Looking homeless in suburbia is to NOT look homeless

I keep trying to make these postings into something perfect.  I want to post each one with some info about what it is, you know, setting the context.  Then I want to make the post and ask questions about it afterward.  I want to edit, read, reread, rewrite… you get the picture.  The problem?  Time.  I haven’t had time to do all of this, so I’m choosing to let it go.  I’ll be posting what I have written already so I can get it out there.  Here’s another journal entry about homelessness in suburbia.

Journal entry: Looking homeless

The goal today is to not spend a single penny, blend into suburbia and put more miles on my shoes than my car.

I order to fit in, you need the critical mass crowd, meaning enough people around you to make you invisible.  Looking homeless in suburbia means to not look homeless.  I guess that’s why I didn’t fit in at Starbucks this morning.  I looked like I just woke up, my hair a mess and my clothing not that of the typical customer in this area.  And just wait until the next time I try to get a refill with my paper cup.  Even with all of the cleaning and care I’ve given it, the seams are swollen and stained and some of the coffee spots on the outside of it are permanent.  It’s starting to look as though I might have pulled it out of the trash can, which may be my next option.  Continue reading

We all need a reason to exist

Trying to fit in when you don’t have the resources to fit in is quite a challenge.  Here’s another journal entry about homelessness in suburbia.

There are so many challenges for homeless people, I can’t even begin to scratch the surface.  What I can do is give people some things to think about.  That’s really all I’m trying to do here.  As humanitarians, what can we do to help?

Wants and needs

I’m quickly slowing down, meaning my life pace.  What’s the hurry?  I have no place to go, no friends to see, no job to work and no house to clean.  Also, moving around, as I mentioned earlier, cost money.  All moves must be well planned.  I have time to plan.  Continue reading

The suburban equivalent of death row

Okay, maybe the title of this post is a little harsh, or is it?  This is another journal entry from my homelessness thing.  I still don’t know what to call it.

Here’s a reality most of us don’t think about.  Gasoline is a necessity in suburbia, if of course, you have a car.  On Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs, gas ranks on the safety level.  This could be a whole blog post in itself.

Basic necessities are scarce or unavailable

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to fit in, especially when you don’t have money to buy anything.  I’m at a different Starbucks than yesterday.  I still have about $4.00 in cash and I would love nothing more than a hot cup of coffee, but instead, I’m drinking my cold leftovers from yesterday.  Continue reading

Holidays: no place to go

I’ve been in design hibernation on a secret graphic design mission, so I haven’t been blogging over the last two weeks. The project still undercover, so I can’t share it just yet.

This is the next in the series of my homeless journals.  Today is Labor Day, a day where we celebrate our economic prosperity through the contributions of the American workforce.  I received a text message from a homeless friend yesterday about holidays.  Let me answer the obvious question here.  Yes, he has a cell phone.  I’m quite sure it’s a prepaid phone, but if he ever has any hope of finding a job, he must have a phone where he can be reached.

The text message said, “...holidays are doubly painful-not only no family to go to but all the libraries close leaving you with no where to go.”  He’s right.  I had never thought about that, from the holiday perspective, that is.  I had planned to go grocery shopping today, but the store where I shop (Aldi) is closed for the holiday.  I don’t know that I was irritated about it, but my plans were altered.  Shopping will have to wait until they reopen tomorrow, as I don’t want to pay a premium for going to a different grocery store.  After receiving this text message, I felt bad for even thinking in that direction.    Continue reading

It’s like having an insurance policy with no idea of what’s covered

I visited a local agency for help on my homeless journey.  Every church in the area at least mentioned it, most of them saying they support it and that’s where I must go for any help.

This is another journal entry.  I am using the name of the agency, as you would be able to guess it.  They are doing good things there, and like all other agencies, they’re under-resourced.

A trip to the food pantry

I feel the need to go someplace familiar.  I think I’ll go to the library next.  Or better yet, I’ll go to Frisco Family Services.  I’m not expecting much, but I need to see what all the hype is about.  When everyone in town is sending you to the same place, is there really any choice?  I need to eat for two weeks, and this is looking like my only option, besides dumpster diving.  I am reluctant to go, as I know they’ll have lots of paperwork and that makes pretending a lot more difficult.  I have this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.  Pretending to be homeless is stressful.  I can’t image how awful homelessness really is.  I took a deep breath and walked inside.   Continue reading

Should churches lock their doors? [A Facebook conversation]

I decided to post a Facebook feed from yesterdays blog post.  The big conversation here is about churches locking their doors.  Should they?  Shouldn’t they?  

There’s not a ‘one size fits all’ answer to this question.  I thought the conversation was a good one though, so I’m sharing it with you.  There are some other good points in here too.  Is your church doing something good in helping the homeless?  If so, please share it here by commenting below.

Original post:

This is a really enlightening look into homelessness. Jody is experiencing it firsthand as a social experiment and is respectfully submitting what struggles she found. I am learning a great deal.

