What do you consider homeless? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 24 Old 04-21-2007, 12:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I was just thinking about some of the events of my life, and I realized that I could perhaps have been considered homeless in my life. When I was 18, I didn't have a job, and lived with a friend in an apartment her mother owned (my friend was also jobless but was very loosely the "manager" of the apartment house). I was eligible for food stamps, and basically had nothing but my clothes and a few other things. My friend and I got in some silly fight, and parted ways. I went from friend's house to friend's house, sleeping on couches and floors, and dragging my stuff around in a duffel bag (good grief, this looks really terrible when I type it out!). Anyway, the only "income" I had were the food stamps, so I was able to buy food for myself, but I didn't have a place to live. This went on for a few months, until I ended up moving back in with my parents and sisters.

Would you consider that homelessness, although to a far more comfortable degree than most people experience? Or something else?

Have you ever been homeless? Why and how? Feel free to share, if you would like.
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#2 of 24 Old 04-21-2007, 12:49 PM
 
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I was homeless for 6 months when I was 16. I left home and asked to be placed in foster care due to an abusive step-father and step-brothers. I was denied because my mother and step-father were both social workers and said I was lying.

I had a backpack full of clothes and at first I had a job at McDonalds. I didn't make enough to pay rent so I stayed with friends occasionally, got a cheap hotel room when I could afford it and mostly slept on the street. I lost my job after a month or so because I was homeless so I turned to drugs. I started smoking crack and it was all downhill from there.

Eventually I called my Mom and told her if she wanted to help me save my life she would get me a spot in a detox/rehab facility and get a divorce. She did. I went home.
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#3 of 24 Old 04-21-2007, 12:51 PM
 
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I was homeless for really a few years growing up. I bounced around from the time I was 13 to 17. I lived with different family members and friends. It was really stressful because I know that no one really wanted me and to worry about where I would go after that person decided to get rid of me.

I guess I could have just stayed with my parents but my stepdad is a child molesting, wife beating, alcoholic drug addict. Or my grandparents, who I lived with off and on lived in a 2 bedroom trailer with 8 people, they were alcoholics that fought all the time and the house was alway infested with head lice.

I guess being homeless was the better choice. I went to Job Corps when I was 17, I met DH there and we got a place together after we graduated.

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#4 of 24 Old 04-21-2007, 01:26 PM
 
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Originally Posted by MamaWindmill View Post

Would you consider that homelessness, although to a far more comfortable degree than most people experience? Or something else?

Have you ever been homeless? Why and how? Feel free to share, if you would like.
Yes, I consider this to be homeless. Homelessness is not just when you are living on the streets. You knew that at some point the friends you were staying with would want you to move on. The thing that would make it different was if you and your friend came to some sort of agreement that you would do A,B,C in exchange for a place to live.

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#5 of 24 Old 04-21-2007, 01:41 PM
 
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Wow. I wasn't the only one, eh?

I was thinking your very same question; but about my life: did it count as homeless?

I figure that when you are of no fixed address (even if I still sent my mail to my grandma's); that lack of permanent residence and security would classify me as homeless. Now, I wasn't on the street; but that was thanks only to friends and their parents. I was very fortunate to have been surrounded by good people who opened their hearts and homes to me. If they hadn't, I likely would have ended up....yeah, I don't want to think about that. My heart breaks for the kids who aren't as lucky as I am and who live on the street. It's so sad that home life can get so bad that the streets are a better alternative

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#6 of 24 Old 04-21-2007, 01:45 PM
 
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Yeah, homeless means you don't have a "permanent address". Living with friends, relatives, etc. counts.

I've been homeless a few times in life. I don't consider it an inherently "bad" thing.
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#7 of 24 Old 04-21-2007, 01:58 PM
 
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I learned a lot when I was homeless... I wouldn't give up the experience for anything.

OP, I do consider that homeless.

Dawn, mama to D (3.06) & N (9.07) C (11.09) & Still-in-shock surprise due in Aug!
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#8 of 24 Old 04-21-2007, 03:35 PM
 
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When I was about 20, I went through a very rough patch in my life. I broke up with my ex-husband, and moved in with my parents. I took my son with me, thinking somehow I could take care of him. Worse came to worse, and I left my parents house, and returned my son to his father. I fell in love (or thought I did) with a man, and went to stay with him... Well, he neglected to tell me that he was 'staying with friends' out of a job, and basically 'mooching' off of them.
About a day after I had 'moved in' with him, his friends kicked us both out. We 'squatted' in an abandoned house, without running water or electricity for about a month. We had no money, no food, no nothing. We literally lived on spare change we found here and there. We were both smokers, so we would go around to hospitals and dig through the ashtrays for 'smokable' cigarettes.
I went days without eating, and thought it was ok, because I was with him. He never tried to find a job, never tried to get much of anywhere better than where we were.
We wound up moving in with a friend of his... he seemed nice enough, and I did my best to find a job. I had several call backs, and thought I was getting somewhere... until the day of my interview (probably hire date), when our 'friend' took us down to the local 'shelter'. We lived there for a long while... and wound up moving in with yet another friend. My ex husband gave me a portion of our tax returns, and I rented out a tiny apartment... I got a job, and I got on my feet. I was prepared to start trying for custody of my oldest son... and then I found out I was pregnant.
4 months or so into the pregnancy, after I had lost my job due to complications, and my boyfriend lost his due to negligence... we had an argument. I said 'Get a job, or get out.'... He left within a week...

