Homeless Eviction: Update Your Address Book
Veterans Helping Veterans and Citizens!
What's the first thing you do when you become homeless?
Well, there's a couple of 'first things', because becoming homeless can be complex beneath the surface. But, it's all common sense stuff, still, it's an emotional time, and sometimes common sense fails us when we're under pressure and emotional. So, hopefully my articles can help you in this trying time!
This article is going to be about your address book. If you have one that is not a big honking address book, use what you have! If you only have a big one, then I recommend getting something more 'paperback' sized. If you can find a pocket sized on that actually has room to write comprehensive entries, then use that, but most pocket sized address books don't give you room to put in long entries, so be careful what you buy.
So, here's the list of things I can think of that you might want to add to your address book before you become homeless. Even if you don't have time to do it before you are evicted and on the street, this is definitely something you should do. This is commen sense stuff, and while anyone can tell you what to put in an address book, mine is focused more on homeless resources.
Update your Address Book with:
CREDITORS: Keep the last copy of your bills (in a ziplock!), sure, but also update your address book with the creditors you have, and the amount you owe. I recommend using a pencil for that amount, because the capitalists will be charging you interest the longer you can't pay!
SOUP KITCHENS: This means places that serve hot meals, most are NGOs (non-government organizations), and also includes places you might get a cold sandwich and beverage for free. Note times and days they're giving out the food! We have a church here in Milwaukee that cooks hot meals one time a day, but not all days. They have a place for you to sit in the basement of this church, and you really appreciate the work these great people are doing when most of your meals are not hot, and you're usually uncomfortable, even standing, most of the times you'll be eating! Some places have special free meals on special occasions like Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas, so do some searching to find out if any are in your area!
SHELTERS: Shelters are places you can stay overnight. These are especially important in winter if you're in a cold climate. Most are run well, some are not. There's a lot of problems with shelters, including underfunding, abuse by staff, and theft while you're sleeping. But a shelter is better than freezing to death. Some shelters have special things you have to do before they let you in, for example, one in Milwaukee has you stand in line, where your name is taken in order, even if you don't get in. And you have to show up every evening, be in the same order, until you do get in. If you don't show up, you're off the list and will be at the end of the order the next time you show up. If you're already in, you get into the shelter first, but if you don't show up, one day, also at the back of the list again. The main reason for all this is limited space. So, try to find the rules of the shelters near you, and note them in your address book, adding notes on odd things like I just noted for you, and of course times to be there, and where to be!
SNAP/OTHER BENEFITS: SNAP is the new name for 'food stamps'. Americans are taught that getting 'food stamps' is bad, or to be on 'welfare' makes you a bad person. Well, that's all fine and dandy if you've got a roof over your head and can feed your face, but that's not the case any more, so swallow your pride, because it you don't it might be the only thing you have left to swallow! Don't be afraid to see what benefits might be available. These programs are underfunded and have rigorous rules now, so you'll have some hoops to jump through. But, if companies like Walmart, who know they don't pay their employees a livable wage, can actually give their new hires information and tips on how to get 'food stamps', I don't see why the average American not making billions in profit every year, can't go ahead and get them! I'd say Walmarts greed in this area has removed some of the stigman of getting SNAP, and at the same time, exposed the fact that our Capitalism is broken, because this isn't really welfare for you, it's corporate welfare for Walmart, that they can get away with paying people less.
NGOs: NGO stands for Non-Government Organization. Some people call them Non-Profit Organizations even though some are not non-profit. Doesn't matter what you call it, as long as you know they exist to help people for the most part. Soup Kitchens and Food Banks are NGOs, but I have this seperate because there are some not giving direct help, but more indirect help. So try to find any organizations that help the homeless and hungry in your area, and put them in your address book! Some will help with furniture when you get back in a place, or pots and pans and kitchen stuff, etc. Others help in other ways, one in Milwaukee (gone now...) used to hire homeless to work on products they were selling, to help build (or keep) your employment history. They also had classes to work on self-improvement and self-esteem. So, there are a lot of different NGOs and you'll have to see what you have in your area!
