Social Question

XOIIO's avatar

What do the homeless do all day?

Asked by XOIIO (18320points) June 30th, 2011 from iPhone

I’ve just been contemplating what I would do if I was homess. I know you would need to find ways to get money, and a place to live but that can’t be all they do, Just what do they do all day when they are walking around? Do they socialize or something like that?

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29 Answers

unused_bagels's avatar

People-watch, get drunk, mumble to yourself. Make cardboard signs. Look for a new shopping cart

YARNLADY's avatar

It depends on where they live and what their condition is. Many hang around the unemployment office hoping for a job, many sleep as much as possible. Sometimes they play cards or visit the library.

Plucky's avatar

I agree with @YARNLADY really depends on the circumstances.

Here’s an interesting article about recreation from a homeless woman.

ucme's avatar

Attend tupperware parties, breaks the monotony I suppose.
“I want dat…gimme dat one. Get outta here ya schister!”

jeremyh's avatar

The homeless do nothing but begging all day. I have a problem with those homeless people who are physically alright but they still goes for easy money instead of working hard.

marinelife's avatar

They don’t have a home or money. They spend their day trying to find food and perhaps a shower.

Many homeless people work.

Seelix's avatar

Look for food or money.

tom_g's avatar

@jeremyh: “I have a problem with those homeless people who are physically alright but they still goes for easy money instead of working hard.”

What kind of problem do you have with them? Do you consider their lifestyle to be the “easy life”? Does it present a threat to you in any way?

Photosopher's avatar

My old old photo studio was behind a tavern located inner city. Every night after closing they would set out the beer bottle empties in the back, for the Budweiser truck to pick up the next morning. But not before a crowd of homeless guys showed up to pour the remaining spittle from a dozen bottles into one, thereby making themselves a full bottle of beer for breakfast. Then they’d go take a nap in my car.

Judi's avatar

A lot of homeless people work very hard finding recyclables to sell. @jeremyh, I am shocked that anyone would be so callous. I hope you never find yourself in a position of having to choose between paying rent and repairing your car so you can get to work, or paying rent or paying a minor traffic ticket to stay out of jail, or paying rent or taking a sick child to the doctor.
There are a lot of reasons people become homeless. One of the main reasons is untreated mental illness. I was actually advised to let my son be homeless so he could get treatment for his bipolar.
In an economy like this, with so many people just one misshap away from homelessness, I find it disgusting that someone would consider homelessness “easy money.”

Photosopher's avatar

An accounting firm that I worked freelance for in California did a study on how much money the average beggar on the street collected every day. The claims averaged $100 per day.

That’s $36,000.00 per year tax free income.

More than once, I’ve been asked for a few bucks on the street. Claiming not to have any small bills to give them, the homeless person pulled out a wad of cash and told me they could make change.

dxs's avatar

Living in Boston, there are many homeless. I pass by this specific homeless man who is in the same place everyday with a cardboard sign, standing. He has a hawaiian shirt and jeans and does/has the same things everyday, so not much change or travel for him. I personally think to give to them, but as @jeremyh said, they could be getting jobs when I can really tell sometimes that they’re getting money the laborless way.
Interesting statistics, @Photosopher. Give or take some money, that’s still a lot.

jaytkay's avatar

People making $36K/year and with pockets of cash are not homeless and not poor.

I often deal with very poor people and the idea that they are living an easy life is nonsense.

tom_g's avatar

I am amused by the traditional “get a job” vibe I’m getting here. If they are just going for the “easy money” or getting money the “laborless way”, does this life attract you in some way? If it were not for your intense work ethic and strong character, would you prefer to live their life?

Ignoring for a moment the actual statistics on homelessness and mental illness, I get the impression that there is some envious resentment of some kind going on here. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

In what way does their lifestyle threaten yours?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Why don’t you ask the next homeless person you know and realize that ‘they’ are not a uniform group that all do that same thing.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Photosopher The people you are talking about are not homeless, they are panhandlers and frauds. I would characterize the so-called “study” you saw as being flawed.

Photosopher's avatar

That’s why we shouldn’t give money to homeless on the street, fraud or not. Charity should be given to shelters and organizations with proven track records of getting people on the right track. That’s where the homeless who want to change their lives will be found.

Judi's avatar

Charity should be given as the giver is moved.
It’s not the condition of their heart that matters. It’s the condition of mine.

Photosopher's avatar

How does the condition of your heart determine if you are seriously helping the seriously needy, or just enabling a hustler?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Judi I love that, I do.

tom_g's avatar

I love when my questions go unanswered.