I wound up marrying an army man, thinking I could 'force' myself to love him if I had to to survive... We were together two years... and We're in the process of getting a divorce. When things went sour between us, I wound up back with the 'deadbeat' boyfriend. He's gotten a job, we are renting a house, and things seem fine... but... I know someday, we'll be back where we were before. I do love someone, very much, and he loves me... but I don't have the $3k it would take to be with him... so for now, I'm back to trying to force myself to love someone.

I won't say I loved when I was on the streets, or in the shelter, or bouncing from friend to friend, but I've learned. I know what it takes to survive, at least on some level... and while I'm not with the person I love... I know it's possible.
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#9 of 24 Old 04-21-2007, 03:46 PM
 
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as a teenager i would run away the day school let out and return the day before it began again in the fall. i generally ended up in california. i've slept on the beach, in garages, basements, on church floors, joined communes, camped a lot... i was homeless, unemployed, broke, young and stupid, but i was having the time of my life and i chose to be where i was.
since then i have worked in a homeless shelter and gotten familiar with the ugly side of homelessness. people couchsurfing, squatting, living in shelters, sleeping on park benches... those who don't choose to be where they are, are in the worst place in the (developed) world. especially those with kids. although those living in substandard housing are just as badly off, imo.
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#10 of 24 Old 04-21-2007, 03:55 PM
 
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*eta

Didnt really want to share all that anyways
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#11 of 24 Old 04-21-2007, 04:39 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MamaWindmill View Post
Would you consider that homelessness, although to a far more comfortable degree than most people experience? Or something else?

Have you ever been homeless? Why and how? Feel free to share, if you would like.
Yep, that's homeless alright! You don't have to live in a cardboard box to be homeless.

I too have been homeless at times in my life. Like you I went couch to couch and lived out of a duffelbag. I have also lived hotel to hotel for extended periods, which I think of as a sort of high end homelessness, but homeless all the same.
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#12 of 24 Old 04-21-2007, 05:38 PM
 
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Is sleeping in a auto homelessness? If so, then, yeah, I've been homeless. DH and I had a camper shell (NOT a camper - just a camper shell, think SMALL) put on the back of his pick-up and we lived there for a while.

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#13 of 24 Old 04-21-2007, 05:38 PM
 
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I have been homeless. My major homeless story wasn't all that long ago either. I guess it's been about 7 years give or take.

It would take forever to give the back story but in a nutshell Dh wasn't working, I got sick, and we got evicted. We managed to stay in a couple of motels that the state briefly paid for. We got on the list for section 8 assistance, had food stamps, etc. I ended up having to send my children to stay with relatives, and it was the hardest thing I have ever had to do to date.

Things turned around slowly. We stayed with a friend of ours that needed a babysitter desperately so I filled that role while we stayed there. Dh was out everyday all day looking for work, looking at apartments/houses, etc. It was a very long 6 weeks or so. In what I will forever consider a miracle/gift from the Sacred Universe or whatever you want to call it we managed to find a little house on the edge of town. The landlord was shady and the house needed work, but we were willing to do it. He didn't care about running a credit check or having us fill out an application, and he let us work off much of the deposit. It was old, tiny, and the lawn turned to mud if it rained but it was my dream house at the time. My kids came home on Feb 10th 2001.

I was homeless prior to that for awhile in the mid 90's. I stayed in motels with my mom and kids. The churches brought us food.

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#14 of 24 Old 04-21-2007, 05:47 PM
 
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I was homeless for about a year after college. I broke up with my Fiance due to her cheating, and couldn't afford an apartment on my own at the time. Jobs in college towns suck. I lived out of my car for about 14 months in Michigan, curling up in my sleeping bag in the car with some heat packs stuffed in my pockets during the winter. I showered at the YMCA, and washed clothes at friend's houses. It was almost a year before any of my friends noticed, I kept telling them my washer was broken, and kind of withdrew from a lot of activities. I look back on it as a good time tho, I really connected with myself during that time, and learned a lot of things that I needed to know.
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#15 of 24 Old 04-21-2007, 06:13 PM
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I think that as long as you have a safe (no abuse, etc) home to come back home to, but just choose not to, you are not homeless.
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#16 of 24 Old 04-21-2007, 06:30 PM
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I lived in a campground for a couple of months in college. I moved to a different state without a place to live or stay or much extra cash. It took a couple of months to find an apartment so I stayed at a campground in the woods. The day after the forest fire I found a place.
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#17 of 24 Old 04-21-2007, 07:03 PM
 
