HOMELESS: What We Can Learn About Survival from Life on the Streets

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People living in cities are used to a broad net of safety, convenience, and comfort. 60% (on average) of the world population, according to recent estimates, live in cities. More in developed/developing nations (around 80%, as in the U.S.) and less in poorer ones (30 to 40%). 

Cities provide a high level of stability and predictability. Cities also offer freedom, jobs, and a great variety of consumables, education, culture, and entertainment. This concentration of people, infrastructure, goods, services, and activities allows society’s fast advancement, the economy’s growth, and technology development.

Life within The Grid

We preppers and survivalists call this “The Grid.” It encompasses everything we see and use in civilization: plentiful, readily available food and clean water; transportation and communication; light, shelter, sanitation, climate control; law and order; hospitals, schools, stores, offices. All run by energy that seems to flow like magic.

Over the long term, comfort and convenience can be addictive and make us dependent.

We take it for granted and forget how to live without those things. We become soft, compliant, complacent, and alienated by the culture of convenience. If you’re a prepper or want to become one, you know it’s important to aim instead for awareness, resiliency, and independence.

I understand that most of us are busy trying to make ends meet. Even with everything The Grid provides, it can be a lifestyle of more struggle, insecurity, indignity, and danger. We must accept, even be grateful, that things are as they are. It’s OK to take advantage and enjoy what cities and The Grid can provide. No one should feel guilty for that. But that shouldn’t prevent us from being conscious about the fragilities of this system, either. 

Beyond local and regional threats, there is always the possibility of a global crisis.

Just look at what has happened to the economy, freedom, and much more due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Everything is deeply interconnected and interdependent. It is a fragile arrangement by nature. It’s also important to understand that humans respond to abundance and scarcity in the same ways everywhere.

There are a few reasons why economic and financial breakdowns are cyclical and recurrent throughout history. Since everything is based on the production, exchange, and consumption of goods and services, disturbances in this structure affect everything else, all the way to social order. And sure enough, geopolitical stability.

When the crisis of 2008 struck, I worried about a more severe SHTF

In many ways, and to a significant number of people everywhere, 2008 was S hitting the fan. Millions lost jobs, houses, savings. Businesses closed, banks crashed. Many ended up in the streets. 

Seeing all that (and having been knocked down myself), I had a wake-up call and decided to become more knowledgeable about the economy, the banking and production systems. I learned then the system hadn’t been fixed and could fail again. Maybe even taking down the grid, with far-reaching repercussions and possible implications for my family and me. 

It was also around that time that I took an interest in prepping and survivalism. I’ve always been into outdoor and other activities linked to those disciplines. Admittedly not in a structured or intended manner, only for sport and hobby. Since then, I’ve been working to cover as much as one reasonably can.

Being a city dweller, I figured becoming more street-smart and city-tough could be helpful.

I looked around and set out to learn how those who lived outside the grid did so. The people on the margins of society, albeit existing in the middle of it. The homeless, or those with no job, no credit score, no bank account, no place to go, no name, and no face.

The system provides them some protection and support. For the homeless, the big city can be as inhospitable, unhealthy, and dangerous as the wilderness.  Being homeless is being a survivor.

There is an explosion of homelessness in many U.S. cities and globally.

As tent cities boom and become a fixture in the landscape, homelessness takes the spotlight. The way things look, this problem is set to become worse as the economy falls apart. Even if we don’t foresee homelessness in our own future (and I hope no one does), it’s certainly in the cards for many around us due to the worsening situation.

I pray for things to improve. But realistically, fixing a crumbling economy and reinstating growth is much more challenging and takes a lot longer than destroying it. So even if the pandemic wanes and things start to improve again, homelessness will be prevalent for some time ahead. Society as a whole will have to deal with this problem in one way or another.

Daisy asked me to share my experiences being around the homeless

When Daisy heard about my book, Street Survivalism: A Practical Training Guide to Life on the Streets, she asked if I would share some of my experiences here.

I’ll start by saying right away: being in the streets is a shock.

How much depends on how accustomed one is to living in the home-office-mall-gym bubble and how distant from the streets one is. I’m not criticizing, just giving my testimony because that’s the reality, and it’s knocking on our doors.

Even those with a less protected lifestyle, the ones born and raised in rougher neighborhoods, or those used to the streets (by force of work or some other motive), entering the homeless world is still an impacting experience. 

It’s hard to fathom the level of hardship, fear, insecurity, discomfort, and indifference. You have to be out there, dealing with it all directly and frequently. I’ve been doing this in a controlled manner as training for some time now. It still worries, shocks, and saddens me.

Here’s what I learned about homelessness.

Living in the streets leads to physical, psychological, and moral degenerance.

Without the protection and conveniences afforded by a fixed roof and ideal conditions, we enter a world where very little is certain. Nutrition, hygiene, and personal safety suffer, affecting mental and emotional stability in various degrees. 

As with most situations, though, there are options. It’s a significant drop in the standard of living for sure. But maintaining an adequate level of dignity and integrity is still possible. The division between staying decent, healthy, and relatively safe or sliding down into total degeneration lies in the individual capacity to stay away from drugs, alcohol, and crime. 

