Frequently Asked Questions about
Homelessness

Veterans Helping Veterans

Where do I find shelter?

   Most cities have homeless shelters. The more rural you are, the less help you'll find. Go to your local government, and ask them what resources are available to help you. Go to your public library and speak to a librarian and ask them for help in finding shelter. Set your pride aside, and tell them you're homeless, and need help finding shelter.

   I spent about a year living in my car, before my local police decided to tow it, for 'reasons'. This includes a period where there was a warrent for me for 'failure to pay child support', so I went to the county jail during the winter, and seved jail time for 3 months, working as a trustee during that time. LOL during that time, I parked my car in the police parking lot for the county jail, and it wasn't messed with, and was there when I got out. Just before losing the car, I had a job through a temporary agency for about 3 months (until they wanted to hire me and did a background check, but I didn't know about any of that at the time), so I bought a tent for about $100 and a sleeping bag for about $50, and a cooler for about $30. I stayed in my tent for 3 years, even in the dead of Wisconsin winter with 4 feet of snow on the ground.

How do I eat?

   Like shelters, most cities have organizations that feed people. Again, the more rural you are, the less help you'll find. Go to your local government, and ask them what resources are available to help you. Go to your public library and speak to a librarian and ask them for help in finding shelter. Set your pride aside, and tell them you're hungry, and need help finding food.

   When I lived in my car and my tent, I bought my own food, and kept it in a cooler, except things like can/bagged tuna. I always had some money, from work and from collecting aluminum cans. I'd buy a bag of sugar, and keep it in a airtight container I bought, then buy the little packets of Kool-aid, and use a gallon container from tea I had bought, to make Kool-aid in. There wasn't 'public' water near me, but there was a warehouse building that had an outside faucet of city water (like you hook a hose to) that I'd get water at. I'd buy a little bag of tuna, and a tomato, cut the tomato up into the tuna (packages of cherry tomatos worked well for this) this was a meal for me. I would buy cheese, and keep it in a ziplock, and snack on that, sometimes buy that water added cheap ham packages if I had the money. Cheese and Ham and Kool-aid, that's a meal.

What do I do during the day??

   I walked around collecting aluminum cans. If you can walk and carry a bag, I'd do this, in our society people throwing cans on the road all over. You can dig into recycling bins to get cans too, but realize this is illegal in most places.

   I also went to day work places and did daily work when I was sleeping in my car. After I lost my car, it was quite a ways from my tent, and the times I did make the trip for day work, I wasn't sent out. But day work is one way to go. These are temporary employment places that send you out for short day jobs. Some people use their library cards and get books, I did, and I'd spend time reading both at the library, and at my car/tent. You can always go to homeless communities and socialize if you're not a book person. There are ALOT of homeless people, and you can get together, talk, help each other, maybe even organize and protest your government barely caring that you exist!

How can I get help?

   Again, your local government and library should be able to give you a list of resources. Most of these are private orgainzations and non-profits because your government barely gives a shit about you, but they're there to bridge the gap in government assistance.

How can I apply for jobs?

   You can use your local library for internet access hopefully. Most jobs need you to apply for jobs online now, so that's a plus. However, most jobs want you to have a phone, if you don't use an email address, there are plenty of online free services for email.

   Personally, I didn't do this for two years. I was going to the library applying for jobs, and got to know the research librarian there, looking for some good books. And finally, the guy asked me why I was homeless, I said I was jobless, and couldn't seem to get a job even though I'd applied for thousands, they either never called or I got an interview, and never got any further. He asked me for my resume, I gave it to him. He had suggestions for the resume, but the important thing was, he asked if I was putting 'yes' on my resume about having a felony. I said, 'What?' and added that I didn't have a felony conviction. He said your background check says you do... and that would be a problem if you're answering 'No' on your applications to the felony question. So, with his help, we investigated why the State of Wisconsin was reporting I had a felony. Turns out, 10's of thousands of Wisconsin residents who had been charged with a felony, but not convicted (my case) were being reported as felons. They say it was an error of file transfer from Milwaukee Country to the State. Bullshit, but whatever. So, really to fix it, I simply contacted the State Clerk of Courts. They KNEW ABOUT THIS, but were only fixing it for people who contacted them, because they SAID they didn't know which records were wrong. Again, BULLSHIT. But, like 3 days after contacting the State, they emailed back that my records were fixed. Two years in a tent, steadily applying for jobs, and this is why I couldn't get work. You'd think that was the end of that, and all fixed, but NOT! So any private background check company that did a background check on me, during this period, unless they do a new check (and maybe not then) still have me flagged as a felon. In fact, the VA checks if you're a felon when you apply for disability, and fortunately still check your state government, but with privatization, I wouldn't hold my breath that this is still true. So, even now, if I apply for a job, I don't know if I wasn't contacted because of this BS.

How can I keep going when it seems hopeless?

   Your mental health will take a hit the moment you become homeless. You have to keep going, what are your options, throw a tantrum, and quit? Well, that's not going to work. So, plow through it, solve one problem at a time. Food, find food. Shelter, find shelter. Money, find a way to make money. You have to believe you can do it, and you can do it. Keep your head up, and think, 'this too, shall pass' and fight!

How can I get mail?

   You can use your family or friends address, and pick it up, or have them phone or email you when you have mail. Hopefully, you have family and friends who can tell junk mail from important mail. You can get a Post Office Box, both at the Unites States Post Office or even stores like the UPS Store. And finally, you can use 'General Delivery' to your local USPS post office. You really should support the Post Office, even if you don't useit much, or you're not homeless right now, you might need it some day!

How can I use a phone and get calls for important business?

   You can get your messages from friends or family. You can use a voice mail service, now they have Google Voice, that might work, but if you're using the Library for the internet, you'll need a earphones you can plug into the computer. You can get a phone that only charges you for the service you use, you'll have to be able to charge that phone.

   At first, I tried to use a friend to receive my calls. Very bad and unreliable. Then, the very first phone number I had was a voice mail service that I for paid monthly that was offered by a local check cashing place. It was cheap, and worked well I would just go to a pay phone, deposit a quarter and check my messages, that is until it got harder and harder to find a payphone. Yes, payphones did used to exist, and some bars still have them. Then a friend suggested a Trac phone (don't know what they have now) which was a phone cell phone that you added money to when you needed to, and it charged for calls. It had no internet. I used it to check my voicemail, because then I didn't have to leave it on all the time during the day, because charging a phone can be an issue when you're homeless. I charged it in the library, Walmart, or even used these little battery instant chargers you can buy at Walmart, when Walmart caught me charging the phone and got mad. Finally, I found a park that had electric that was on all the time, and charged the phone there. It was a private park for an industrial district, not a public park. No one messed with me though. So, you'll have to figure that out on your own, I guess, there's no easy answer to charging a phone, or having the ability to have employers call you.

How can I get help from other homless people?

   There are homeless encampments in most cities. If you go to shelters, you'll find other homeless people there. I recommend making friends with other homeless people, and helping each other. Most people don't. Most people think all homeless are drug users or alcoholics, but that's not true, that's what you call 'bullshit', or propaganda.

   Why make friends with other homeless? Well first of all, to be social, second, like I said to help each other. Nothing wrong with cooperating and helping each other. Third, to organize. Where it might seem impossible to do something by yourself, you get 3 humans together and you can conquer the world! Organize what? Shelter, food, and protesting a government that barely cares about you!


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