12 People Discuss What They’d Do the First 24-72 Hours of Being Homeless
by Matthew Gilligan
I sincerely hope that you or I never, ever have to deal with being homeless.
Because I think we can all agree that it would be an awful experience that no one should experience.
But today we’re going to hear from people about what they’d do in the first 24-72 hours if they ended up homeless.
Let’s see what they had to say.
1. Good advice.
“Keep your documents. Drivers license, birth certificate, social security card.
Keep these sacred because life is HARD without them. Keep your phone. If you don’t have one, get one. Get an address. You might be able to use a library’s, a church’s etc. Get a free bank account. You need these things to get jobs, get training, and to get housing.
Make a bag of socks, hat, underwear, toothbrush and paste, deodorant, hair brush, soap, and scissors. Depending on your resources, the contents will change.
Contact all of the charities in the area. You may be able to contact one and they can help you get started. If you have ties to LGBT, abuse, the military, etc then there’s likely offices that can help you too.
You need regular food, shelter, a job/training, supplies as needed. You need to be on a path. There’s a lot of programs that help with these goals, become familiar to them.
Do NOT despair. Process your emotions and your situation. But avoid drugs, alcohol, and any other clutch because it only makes things worse. You will build a home again. People do it all the time. Please keep your head up.”
2. Check in.
“If you are experiencing massive mental upheaval, don’t be afraid to check into a psych ward.
When my schizophrenia was at its worst I became homeless for a while and checking myself into proper facilities set me up for the long run.
I know you feel hopeless and lost, but you’re already taking the steps to maneuver your way out of the situation.”
“If you have kids, contact their school. They have programs to help homeless kids.
We lost our house. The school program was an absolute lifesaver. They eventually found us an apartment.”
“When contacting charities start with the homeless shelter. Even if you’re going to sleep in your car or couch surf.
The shelter will hook you up with housing programs, and probably have the application forms for any other government assistance you might be eligible for. They’ll also refer you to the most helpful local charities.”
“Open a PO box.
In my area, it’s only $4 a month, and you can still receive mail which is absolutely critical.”
6. Safe place.
“Locate a library.
It’s a safe place that you can be for as long as they’re open.
You can get internet access, which will be handy for staying in touch with people and looking for jobs if you don’t already have one.”
“Invest in a tent. I bought mine for less than $20, and the contents fit in my trunk.
But absolutely do not collect garbage. Plastic bottles, paper cups, bags of any kind are an absolutely not, and they’re things people will go looking for when contacting the police to get rid of “hobo camps.”
They’re not “perfectly good,” leave it in the trash, you’re just attracting negative attention to yourself.”
8. They’ll help you out.
“Locate a church.
Many have food banks and will provide assistance, some even run homeless shelters.
At the very least, they may be able to point to where you can find assistance elsewhere.”
9. Gotta eat.
“Invest in a hot plate if you know of a place where you can plug it in. It’ll let you do some cooking, and some food items are dirt cheap.
A lot of it is stuff like pasta or tomato sauce, ramen, and a lot of it is stuff you probably wouldn’t eat under normal circumstances like vienna sausages. You’re going to have to get creative.”
10. Do your homework.
“If you don’t have a car to live in, and especially if you can’t afford a tent, there’s likely to be shelters in your area, try to find them if you can, but don’t count on a free or permanent solution.
Some of them charge rent, others stipulate that you can only stay for so long but have to be out by a certain time and date. Do some homework before making the trip.”
“If you can afford it, get a gym membership that lets you rent a storage locker and make going to the gym a huge part of your structured daily routine.
It’s an island of stability and regularity that keeps you sane and healthy. Just being able to be normal and clean while working on a goal goes a long way…why not get ripped now that you have the time?
If you can find one that has a pool and a sauna, even better. It really lifts your spirits. Community centers are a great resource that cost a lot less than commercial gyms…worth looking into.
Another activity that keeps you stable: seeing friendly people on a regular basis. Join activity groups and volunteer to help. Community means everything– you never know who you’ll meet that will help you find a place to live.
And finally, stealth is key. You’ll have a lot less problems if you don’t let anyone know you’re homeless. Stay clean, travel light, keep your head down and you’ll avoid a hell of a lot of problems.”
12. Take care of yourself.
“To find a job, you can be homeless, but can’t look homeless.
Shower daily, brush your teeth, don’t drink al**hol/use drugs and have clean clothes. Either find some charity/church that will help you with these, or get a gym membership or any other public place where you can take care of yourself. It does cost some money, but it’s much cheaper than rent.
Don’t use first paycheck to get a rent. Situation might get worse again, so first you need at least three months of food and hygiene expenses. Then look for a rent – there are just two things to look at – price and if you can get to work on time using public transportation, even if it takes three hours.”