It’s a decision one must consciously and deliberately make and stick to every single day. I know this to be true and deem that choice essential, especially for a prepper who would want to become a survivalist if facing a similar situation.

It takes principles, mental strength, and resolution to remain clean, healthy, and sane. And a LOT of work.

And I say with absolute conviction that it’s much preferable, too. One way is hell; the other is salvation. There’s no middle ground, at least not one I could discern. I came across decent and clean homeless and miserable ones in various stages. 

Unfortunately, the latter is a lot more common. Alcohol and drugs are readily available, and crime is frequently the way to access those. Most of the time, living in the streets is so hopeless that the majority end up resorting to vices and violence at some point as desperate ways to abstract or escape this harsh reality and degrading existence (I don’t call that survival).

People turn one way or another for varying reasons. Just as for the reasons why someone becomes homeless, this is a vast and complex issue, with deep, strong personal and contextual components. There’s no point judging. Each person has a background, tolerance, and threshold. We never know for sure until tested.  

Trying to understand or discuss these things is beyond the scope of this post. I’m only laying down the facts, so you can reflect and make your own decisions. Doing so can be useful and provide a perspective on life in general.

Who you choose as company on the streets affects your ability to stay safe, clean, and sane.

Living in desperation, violence, and drugs is a sure way to attract more of the same. It also drives family, people, and support away, to further isolate oneself. It’s a path to degeneracy, lots of pain, suffering, and, more often than not, premature death.

And vice-versa: by staying away from the bad apples, many homeless remain clean, healthy, and safe. Some even improve despite living in the same environment and similar circumstances. They get a lot more help, goodwill, and better chances. Being around decent people leads to mutual support, productivity, and hope that luck may turn one day. Indeed, many succeed in leaving the streets.

Practical lessons from life on the streets

Below are the more practical aspects of life in the streets.

Safety: The streets of any big city are essentially unsafe. Of course, there are exceptions, but that’s the rule. Either way, the homeless must fend for themselves. That means avoiding (preferably) or fighting off threats. Other homeless, drug addicts, and thugs try to rob them. Dealers attempt to sell drugs to them. There are even sociopaths who attack defenseless people just for fun. Harassment and abuse by the police are routine too.

To survive the streets, one must: 

  • Recognize who to fear, who to respect, who to ignore, and who to fight (Check out this book review.)
  • Know about the areas, how things run, the rules of each place
  • Realize cities are not homogenous, and the street can be unforgiving Know mistakes come at a price or an unpleasant lesson (or worse)

Some homeless form groups for protection but mostly to consume crack and commit crimes. They can become “assets” to some drug or crime lord or gang, to whom they perform small jobs and misdemeanors as payment for drugs, protection, or other stuff. If you live in the streets, they may want you either working for them or staying out of their turf. It’s a dead-end, of course. It is better to remain distant. (See this article by Selco for related information.)

Social interaction: The homeless are either invisible (ignored completely) or unwelcome (mistreated, kept at a distance by private security, the police, or other people). As a rule, no one wants homeless, panhandlers, beggars, or any street person around. 

But how one gets treated depends in great part on where one is (territory) and one’s aspect (appearance) and behavior. People judge by what they see. It varies according to the place and people. 

Generally, if people think a person is clean, does not represent a threat, or won’t cause trouble, they may leave him/her alone (or not – things in the street are fluid). If someone looks like a drug addict or a criminal, they’ll shun, yell at, kick-off, or call the cops. Many homeless manage to be both clean and gray man (or woman), and I found that to be a good strategy.

Sanitation: Once you start living in the streets, you quickly realize how dirty and smelly it is. There’s rain, pollution, trash, dirt, all the time and everywhere. It’s impossible to keep insects and animals away. Roaches, mosquitoes, and bugs, in general, are hell (if you do any outdoor activity, you know what I mean). But the feeling of a rat walking on, or even near you, makes you tremble. 

Living in the streets doesn’t exempt us from doing our physiological necessities. Drug addicts don’t care and do it anywhere: abandoned lots and buildings, parks, under bridges, overpasses, whenever there’s a moment of privacy (or not, they often don’t care at all). Decent homeless will find access to toilets, private or public, and develop routines and techniques to deal with this in more dignified manners.

Plastic bags are a staple of the homeless. Homeless use them for everything, and yes, even to do #2. Toilet paper is a luxury, and there are lots of alternatives around, some more or less pleasant and efficient. Many collect napkins and tissues in restaurants and bars. Compressed towels and baby wipes are two preppers’ options (practical yet also luxurious).

Hygiene: It’s hard to keep hygiene on par when you have no privacy and no clean, running water and decent sanitation around. But it’s not impossible – and doing so is of utmost importance, for obvious reasons. The homeless have their techniques for this, and campers/outdoor/rural people may know a few as well. If the grid is up (not total SHTF), it is possible to find water and public restrooms in good order.

