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The Homeless Survival Guide

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posted on May, 5 2008 @ 09:33 PM
Thanks for starting this thread. I came so close to being out on the street back in the late 80's. I was going to college, had a couple of semesters to go, worked at a little store, and an uninsured person smashed my beater car. I didn't have insurance on it since it was so old and I only had a couple of semesters to go. Bam! I couldn't go to work, had to withdraw from school, lost my apartment, wound up riding a bike and sleeping on a friend's couch. When his girlfriend came over, I would have to find some other place to go, which a few times, was a wooded pasture with three mules! They were actually pretty good company! I didn't have any family to help me. I finally got another job in a home improvement store, and I slowly got out of the hole I was in, but the stress and humiliation were horrible.

With the way the economy is now, and reading some of the posts on here, I'm afraid we are going to see some of what happened in other recessions. In the early 80's, even professional people lost jobs. Some of them ended up living in their vehicles if they were lucky enough to have one paid off. Back then, I worked in a pet shop with a geologist who had been forced to take early retirement.

posted on May, 5 2008 @ 09:38 PM
reply to post by jackinthebox

Yeah I really went on a splurge. I mean because I grew up and we never had a car we always had to walk to where we needed to go when I started my own company and the big bucks rolled in I spent and spent. Like I said when things pick back up again my money in going in a safe in my house and Im stocking up on gold and food and guns...I mean literally.

posted on May, 5 2008 @ 09:52 PM
Wow this brings back memories, thanks for sharing everyone.

I too was homeless, a few of times, but not much longer than a month in my case. 3 times I had a car, and one time I didn't. That was rough.

One think I can give as far as advice is, if you live near a good size city, most of them offer places where you can use their voicemail for finding jobs. Also, the one in Fairfax Virginia had a washer and dryer you could use. Vancouver Washington. (Just outside Portland Oregon) has FISH, which helps people with food and some clothing. Just show up, and they take your information, and you get it right there.
Most cities, I would think have something similar. Also Salvation Army had something like that. Warning, this info is about 7 years old.

Basically, remember YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Keep your head smart, and don't let yourself fall off the deep end.

If you can get to a computer, try craigs List for work.,and to place ads for yourself, if you've got a skill. Even if you DONT have a skill. Try the Library for computers with Internet access.

I've heard alot about people who make decent money "spanging". If you need cash, try that.

Some churches offer gas vouchers and interview clothes as well. Not sure which ones. Sorry.

If it gets real bad, and it looks like you're going to be there for a while, I would suggest, you grab a backpack, Spange until you can afford a small durable tent, and tell yourself your no longer "homeless". Your now a "traveler" Go see the world. Just my silly idea.

Always keep a kean, sharp mind. Strike up conversations with anyone. Never know where its going to lead. I hate to say that, but its true. I was saved from one of those homeless sessions of mine by being witty, and charming. I also got a bit of booty as well.

Also, I know this sounds generic, but pray. God loves you.

Odd bits of advice from an odd man.

posted on May, 5 2008 @ 10:06 PM
It sounds silly but if you've got a van, you're half way home. In fact, you ARE home!
A queen bed fits nicely in the rear of the van, and nicely too. I could write for hours on how to pimp your van for maximum efficiency, but you get the point.

If you have a vehicle, (again, preferably a van for minimum viewablilty)
Find 24 hour Wal Marts, or 24 Hour fitness to park/camp in. Change your parking every now and then to avoid arousing suspicion.

And, if possible, if it looks like you're going to be homeless for a decent amount of time, get a 24 hour fitness program. I'm not sure of the cost, but you can google it. There you'll have showers, and other ammenities to help you. I personally think smelling bad leads to living bad. If you are clean, youll feel better.

Buy a pay per minute phone. use it only for work calls. You can get a voice mail with it if you dont have other ways.

Get a job. I know this seems difficult, but do it. Even if its a Fast Food job.
Make conversation, and become a likeable guy, even if youre not. Once they know you, someone should have a space you can crash at for a short time.

Completely ridiculous thought, but if I was homeless and it was looking to be for a while, I'd move to the warm Ocean, like Florida, or Southern California.
You'll have warmth, minimal bugs, and at least a small shower via the ocean. Layout your clothes if you can to get clean by the suns radiation. Its not much but it'll kill some bacteria.

