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chocolatechip's avatar

What would you do if you were homeless?

Asked by chocolatechip (3004points) August 9th, 2010

You have the cost of a cup of coffee in your local currency. You have one set of streetclothes. Other than that, you have no money, no home, no phone, no friends, no family.

What do you do to get back into society and how do you do it?

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28 Answers

Mom2BDec2010's avatar

I would try to get a job. Thats the only thing I could think of. And if that didnt work I’d just get arrested on purpose so I could have a roof over my head and food to eat. Lol

chocolatechip's avatar

What kind of job though? How?

Remember you have no address, no contact information, so you can’t just drop off a resume and wait for a reply. Nevermind the fact that you would have to first find a computer that you can use for free, spend your cash to print it off, and that would only be for a single copy.

Mom2BDec2010's avatar

Well, where Im from we just fill in applications over the internet and send them online. && we can go to a public library and get free internet access. So I’d apply for a job somewhere close by, cause Im assuming I wont have a car. && hopefully get an email back so I could start working && makin money.

Or I could go around mugging people and begging for money.

YARNLADY's avatar

It’s very difficult to answer this question, since no one suddenly finds themselves in this situation. It takes a long time to reach the point you are starting from.

There are many welfare opportunities to check out, and Salvation Army, Goodwill, and many churches provide help. The best solution would be to find a job, using the government job hunt locations. I know of some people who actually sit inside the air conditioned government employment offices all day, and then sleep at the local shelter, for months on end.

talljasperman's avatar

I’d tell stories on the street and become a street performer…

chocolatechip's avatar


True. It’s purely hypothetical and not exactly realistic, but if it was entirely a realistic scenario, the answers would be less interesting.

downtide's avatar

I would go to “Lifeshare” which is the local charity for the homeless in my city, and I would ask them for help. They would know far better than I how best to survive homelessness.

YARNLADY's avatar

@chocolatechip I once found myself in a similar situation, so my answer is based on that. I tried to turn my back on family and friends, but in the long run they were the reason I am here today.

SmoothEmeraldOasis's avatar

@downtide nice, where and are there more of the same affiliations outside your state?

zophu's avatar

I would unite the homeless under one banner and organize them in performing elegantly pragmatic tasks, such as:

-Gathering the able-bodied/able-minded

-Forming the Honorable Hobo Grand Council

-Drive out the unjust that could not be reasoned with

-Organize the sick, insane and intoxicated (perhaps the majority) into self-care groups that looked out for each-other’s shortcomings. Medical professionals would be invited to our various locations. Interaction between the (non-contagious) sick and the healthy would be encouraged to keep general spirits as high as possible, promoting healing.

-Already, arrangements would be in the process of being made with local restaurants to have their leftovers ready for orderly pickup at night, food managers would be established

-Agriculture would be the main labor project for the Tribe of Hobo, in the form of public gardens

-Shelter enhancement would be the second most important labor project, but would be slightly more specialized; focusing on portability/durability of the shelter materials so that when the cops decide to “help” us out of our claimed settlements, we’ll have a minimal of three other locations to choose from at any given time.

-Public Relations would be handled by the most socially inclined of the Hobo, flyers and other announcements would primarily be this sub-team’s responsibility. Donations and cooperation with charities both serving the needs of the Hobo, and utilizing the Hobo’s good will in other civil works.

-The underground market for drugs would of course continue, but we would invite undercover cops and social workers to work within our tribe, give them the appropriate information, let them find the sources—the dealers. As long a protection is agreed upon for all addicts. They receive treatment, outside of jail, or there is no cooperation.

Soon, our way of life would be seen as responsible, even refined, as we continued to improve upon the efficiency of our homelessness within the city. Eventually, our tribe would splinter, but those of us that remained faithful to the Honorable Hobo way would always be accepting of those who honestly wanted to be a part of our group.

