So things have improved quite a bit since I last posted on this site. I got a job, a place to stay and generally am back on my feet. With all I’ve gone through this last year I’ve learned a lot about what it’s like to be homeless in central Ohio. That’s why I’m starting a charity that I hope can catch on a bit. I’m calling it “Mobile Relief Central Ohio” for now. Essentially the idea is to get goods like socks, underwear, backpacks, bus passes, sack lunch’s and all sorts of other needed goods directly to those who are in need of them. Since I’ve been to most the shelters in the city among other places I have a particular knowledge few have of the homeless problem in the city and since winter is coming things are in need now more then ever. I’ve ran a small business in the past (an LLC) so I have some general knowledge on what it’s going to take to do this the right way. I know for now it’s going to be difficult getting the funds needed to get started but any help would be much appreciated, especially by those who are homeless in central Ohio so if you can spare a dime please go to this website and do your thing! I’ll be sure to do many updates about what I’m doing. Happy holidays!
So it’s been awhile, I’ve been busy with work and locating places to sleep. Sadly the job I’m working is temporary so last week was my last. Doesn’t help too that my last pay check is nearly a week late but I can’t let that stress me out.
Some other issues too, not to dwell too much on the negative, but my food stamps have expired so I have to reaply. When I first applied and approved I did it at the shelter, a place I can’t really get back too right now so now I have to deal with the mess that is Ohio food stamps bureaucracy.
All in all it’s difficult to report much more mostly cause I’m writing this spur of the moment. I will try to make more of an effort to post new things in the near future. In the mean time I hope everyone is doing well!
Most people who are homeless aren’t homeless because they’re lazy or because they don’t want to work. The problem is how to find a job that 1, can pay the bills, 2, is easy to get to and 3, isn’t short term.
The first problem in my experience is when you’re at the bottom is tempting to just take any job. The problem then is that is pays minimum wage and likely has very few hours compared to what you need let alone a chance for over time. I was working for a short time at a local baseball field in town and it paid once a month. If you were lucky you got 20 hours in a week but I never counted on that. The problem had a host of other problems as well (only employed desperate homeless people and as such took full advantage of them).
The second problem being transportation. Before I fill out any application I have to ask myself “How am I going to get there?” The first option is just walk which is doable. Hopefully it won’t be too many miles away being that it’s mid summer. I could also get a bus pass if I was so fortunate to have money for one which is rarely the case. I did have a bike for awhile which was useful but sadly it was stolen from me so now I have to walk everywhere.
The third problem I’ve found is if you do happen to find a job there’s a good chance it’s a temporary job, maybe 8-12 weeks max. Granted this beats nothing and can help you get on your feet a little bit but sadly once that job goes it won’t be long before you return right where you left.
So obviously there are many hurdles that must be made if I’m going to make it out of this slump. On the bright side though I believe I did find a job, almost full time within walking distance of whatever field or pile of dirt I find myself sleeping in that night. I’ll find out for sure Monday, keep your fingers crossed!
When you live in the city and the time comes to eat there are only so many options. I can’t very well hunt squirrel and cook it up in a fire in some alleyway (though that would be pretty hilarious), nor can I fish legally without a license. I can’t pick berries and fruits or grow vegetables. With these limitations in mind a homeless person has to do find new ways to get food.
Now I’m not a good panhandler, if I ask for money it’s usually not for food but for bus fair. I do know several good panhandlers though. John (not his real name) for example is a middle aged white man. He loves pot, like a lot, but that’s the only drug I know he uses. He’s a professional homeless man. On a good day of begging he can bring in a hundred dollars, on a bad day he’ll get maybe five. He isn’t interested in buying too many drugs, usually food, cigarettes and some pot. Though I hate to admit it most the panhandlers I’ve met in my 6 months of homelessness are looking mainly for booze or drug money. It’s a hard truth and I don’t mind expressing it. It doesn’t make them bad people, but addicts will do what addicts have to do to get their fix.