Sorry this is sporadic, I'm a bit drunk, and taking some vicodin.

posted on May, 5 2008 @ 10:24 PM

Originally posted by kthulu
Completely ridiculous thought, but if I was homeless and it was looking to be for a while, I'd move to the warm Ocean, like Florida, or Southern California.
Sorry this is sporadic, I'm a bit drunk, and taking some vicodin.

You said a lot with that one sentence.

IF I were homeless...
Sorry, this just struck me the wrong way. IF I had the knowledge that I was going to become homeless...
I would have...

Thinking about what I/you would do in the case of homelessness is all well and good. Being prepaired for it is even better. But sadly homelesness doesn't always send out ingraved invitations. I'm sorry but I don't think you have ever been REALLY homeless. No money. No food. No Balley fitness club membership.

Life in the skids IS tough!

posted on May, 5 2008 @ 10:53 PM
I don’t know where all you live, but not being able to find ANY job is hard to believe. Now I can understand finding a good/decent job may be hard. I live in Richmond Virginia and Spent almost 8 months looking for a good job, but had no problem finding jobs paying $8-$11 an hour. There are places here begging for workers. We have conveyance stores here offering over $9 an hour for part time. Where my wife works they are begging for people to work and can’t find any one. Also the cost of living here is not that high as compared to most the places in the US, 27th I believe.

My suggestion is to look into moving, especially if you live on the west coast which has the highest cost of living in the US.

posted on May, 5 2008 @ 10:55 PM
reply to post by DenverMan

Actually, I have been doing this. I got a gym membership for fifteen bucks a month. Nice to be able to shower. The "Y" used to let me use theirs, but I don't know if they charge usually. I happened to know the counter-person at the time.

My gym also happens to be 24 hours, so I go when it's slow and wash some clothes along with my ass.

posted on May, 5 2008 @ 11:02 PM
reply to post by dismanrc

There are a lot of places by me that have signs up and there are rumors of employers "desperately" seeking help. So you tell me why I haven't been able to land a job in almost a year. And I'm not picky. I've done all sort of work in my life, and I don't really see any job as being beneath me. Work is work. I've owned my own business, I've worn a shield, I've cleaned toilets and hauled trash. Not to mention the fact that I have been working since I was fourteen and was only unemployed once before.

Something is seriously wrong with this picture. Maybe I'm too old for entry level now, maybe it's because I don't "habla." One thing is for sure though, unemployment is on the rise around here, and that doesn't include the people like me who have fallen off the rolls already without finding work. I even went to a county service that provides a job coach. The only thing she could do for me was to send me to school. The catch was I had to have a "stable living situation" first.

posted on May, 5 2008 @ 11:31 PM
reply to post by jackinthebox

Well I can’t say about your location, but I know about here. My wife works at a public school on the cleaning staff and her boss is begging for help. The problem is that you have to have a BASIC background check in order to work around the kids. She has lots of people to apply, but they can’t pass the check. I stayed out of work for almost 6 months trying to find a “good” job and finally decided to just get any job just to stop the drain on the bank account. It took me about 2-3 weeks to find a job paying $11 an hour working at Best Buy.

Many people are so rooted to an area or location that moving just does not cross their minds. When I was younger we lived in Ohio and saw a lot of this. People stay in bad conditions just because the “family” has always lived there. My mind goes back to the early days of this country, when work was hard to find, the spirited packed up and moved west.

Not to be critical, but by personally experience, I would look at moving to a better location if I was in your position. I have lived in 6 states so far and I’m not afraid to pickup house and move to where the work is. New York ranks right up there with the west coast with the worst cost of living and population density. But if you just have to stay there for some reason all I can say is good luck with your search.

posted on May, 5 2008 @ 11:35 PM
Homeless folks and those that may enter into this world! listen to the words of the OP.. he is well versed, and yes he has walked a miile in those shoes.. For that I admire him.. Yet on another level I have much empathy for anyone to be homeless.

I can tell a fake homeless from a real deal homeless..
Trust me here in florida its prime area for homeless. and homeless wanna bees to turn a quick buck from the kindness of others.

Heck some wanna be homeless folks can turn 75-350$ bucks a day just begging!

