Most homeless people give up on their struggle with the system. I have seen this among people I know and feel it is a damn shame that they don’t stand up for themselves if they are right. The maze of paperwork and angry faces gets to them and they give up. If you need job training, housing, food, medical help, etc. don’t give up. But if you do ask for help, do the right thing and find a way to pull your own weight or help someone else if you are able. If you get a low-income housing unit, take care of it and don’t be an idiot blasting the stereo all night. If you get food from the food bank and don’t want/can’t use part of it, don’t throw it out, give some to a friend (or stranger!). If you get job training, do something with it. If you pound your fist on the table demanding help, be responsible after you get it. That’s all I have to say about that.
More tips in the Happy Hobo series:
1) Finding enough food to eat. Anyone who is homeless is eligible for public assistance, if they don’t have A) valuable assets and B) a big monthly income. What they consider valuable and big ranges from state to state, I suppose, but if you are able to take advantage of this source of help, by all means do. Another way to get food is your local Food Bank or Food Pantry. They have much more flexible rules of eligibility and, generally, a friendlier attitude. Storing the food can be a problem, unless you have a storage unit. Try to get things that you can eat on the fly (The term “No cooking facilities” should come up in the conversation with the Food Pantry worker to get this point across) or you will be loaded down with useless cans of green beans and stewed tomatoes. Items I would search for/request: Cans of chili, fruit, snack bars, nuts. If it is in a can, choose something with low amounts of water in it. Lug around heavy cans of soup with tiny bits of noodles and meat in it? I don’t think so. Also, find places to microwave your food. Hospital dining rooms, collage cafeterias come to mind. That’s another reason to keep clean. Smelly bums get tossed out of those places fast. Be a part of the crowd.
2) A special note about dumpster diving and pan-handling. In a word: Distasteful. Get good at using the resources listed above. Pan-handling is an extreme measure that some people have turned into an art form. But for those of us with less personality and more spunk, I say don’t bother. If you do pan-handle, you’ll have to keep moving around to new territory, because your sources of spare change will start to avoid you. Also, dumpster diving for food could lead to sickness, which will make you weak. That’s not what you want to be on the streets.
3) Handling crazy people. Unless you have lived around the insane, you might not know how to deal with them. Fortunately (or unfortunately), some of us have had some crazy relatives and have the instinct about how to handle their peculiarities. First of all, if you can avoid it, don’t mess with someone who is off their rocker. Walk away from them, but don’t show fear. Some crazies like to intimidate people. Give them the impression that fooling around with you will be the sorriest day of their lives. Pull out the cell phone and announce your intentions of calling 911, and do so. They should disappear promptly.