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Archived

This site is no longer being updated. I keep it live because all of the information here was written either while I was homeless or very shortly after I got off the street (with the exception of this post).

It's sister site, the San Diego Homeless Survival Guide is also archived, but is in less of a deep freeze than this site. It is no longer having new content added, but I occasionally edit existing content for various reasons (usually formatting and typos).

I still write about homelessness. You might be interested in these other sites of mine: Street Life SolutionsPocket PuterWrite Pay

A Virtual Life

I just recently got off the street. I was able to pay down debt, resolve various personal problems and develop a portable income while homeless. The secret sauce here is that I had a virtual life.

In spite of my station in life and inability to make myself publically presentable enough for networking in person, participating in online forums allowed me to make social connections (with people who weren't total losers -- many homeless people hang out with other homeless people, getting high and entrenching their problems). Making connections online also got around other logistical barriers to participating in polite society.

Meeting people in person requires traveling to the meeting spot, having your act together enough to be at a certain place at a certain time and there are usually costs. Even just having coffee with someone means paying for coffee. This can be a hardship when you are homeless.

I also was able to earn money online and handle quite a lot of other things that woul…

Geographic Mobility Leads to Upward Mobility

I would like to see programs that promote mobility of homeless individuals, such as help with applying for the disability discount card for the transit system. This is the opposite of the current tendency for centralized homeless services, which creates a concentration of poverty that compounds problems and makes it harder to escape. When I was in downtown San Diego, it cost $2.50 for a one way bus ticket or $5 for a day pass. After they switched to a Compass card, it went up to effectively $7 if you didn't have a card to put it on. The cards cost $2 as well. We used a lot of spray peroxide while on the street. You can get a spray bottle of peroxide for a dollar something at Walmart. It is over $3 at CVS Pharmacy. There is no Walmart in downtown San Diego, but there are CVS Pharmacy locations. It made no sense to spend $5-$7 on bus fare to try to save $2 or so on this item. With being homeless, we could not stock up on cheap stuff to make it make sense. So we were paying over $3 f…

Documentation

The need to have paperwork in order to legally get work, pay your taxes and generally function as part of the economy is a relatively recent issue. As little as a few decades back, this was not an ubiquitous need to function in society.

One of the most common problems homeless people have is that they lose their ID and birth certificate. They can face significant barriers to getting new documentation. This becomes a substantial barrier to getting their life back.

Some homeless people are like illegal aliens within their own country. They have no ID and this is a barrier to getting a job, accessing benefits they are due and generally connecting with society.

In this Reddit discussion: How to get an I.D if you never got a birth certificate or S.S number? the OP says: It was a home birth and I was home schooled growing up. Parents never took me a to a doctor either during my childhood.

There is a long comment by another Redditor that spells out how this can happen and how proble…

Social Connections

Most homeless people are not simply poor, they are people whose lives have come unraveled. This is not something that happens simply because you lost your job or even because you drink too much. The fabric of their lives has come undone and a large piece of that is the social fabric.

Lots of people have some sort of personal crisis without ending up on the street. For example, you can lose your job and not wind up homeless because your spouse has a job or family takes you in until you can get back on your feet. People who are homeless are people who have not just run out of money, but have also run out of all of those kinds of options as well.

In fact, hard to solve social problems are often a root cause of homelessness. Some people wind up homeless because they are fleeing an abusive situation, and they have nowhere else to go. So, this isn't necessarily a case of someone being difficult themselves and wearing out their welcome with all of their friends and relatives. Some peo…

Cash and Gift Cards

When people want to help me, they sometimes go shopping and clearly spend serious dough on some kind of upscale food or whatever. I am sure they mean well, but like many homeless people, I have a medical condition and significant dietary restrictions. I often cannot eat what they buy me. In some cases, I am outright allergic to it.

Further, the fact that I am on the street does not mean they know more about good nutrition than I do. I realize they think they are going to feed me better than I could feed myself. This is potentially true insofar as sometimes I do not have money for food. But insofar as ability to decide what is best for my health: No.

I know quite a lot about my medical condition and how to properly feed myself in the face of it. A random stranger on the street will have no idea what my medical diagnosis even is.

So I am generally not too crazy about people buying me food in that manner, where they choose the food for me without any input whatsoever from me. It usua…

Hotel Stays, Especially in Inclement Weather

I hate the shelter system and have never used it. I once started the intake process at one when there was an incoming snow storm. Ultimately, we just asked for a change of clothes for each of us and a shower for me.

Then we left and went to seek a sheltered spot to camp, which we successfully found and spent the night perfectly comfortable -- far more comfortable than if we had been in the shelter, where the discomfort may have been more about social crap and other people controlling us than about physical comfort. But, I don't know. I am not convinced we would have been physically comfortable in the shelter either, with all the limitations they expected us to abide by.

However, we have had kind strangers put us up in a hotel a few times when I was ill or the weather was bad or whatever. In my experience, this is a far more civilized means to help homeless people than the shelter system.

Don't get me wrong, I don't expect the shelter system to go away any time soon. Bu…