But if you are really homeless take all the OP advice.. And allow me to add my own here.
If you are dumpster digging, and see a cook out back smoking a cig.
Why not walk up and ask.. You got any left overs?
85% of the time, the cooks have enough stock to give you some fresh chicken wings, or a cup of soup.. Just never steal, or give them greif..
Thats a bridge you dont want to burn.

Also if you are looking for honest work.. offer to do some dishes..
Thats a day by day job.. most are happy to let you come in and help and pay you cash.. Just dont steal, or you are cutting yourself short.
Sure you might get something right there..But in the long run,you will lose out!

Come to florida! Its lovely here! and Beach bums rule! You can find find a nice little spot in the sand to sleep and its very comfy!
Not only that you are always close to water..
Crab traps!!! easy! and crabs will eat anything! I mean anything!
all you need is a line,and some crap food.. cast your line out.. And before you know it you will have some crab! Free food ! All you need is the fire wood to cook it..
A simple stone can be used to break the shell.
One day on dishes can get you a fishing pole. And a little bit of bait.
A man can fish and eat for a day.. learn how to fish and you eat for free the rest of your life!

Florida's weather is prime for homeless.. It rains here.. big deal.. there is no snow, and not many extreamly cold nights.
There are many islands you can get too..And this way you are not dealing with many other people who want what you gots.

If you are homeless and in florida..the waters are your friend!
It will clean you! it will feed you! And nurish you!
however I do suggest boiling any water you get from rivers these days.

Other than that I think the OP covered everything else I know about..

I do know.. I love to go camping for weekends, or sometimes weeks at a time.. I dont take much gear.. Its my little chance to be homeless..

Im werid this way.. But If I was really really rich.. Id would go and be homeless for a few months.. And see who helped me, and who was mean to me.. Those who where helpful to me, Id come back find them,and give them like 5000 bucks and say.. You passed the test, take this and start over.
Infact I know some rich folks who have done this very thing..
Werid, but I can follow why a person would do this..
It builds charater.. and strenghtens ones body and mind..

Its a tuff world out here.. and some people just dont realize how good they got it.. sad really..But we all play the fool at some point in our lives no matter how smart or well or we think we are..

Thanks Great thread! its helpful to those who may need it!

posted on May, 5 2008 @ 11:37 PM

If it gets real bad, and it looks like you're going to be there for a while, I would suggest, you grab a backpack, Spange until you can afford a small durable tent, and tell yourself your no longer "homeless". Your now a "traveler" Go see the world. Just my silly idea.

One of my friends was a 'traveler' for a bit. He was infantry in the army and was thrust into civilian life(it's not an easy transition). He bought a tent, and all the instruments he would need and set out on the road. He was 'homeless' but had money saved away. From the methods he used, I would guess he planned on doing this.

He has been all over the country, and has seen much of North America. By the time he was tired of being on the road constantly, he was ready to start living a 'normal' life again. It is strange going somewhere with him. He has contacts all over the country, and has kept in touch (this is not something homeless often do, but it is quite amazing). Through all of that, he managed to spend a net $500 dollars or so in 9 months.

posted on May, 5 2008 @ 11:39 PM
reply to post by dismanrc

Well I thank you for the luck. I certainly am a little short on the good stuff from time to time. But I do have to count my blessings too. Things have been worse, and could be again.

Right now it is not possible for me to leave the area.

But even if it were, you are right about the attachment aspect. My family has been here since the 1600's. It's pretty ironic to be run off by police sleeping along side a road that is named after your family. It was once a main road out of town, leading away from the river to their patroon. Everywhere I look around here, I still hear my grandfather's voice telling me of hundreds of years of history.

posted on May, 6 2008 @ 02:30 AM
Good advice.
I am a communist, and I think most people are, just that capitalism destroys most of their desire to help their "tribe" right from childhood.

When you were a child did you not want to fight for your country, or invent something great to help your people ? I presume you did, then later you were brainwashed into thinking that competition between people - for food, money, housing is the way to go. No it is not. See this story :
Of course in today's world even the humble desire to be like that fisherman is hard to obtain. First problem : the fish are going extinct because of trawling

Any country in the world, especially USA who has enough good land, if they wanted to solve the problem, in only one week nobody would be with not enough food or without a home. Not a big mansion, just a home.