YARNLADY's avatar

@tom_g Do you really love it or are you just making a passive/aggressive complaint?

tom_g's avatar

I love it, like ice cream and a nice sunny day, or answering a question that was really intended to scold me for being passive aggressive.

In all seriousness, I am starting to notice a trend here that legitimate questions are going unanswered. Maybe I am just pouting.

Judi's avatar

@Photosopher; it’s a Karma, reap sew sort if thing. My mission is to be generous as I am moved. I don’t want to be the judge. As long as I am doing the right thing, what he does with it is on his conscience not mine.


I think just trying to cope with the stresses as best they can, and that means dealing with inclement weather, aggressive people who target them, loud traffic that whiz by them constantly, and fatigue. In between, they may pick up bottles, drug needles and used cigarettes, meet with other homeless people, and try to find their next meal and shelter. I think many of them have mental problems as a result of being on the streets for so long, and therefore they can’t do anything productive other than sit and wander aimlessly all day.


@unused_bagels Funny but sad and true too. :D :(

mattbrowne's avatar

Protect the few belongings they have. Talk to people they trust exchanging tips.

dabbler's avatar

I’m with @Judi on this one, give from your heart as you feel it’s appropriate.
@Photosopher it doesn’t matter if they’re a hustler or not, if you believe them to be genuinely needy. If they’re an obvious fraud forget it, of course.

Instead of money I’d rather give something like an apple or a sandwich to someone who appears to be a proven failed money manager.
When I can I’ll offer some food to folks claiming they’re hungry – it is shocking when they turn it down and/or complain and ask for money. The answer from me at that point is ‘nope.’ That’s when my ‘hustler alert’ goes off inside and the whole charity thing crumbles.

Photosopher's avatar

I’ve lived downtown in the midst of the homeless for twenty years. Dealing with them multiple times every day. I got to know the ones in my neighborhood, calling them by name, photographing them, discussing their living conditions and what they were doing to get off the streets. In that time, I’ve seen a lot of these guys come and go, while others have been around longer than I have. We saw an infusion of new homeless when those fleeing hurricane Katrina traveled north.

I’ve also worked with many charities and philanthropists who have established programs designed to get the homeless off the street. Some as specific as Expectant Teenage Mothers, to Gambling Addicts, Drug/Alcohol Addicts, where housing is provided and new skills are learned for job opportunity as long as a few simple rules are followed. Though every program is different, the basic tenets of getting in by curfew, waking up early, helping around the facility, going to classes… was consistent with all.

A homeless person on the street is not in a program that can do them any good. Giving them money on the street is just enabling and prolonging their current condition.

I walked my dog regularly in a nearby alley. There I found many opportunities to speak with the homeless. Winters are cold in St. Louis. Where did they stay? Apparently, many buildings have ground level boiler heaters where they find a way in and sleep next to it. And though the allies are filled with pigeon shit, the reason they told me they didn’t get into the shelter by curfew was because they were dirty, and didn’t allow you to party. These guys are filthy, sleep in filth, eat filth, yet claim the local shelters are too dirty for their liking. What a line of crap. They simply didn’t want to follow the rules which can lead to helping them.

Another surprise was to find that many of the daytime regulars weren’t around at night time. Where did they go off too? Could they be getting help in the shelters? Not…

I soon discovered that numerous so called homeless people leave their homes in the county every morning just to go work downtown as a beggar. Begging is their JOB.

Have you ever noticed that one rarely sees homeless families on the street, with children. Those so unfortunate are primarily found in shelters, or a program which can help them in the most efficient way possible. Those that aren’t have their children pick my pockets in 7–11. I’ve had to remove their hands from my pockets. They just look at me and smile.

I’ve seen other guys take initiative and try to wash windows or pump gas for a fee. I’ve seen others wait for the light to turn green so they can jump on the hood of my car to claim I ran them over. The Police just laugh at them or take them away. They know its a sham because they see it all the time, by the same people on the same corners.

I’ve seen homeless hustlers fight for their corner to beg on. Top dog gets the best corner, more traffic.

St. Louis is infamously known for its Underground City. Much of the current town is built on stilts above an old abandoned town underneath. I lived right on top of it for years. Late late at night, 3–5am, you’ll see a man in a pink dress come up from the depths with a genuine grocery store shopping cart, whereas he proceeds to raid the dumpsters of every restaurant in the area. He makes a haul. He doesn’t want to be off the streets any more than I want to be on them.

Give money to the charities and philanthropic organizations whenever possible. They have the programs in place which can actually do some real good. There are some, unfortunately who hustle, and others who won’t pursue a program simple because they make enough on the street to continue being there.

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