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We are only a few months out of our homeless experience. We moved in to the place we are now in January. Back at the end of April 05 our lease ended and the landlady wanted us out, but we had no place to go. We ended up staying with bil and his family for a month or so while our stuff was in storage. Then we went to a very shady, cheap motel. After about 6 weeks there dh called a friend in FL about work over here as his job was in jeopardy in Louisiana. We ended up getting rid of most everything we owned and driving to FL. Our truck barely made it here, but we made it and moved in to a hotel that has since been condemed. We stayed there for a year and a half before we were able to get out. We were only able to get out because of a friend of a friend being a landlord. We were able to move in mid month only paying for half the month and getting the power turned on then getting the phone on the next week. With the construction field the way it is we could easily be homeless again in the future. Bringing a newborn home to a nasty hotel room is an awful feeling. Having to keep a very active preschool inside that same room all the time to keep her safe is no better. I'm very thankful for the little place we are in now and the big yard the kids have to run around in.

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#18 of 24 Old 04-22-2007, 02:03 AM
 
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Yes, that's considered legally homeless. Anyone who does not have fixed, stable housing in a place meant for human habitation. So someone sleeping in a car, camping, staying on a friend's couch, staying in a motel for a month or two...all homeless.

I've been homeless, as a teen, when my mom crossed a line she shouldn't have. It lasted about 4 months, I camped for a bit, stayed at friends, etc. Thought about living with my dad, but that was a dead end (he was in a horrid school district, and I was very academically motivated). So I came back to my mom's, lived there miserably for two years (we literally didn't see each other for days on end, fine by me) and left for college when I was 17, with a full scholarship, after my junior year. I'm glad I stuck with school as my ticket out. And now I work with the foster care system, and it's horrid to see what kids are put through. Many foster kids would qualify as homeless, especially teens. We live in a shameful world.
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#19 of 24 Old 04-22-2007, 10:43 AM
 
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Yes, I'd consider that homeless. And now that I've made that realization, I know I've been homeless too. I never really thought of it that way.

My last year of high school, my mom let my brother come live with us, which was a bad idea. He had...problems, which I don't really want to go into. I went to stay with a sis part of the summer after graduation. I also stayed with my boyfriend in a nearby town part of the time. I had three garbage bags with clothes, cassettes and stuff.

While I was gone, my mom got kicked out of her apt (OUR apt), my bro got put in jail and my mom was taken in by my older bro. He and his wife hate me. They threw away all my belongings except for my bedroom furniture, which they sold. I was not welcome in their home and they secluded my mom from family members they didn't like.

I found out later, my high school counselor was driving around trying to find me, to help me enroll in college. He believed in me and after seeing my SAT scores, told me I could get into any college I wanted. I really really really wish I had done that. At least, I could have had a place to sleep (a dorm) and a meal card. And I wouldn't have hidden from reality in my relationship with my boyfriend.

I got pregnant and ended up leaving my sis' home. I had to quit my job and move in with my boyfriend, whom I subsequently married.

But yes, I was without a home, living out of garbage bags and very much unwanted and uncared for, all at the age of 18. I was completely unprepared to live on my own, which is why I think I got married because I knew my husband's parents would take care of us.
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#20 of 24 Old 04-22-2007, 12:44 PM
 
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Last year I considered us homeless. We were in a trailer that was/is about ready to fall apart at the seams. The plumbing was always breaking in the bathroom and we'd have to go up to a day or so with no running water up to a few times a week. I learned to stock pile ice and water in containers so we could cook and drink for the next time we had no water. It was rather icky in there, even though I vaccuumed the carpets every day. And no heat - and it was getting cold. I found a heating blanket and we actually needed it on most of the night. On top of that, we'd overstayed our welcome and had no means of going anywhere else. The state wouldn't help - what a nightmare.
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#21 of 24 Old 04-22-2007, 01:45 PM
 
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right now the ex is homeless and living with us.
he sleeps on the couch.
he is saving to move out
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#22 of 24 Old 04-22-2007, 01:48 PM
 
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Living with friends, others, etc is technically considered homeless.. yes. To receive the housing subsidy we have, we had to be homeless and that was our situation 5 years ago.

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#23 of 24 Old 04-22-2007, 01:58 PM
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Last year I considered us homeless. We were in a trailer that was/is about ready to fall apart at the seams. The plumbing was always breaking in the bathroom and we'd have to go up to a day or so with no running water up to a few times a week. I learned to stock pile ice and water in containers so we could cook and drink for the next time we had no water. It was rather icky in there, even though I vaccuumed the carpets every day. And no heat - and it was getting cold. I found a heating blanket and we actually needed it on most of the night. On top of that, we'd overstayed our welcome and had no means of going anywhere else. The state wouldn't help - what a nightmare.
There is a difference between living in poverty conditions and being truly homeless.
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#24 of 24 Old 04-22-2007, 03:37 PM
 
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There is a difference between living in poverty conditions and being truly homeless.

That's true, but she did say that she had overstayed her welcome and had nowhere to go, so it sounds like she was homeless AND living in very poor conditions.
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