I have no intention of setting up a communist regime to rule over some "oppressed" capitalists. I see it more like a state of mind.

Yes I know this thread is about survival as a homeless , but I see what I think is the root problem, and I so I wrote something about it

posted on May, 6 2008 @ 03:31 AM
reply to post by kthulu

kthulu... I wonder if the Vancouver resource, FISH is still around. I've been wanting to help people that are struggling, suffering, so badly. I just don't know how to go about it, aside from coming up with some stuff for the local food boxes. Definitely don't want to drop stuff off at a donation trailer... Those are "Goodwill"s and they will simply put higher than NEW prices on the crap and put them into their retail store for sale. I don't feel good about that.

One sad thing someone close to me has said is "Those who donate to others, are the ones who can least afford to do it." Sad, but true. I wish the very well-off people could care about anyone but themselves, as they would be able to help so many people!

I thank everyone for opening up in this thread and sharing their personal experiences. It's eye-opening to learn what others have been through, and where they have been. One of my fears is ending up in a similar situation... Or even anyone I know and care about.

Just wish there was some way I could help people directly. If someone I loved was in any such situation, I imagine I would bring them in, and set them up with work or affiliate marketing online to get some paychecks in.

I wonder how much it could help if I put in the time to write tutorials on simple affiliate marketing, that someone could do from a library or something? There are already many such websites dedicated to marketing, but most wouldn't seem simple enough for someone who doesn't understand the ins and outs of internet stuff..

Well, I think I feel even more encouraged now to try and get some stuff to the local food box.
I wonder where other stuff like clothes and stuff like that could go to help someone directly?
Communities should really put forth effort to inform people that the need is there for donations, and where!

Will keep an eye on this thread, for anything else added to it. Thank you OP, for sharing your story and giving a place for others to share theirs. It's different from the other threads where someone usually jumps in to brag about how good their life is, so everyone having hardships are whiners, etc.

posted on May, 6 2008 @ 04:06 AM
This is a thought that's crossed my mind more than once. Aside from the fact that it really can happen to anyone in almost no time flat (in the worst case scenario, almost nobody is more than 2 months from being homeless- for many of us it's more like 2 weeks), there are non-financial reasons a person might be forced to forego keeping a permanent address.

If I were going to become homeless, or just had become homeless, my first move would be to put a call into the financial aid office at a community college to see if federal, state, and other assorted aid could put enrollment within my means. It's not an option for everyone, but for some it is. Obviously very few people think, "hey, I'm about to be homeless, what better time to apply to a college" but in some cases, it does make sense.

My experience is only with California so I don't know what it costs elsewhere, but around here, to carry 12 credits will cost you about 500 your first semester and 350 each subsequent semester.
So about 100/month- which is irrelevant because if you're going it all you're going on the state's dime, at least in large part. If you get out ahead of your upcoming homelessness you could theoretically even do it in a ridiculously tiny student loan.

For that, you get:

  • Shelter during the daytime- some places it's OK to nap, some it's not. Student centers are usually good, the library depends on the staff, and classrooms that are empty for a while before your class starts are good sometimes too. Depending on weather and insect life, there are usually shaded lawns where you can lay around unharrassed as long as you're looking student-ish too. You see a lot of sleeping going on around college campuses. It's amazing anything else ever gets done.
  • Basic hygiene facilities in the locker room- which is also a place to story a few things so you aren't lugging a huge load during the day.
  • A shot at relatively well paid, though very part-time jobs that are reserved for students.
  • Access to a career center.
  • A chance to do some networking that could eventually land you a job, a place to stay, etc.
  • Occasional events featuring good free food- watch the clubs like a hawk.
  • Computer access, which lets you stay in communication for free, and also helps the job hunt.
  • The right to apply for scholarships, etc that you can spend on living expenses.
  • A new photo ID (helpful if your state-issued one is expired).
  • If you're desperate, you might get away with scavenging trays that were at cafeteria tables, although that's conspicuous and would be a bad habbit to get into.
  • If you actually end up stuck there for the duration- job retraining if there's an in-demand field you need help getting into.

