I know nobody likes to think of ever being in this situation, but for most people, it's entirely possible with the economy being what it is. This is
not the be-all, end-all to street or urban survival, but more like a crash course.
I was homeless myself for almost a year, and it was hard, but I managed. I missed a lot of things from my previous life like TV, phones, running
water, and flushable toilets, but when put in their proper perspective, I realized they were all very inconsequential to my needs for shelter,
security, and the all-consuming desire to eat.
Being homeless in a large city, is like living in an urban jungle full of predators (people). You practically need eyes in the back of your head to
get by. You'll develop a sixth sense for danger after awhile, or you'll become a victim of a random, or not so random act of violence.
Street people have an uncanny ability to sense fear and vulnerability in others. If you act like a victim, you'll be a victim. Homeless preople prey
on each other as well as those foolish enough to put themselves in vulnerable situations. They're not the only predators out there stalking victims
though. It's especially dangerous for females who can easily become victims of sadists and sexual predators.
Living on the streets comes with it's own set of rules.
- Mind your own business. Nothing will cause you more problems than sticking your nose in where it doesn't belong.
- Blend in with your surroundings. Try to dress like those around you. If you look like you have more than they do, they'll try to take it.
- Don't look for trouble, but defend yourself if necessary. Street people have an uncanny ability to sense fear and vulnerability in others. Walk
tall, but not too tall. If you act like a victim, you'll be one.
- Never show your money or other valuables. Keep watches, rings, bracelets, etc. in your pocket, and out of sight. Keep your cash in various
locations so if you do get mugged, you don't lose it all. Barter for needed items rather than use money.
- Avoid the police. There are some nice cops out there, and then there are those who are not so nice. If stopped, be polite and courteous. Nothing
will get you locked up, or your butt kicked faster than being a smart-ss! To the latter category you're a non-person, and for all intents and
purposes you are. Nobody will care what happens to you.
The options here are only limited by your imagination.
: Shelters are probably more dangerous than sleeping on the street. They're typically understaffed, overcrowded, and have no
security. Your stuff will get stolen while you sleep, you may be attacked by some deranged person, or you could contract any number of diseases from
your fellow roomies. At best you'll probably get lice..
Alleys, park benches, doorways, drain pipes:
All poor choices.. you will be harrassed by cops, street punks, other homeless people, and may
wake up smelling like piss where someone relieved themselves on you whilst you slumbered.
Drainage pipes and sewers:
Also bad choices.. You'll stink to high heaven, can be bitten by rats, acquire a bad infection from all the germs
and bacteria present, or at worst get drowned during a storm.
Vacant buildings or homes: A good choice if you check the places out both during the day and at night for habitation. Other homeless people, drug
users, and gangs may frequent them. If occupied by any of the above, look elsewhere. If you find a suitable residence cover the windows at night if
you use a light source, and make your comings and goings as unnoticeable as possible (early or late hours of the day). If you wish to stash some of
your belongings, make sure to conceal them well or they may be gone when you return.
Vacant and wooded lots:
Good ideas if they are out of the public view, show few signs of use like beaten down paths, collections of trash like
bottles, cigarette buts, etc. I lived in a hole I dug in a secluded lot, that I lined with plastic. It wasn't the roomiest or most luxurious of
accomodations, but it was safe and livable. I had a styrofoam chest filled with ice to keep my perishables like lunch meat and milk cool, a small area
to cook in with a pipe for ventilation, and a shelf carved out for my bed. At night I pull some old debris over the top to conceal the entrance. I
cannot stress the need for stealth when entering an exitting whatever shelter you find.
[edit on 5/5/08 by LLoyd45]