Again, the decent and clean may count on the local community’s goodwill and support and people in general. I’ve met homeless who take daily showers; who manage to shave, wash their clothes, and stay sharp. As a tip, smelling good goes a long way in keeping other people happy and receptive, so many keep a perfume in the pocket.

Health: Nutrition, sanitation, and hygiene impact health. When you’re a clean homeless, a good portion of the days can be dedicated to maintaining these essential aspects. 

That and all the rest leave little time and energy (both mental and physical) to care for non-essential things. But attending to health is crucial to conserve immunity and be as healthy as possible by staying clean, rested, fed, and hydrated. 

Getting cold, wet, or hurt should be avoided. Same for rotten food and suspect water. That can be hard to achieve, but efforts must be made anyway. Maintaining basic hygiene helps a lot too. A simple and straightforward measure that makes a huge difference is caring for the teeth. It’s not something complicated or expensive, even for the homeless. A healthy mouth makes a hell of a difference when one is living in the streets.

Shelter: Unlike the wilderness, shelter is abundant in the city. That doesn’t mean it’s available. Very little in The Grid is within reach of the homeless and the poor. Thus it’s not easy to find a decent and safe place to sleep, cook a meal or even get some rest. Others will assume bad intentions 99% of the time.

But as homelessness grows, I see it becoming more common, or even tolerated, here and in the U.S. People will either move elsewhere or hunker down as authorities become more lenient and less capable of dealing with the increasing number of people in the streets. As a sign of the times, the homeless can’t even be called homeless anymore in some states.

I’ve tried many tactics as protection from the elements: camping tents (very common nowadays), cardboard for insulation (the traditional homeless way), even my hammock and tarp (prepper tip: always have a tarp with you). I’ve slept in city shelters and my car, looking to learn and improve my safety and awareness in those circumstances. It’s always good to have different options.

Food and water: If the grid is up, there are various ways to get food and decent water around the city. Most have helping organizations giving out food and donating clothes and remedies. Potable water can be found at gas stations, public and commercial buildings, and others. 

The homeless usually keep plastic bottles and gallons at hand, continually collecting water for their daily needs. Most people won’t deny water or food unless one is seen as a threat. That’s another good reason to stay clean.

Other: Scavenging is a big thing in the streets. So is bartering and even foraging (fruits and berries mostly). Of course, that’s considering the grid is up and things are relatively normal. We should assume SHTF will change these dynamics and impact the availability of every resource. 

I can get meals and other goods in exchange for minor work at various places, like restaurants and even hospitals. That proved a lot more successful than just asking for a handout. I manage to score quick gigs and jobs that way too, which shows the importance of having skills (and good communication) if you’re homeless. There’s always work and something to be done in the world, even as jobs become scarce.

As for scavenging, it’s widespread. The drug addicts and lost souls do it to get food. They drink and eat whatever is at hand (or nothing at all, if they’re looking for a fix or high on crack). The clean and straight do it to get stuff people threw away that is still useable. Or as a way of living, by collecting and selling recyclables. I scavenged to learn and become used to the smell and the trash and even evade thugs once (they assumed since I was turning bins, I had nothing of value and wasn’t worth the trouble).


I don’t want to make light of the life of the homeless. As I tried to show, the conditions are, for the most part, brutal and indignant. It’s a sad, unhealthy lifestyle, and no one should live like that. Unfortunately, that’s how the world is. As much as we have advanced technologically and as a civilization, that is still a reality in our society.

On a brighter note, it is possible to live decently as a homeless. And being pragmatic, if things turn rough everywhere, the homeless may be better equipped to compete and survive than the rest of the population who depend on the grid. 

With training and education, anyone can better prepare for almost anything. Those are some of the reasons I decided to start this exercise and get to know this reality. As I say, training to be homeless is training to be a survivalist

I hope this article and my observations help others in some way

Have you been homeless? Do you know someone who is currently homeless? Have you ever wondered what it would be like? Share your thoughts and questions with us in the comments below. 

About Fabian

Fabian Ommar is a 50-year-old middle-class worker living in São Paulo, Brazil. Far from being the super-tactical or highly trained military survivor type, he is the average joe who since his youth has been involved with self-reliance and outdoor activities and the practical side of balancing life between a big city and rural/wilderness settings. Since the 2008 world economic crisis, he has been training and helping others in his area to become better prepared for the “constant, slow-burning SHTF” of living in a 3rd world country.

Fabian’s ebook, Street Survivalism: A Practical Training Guide To Life In The City, is a practical training method for common city dwellers based on the lifestyle of the homeless (real-life survivors) to be more psychologically, mentally, and physically prepared to deal with the harsh reality of the streets during normal or difficult times. 

You can follow Fabian on Instagram @stoicsurvivor

Picture of Fabian Ommar

Fabian Ommar

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  • DAISY,

  • This should be a Bible for Urban preppers. Because a lot of this is exactly what they will face and live and a whole lot worse things. Once that grid collapses, almost everyone remaining in the cities will be thrown into this sort of existence. You might still have a home for shelter but the groups of people out scavenging may over run your defense and kick you out, leaving you also on the street.
    Don’t think the Crime lord’s will go away either. They may not be peddling drugs as much, but they will insert themselves in other ventures. Like controlling food, water and other needed resources.
    I am sure they will organize raiding parties to get those supplies from urban preppers also.
    Most people live with their heads in the clouds about what a jungle cities really are and how bad they are
    right now, add SHTF and they will be thousands of times worse.