And my new people would eventually come to call me Genghis Hobo. I watched the movie Mongol last night. . .

truecomedian's avatar

Hit the ground running. You could do things the hard way and open a phone book, or you can find other homeless people. Ask them where there are any places to get a meal, about any shelters, and if the cops are cool in this town. Now there’s two ways to go, you can be content with being a bum and get in tight with a group of bums, or you can go upward. One way to go is you can come down with a case of alchoholism, and find an AA meeting. Ask the group about any half-way houses in the area that will let you in for a free week giving you time to get a job. Odds are, there is one that will take you in, just don’t forget you love the booze, but don’t drink during this transition. Find a job, even day labor places are a good place to start, sometimes you can get a permanent job from day labor places, such as Labor Ready. Work, don’t drink, hopefully get a regular job, find someone who needs a roomate, move in. Crack open a beer and celebrate your rise from skid row, in moderation of course.

flutherother's avatar

In the UK your local authority will run a homeless persons unit that will fix you up with emergency accommodation. This may lead on to a more permanent place to stay. You may also be able to claim unemployment and housing benefit. In the United States I don’t know how it would work, it is a harsher, less helpful environment there for the unfortunate. You might have to turn to crime.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Place a collect call to my attorney. “Send lawyers, guns and money…get me out of this.” (Warren Zevon)

CMaz's avatar

I would live of the land. Write a book about my “adventures”.

Make money off the book or die trying. And, when you get down to it. Life is about dieing trying.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

“I’ve always relied on the kindness of strangers.”said in a thick Southern drawl ;)

john65pennington's avatar

I would head to Kentucky. latest survey shows that the State of Kentucky welcomes the homeless more than any other state. Tennessee is second.

gemmasgma's avatar

It has been a long time since I was homeless, but here is what I did:

1) stay safe. It is dangerous out there. in the 80’s Laundromats were open 24 hours, well lit, and warm. If you help people by watching their clothes or helping them fold their clothes, they will usually give you a few bucks or at least let you throw your clothes in with theirs.

2) Get a job. Almost any restaurant will hire you on the spot for dishwashing, and usually pay cash under the table per shift. One can build on that.

3) stay clean—if you are dirty, you cannot even get that dishwasher job. At least in Los Angeles, in the 80’s if you go to the Y or even the local police precinct, and ask nicely, they will let you use their shower facilities.

4) find someone who is one step above homelessness and needs a roommate, and throw in with them. It is really impossible to do it alone, and the kindness and goodwill of the “people on the bottom” is astonishing. I met so many people with virtually nothing for themselves, who were willing to share with me, a complete stranger, because they remembered what it was like.

downtide's avatar

@SmoothEmeraldOasis this is in Mancheater, UK. Most large cities here have something similar. They’re stretched to the limit though :(

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I agree with @YARNLADY – these questions are always kind of difficult for me to think about because I don’t think I would randomly end up in this situation – some kind of an insane disaster would have to occur for me to not have anyone to stay with for the time being. But, if all of a sudden, I was kidnapped and dropped in another country and was homeless, I’d go to the local authorities and figure out who the housing organizations are and enter into a shelter and find food pantries and do my best to survive.

zenele's avatar

I’ve actually had (past tense) a (sick and perverted, I admit) “fantasy” of sorts along the lines of homelessness, ever since reading The Man with the Twisted Lip – the famous Sherlock Holmes story – about a journalist who gave up his job because he made more money as a beggar. Link

Naturally, I wouldn’t really wish this upon myself, nor even upon my worst enemies. There is nothing at all romantic about homelessness, and I am always literally, physically disturbed when I see someone homebound in the street. I tend to give them all the money on me, as I literally envision myself in their place; starving, sick, rotting teeth and freezing to death in the wintertime.

What would I do? Probably play guitar for money, and hope my family and friends would help me get back on track; no-one should be homeless. No-one.

