I can speak to this issue with personal experience. I am 53 years old now, but at age 21 I was homeless for several months.
I was going to college in Southern California and did a summer intern program in New Mexico. When the summer program ended I found myself with little money and no place to stay. This was in 1981, and for those of you old enough to remember times were pretty tough. I was also pretty lucky that I owned a pickup truck with a camper shell on the back.
I drove back to Southern California to return to school. I had been told that I would have some financial support from my parents, but when I got home there was none, nor was there a place to stay.
When I arrived I had 27 cents in my pocket, a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter, some honey, a sleeping bag, and a full tank of gas. I did not have a job. I did not have any substance abuse issues, no drugs, no alcohol, no mental issues. I was just out of money but wanting to continue my education.
I got a part time job very quickly, it paid poorly, but it paid quickly. I was very lucky that I was able to find any job, and I found this one in two days. I parked the truck near my place of employ and hunkered down until I got paid, it took two weeks to get the first check. I made the sandwiches last that entire time. A couple of weeks later college started and fortunately my parents had paid the fees earlier. It was a state school and the cost per semester was very low.
I never, not even once, took any form of assistance beyond the occasional friend letting me use their shower or sleep on the living room floor, and I only did this for a total of 4 nights in the entire time. I did not get food stamps. I did not get welfare. I did not get church or non-government assistance like food or clothing. I initially bathed in gas station restrooms using a wash cloth. Once school started I was able to find a restroom on campus that had a shower and I used that during the week.
Once the money started coming in I was able to get by, working part time and going to school. It took several months before I was able to save up enough to deal with the necessary deposits to get a room in a house filled with other college students.
It was touch and go for a while paying the rent for the room, but I made it.
Now at age 53 I am married and we own our home free and clear. We own our cars free and clear. We have no credit card or other debt. We have money in the bank for retirement, and for emergencies.
It was very difficult over the years to get to the position we are in now. There was considerable discipline, and plenty of times where we did without in order to save our money with the long term goal of financial independence in mind.
I mention my history because it is very simple to point to mental, or chemical issues as the only cause for homelessness. True, those are important, but they are not the only cause. Mine was purely financial. I did not have enough money, plain and simple. The college education, and that specific summer program were indispensable in allowing me to work in my chosen profession and make top wages. To this day I am able to draw on those experiences and turn them in my favor.
Do I think that there should be programs like food stamps, and welfare. Yes I do. I think those should be programs of last resort. I was lucky that I was able not to take assistance, it is something I am still proud of to this day. If I had not been lucky enough to get that part time job then I would have been forced to take assistance, and I would have.
Unless you have been homeless yourself it is very difficult to understand just what it does to your head. I came out of it a stronger person. I can easily see that it could break the will of another person.
Cancer Survivor since 2011
Last edited by Road Man; 01-30-2014 at 07:59..