    • Mic you are correct. I have lived on the street and out of a car as well and this is golden insight. One thing to remember is if you ever have to survive out there no matter where you are you NEVER ever lose the ability to adopt that mindset.

  • I do this. I have for six years. It is becouse of economic challenges. But I really loved the idea from start, and still do.
    Location. Outside of down town away from the homeless camp communities. Close to shopping and job opportunities. (Same job for 5 years). Less police activity. Easier to gray man it. A storage unit close by. On beach.
    It took experience, time, failure and accomplishments. But I found it doesn’t take much investment to build a descent shelter, bed, tolite, solar system, 12 volt led lights, water catchment, kitchen, propane for heat and cooking. It can really be done comfortably in a small space.
    I learned to measure ideals more by practicality, then coolness. Example. I could invest money and time in building, and maintaining an elaborate shower system. Or I can get just as clean simply scooping hot water out of a five gallon bucket.
    Mentally. It can be tough. But it helps that I love living outside, away, in nature. But nobody owes me nothing. I handle that with grace. I know there will hard times, tough work, failures, losses.
    But we all have those. I
    always keep the mindset that I enjoyed that adventure. Now I will enjoy the next adventure ????

  • Kindle on Amazon? Please. No prepper wants to buy from Amazon ever again. I certainly don’t! I suppose I could hold my nose this once, but I’ve bought books Daisy recommended in Kindle before and never gotten them to work on my computer. Sell it in a PDF somewhere else or use one of those print-on-demand book sellers to print your books for you. Look at Lulu.com and there are others.

    • Hi Tom, thanks for the tips. I’ll look it up and try to learn about other and perhaps better options for this.

      I’m not a pro, I wrote this book in 2017/18 but only decided to publish last year, when I had to take a break from guiding new peppers here due to CV19. I had to do everything by myself, it is my first book so Kindle/Amazon was my obvious choice. I buy ebooks from them and indeed a couple of times it had issues but minor, so I thought it was OK.

      Anyway, I’m about to make an update/revision soon and make sure to look for options to publish/sell it. It’s not a business either, just a way to support my prepping activities and helping others with what I’ve learned and experienced throughout these years. Thanks once again, stay safe.

      • Fabian, don’t apologize for using Amazon to publsh or for shopping Amazon. Only poor people who purchase very little are anti-Amazon. Amazon’s Prime offers the safest mode of shopping online, with guaranteed refunds or replacement if products are not as advertised or arrive damaged, and quick and easy free shipping on returns using Amazon Prime. The complainer doesn’t speak for most online shoppers. And to the person on here whining about Kindle not working on their PC… Kindle downloads can be viewed on regular computers with a simple e Amazon Digital Services APP download. Thanks for your post. Enjoyed it and learned a couple of things too. Oracle

    • Hey, Tom! This is something we’re working on here, but at this point, Amazon is the only real option that self-published authors have. I hope to be able to provide an alternative very soon, but it’s a project that takes time and money. Please be patient and please consider supporting self-published authors! 🙂

  • I live rural but just 1 mile off an interstate highway. No electricity for 13 months now. Over $6000 to connect to th a grid or keep getting a little at a time and hook up my own solar. That’s the plan.
    I garden. I solar dehydrate and pressure can produce. A few chickens, ducks, and rabbits to supplement what I get at the store. We live simple and comfortable.
    Alone I could survive with a vehicle but not with my husband who’s health is failing. Not long into the future for me either. I’m turning 74.
    I struggle with keeping up with bills and taxes and don’t look forward to increases. Thankfully I own the land we live on.
    I have a manual winch for the unused well but plan on ordering a well bucket soon. There is power at the other well so we have water. A pasta sauce can fits the well casing. For personal use i could live with that but for two adults and the critters it would be time consuming work getting water.
    I’m restoring a treadle sewing machine. I know how to make or repair all our clothing. Lots of ways to be independent as long as we aren’t run off. High mountain desert isn’t hospitable country to survive in.
    Over the years iv we managed to get a hugh old grape vine started and surviving, 1 apple tree, wild plums and wild cherries grow here now and cacti along a fence line with edible fruit and pads.
    Many times we bathe with sun warmed water in milk jugs sitting out in the sun. Planning to build an outdoor shower for summertime. I cook outside using branches trimmed every year. I heat with a rocketstove with a gravity fed pellet hopper. I could also burn the branches in it. Cut to 3 ‘ lengths the branches make ok heat. Anything chipped with the wood chipper will feed through the pellet hopper.
    Since we’re going solar i have an electric chainsaw and I’d like to find an electric woodchipper. Gas will be going up and our governor already signed on to get rid of all gas vehicles in a few years. For an oil producing state that’s a killer.
    By the way my solar panels are Canadian not Chinese. 20 used, but years of use left, panels were delivered to my yard for about $900 total. I buy from ebay.