Aster's avatar

I would beg for a cleaning job (or anything) at a homeless shelter. If they didn’t have any I’d beg for one at the Salvation Army.

truecomedian's avatar

I’ve been homeless and looking back, it was because that was the best I could do. I scraped myself off the street after putting myself there. Just like people can maintain a job and a “regular” life for years and years, the same thing can happen to a homeless person, it’s just the best they can do. Sometimes they get themselves off the street and back into mainstream life, and sometimes they fall farther than the guy and girl spangin outside the McDonalds. They end up in worse places like institutions such as prison or a mental hospital. Or even worse, it’s hard being on the street, people that don’t know what it’s like to dodge a pimp, or find themselves unknowingly standing in the drug spot (where people buy drugs) and get all this heat on themselves, yikes. Just speaking from experience.

zenele's avatar

@truecomedian Thanks for sharing with us. I hope you’re doing well now and continue to do so. From your wit and contributions here, I’m sure you are.

As I said before; no-one should be homeless.

truecomedian's avatar

Wow that made me feel so good to read that. I am doing ok. I may not ever have to be homeless again, but I don’t know. I know I’m smart, but that’s receeding. I come from a good place, but those connections have dried up. I’m poor, even if I have a certain amount of raw intellect, I still don’t function well in society. It’s like raw intelligence is like raw building materials. The meaning of life is to build a house with what you got, figuratively speaking. When you do things like go to school, church, and keep your friends, you build a house with that “building material” that one day becomes tangible. So that when you’re old you have a place to warm your bones, and feed the cat. We are given gifts that we’re born with, when we don’t use these gifts, we get punished. I have made some amazing mistakes. I may still pay dearly. But I may still have a chance at doing something great.

gm_pansa's avatar

having been homeless for over a year, i’d starve, freeze, try a bunch of stuff that never worked and all that good stuff! ^.^

buster's avatar

I would move to South Beach Miami and sleep in the park between Ocean Drive and the ocean or on several rooftops where you cannot be seen and can dunk under or make something to sleep under in case it rains. Its almost always warm and occasionally mild a couple months in the middle of winter. Its a tourist hotspot with tons of restaurants , sidewalk cafes, and half eaten meals setting around for the taking. Also people will often give there to go meals away if you look hungry or ask. There is like 80 clubs and bars within like a mile radius and drinking in public is legal as long as it is in a cup. If your an alky there are plenty of half empty cups of drinks and beers left setting all over the place since this place is party central. Also groups of caring people walk the beach everyday talking to homeless, give out bottled water and sandwhiches, and list of places for you to go and try and get help if you desire.

Stay out of Key West Florida. They hate homeless people and love to arrest them or just plain out by them a bus ticket back to Miami and tell them to leave or go to jail.

If I couldn’t do that and it wasn’t winter I would head to Portland Oregon. Unlike Florida you don’t have to have a state i.d. or address to get foodstamps. Oregon provides more mental health services and programs for mentally ill and homeless people than most any other state. All you need to do is go to an emergency room and tell them you are suicidal. You are admitted to a psych hospital for at least 72 hours and then some if they think you need it unlike some states that run you off soon as 72 hours is up if you aren’t insured. They will put you in a halfway house, provide you meds and a social worker, and find you a job in Oregon if you go this route and follow the rules.

These things I know from running the streets of these places and the Oregon thing from experience.

@john65pennington I would like to see this survey you talk of just out of curiosity.

I know a lot of gutterpunks and trainhopping kids. The ones I have met in the southeast U.S. have always told me its easy to get a meal and find other young squatter types in sort of a circle of sorts in Asheville North Carolina being the best then Chattanooga Tennessee, Athens Georgia, Gainesville Florida, Pensacola Florida, and New Orleans Louisiana. I know Chattanooga and Asheville are fairly safe compared to any huge U.S. city as far as being on the streets. Thats just knowledge I gleaned from traveling kids.

Look up and see if there is a profit free organization in your city called “Food Not Bombs” They have one in Chattanooga and San Francisco I know. “Food Not Bombs” is run by compassionate people that get vegan foods donated from businesses then usually set up in a public park or other public area once or twice a week and will feed anyone who is hungry.

SmoothEmeraldOasis's avatar

Been there & done that with children is the hardest most heart wrenchig thing to go through ever. It is not so bad by myself; although that is also very painful. Having lost my home and job takes a toll on the human spirit, but leaning on GOD & reading the scriptures helped me to get out of that situation, in both instances.

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