Social Question

sgadows7's avatar

What is it like to be homeless?

Asked by sgadows7 (18points) March 4th, 2010

what is it like to live homeless

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20 Answers

Your_Majesty's avatar

No place to run away from nature harassment. Must sustain your life with the limited access of vital equipment,etc,etc….

lilikoi's avatar

It sucks.

When I travel, often times I just rent a car and sleep in it to save money. Finding a place to park is not always easy, and it can be cold, and you have to be on the look-out for overzealous cops that will harass you in the middle of the night. Once I went on a trip and didn’t make prior arrangements for anything. I was basically walking the streets at 2 am freezing waiting for sun to come up. I was homeless for like 3 hours and was already sick of it. Even in my own town, when you walk around late at night and you want to use a bathroom, they are incredibly scarce. No wonder stairwells in parking garages reek of piss.

Our city keeps wanting to pass stupid laws relating to homeless people. For example, they were replacing city bus benches with concrete stools so that people couldn’t lie down (even I am guilty of lying down on them now and then, and where’d we find the money to do this anyway – from the public school furloughs?), and they made it a crime to sleep in public in the city. Two band-aid “solutions” that are a waste of time and money.

Basically, being homeless is a bitch (maybe if you’re a good hunter/gatherer and live farther away from civilization it isn’t as bad). Why not try it for a few days and see what you think? I think lawmakers need to give it a whirl before passing their hair-brained schemes.

TheLoneMonk's avatar

Interesting question. Having never been homeless I can’t speak from experience. However, having worked many hours in a homeless shelter gives me some insight to living homeless. Homeless come in all shapes, sizes, ethnic backgrounds, economic backgrounds, educational backgrounds and mental health backgrounds. For every homeless person who hates being homeless there are an equal number who would have it no other way. One guy I knew at the shelter said that while people called him homeless he in fact felt the streets were his home and he didn’t consider himself homeless. Others called the shelter home and I’ll tell you that it sure felt like home. People followed rules. They played games. Watched their favorite shows. Ate dinner together. Argued a bit. They welcomed newbies. They shared strategies for keeping warm. They discussed where to find the best sandwiches for lunch or which dumpsters might be best for finding clothing or other essentials. My take was that living homeless was really just a different view of living in general. It can be a sad existence but many I knew were far from sad. These people joked and laughed (I was always “underpants man” because I doled out skivvies and socks) and I found very few that felt sorry for themselves. For most people who live conventional lives homelessness is a scary prospect. For many homeless it’s a way of life they’ve embraced. One thing is for sure, homeless do need our help to survive. Homeless shelters do help these people cope just as the sandwich and soup kitchens do. Your donations and time to these places allow people to live somewhat “normal” lives. I know this sounds really weird but you’d have to experience it to see what I mean.

edit: As I re-read the above I almost make it sound too good. The fact is there are many in the shelters who we only saw on occasion and they kept to themselves and were brooding sorts when they did show up. There were kids that would show up because their parents kicked them out for whatever reason and they were scared and nervous. There were the mentally unstable that would cause problems. It wasn’t always a cheery place. I didn’t mean to romanticize the homeless shelter.

Berserker's avatar

No protection from the elements, constantly hungry and thirsty, being kicked out of public places when you want to use the bathroom, stiff back from sleeping on hard ground, or getting a badass cold for the next week when sleeping in a homeless shelter, besides dozens of other sick and homeless people.

The worse part is the boredom though. However I hadn’t been homeless long enough to adapt and make it my life. Apparently it gets better, although I can’t imagine how.

lilikoi's avatar

@TheLoneMonk Reading your post reminded me of the book Stuart: A Life Backwards, a biography of a homeless man. It is a very short, easy read, but gives deep insight into how complex homelessness can be. Highly recommend it to @sgadows7 or anyone wondering about being homeless that won’t commit to the lifestyle to find out.

Just_some_guy's avatar

Home is were you make it. Houseless? I think that would matter were you live. Might be cold or wet. might be dry or hot.

OneMoreMinute's avatar

Neale Donald Walsch was homeless from an auto accident. Then he wrote a book and it was a huge hit. (The author of Conversations With God series.) Then a movie was produced about how this all came about. I think it came out a few years ago. It has a lot of homeless scenes.
It looks very difficult to live that way.

cak's avatar

My husband was homeless when he was 17, turning 18. He left a bad household, with no place but his barely running car to reside in. He felt fortunate that he had that as something to reside in, because he saw how much harder it was for those that didn’t have a car.

He had to look for places to clean up, to study – he was still in school. He had to hope he wasn’t ticketed, run off or otherwise caught by law enforcement. If he was, he would have been told to continue moving, not to stop and sleep where he was.

He still had a job, but not for long. What money he did have, had to cover his food, gas and basic expenses.

He felt lonely, lost and unwanted. Since his father basically didn’t care and his stepmother was abusive, he wasn’t far off the mark.

Eventually he saved and was able to be someone’s roommate, but his troubles didn’t stop there. He’s a determined person – he enrolled in and stayed in school. He turned his life around and to me, is one of the strongest people I know.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

You could always ask a homeless person. They’ll probably tell you all about it if you give them $5.
I have to imagine it sucks ass.
Kids with video cameras will kic your ass while you sleep for nothing more than laughs, other homeless people will steal from you, people will ocassionally throw things at you and if another homeless guy commits a crime, you’re on the hook for it. You’ll be hungry cold a lot.

holden's avatar

My fiance was homeless when he was a child for over 6 months. He lived with his mom and baby brother in their car. His mom got them a gym membership so they could still use a shower. For breakfast every morning, my fiance would microwave ketchup packets mixed with water and call it tomato soup. That was what it was like for him, but everyone has a different story. I hate the way society looks at homeless people like they are non-humans.

laureth's avatar

I agree, @holden – it grinds me when I hear that people like that should not be helped in any way since “they refuse to work.”

lilikoi's avatar

@Captain_Fantasy I actually thought it might make an interesting project to get grants and give homeless people $5 in exchange for their story, which you could post on a website – it would be like giving homeless people a voice, and putting a face to the problem, and it would be scalable (you could do it all over the country and world). Ultimately, I decided it wouldn’t pan out because you’d have to spend days, weeks, maybe even years getting the story out of them and then maybe only a few of them would make headlines.

@holden I thought about living in my car for a while and figured I’d keep my gym membership for the shower, too. It is a good idea for sure.

neverawake's avatar

no home, no shower, no brushing teeth, no entertainment..nothing..

PhillyCheese's avatar

Wow. This topic really opens your eyes and makes you really thankful for what you have.

Vunessuh's avatar

Well, I’ve been living in the bushes outside your house for a while now and it’s quite lovely.
By the way, when are you going to change your bed sheets?

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@Vunessuh -I’ve been living in the tree above the bush you call home and I want to know ..when are you going to change that thong??

cockswain's avatar

Better than being in a bad relationship

Berserker's avatar

@holden Agreed. But those people who think that homelessness limits itself to lazy people not wanting to work may be dismissed. Such ignorance is a waste of time.

Being homeless is a lot of hard work, as the example you gave proves.

PacificRimjob's avatar

Very low overhead.

trailsillustrated's avatar

it’s alot of work. If you eat at a soup kitchen they are only open certain days and hours. You can get food boxes from various sources but finding them and qualifying is alot of work too. You often spend time with or around people you just as soon punch in the face. It’s often cold, and alot of walking to collect your cans or bottles. You have to constantly watch your back because alot of street people will rip you off or worse. You are often at the mercy of people who in another life you wouldn’t give 2 seconds to. In general, it is very sucky

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