Rock bottom is a place where you expect nobody to help you, at all, ever, full stop.

Homelessness in our society is seen as rock bottom. Homeless people are ignored, maligned, and often feared. But once in awhile someone will be kind. Those kindnesses are so important and so well remembered, as they are so few and far between.

u/laur38 asked:

Former homeless people, what did you need the most? What was the best thing someone did for you?

Here were some of those answers.


Gifted me an old, baggy waterproof jacket with a big hood. It had many pockets too. A little large to carry around, since I was carrying a lot of other stuff, too, but proved very useful. It was very rainy at that time.


A Simple Shower


Most homeless people aren't long term, living on the street type homeless. They're couch surfing or living out of their car. In my case mostly the former and some of the latter, for maybe 4 months many years ago.

I had a job, some savings, and a working car. All I needed was a restroom and shower so I could go to work and not stink. I saved some money and got a place with roommates when a room opened up.

Yes, my situation wasn't severe, but it was common. Luckily I had friends and wasn't addicted to drugs, so it wasn't really a terrible hardship.

I usually would do dishes for people after staying there before I left, cleaned up if I was staying at after a party, etc. Gotta repay people's favors and avoid being a burdensome mooch if you want to sleep on couches.


Just Keeping It At Bay

Employment. I wasn't addicted, and wasn't mentally ill. But I had legal trouble and employers aren't going to hire someone who is probably going to jail 5 months from now.

I had to work under the table for like $4 per hour. If there had been a way for me to get a decent temp job I could have probably got a crappy apartment for the interim.

I was able to secure a spot in a church basement for a little while. The nicest thing anyone did was one of the people from church brought me a super nintendo and a stack of games to help keep the boredom and loneliness at bay.


Giving Me A Home

I was homeless with a dog, so that made everything a lot more difficult. Just finding enough food and water for us both to survive. When I was first homeless it would get pretty cold at night and it was hard to keep blankets because when it rained and they got wet it took forever for them to dry again. Me and my dog would huddle together under a tarp just shivering.

This is the best spot we had. Lived at an abandoned tire shop, in a tire rack on a sort of bed I made us of stuff I found in various dumpsters. I would pick up bottles of water or whatever kind of drink people throw away, and fill them up at a water faucet outside this church that was nearby.

They never chewed me out so that was really nice. I was so scared every time I would go to fill up water, I remember shaking so bad, eyes darting around everywhere, ready to bolt. But it was so hot, I was so thirsty and hungry, sometimes on my way to get water I'd get too tired to even walk anymore from the heat and dehydration I'd literally fall asleep on the sidewalk on a main street for hours. No one once ever stopped to check if I was dead.

The best thing someone did was getting me off the streets. I was passed out under a bridge with my dog, and I get woken up by this guy holding a box of doughnuts. I was in awe. He gave me two, one for me and I gave the other to my dog. It tasted so good. Food! And it hadn't even been on the ground! He was with three people, they were part of an outreach group. They got me into a shelter, with my dog, that day. I was just crying, so happy, so thankful. I was barely surviving.


A 180

Clean socks and underwear and basic hygiene. The best thing a person did for me was explain to me that nobody gives any thought to me except me and my family. That conversation went a LONG way to me stopping shooting up in alleys and getting a career.


It's Not A Project

My wife was homeless as a teenager.

On Friday afternoons, a "business man" would walk up to her and ask her if she was hungry. She would say yes, and he would take her into the restaurant on the corner. She never felt any danger with him (and she has had to cut somebody badly before). He was just some dude offering her a meal.

He would let her get anything in the menu. He would sit and read the paper and drink a cup of coffee. There was never any conversation. When he was finished, he would pay the bill and leave. There was never any exchange of words other than "You hungry?" and "have what you want", and "have a good afternoon".

This happened multiple times. She never felt like a project to him. She never felt less than him. She never felt in danger. He was just a guy who saw a dirty girl on the street who needed to eat.

She has since gotten her GED, graduated from a trade school with a fitness degree, and now has earned her MBA with honors. She is an amazing woman and an amazing mother. The one wish she has is that she can run into the "business man" who bought her lunches and thank him.


For The Pup, Please

Definitely letting me shower, giving me new sharp clippers for my toenails(from constantly wearing boots and not having clippers, your nails get really long and start to become really painful), giving me bags of food for my dog, letting me bathe my dog. Fresh socks and underwear, doggie sweaters or rain jackets for my dog. Pretty much hygiene for myself, food/treats and warmth for dog face.


Simple Helps

Currently homeless, ok and on my way to getting in a place

The one that struck me the most: I was sleeping in my car in the back of a parking lot about a week after I lost my place. About 6:30 am security knocks on my window. "Sorry, lady, I can't let you stay here," the usual. I apologized and told him I'd be out of hi is hair in a few minutes. So I got up and was packing my blanket and pillow into the trunk when he came back and handed me $5, told me to go get a coffee. I pride myself on the fact that I'm working, not begging, he's the only person who has handed me money. It was one of the most touching things that has ever happened to me. I sat in my car and ugly cried for about ten minutes, then went and got myself that coffee.

The biggest thing someone did for me, however, was a complete stranger covering the cost of my storage unit for a month. I'm in there almost every day, clean clothes and all that. She does eBay or something similar, we've run into each other a couple times a week since I became homeless. She picked up on the fact that I was leaving in different clothes then I had coming in and asked about my situation. I'll admit, I was a little defensive, but honest. Stopped seeing her around after that, not sure if she moved or changed her routine or what. Come the end of the month I go into the office to pay my bill and am told that it's been covered. I wish I could thank her.


Simple Acknowledgement


I was a street kid. From 13 to 18 I coasted around on my own. As you can imagine it was a pretty rough ride. I don't remember an awful lot of it, but a few people stand out even now. I think the only thing they have in common is that they saw me. It's amazing how invisible you feel on the street. People steer their children away from you, avert their gaze, pretend you're invisible. It gets to you.

I vividly remember this one woman. Immaculately dressed, gorgeous eastern European woman. Around 40. I was panhandling and she walked right up to me and asked me to eat with her. We sat on a patio smoking cigarettes, snacking, drinking coffee. She asked me questions about myself like she really cared. And she listened. Didn't offer miracle solutions or pity. Just fed me lunch and listened. I remember her face 15 years later. It's why now, in my reincarnation as a soccer mom, I teach my children to always acknowledge when it's safe to do so. You don't always need to give. But a smile, or a "how are you?" goes an incredibly long way.


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