posted on Sep, 7 2011 @ 11:00 AM
It's been twenty years since I was homeless. Thank God for the help I got, and for growing up and making a better life with the blessings and
opportunities he provided me.
They are the single best bet for help. It varies. Most will not give you cash or food---they run the risk of being robbed if they keep either on
hand. But: The larger churches have institutional help, and will help you get plugged into a halfway house or work-for-shelter program (cleaning up
construction sites was how I got off the street finally). They can help women with kids get WIC, and help you get medical care, welfare, foodstamps,
etc. They also have a lot better food than government facilties. The smaller churches can get you individual work, helping a handyman or clearing
brush. I have a friend they helped find work running a log splitter and selling the wood on the side of the road.
In the US, practically every building has a faucet somewhere with a water hose attached. If a key is required, it may be hanging on a hook or hidden
nearby. Look for small business like a strip mall or single office (realtor, optometrist, etc.) The biggest hurdle is your own sense of respecting
someone else's property. If you get "caught" using someone's hose, just say "I was thirsty, and I shut it off when I'm done." It's not like
any cop has the spare time to take you to jail for drinking someone else's water.
Churches again. You can ask for a hand-out (which they expect, and will probably have to turn down, or refer you to a food pantry) solely for the
chance to use a clean restroom afterwards. I was never denied when I asked for it. Also try Hospitals. Don't use the ones on the ground floor,
which get most of the traffic. Go to the top floors; usually by the elevator there is a restroom that probably hasn't even been used yet that day.
Libraries work the same way. Model homes are always clean, but you have to slip in during an open house or something. I've done it and never had a
Find a row of convenience stores and groceries. Donut shops throw away a lot, and will pour the cold coffee over the mistakes to keep you from eating
them. But the workers often are not wanting to waste time in the trash, so they don't really soak every donut. Same with Pizza places. Look for
delivery-only stores: they make a lot more mistakes every evening. And a lot of the workers will intentionally leave some for you if they detect that
you are diving for living. Groceries can work well also.
-Places to sleep.
You have two choices: either congregate with other homeless people, or avoid them. Staying with them involves some safety in numbers, and some
comeraderie, but also a hierarchical society a bit like prison (can you tell I didn't like that choice?). Often, the leader will "rent" you a
corner to beg on, plus some crutches or a wheelchair or a sign or something, and you give a part of your take. A good corner made $75 a day, in
Dallas or Phoenix in the late 80s. You can sleep under a railroad bridge or overpass by a creek. In an encampment, there's usually a party every
If you go your own, you just have to get creative. You can sleep in new construction, like a subdivision that's being built, or a vacant home that
hasn't been occupied yet. I already mentioned model homes for toilets, but I wouldn't sleep in one---they tend to have cameras in them. On a
summer night, just having a back yard with a high fence works wonders for your sense of safety. Knock on the fence, and look for dogie doors or
doghouses or other evidence they have a dog. You can tell when the family is away, because the electric meter runs so slow. Also, there may be a car
in the driveway, but the spot nearest the house's entry is empty. This means that they own two cars, and have gone someplace in the "main"
vehicle. I have found lawn furniture to sleep on, often out of sight of the house! It's not breaking and entering if you just opened the back gate
and lay on some furniture "in plain view".
When a friend had a car, we lived in a state park, which was completely vacant during the work-week. We parked in the road outside, and just camped
in the woods without renting a campsite.
If you're on foot alone, get away from car traffic, to avoid the police. Follow drainage ditches, railroad tracks, and greenbelts. The populated
hours are from 3pm until dark, when kids are out of school and on the loose.