Formerly Homeless People Break Down What Most People Don't Get About Living On The Street

Homelessness is an unfortunate and all-too-common occurrence in the world, particularly in the United States. Homelessness has grown to a huge degree, and while most countries have the resources to help their homeless, many choose not to.

It is also difficult to break the cycle of homelessness once you have entered it. It creates a never-ending loop of failed job searching, lost or stolen goods/items/things of value, and stigmatization by society. More often than not, homelessness is begotten by another condition wherein the state or country fails to provide resources--such as mental health.

u/6WingedAngel10 asked:

"Ex homeless people, what are some things people don't know about the streets?"

Here were some of those answers.

A Sad Reality

"My stint on the streets was about six months and due to some bad decisions I made. But what sticks with me the most was the crushing boredom."

"No intellectual stimulus at all because it's safer to keep your distance from other homeless, and you're not going to have a chat with civilian out of the blue."

"So you're completely alone all the time. And to avoid putting yourself in risky situations you stay on the move as much as possible."

"Most cities you can get some day labor work for quick cash but then you have to be careful about people knowing you have cash. You're always on the lookout."

"The only sound nights sleep I ever got was when I could manage to scrounge up enough cash to get a room in a transient hotel for a night and basically pass out from exhaustion."

"Other than that you're sleep deprived most of the time. And of course all this is made worse if on the streets in winter."-HardALee99

The Worst Side Of A Woman's Life (TW: Rape)

"I'm a psychiatric RN who works with mostly homeless people."

"I have heard SO MANY TIMES where women who tested positive for meth have said they use it to stay awake 24/7 to avoid being assaulted by other homeless."


Lucky To Be Alive

"People can and often do develop PTSD from being homeless, especially in rough areas. BF was kicked out at 14 in what was, at the time, the heroin capital of the Northeast, and he very quickly realized that selling drugs was the easiest way to make sure he had food/water/shelter as someone under legal age to work."

"But bouncing from crackhouse to crackhouse— especially as a kid— creates this state of constant hyper-vigilance, possessiveness over your belongings, a lot of hoarding behaviors, etc."

"Basically you wind up living in survival mode the entire time so you don't get assaulted/arrested/kidnapped/shanked."

"To this day if you touch him while he's sleeping he freaks the f**k out. Loud noises at night freak him out, car engines outside, lights in the window, etc."

"He still sleeps better on a couch in the corner of the room than a bed, because 'at least then you have something at your back, makes it harder for people to surprise you.'"

"Nightmares, too. Just... a whole bunch of sh*t, some of which I won't get into because he's embarrassed by it. Here are a few of the choice events he went through, though, just in the first two years or so:"

"He's almost had his throat slit with a half a DVD, woke up with a fork in his chest from some crazy chick, had all his food stolen, even had somebody inject him with heroin against his will while he was sleeping. Sad to think about."

"He's off the streets now, kicked a drug addiction, found a good-paying job, and is about to go to college. But the damage being homeless for his adolesence/early adulthood did..."

"It's going to be a while before he really feels safe. Not to mention he feels like a failure going to college at 30, but... I mean, how many people could have gone through all the horrific sh*t he went through, lived to tell the tale, AND somehow managed to keep going and eventually recover?"-vishuual

Homelessness is even expensive for the country because it leads to more and more problems that resources have to be expended upon in order to deal with the mental health and physical trauma it causes.

Over And Over

"One thing that f**ked me up was my concept of time. Often I'd be up late as f**k trying to sleep and before I knew it, the sun's back up."

"You gotta plan your day differently to use the restroom and it's hard to even find anything 'normal' to do because there are so little resources."

"People don't realize that being homeless is a situation in which no one is really looking to help you to find a sustainable life. It's truly being otherized and ostracized until you die or miraculously get back on the work grind."-SuperDuperChuck

Not An Addict

"I guess the worst part for me was the lasting trauma."

"Sure walking around in sandals because it's all you have when it's raining sucks. Sure sleeping in public is terrifying. Yeah homeless shelters are packed out. Borderline impossible to get a job."

"But the worst part was realising I'd lost some fundamental part of myself and I wasn't getting it back. Innocence maybe?"