FOOD BANKS: These are different than Soup Kitchens, as they give out packaged and/or uncooked food, usually weekly, usually way more than one homeless person can carry without a car. A lot of 'homed' people use food banks regularly to supplement their diets because they're low income. You'll need a way to cook food you get from a Food Bank, maybe a grill and some pots and pans, or access to a camp fire site.
YMCA: They still exist, but there aren't as many around as when I was a kid. You may be able to get a membership at one, to exercize or shower at. It seems to me, I went to the YMCA here, and for some reason never used it because something was screwy. I'm not dissing the YMCA, I don't really remember what happened, so by all means check them out! I think I wanted a place to shower, but for some reason it didn't work for me.
GYMS: Like the YMCA, the gym is a place to exercise and clean up. Stay healthy! Some gyms have membership types that are really cheap, like Planet Fitness. Make sure the gym you get his showers and lockers. Lockers are important because if you're on the street, you'll be carrying everything you own with you. So, take a tour before you buy!
PLASMA/BLOOD PRODUCTS: This probably isn't for everyone, but it is an option for some. You can make some money donating plasma or blood products. Donating plasma is probably the best route, and you can do it a couple of times a week. The deal with that is that they take your blood, remove the plasma (with a machine you're hooked up to), and then put the blood back in you. Stay hydrated if you're doing this! For Veterans, the plasma places I've gone to will as if you had service in a specific Theatre during a specific period. They are only asking you, so that they can exclude you if you served in that specific theatre/period! Why, Well, I served in Europe, mostly, and one question was (might be off on the years a little) 'Did you serve in Europe between 1980 and 1990?' Well, they want to know if you did because you might have 'Mad Cow disease' LOL even though no human has ever gotten Mad Cow disease. But, Britian supplied beef to NATO troops in Europe during that time period, and the FDA and your government are very concerned about this. Even though any blood and plasma donated is tested, if you answer yes to one of these types of questions you won't be giving plasma or blood products EVER AGAIN! It's the modern world, baby, all connected by the internet, don't think you can go to another company and donate, after once you're in the system. So, make your won decisions on how to handle this. I actually wrote the Bush White House and FDA about this Mad Cow BS, and never got a response...
DAY WORK/DAY LABOR: I'm not talking about working 'under the table', rather I'm talking about companies that send people out for a day's work and pay you at the end of the day. You show up in the morning (but you'll have to be registered, fill out a W-4 and all that so don't expect to actually work the first day) with a group of other people, check in, and sit around hoping they send you out. Some places may call you in the morning, and ask you to come in. If you do a good job, and the job you were doing is more than one day long, you will probably get some semi-steady work. If you mess up or are lazy, you might never be sent out again. These places are charging the people a premium price for you, like 3x or more what they're paying you, and will only pay you minimum wage in most cases. Also, some of these places don't give you cash or a check, but a voucher at the end of the day, you'll take that to THEIR cashier, and they'll charge you a percentage of your wage (which already has your taxes taken out). Sometimes, they use an ATM that accepts the voucher, and kicks out your pay, minus their 'check cashing fee' of course. Don't expect Capitalism to be fair, it will never be fair, and Capitalism loves to exploit those who are already in misery!
LOCAL POST OFFICE ADDRESS: If you don't have someone trusted to receive your mail, make sure you put your local USPS Post Office into your address book, including street address, city, state and zipcode. This will help you if you need to use General Delivery to get a piece of mail or package! See this article: Homeless Eviction: Post Office
And finally, after your Address Book is updated, find a ziplock bag to keep it in. You're going to want it protected and dry! I know some of you are thinking, well, I'll just use the address book app in my smart phone. LOL To that I say, 'you do you, boo'! But, have you thought about where you'll be charging your fancy smart phone when you're on the street? Well there are ways, but that's a different article. However, if you do have a smart phone, be sure you have a ziplock to protect it from water too!
Just Eddie Fetherman's Personal Experience