  • A handy tool for accessing city water from commercial buildings is a Sillcock Wrench–the hose bibs at commercial buildings don’t have hand-turnable controls, and one of these $7 wrenches has 4 different sockets to open the most common water valves. While I don’t think a homeless person refilling an empty water bottle who quickly turns off the water will raise much ire, abuse of the building’s water by attaching a hose and taking large quantities well might. If homeless and have no other options, this could be one way to assure access to potable water in a city. Got my wrench at Home Depot, but you should be able to get them anywhere hardware is sold…

  • A nation is known by how it treats its downtrodden and elderly. The former United States of American has failed miserably on both accounts. With 50 million people out of work and can’t pay their rent/mortgage, there’s going to be a whole lot more people roaming the streets in the near future. That’s what Socialism does… And Communism follows. And Bite’me has just let all the illegals out of jail. Now what??

    • Jeff:

      “A nation is known by how it treats its downtrodden and elderly. The former United States of American has failed miserably on both accounts. … That’s what Socialism does… And Communism follows.”

      This used to be a Christian nation. No, that doesn’t mean that we had a state religion, rather that the majority of people really believed the Bible and tried to follow what it taught. Part of those teachings were taking care of the downtrodden and elderly. While God takes care of the downtrodden, he works through the hands and feet of his followers.

      Under Socialism, which includes both Fascism and Communism, the state is the new god. The state now runs both welfare and Social Security. Years ago I read an economic analysis of the help for the downtrodden and elderly provided by the state, and the state’s help came out less than the Christian help had provided before the state became god. Meanwhile the cost of those programs has gone way up, along with the taxes to support them. Those higher taxes soak up much of the finances that used to be available privately.

      Another effect of the state taking over what used to be done privately, is that it serves as a disincentive for private charity. “The state is providing those services, why should I do anything?” That attitude is amplified when private individuals are struggling financially, a struggle made worse by high taxes.

      • “This used to be a Christian nation”

        it still is. it’s just that the christians no longer are in control – they’ve been supplanted and the nation’s government subverted.

  • per tom:
    “…I’ve bought books Daisy recommended in Kindle before and never gotten them to work on my computer…”

    I had been reading Kindle ebooks on my Windows 7 computer at home for many years until sometime in 2020 Amazon did a software update that trashed the “Kindle for PC” software (a longtime free download from Amazon) I had been using. Amazon’s support people told me that while waiting for a fix from their software developers (so far a two months wait, and counting…) I could go to


    where a log-in screen opens up. Once I entered my email address and password I could get online access to all of the Kindle ebooks (around 50 or so) that I’ve paid for over the years.

    For a one-time or infrequent re-reading of some titles that online solution works fine. But if you want a print copy of some titles (perhaps for access during a long term power outage, or for off-grid living), it’s possible to use screenshot software to take sequentially numbered images of each page of an ebook so you can either print out those pages or just save them on a flash drive OR both.

    I have posted this solution before but I am not intending to criticize anyone who missed it.


  • Thank you for a realistic & compassionate article regarding the homeless. Truthfully there are sad & unfortunte homeless & then there are drug addicts, mentally ill & even Agressive & Violent homeless who actually Complain when you give them Money, Food or Clothing. What I noticed when I lived in Crapipornia The Toilet State is that the Leftist Politicos use the homeless as an issue & Do NOTHING to help the Real homeless but allow them to Sleep, Urinate, Defecate & Aggresively Panhandle & live in Tent Cities regardless of the Social Decay & Crime that it brings to the surrounding areas of Businesses & Homes. On the other hand I have noticed that in Florida most of the homeless people are humble & kind of ashamed to have to ask for help but Many of the Churches provide Food, Clothes, Cleaning items & sometimes Shelter. I have had the experience when giving Cash, Food or other items to homeless here in Florida that ALL have said Thank You & GOD Bless You! I don’t judge – I just think what if that was me? I know you can teach a man to fish & he will always be fed but what if you just helped that 1 person on that 1 day & somehow they survive another day – is that wrong? Also the City of Orlando has Outlawed Homessness instead of Helping them which is BS since it’s heavily funded by Disney, Universal & SeaWorld so why not provide programs or Faith Based alternatives? At 1 point they cited & tried to shut down a nice lady who had a Food Truck for Distribution & thru her own efforts Raised Money, Food, other Donations & Free Volunteers to Help Feed 200 people per day – Why – Health Concerns! Feeding people is a Health Concern but Homelessness, Sickness & Dying on the street is Not!? I’m Not a Bleeding Heart Lieberal but I’m Tired of Homelessness being treated like a Disease or that these Fellow Americans are somehow No Longer Human because they live on the streets! Many Americans are now suffering & many will soon become Homeless – How can we Ignore something that like Cancer will eventually touch some Family, Friend, Associate or someone You Know? Look in Your Heart & Help Someone If You Can – It’s Not Hard. Try it & see if it makes You FEEL GOOD Helping somebody else. The Reward Goes Both Ways – just be careful & help those that are trying to help themselves. Cheers!

