maybe earned a couple of bucks too. When GRD was done away with, they had to find other methods of shelter, especially in winter, and those methods often involved breaking and entering and other crimes. So now we HAD to arrest them for crimes and we became the enemy. Useful tips dried up fast.

  3. GET a vehicle. It can be a sub $300 clunk, almost no brakes, bad tranny, overheating, noisy, all rusted and banged up. If it can move a mile, twice a day, so as to not be noticed by neighbors, it’s a priceless advantage. even if you can’t license or insure it, it’s still protection from the weather, from animals, insects and being attacked in your sleep. It keeps your stuff from being torn up by dogs, and mostly prevents theft. A lot of fixing of cars can be done by guys who dont really know a lot, but dont cost much, either. $15 an hour suffices for a lot of work getting done, instead of $150 an hour at a car dealership. Sometimes the car aint worth fixing, or at leaast, some of the problems aint, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t live in it, while you save money for a better vehicle, preferably a minivan, with your bicycle inside of it.. Move it, morning and night, so that nobody realizes that you are living in it. If somebody does notice you, move immediately and never go back to that place (in that car). $10 a month gets you a legit place to park, at a 24-7 gym. and not much more will get somebody to let you park in front of their house, if you get to know them a bit.

  4. Very few mentally stable people wind up homeless. Some people are lazy and make questionable lifestyle choices but even those are rarely homeless. If I needed someplace to stay two of my children have their own homes and could take me in. My father in law is all alone and my parents have several extra bedrooms.

  5. you can be a bum ANYWHERE. So why be where it’s hot in summer, cold in winter, buggy, rainy, etc? Get on a busy, or even cheaper, put a “want a ride” ad on Craigilist, or make a sign and hitchhike, If you’re young enough and know how and can set up a proper miitary dress uniform, you”ll get rides easily. I once hitched from Omaha Nebraska to Springfield, ILL, in only 4 hours longer than it took me to drive a car the other direction, and I got 6 rides to do so, one of them after dark. Your hitch sign can be altered, if need be to say ‘$20 for a ride to ***** ,and more cars will stop for you.

  6. I created a shelter/sleep system that costs about $100 and is very compact, lw, and is not affected by its getting wet. It will handle 20F to 110F and almost any weather conditions, But if you can’t cough up that much dough, then you can still do ok, but you’ll be less comfortable, have to carry more bulk ad weight and be more careful vs rain.
    Dollar tree has 4×6 tarps. and a chunk of duct tape. Tape 2 of them together and it’s 8×6. fold that in half and tape the seams and you’ve got a 4×8 ft bag into which you can crawl and be out of the wind and rain. Dollar tree has garbage bags. Stuff some of them about half full with newspaper or shredded cardboard, tie them together and there’s your mattress. Hide them during the day, and it’s unlikely that they wont be where you left them when you returen. You’ll get condensation inside of the tarp bag. So have an old towel ($1 at a thrift store) or sheet with which to wipe it down. Put some newspaper, old carpet, blankets, coats, etc, between you and the tarp, and you wont have to worry about the condensation freezing you. Obviously, you can buy and tape together another couple of tarps to put over your head, on a string, and then you can have a bobo stove as a heat source. Use it to heat water in a gallon can. Pour the water into 2 liter bottles and take them to bed with you. Have a hammock, it weighs just a lb, and $20 worth of netting and strap materials will form one. Then you wont be on the wet, hard ground and you’ll be up in the breezes. Dryer “anti-cling” sheets have citronella on them, which repels mosquitoes. Bugnets are cheap, as are battery powered fans. If you strip down to your shorts, wrap yourself loosely in a wet sheet and have a bit of wind, up in a hammock, you can take a 10mg sedative and sleep, even if it is 90 F degrees. It rarely stays that hot after about 1 am.

  7. 1991 we were building and Indian mission church an hour away from Albuquerque, NM. An out of state man went looking for help among the homeless in Albuquerque. Most had “will work for”signs. He offered pay. We offered a safe place to sleep and free meals with the rest of the workers. No one wanted it. He was driving past the Univerity hospital and saw a man out in front in a hospital gown. He stopped to help. It turns out the man hah had pneumonia and was just discharged. He had nothing but a gown they let him have. His bag of possessions, clothing etc was lost. He had been a building contractor. Wife left him and took all his equipment. Told him she sold it and was leaving since he couldn’t seem to work. He was willing to work so he showed up at the work site with a dire need for clothing. We found things he could wear. One of the men who was there as a volunteer working gave the man his extra pair of work boots. All the guys ended up donating clothing. I went to town and bought underwear and socks.
    He was a knowledgeable hard worker. Friendly and more than did his share of the work. Often showing volunteers easier ways to do the work. When the man who picked him up was heading home He gave the man $600 in cash and a prepaid card with $300 on it. He was offered a ride back to Albuquerque or the choice to stay and work for meals and a roof with the other volunteers. He stayed.
    I’d been given an old car. It looked horrible but ran ok. I still had the old pickup I’d bought for my daughters first vehicle. I’d traded her a better car for it when she and her husband were moving out of state. I gave him the car I’d been given after a month of hard volunteer work.
    We worked to the end of the materials. Had the decking on but it still need roofing. Nothing to do till I raised more money. He decided to go one back to Albuquerque. I saw him twice after that. He was eating at a little place that was cheap but good spicy food. My husband asked how he was doing. He laughed. Well the wife wasn’t lying. Everything was gas gone. “Had to file for bankruptcy”. “Now I’m working pretty steady for guys that used to work for me”. ” I’m buying up used equipment as I can every payday. My licence is still good and I’m aiming to get back to contracting. No loans since the bankruptcy was too recent but if I can replace my necessary equipment and build up some savings I’m going to get back to contracting”.
    “By the way I’m living in the car, and an friend is letting me shower at his place and he’s storeing the equipment for me with his. He’s a contractor too”.
    We never saw him again but I believe he wasn’t living in his car too long after that.
    I was homeless at 21. I left to escape a marriage gone very wrong. I had to disappear. No one who knew me could say they had seen me or they and maybe their family would be dead in the search for me. I walked at night, hid in daylight, and made it to the woods I’d run when I was 12 and 13. I lived out there for 10 months. Determination and a lot of prayers “please help me” for situations and real needs. I survived and actually thrived alone in the woods. It took moving past the “I don’t know what to do” panic! And into using the knowledge I’d did have and setting my mind to always learn more.

  8. in the north country most of the homeless own land and put up a camp made from plywood and metal roofing. heard it on public radio that its not easy to spot rural homeless since the all own their own land and built camps. since i don’t have indoor plumbing i am technically homeless the way the government morons calculate it, so technically i been homeless for most of my life.

    https://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/story/40514/20200203/homeless-people-in-the-north-country-often-live-invisibly

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