"But it's more than that, it's like that Lily Allen music video where she's walking around with rose coloured glasses but the audience sees what's real. Yeah well, you lose the glasses and you never get them back."

"There's nothing that fixes the trauma of knowing people who you thought were your friends or family were fully aware you had nowhere to go and didn't do anything about it."

"You can't fix that feeling of your best friend not returning your texts until you're back on your feet. Or the stares you get in the street when thousands of people walk past and don't stop."

"I'm physically ok now but I'll never see people the same way again. I don't know how to. I used to be a really sociable person and now I steer clear of most people. I don't trust anyone."

"Also as an aside, the people who were kindest to me were always working class. A construction worker who bought me lunch. A taxi driver who got me a blanket. Rich people treat you like utter filth and disappear ASAP."

"I was homeless due to domestic violence as well, but people just assume it must be drugs. I literally barely drink let alone use drugs, but in people's minds homeless = addict."-SunnydaleHigh1999

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Stop Stigmatizing Homelessness

"The amount of 'ordinary' people there are that are homeless. I was homeless for about 6 months but you would have never known."

"I had job where I could make just enough to stay fed and get a gym membership. I kept all my clothes in the gym/ back room of the restaurant I worked at."

"I'd hide and sleep in the back office of the restaurant. A lot of homeless people have cars and can sleep in them."

"Gym memberships are the easiest ways to stay clean/ not look homeless. Once my boss found out I was homeless, he let me move into a room at a hotel he managed for free. That man saved my life."-SeamanTheSailor

Food Or Money?

"People seem to have this perception that food is the only thing a homeless person would need to use money on and so they will give food in place of money."

"While giving food is nice, it isn't some one-to-one replacement for money. Food can't help you get cleaned up for job interviews, for example."-CattyPlatty

And homelessness is caused by a number of things--most of which are failures of the government. There are enough vacant homes in the United States for every homeless person to have 6.

Policing Your Own Cleanliness

"What's really important is staying clean. But not so clean people won't give you money if you have to panhandle."

"Don't let people know where you sleep if you can help it."

"Don't take work offers alone, you never know what kind of sicko's there are out there, especially once they have you alone in their environment."-Tired_of_yer_ish

Read That Part Again About How Close You Are To Homelessness

"Former homeless person here (as a child and an adult) and someone who used to work helping folks who were unhoused due to violence get housing:"

"-You are more likely to become homeless than win the lottery. Most Americans (around 60%, that number has probably changed in the pandemic) are one missed paycheck away from homelessness."

"-As shared above, lack of quality jobs, affordable inventory (meaning not enough affordable housing), and integrative and trauma-informed heath care services are the leading causes that keep people unhoused."

"All this to say, you have far more in common with people on the street than you think you do. Please see them as people. I will never forget what it felt like to have someone's eyes slide right past me like I was invisible. "

"No one is expecting you alone to end homelessness, but you can give someone $10 for a laundromat or shower, or say hello."-AbolitionistCapybara

Why Is It Illegal To Have The System Fail You?

"I was homeless with my single mom at the age of 9. In the US it is basically illegal to be homeless but it is definitely illegal to be homeless and have a homeless kid."

"My mom was a great mom. We just hit a really rough patch in the 2008 financial crisis in the US causing my mom to lose her job."

"She could not get another one and we ended up living in her mini van. However she was always able to get me food and get me to school. I am not sure how she was able to keep our situation a secret but I was so ashamed of living in a car that I wasn't about to tell anyone about it."

"I think it is twisted that the government would rather place kids with strangers and give those strangers money to take care of the kid than to help that kids family find stability."

"Furthermore my boyfriend was in the foster system for a number of years and has a few horror stories from it. I feel lucky that I was homeless with my mother and that we were able to get out of that situation in comparison to what my boyfriend went through in his childhood living with abusive foster parents."-psychologicalfuntime

The bottom line is that homelessness is not the fault of the homeless. It is the fault of a system that criminalizes a lack of resources and support, especially in the USA, the wealthiest country in the world.

What would we gain by continuing to criticize and stigmatize homeless people across the country?

The bottom line is that homelessness is not the fault of the homeless. It is the fault of a system that criminalizes a lack of resources and support, especially in the USA, the wealthiest country in the world.

What would we gain by continuing to criticize and stigmatize homeless people across the country?

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