  • As someone who has been homeless twice, once in my teens and then later in life for a short period due to leaving a bad situation with my children. I can personally tell you , that no matter how you try and prepare or Train to be homeless . It won’t truly work as in the back on your mind you know you have a place to go / store your stuff. And you actually have stuff. Being homeless isn’t just about having to sleep on the streets. It’s the psychological issues that come with it that hit to the core. It changes you at a deep level, even if or when your situation changes . It never leaves you and you never forget the lessons learned. Your situational awareness is heightened for life and can’t be turned off , as is your ability to see the players (bad seeds) from the first scan. If you have the option to be kind to someone doing it tough without making yourself a target please do. Kindness goes along way. (Never money though)

    • @Izzy

      You’ve got that right Izzy. Thanks a lot for sharing. I say that much in my book, precisely that in fact. It’s something no one can fake, or pretend, or really feel unless you become a homeless. We can learn the practical aspects and even become more spiritually resilient and mentally prepared. But not the psychological part.

      Training to fight turns one into a soldier, but only war turns a soldier into a warrior. It’s possible to be better prepared to go to war and succeed if you train and develop the skills that can prepare one for battle. But indeed, one can only know by living this reality. As I say in the article, we don’t know until we’re tested.

      I realized that early on. And yes, knowing that at any point I can just go home does make a difference, I admit. But so does knowing I have a lot to lose. And once I’m set to spend a night in the streets, or getting harassed by the police or threatened by other homeless or chased by thugs, there’s no faking it, it’s real and I have to deal with it all the same.

      This is not as much about “training to be a homeless” literally, maybe more about “training to acquire skills to live in the streets”. It’s something one can develop on the go if life throws a curveball, or train beforehand and be better prepared for the practical part of it. I hope I don’t become homeless, but I’ll have to deal with the streets even if I don’t.

      Anyway, that’s my prepper side, I always have to do something practical can’t just watch life from the sidelines. Stay safe and have a nice week.

  • “For the homeless, the big city can be as inhospitable, unhealthy, and dangerous as the wilderness.”

    I disagree. I think the big city is more unhealthy and dangerous than the wilderness.

    I grew up in rural settings, then moved to the city for the job. Unfortunately, the job fizzled and I ended up homeless. A few lessons that I learned:

    • Avoid sleeping on the sidewalks if at all possible, It is a lot cleaner and I felt safer sleeping in public parks, especially those large enough to have thickets of trees and bushes where I could hide my camp.

    • Park police will often overlook that you sleep in the park if you keep your camp clean (no trash or collected junk), especially if you help keep the park clean. I even heard of one case where the park police even gave a homeless man access to a shower in return for him helping keep the park clean. If you break camp every day so that during the day there’s no sign of anyone having camped there overnight, that is a big plus.

    • If sleeping in a hammock, one doesn’t need to find a flat place for his camp. But do have a tarp for rain.

    • Have a small camping stove for hot meals. A hot meal is a real moral booster. I have a backpacking stove that fits the bill.

    • Keep clean and neat. When I went looking for a new job, the people didn’t know I was homeless.

    • Having a place to store my possessions during the day was a real help. I had a friend who allowed me to store my effects in a corner of his garage so I could go out on job interviews.

    With the present economy imploding, many more people will find themselves homeless. Some will be able to sleep in cars, or crash out with friends and relatives, but I hate to think how others will fare. I think growing up between fields and forests gave me an advantage over most city dwellers, but even the parks may become overwhelmed if there is enough homelessness.

    • @R.O.

      Please allow me to expand a bit on this. You’re right, maybe a better way to put is between the city and the woods the threats and challenges are different. In the city there is a lot more people and as always, people = problems. But on the other hand, if the grid is up there’s a lot more support and resources, even for the homeless.

      For instance, if someone suffers an accident in the woods and there’s no rescue around or way to contact anyone, it’s game over. It someone gets hit by a car or whatever when in town, there’s help nearby and it will come. It’s hard to see someone left unassisted in a big city, but it’s quite easy to be in that position in the wilderness.

      • Fabian O.

        Yes, you are right that the threats and challenges are different. But in this scenario we talk not of the difference between living on the sidewalk vs. far in the far wilderness miles from nowhere, as I have done when backpacking, rather often just yards from a busy trail but invisible to those on that trail, screened by undergrowth. One has to keep quiet to avoid being found.

        We also talk probabilities. What are the probabilities of something bad happening in a park or wooded area near town, vs. when living on a sidewalk?

        We also talk cleanliness. The sidewalk is often filthy, with dust and trash being blown around and rats and other vermin constant companions. Contrast that to living in a wooded area of a park where one can keep a clean camp where vermin have no incentive to explore.

        Living in a wilderness miles from nowhere is not a viable option for long-term homelessness. I also speak from the viewpoint of the United States where, except in the desert, most cities have thickly wooded areas either in city parks or nearby. The situation may be different in Brazil than here, I don’t know.