Not having an address is less of a problem than you'd think for that. In my experience nothing they send you HAS to be received. You could give an old personal address as your permanent, but claim a rural address as your current and have them send you your mail general delivery- and you can pick it up or not as you see fit. In fact depending on what you get into at school, you could have mail that you MUST have delivered to you care of a club on campus that you join, if you check that out with the honchos first.

So your remaining needs are basically shelter at night and food, soap, laundry, and if you're male, cheap razors.

A food budget can be squeezed down pretty low- somewhere in the vicinity of 60 cents a meal if you can acquire a taste for cold Ramen noodles and assorted canned stews, beans etc. Razors you might do as well as .75 to a buck each, and get 3 uses out of each one, shaving every other day, and hopefully you'll have enough in your wardrobe to get through a week (5 shirts, 5 socks/underwear, 3 pants would do it) so you're not doing laundry TOO often so hygiene ends up looking like 20-25 a month if you're using a coinop laundry, which I actually would recommend, and food somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 a month.
Making $85/month is not exactly a daunting task (you could literally make that just selling blood plasma, though recycling etc seem a lot more realistic).

Shelter at night can be tricky if you mean to stay away from homeless shelters, which would definitely be my preference in such circumstances. If you own a vehicle when you become homeless, you are allowed to spend the night in Walmart parking lots. You'll have to move it around the centers parking lots daily so it isn't towed as an abandoned vehicle, but that method will last you a few months anyway, until it either breaks down or eventually the tags expire and it gets towed. Don't keep anything you want in there.

If you don't have a car, which would seem more likely, I'd personally plan on sleeping in the afternoon and early evening and being up nights and mornings, assuming climate made it feasible to be out at night. That allows you to avail yourself of acceptable public areas for napping. Of course that presents the problem of what to do when you're awake at night, but it's not a perfect world. My next choice would be a tent outside city limits, again climate permitting.

posted on May, 6 2008 @ 04:37 AM

Originally posted by LordBaskettIV
I was a bum for quite some time, but I never lived in a big city. Why did you stay in the city limits if you don't mind me asking. To be honest, I enjoyed the life of hunting/trapping/fishing far more than working my butt off for little pay. Infact I think I'm going back off grid in the next year or so. I needed to work for a few years to stock up on guns &ammo, as well as the research time to build a small portable electricity station(solar&wind to power a battery source).

I guess I just don't get why anyone would stay in a city when its more easy to live out in the woods. No cops, other bums,ect. Lots of food and shelter if youre willing to look.

Good post, it's strange how the timing of this thread has come up for others, aswell as myself, considering I've been thinking about buying a tent recently, because Im currently unemployed and cannot find work, leading me closer and closer to being forced out of house.

And to be honest, I feel the same as you do about it, apparantly. The solar powered battery chargers are not too expensive, and I have a few areas planned that I could 'camp' - if it ever does come to that.

Good to see I wasnt going crazy with my thinking..

posted on May, 6 2008 @ 04:47 AM
Being homeless and broke is a very sad place to be. Finding a warm place to sleep, and get something to eat becomes all important. That is if drugs are not a issue. I know that if it came down to me being in that situation I would do anything to survive. My heart breaks when i think about children having to live in those conditions. If it were me, I would rob and kill for my survival. If I got caught or killed, so what. at least I would not be cold and hungry. I dont give a damn about another person when it comes to my own survival. It may be selfish, but it is honest. As for medical care I can give this advice. If you need care and you are looking at a long wait in a ER do this. Take a piece of glass or tin can and cut your scalp. One quick movement and blood will pour down your face. Does not really hurt much, and there is nothing like a bleeding head wound to get you in front of a doc fast. Then tell them about your other problems. Fake a mental illness and you will get a few days of shelter, food, and good drugs. If the temp is falling really fast and you have to break into a place to keep warm, pick a church. They are usually not alarmed, and if caught they wont in most cases press charges. Last if you can make it to that small town with little to no crime, and you are very hungry and cold......Walk right up to a cop and punch him in the face....Not kidding. You will go to the nut house or jail and at least be taken care of.

[edit on 6-5-2008 by TXMACHINEGUNDLR]

posted on May, 6 2008 @ 04:57 AM
Great thread.

I too was homeless in NYC for about a year. But I had friends on the island, that would allow me to take a showed, and clean my clothes, and help me out with food while their parents were at work.