What stood out to me in this blog post (one of a series) was this:

“I’m not at all offended that all the local churches are sending people to an agency that can help. What I do find a bit disturbing is that none of the churches know that much about it and they’re sending me away having no idea whether or not I’ll get help there.”

To look homeless here is to NOT look homeless. | rethinkgood.com

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To look homeless here is to NOT look homeless.

I wrote so much on my homeless journey, but even with the 100+ handwritten pages, I feel like I just scratched the surface of simply understanding the difficulties of it.  I don’t have a clue what it’s like to really be homeless, yet learned enough to know it’s horrific.

Every homeless person I’ve met or talked to has a different story, yet most of our working class sees homelessness as a place they’ll never be.  ‘Those people’ have addictions, they’re lazy or have some other type of dysfunction.  No matter what their situation, they’re prejudged by many as being a drain on our society.

When asking for assistance, I never said I was homeless because (a) I didn’t know what would happen and (b) it’s somewhat embarrassing.  In suburbia, to look homeless is to not look homeless.  I looked and dressed like I always do, yet I didn’t have access to the same hygiene routines.   Continue reading

The good, the bad and the ugly: 3 church visits

Here’s a journal entry about depending on the kindness of strangers from a homeless perspective.  I visited 20+ churches, asking for assistance with food and gas money.  This journal entry details my first three church visits, encompassing the best and worst experiences.

Please understand where I’m coming from with this.  As a Christian, I believe we should help people when we can and never pass up an opportunity that’s in front of us.  I’m not trying to reveal the good, bad and ugly of churches, however I am trying to shed some light on procedural opportunities and how our practices are perceived by people in need.  How can we help if we don’t have the big picture, or all of the picture?

Depending on the kindness of strangers [journal entry]

My first stop was to a large mega-church.  Even posing as a homeless person, there is not a single part of my being that wants to go inside and ask for help.  Did I even bring a shirt to change into?  I can’t go in with this one, as it has a large coffee stain on the front.  I found another shirt in my car and quickly changed into it.  (Yes, in my car)  I sat there for a while longer, getting really hot.  I’m stalling.  This is so uncomfortable.  “Open the door,” I keep saying to myself, over and over.  Finally, I did.  Continue reading

A guide to homelessness: No such thing

Another journal entry from day one of studying homelessness.  That is what I was doing, I guess.  There’s no good politically correct name for it.  If I call it a project, that seems to distance me from anything I feel or learn.  An experiment would make it sound like I’m joining a pack of lab rats.  Posing as a homeless person for 2 weeks will never give me an understanding of what it’s like, as I’m not and I have an exit date.  I’m glad I did though.

What am I doing here?

Again, this is not feeling right.  I can’t quite pinpoint why.  Maybe I shouldn’t have told anyone what I was would be doing.  I have now placed these expectations on myself through this process.  Can I really make people rethink homelessness?  Why not focus on the things I know or things I can do differently, like change my shopping habits or downsizing my material possessions?  What if God didn’t really call me to do this?  I could have made it up.  I make up stuff all the time.  This whole thing feels uncomfortable.  Not from the standpoint of being homeless, but from the fact I’m faking it.  I didn’t expect this feeling.  I guess homeless people should be offended at what I’m doing.  I don’t know, maybe I’m just too close to it right now to be objective.  Is this much different from the guys that did this in the book Under The OverpassContinue reading

The ghost of economic future

I wrote so much while doing this, that if there was a maximum blog length allowed in WordPress, I would clearly be exceeding it.  After I post my journals, which will probably take several days, I’ll open up some discussion on what I’ve learned.  Not only by my own experience with this (which is nothing remotely close to what real homeless people deal with), but topics that my homeless friends have shared with me.

If you would like to know more about helping the homeless community, please take a look at Rethink Homelessness.

Quite possibly the longest day of my life…

A journal entry from day 1 of rethinking homelessness

I’m sitting at Starbucks in a neighborhood I know well. I didn’t want to go too far since I’m worried about my gas situation. I woke up at about 6:30 a.m., well for the last time this morning before actually getting up. What a horrible night! I didn’t sleep much at all. I’m thankful for the clouds this morning as I sit here to write. If I were really homeless, this writing time would more than likely be used for job searching time.

Wow, some guy just hit a truck right in front of Starbucks. Yes, he just drove off, without a second thought. Well, he did pause and look, so maybe that was his second thought. I wrote down his licence plate number. The guy that got hit came out right after and didn’t notice anything. Oh well, back to my sleeping situation from last night.

After frequently waking up all night, daylight arrived. I slowly peeked over my seat to assess my current surroundings. Was it safe to exit the car? The coast looks clear. The car beside me is gone. Had they noticed a person sleeping in the car next to them? I got out of the car and climbed into the driver’s seat. I then noticed I had landed right next to the doggie poop park. Great. How many dog walkers saw me?  Continue reading