        • R.O.

          Absolutely agree that the streets (sidewalks, most public places) are downright dirtier than the wilderness. Shit, urine, trash, insects, everything. I can stay a lot cleaner for longer camping in the woods than I can staying in the streets.

          Also agree it’s more dangerous when it comes to human threats. Lots more people, much harder to stay isolated. When I’m camping or trekking or buschcrafting I can leave my stuff for hours, while in the city I’d be robed for sure. Besides other risks of course.

          I’ve been many times in U.S., even lived there for a while back in the 90’s. Sure there are differences but life in big cities is pretty much similar, and once you become a homeless in the current context it’s sure very similar everywhere too.

  • Haven’t been homeless per se. But we have had to live with others who took us in when we lost jobs and couldn’t afford rent, etc. That does have it’s own set of challenges. Being grateful, helpful and minimalist went a long way in relieving the impact of our stay on our hosts. This is another aspect of homelessness to consider … how we may land on others or others land on us. We’ve taken family in because family took us in when we had nothing much to live on. This is especially essential if there are children who need stability during a time when things look bleak financially. Cheerfully making the best of hard times is important to consider when children are a part of the equation. Adults need a good perspective on this and quick. Kids do appreciate their parents being honest about the situation and will grow up all the faster for it.

    Contentment is a huge asset when homeless.

  • 2 Corinthians 4:7
    We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.

    I imagine that there might come a day that we will be living on the streets. Doing our best to protect what we have prepped and preserved… But being more than willing to band together with family members and like-minded individuals who we can help and be helped by. In my best hopes… Things play out that way we help each other and there’s always shelter and protection coming or going from one of us to the other. However it may not work out that way. And so how does one really even prepare to deal with such overwhelming conditions?… For me, along with all other preps it’s staying grounded in the God who is sovereign over all of it. For believers, Jesus Christ promises that He will never leave nor forsake us. Take heart in that truth today. Making part of your preparations spiritual preparations. Cling to the words and promises of Scripture from the Holy Bible because they are real and they are true. If I have to flee suddenly, I want my Bible to be in my bug out bag.

    It would be extremely tough under the best circumstances to survive on the streets, however, I do believe that the One who holds it all will help those who seek to be strengthened in Him. Will He allow terrible things? Without a doubt. Because the same God who created us and who loves us and who wants the best for us also gave us that free will that lets us choose other than the best. And boy have we done that in spades. And there is a universal law of sowing and reaping. But that in no way means that we are abandoned even though it appears that evil has won the day. It hasn’t. It won’t. The story’s already been written. But good people will suffer and be persecuted. That’s been written as well. And even though that is the truth it is not a miserable without-hope truth. The victory has been foretold and will unfold.

    Hope is not just a viable and real thing when the lights are on and the comforts are ever present. Hope doesn’t disappear because our creature comforts have disappeared. Maybe it’s actually in those times that we find out what real hope is all about. Faith in God through Christ Jesus His Son is hope and strength that no other prep can provide.

    Times are tough and probably will get tougher. But don’t lose that hope… He is not asleep and He will not leave you. No matter what. I remind myself even in death I’m protected because that’s just the truth and in that truth there is found calm resilience.

    Stay strong and if you don’t know Him… Please consider this the day to get to know Him because He loves you and we are all going to fare better with Christ as our rock and strength. It’s as simple as believing Jesus as the Son of God who was sent to redeem mankind… It’s a simple as trusting Him to be your Savior and telling Him so and asking Him to come live in your heart. As you ask Hm for forgiveness of your sins and trust Him to take those sins away based on His payment of those sins when He died for you on the Cross and trust Him from that moment on to be your Lord and Savior…At that moment it’s a done deal and you have the greatest prep of all going for you.

    As a further explanation of the verse above, I read this explanation:

    “God will allow you to be tried to the breaking point but not beyond. Why? To shake loose and press out every area that you rely upon apart from him. The Lord does not want to destroy you… He wants to make you stronger. But He can only do that by showing you the frailty of your strength and earthly comfort so you will depend on His”

  • :I’ve met homeless who take daily showers; who manage to shave, wash their clothes, and stay sharp”

    … ? and? some explanation as to how this was done would be nice.

    • @gman.

      One of two ways:

      1) Having access to toilets and facilities. Public or private, you must be presentable to access and use either. Otherwise there’s a higher chance of running into trouble with security, the people, the authorities, etc. Around here, the best pubic ones are located around bus, metro and train stations. Clean, well cared, safe.

      2) The community: no one really likes any sort of homeless or street people around. But the local community usually gives support and a great deal of help to those who are honest, struggling yet fighting to stay decent. All the time I come across someone in this situation. They become part of the community.

      I guess I should say that when I mention “clean, honest and decent homeless” I’m talking about a very specific type of people here. These people don’t beg, don’t ask. Not because of pride or anything. It’s how they are. I’m sure they’d be the same if they had money, it’s just nice people going through a bad time. It can happen to anyone.