Oddly enough I found riding the subways all night the cheapest, and warmest motel in the city. I don't recall maybe but 2 instances of be hassled by cops. This may have changed in the last 10 years.

One thing not mentioned in the original post is climate. It plays a huge factor. NY winters are cold as $@%^, and I heard of many people hitiching, or saveing up for bus tickets to the south.

I live in Fl now (had to move back in with my parents, because I lost my leg after I was bumped off the Long Ilsand RailRoad - LIRR pltform, and got electricuited by the 3rd rail. Oddly enough, I wasn't homeless when this happened, or useing drugs. I actually had my act together. If I did believe in god when that happened, I woulda cursed his name, and stopped believing in him. But that's neither here nor there.

I chalked my loseing my leg to karma. From stealing from loved ones to support my addiction. Cars, Family heilooms, jewlery, robbing people on the street, ect. I deserved it in the grand scheme of things.

That brings up another point, many people turn to alchohol and drugs to survive the cold,cold homeless winters up north. This can turn into a viscous cycle, and something you'll never get out of unless someone helps you, you get arrested, or you die. Try your hardest to stay away from drugs, there are much better ways to spend your money when you are homeless. Like food.

Looking around at all the vacant woods here where I live in on the East Coast of Fl. About 1 hours drive South of W.Palm Beach, there are ideal places one could live out of site, without a single person within a mile of all directions, and set up a decent tent and ive fairly comfortably. Just watch out for razor grass, and the numerous species of snakes , lizards, bugs, ect, that can either kill you out right, (poisonous snakes, and spiders), or make you severly ill (cetains insects, some frogs, and lizards)

But If I still had my leg, I'd choose to stay in NYC being homeless. I'm a people watcher (I don't stare, and usually wear dark sunglasses) you can pass time quickly, just by watching people. It helps if you can read. Books are a great substitute for T.V., and after a while you'll realize, books are actually better than T.V.

As far as survival, and being prepared for any physical confrontations that might arise (always best to avoid) The OP did a VERY good job on covering that.

Also why I like NY, people have so manythings on thoer minds, it's very easy to get away with scams. I'm talking nearly victimless scams. I won't reveal things here, but it's like Survivorman survival, in that the more traps you set up, that you can check back later on in the day, are great. I'll throw a hint out there, your onlt stealing 25-50c per person, but if you rig up enough machines, it can become well not lucrative, but a decent steady lil income, enough to get a nice breakfast, and subway fair for each day ect. But it is a crime so be careful.

But in my condition right now thinking about it, I wouldn't last very long being homeless. Being able to cover alot of ground on your feet in essential to living homeless, unless your an Old Pro, and have been at it for 40 years or something.

But really I would advise trying to live homeless for more than 2 years, after that, something bad is bound to happen. You'll either get sick, involved with drugs, mugged, arrested ect.

But again great thread OP

posted on May, 6 2008 @ 06:10 AM

Originally posted by LordBaskettIV
I was a bum for quite some time, but I never lived in a big city. Why did you stay in the city limits if you don't mind me asking. To be honest, I enjoyed the life of hunting/trapping/fishing far more than working my butt off for little pay. Infact I think I'm going back off grid in the next year or so. I needed to work for a few years to stock up on guns &ammo, as well as the research time to build a small portable electricity station(solar&wind to power a battery source).

I guess I just don't get why anyone would stay in a city when its more easy to live out in the woods. No cops, other bums,ect. Lots of food and shelter if youre willing to look.

ya it sounds like a good idea definately... I have never had any experience doing that sort of thing.. and I have a 3 yr old daughter, so i'm not sure how much easier it would be... I dont get alot of money.. but I get what I need.... this all sounds very interesting to me.. thanks for the post Lord Baskett

posted on May, 6 2008 @ 07:53 AM
Interesting thread, but it's too bad LLoyd45 had to plagiarize the writting of a true homeless person.

Go to google and type in "Survival guide for living homeless in your car" go to the 9th link down from the top titled " The Joys (?) of being homeless " which was written by Jerry Leonard.

LLoyd plagiarized his writting as you will all see. LLoyd changed some of it and added little snippets of his own, but clearly plagiarized the majority of his "guide". Just wanted to share this with everyone here. Peace

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