Another option is to hit the free-food places around the city. There are plenty of churches and cafeteria’s here where you can go to get anything from a sandwich and some snacks to a hot meal (some of it is even edible). From what I hear the food we homeless get is about the same as prisoners get to give you an idea. When I have to live like this I can’t travel to far away from these places or the travel would be long and exhausting. This forces me to stay within range of these resources.
Another option, one I also have taken, is to sign up for food stamps. The first of every month I get $200 to use on food. I don’t sell my food stamp card, nor have I had a dire reason to do so. Many of us at the bottom however often sell theirs for 50% value, as I’m sure many of you are aware. This is a reality. You can judge them negatively if you like but there are plenty of good and bad reasons to sell these cards. Spend some time at the bottom for a month or so and taste the realities of true poverty and you’ll find it hard to judge people who sell their cards with one sweeping judgement whether it’s one way or another.
You may be asking yourself, “Why not just get a job and buy the food your damn self you bum!” Well yes, that is the end goal. But you don’t begin building the pyramid by starting at the top. My next entry will explain my personal struggles with finding work and the struggles that face many people who are homeless in Ohio.
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There are only so many places I could be staying to avoid the weather and find some privacy. For example there are the shelters themselves. This year I stayed at a shelter for my first time. I stayed there for two months before leaving on elsewhere. I stayed during the winter with no possessions except for what was literally on my back. It was a tough first month to say the least but there’s more the being at a shelter to worry about then lack of possessions.
There are three kinds of homeless people. There are the drug addicts/mentally ill who make up the vast majority of us. There are the professionally homeless who stay in shelters during the cold seasons but have no interest in finding a home or work for that matter (these people too can use drugs and/or be mentally ill). Then there’s those of us who are in a bad position financially. I’m the third kind.
It’s not to say there haven’t been issues with me and drugs before nor could I say that there isn’t something about the freedom of being completely self reliant (assuming I’m not a beggar, which I’m not.) Though I do often imagine finding a good job, getting a car and a apartment, the road is anything but easy and distractions are easy to come by.
There are several reasons why I won’t go to a shelter now. For one there are just too many drug addicts who are desperate for only one thing, their next fix. They lie, cheat and steal their way to their drug of choice and I’m not a big fan of these kind of folk. Second the system is very disillusioning. There isn’t much assistance beyond food and a bed, after that all bets are off. Not to mention the staff abuse their power and take advantage of the people who stay there. Obviously they’re not all like this, not even the majority really, but enough to make me want to avoid them. Finally there’s the rules. It feels more like a elementary class then a place where you go to get on your feet when you’re down. Piss the wrong employee off, or even say something they could take wrongly could and often does land you a one way ticket to the street. So as to avoid all of the drama, drugs, violence, apathy and corruption I’m going to give this “on my own” thing a shot, who knows, maybe this way will be the way that gets me out of this position.
There are two things I hate when I’m sleeping out in nature. Rain and insects. First the rain. Shelter isn’t always easy to find, even in the city. One often will find themselves at a bus stop with a roof but even then that will only allow you so many hours of rest before people start showing up and giving you weird looks. So the best thing I can do against that is stay at the bus stop until I can get inside the local college around here. At most colleges there are rooms where people can study, read and sleep without being bothered. This is essentially where I sleep as often as I can.
With insects it becomes a particular bummer when I’m outside. Right now I have a sheet that I use to lay or sit on as I read and wait for the college to open so I can get some sleep. Beetles, ants and all sorts of creepy crawlies however sure love to pay you a visit when you’re doing this so it’s good to find a few spots I can squat where I can avoid them but that’s easier said then done.
These are the sorts of things most homeless people have to put up with. There are of course many other issues as well, not all as bad as you’d think however but we’ll get to that in later installments of my blog. I’ll include back story here and there as well as any adventures and troubles I find along the way. If you were ever curious to hear a brutally honest perspective of a homeless man then I hope you subscribe and find out!