      If you talk to them, they’re positive, they don’t like to be a burden, to draw attention, they don’t talk too much or too loud, they hate to be a PITA. They arrive and they keep the place around clean. At the bottom, I feel they don’t think anyone owes them anything for them being in that situation. They take responsibility, unlike others who aren’t bad people but can have an attitude and resentments (which I don’t think is a good strategy but at the same time I understand).

      They accept donations and all but in a more humble manner. They want to give back, so they offer help in return (to sweep the place, do some work, fix something, etc.).

      It’s not subtle, I’ve seen everything and every kind of person in all these years. It’s interesting. These people usually can access private toilets on a daily basis, be that from a store, a condo, a gas station, somewhere. Some even get their clothes washed and pressed for them.

  • At some point I would not be surprised if the government withdrew, at least for some people (conservatives, freedom lovers) their financial support, rent moratoriums, mortgage payment moratoriums, etc. so that millions become homeless.

  • Listen being homeless for more than a week means you either dont have skills or are not willing to do what I have to survive.

    For fresh shower and clothing … easy you go to a truck stop they have both for small cost and will let you use even homeless if you are respectful and keep it clean.

    Truck stops and warehouse area you can always find work for food or some money.

    Then there are small crimes you can commit to get enough to stay in dry place. Learning to lockpick is a must have skill… no picks? You can make them from the steel.part of.windshield.wiper blades and some concrete.

    Going to a farm area by asking at truck stop after you are clean and washed your clothing is easy to get to another town. Or get a rail time… you can rent internet at some truck stops using coins.

    Farm area a job from spring till fall is easy for food place to stay and money for your work… but you will have to work hard.

    Going to community gardens and helping can be a rewarding experience. Also fi doing homes in your area that have elderly that stil.have a garden and can use help…. help offered and received often ends up with a reward of some kind. Just cant look like the crazy man who you can smell.from a block away.

    As for places to stay off grid… look for abandoned places old public works, these can be shelter and a resource for scavenging.

    The other place to go look and ask for TRADE items is hunting and camping stores they will always have returns they cant sell but will trade for yard cleanup, garbage disposal, help unloading.

  • I felt so many emotions reading your letter
    Mostly anger. Daisy, before the God I believe in, if you ever need financial help, ever,just give the word. I will find the means to send you anything I could afford. Your blog means so much to me,I can’t even begin to say. After all the other prepping sites I have been to,yours,yours alone,is the site of sanity. God bless you,and may He keep His arms of protection and mercy always around you and your family. We WILL survive this and thrive

  • My sister has been homeless off and on since she was 25, she is now 52 years old. She has NPD and I have accepted that this is who she will be for the rest of her life.

    Mental illness does not discriminate based on income or upbringing and it is a tricky defect of the mind that means there is a lot of one step forward a hundred steps back for many.

    She has lived with family and been asked to move out or leave because of a number of reasons.

    She has lived in homeless shelters, moved into subsidized/transitional housing and back to the homeless shelter, over and over, because X, Y or Z person or people were out to get her.

    It is a brain disorder that medication has not fixed nor does there seem to be a rock bottom to it. I have not heard from her in over two years. She could be dead for all I know or just one day out of the blue call on the phone. I used to feel guilty for not taking her into my home, but we are like oil and water and one minute she can be normal and the next vicious and combative. I have given up trying to save her.

    The homeless have many resources should they choose to try and escape from homelessness but what good are ALL those resources for most when they are living with a broken mind and a broken spirit? It is an impossible situation for those who want to help and those living lives of quiet desperation who want to change but keep sabotaging themselves in the process.

  • Oh.Good.Grief.
    I am so angry reading this article, and the accompanying comments. Not because of what people have shared or cared to write. Because of the absolute callousness of political imbeciles. No, I am NOT going to rag on one person or the other, nor am I going to go Left versus Right. It is every single fat butt sitting in a taxpayer funded chair, with a non-stop, taxpayer funded paycheck rolling in-with full benefits- without a hiccup. These people have the gall to tell all of us to “learn to code” as they slash gas/oil jobs, laugh as they talk about how many peasants will lose jobs, and have zero concern for the children, pets, and elderly relatives that depend on their loved ones having “that” job!! This country, and others, need to realize that not everyone will be in the cube farm, toiling away at social media. A country is made up of people! Jobs that use your hands and strength have just as much dignity and worth as some surgeon’s operating suite or some financial wizard’s penthouse. We have homeless, because most can NOT find jobs! Yes, some are mentally challenged to deal with reality. Yes, some have drug and alcohol problems that prevent them from being coherent. But, most of the homeless are unemployed people who would willingly start working and living normal lives. No one wants to experience the fear, the stress, or the implication that nothing will ever be hopeful or forward looking again. Jobs by their very nature, give dignity and worth. I am tired of so many demeaning the creations of other people: whether it is cooking a meal, watering plants, or sweeping a filthy street. Labor and a paycheck have value.
    I am finished with the so called political class. People are homeless because of them. They are at the bottom of all of this misery. We need to find better solutions than voting for morons to run our lives. It all comes down to local, local, local.

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