Democratic Underground Latest Greatest Lobby Journals Search Options Help Login
Google

Who here has been homeless?

Printer-friendly format Printer-friendly format
Printer-friendly format Email this thread to a friend
Printer-friendly format Bookmark this thread
This topic is archived.
Home » Discuss » Archives » General Discussion (01/01/06 through 01/22/2007) Donate to DU
 
skygazer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 07:43 PM
Original message
Who here has been homeless?
Who here has been catastrophically poor? I dont mean poor as in not being able to afford extras I mean poor as in not being able to afford necessities. Food. Shelter. Heat. Even the most basic of medical care.

I have.

The membership of DU for the most part seems to be a pretty well educated bunch. Thats good. Education is great I wish I had more formal education because I probably wouldnt be working retail at the age of 46 and suffering a lot of physical problems because of the wear and tear it puts on my body. But I am for the most part self-educated. I dropped out of school when I was 17 because my mother died and my father left me to fend for myself and it was a choice between working or going to school starving. I chose work.

A good portion of my self-education comes from the School of Hard Knocks. I learned about poverty there, and desperation. I learned about just how hard it is to be poor. I learned how absurd is the notion that people want to collect welfare or live on the streets. I learned what it feels like to depend on the charity of others, and what it feels like when people in grocery lines turn up their noses and judge what youre buying with your food stamps. I learned to feel guilty for buying my child a candy bar with those food stamps when he did well in school or deserved something special for being such a good kid. I learned that very few people were interested in the circumstances that led me to poverty and more interested in blaming me for it.

I learned that I had to defend myself, to explain that Id worked and worked hard, paid my bills but still lived very close to the bone until it all fell apart when I got divorced.

Right now, DU is holding a fundraiser for Second Harvest which is terrific because its an organization that helps poor people. Even so, I see a lot of hostility to the poor on this board. There seems to be sympathy for some poor people but not others and people seem to think they can tell when a person deserves help and when they dont. That disturbs me.

I see threads about able-bodied people who refuse to work. Or about bums looking for handouts just so they can get a drink or a fix. I wonder why the same people who show such compassion when a fellow DUer mentions a friend or relative in rehab show such little compassion for someone on the street facing addictions of their own. I know when I was homeless and felt I had nowhere to turn, something to help me forget my problems for a little bit was a very tempting thing.

I think we all acknowledge that its damn hard to give up drinking. Or smoking. Or doing drugs. Imagine how much harder it is to kick those habits when youre living on the street. There are plenty of people who look able-bodied who cant work for various reasons. Maybe theyre mentally ill. Maybe they have untreated substance abuse issues. Maybe theyre homeless and cant go to interviews in their dirty clothes, unshowered and unshaven, without an address and missing teeth because theyre too poor to go to a dentist. The point is, why do people feel the need to assume bad intentions on the part of these people? Im sure there are some of them who are scam artists but there are a hell of a lot of people in this country who are living under bridges and in subway stations. People who live a life many of you can't imagine.

You may never have to experience what thats like. I hope you never do. But the next time you give a bum a couple of bucks and he buys a 40 ounce bottle of beer or a pack of cigarettes, try to put yourself in his shoes. It may be the only pleasant thing he experiences all week.

Merry Christmas.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
skygazer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 07:52 PM
Response to Original message
1. Kick because it's important to me
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 07:55 PM
Original message
dupe n/t
Edited on Thu Dec-21-06 07:56 PM by H2O Man
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 07:55 PM
Response to Original message
2. Interesting post.
There are a significant number of teens and young adults who experience homelessness. The amount of time they are homeless varies greatly, and the risks they face increase the longer they are without a place to live.

I have endured very real poverty and homelessness. Neither are the type of thing that I'd wish on anyone. In this nation, neither have to be the reality of people's everyday lives.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
bobbolink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 12:24 AM
Response to Reply #2
65. Increasingly, a large number of elder peopleare now.
In the past, elders being hungry wasn't uncommon, but now more and more elders are homeless.

Whether young or old or middle, whether single or a parent and child, it's an abomination!
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Joe Chi Minh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 04:26 PM
Response to Reply #65
106. That is the exact word, isn't it? It cries to heaven for vengeance - which
will come to whose greed and selfishness causes so much innocent suffering throughout the world, as surely as day follows night. Christ and and his Apostles were quite clear about that.

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
bobbolink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 06:01 PM
Response to Reply #106
108. Unfortunately, the comeuppance is needed now---people are suffering.
And dying.

And the greed is allowed to continue.

Time to nail our 95 grievances to church doors everywhere!
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Joe Chi Minh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 07:41 PM
Response to Reply #108
125. What makes it particularly infuriating to me is that they, above all
Edited on Fri Dec-22-06 07:42 PM by KCabotDullesMarxIII
kites and crows, are all too well aware that we ALL have only this one life here on this earth.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
antigop Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 07:27 PM
Response to Reply #2
124. Absolutely, H20Man!
>>
In this nation, neither have to be the reality of people's everyday lives.
>>

The gap between the rich and the poor keeps growing and growing.

All people in this country should have basic needs met -- we have the resources.

Although I have never endured poverty or homelessness, I do feel "There, but for the grace of God, go I."

And to think that many people become bankrupt because of high medical bills.

It's a disgrace.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
AngryOldDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 08:24 PM
Response to Reply #2
129. Homeless teens are called "couch jumpers"
Because they can spend months going from friend's house to friend's house -- literally human pinballs. We do have a shelter for such teens in my city, but it's often at capacity. They are building a bigger one. What's saddest are the cases where the parents have tossed the kids out of their house, for whatever reason. As a parent, I really can't say that there is anything any of my kids could ever do that I would put them out on the street.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
bobbolink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-23-06 01:20 AM
Response to Reply #129
135. And they put on such a tough armor to shield themselves from the terror
they feel vulnerable to on the street.

They can so easily be lost.

I'm one who doesn't really believe in shelters... HOMES are needed.

But, I know that so many cities have found so many legal blocks to providing any help at all for homeless teens.

Goddess..... I just can't talk about all of this....

WHERE IS THE DAMNED OUTRAGE??!!
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
qanda Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 07:56 PM
Response to Original message
3. I do my best to not judge those in need
I figure that if my heart is pure in giving then I shouldn't worry about what someone does with what I give them. I have learned that the hard way though. Merry Christmas to you and I wish you many blessings in the new year.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
skygazer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 08:04 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. I like the way you think
Merry Christmas.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
TexasLady Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 08:03 PM
Response to Original message
4. luckily weve always had family during harder times
and Ive lived the embarrassment of having messed up teeth, as well as my husband. We both have great smiles now. I wouldnt judge a person with bad teeth for anything in the world. I had to pay out of each paycheck for three years to get my teeth looking good again, and the joy of eating pecans is back. When we were younger, we always seemed to be on the verge of homelessness, but never were.

On giving someone money, it reminds me of that song that was popular a lil while back..where the guy says 'hey, if i kept the money, id have bought beer and cigs with it myself.' or some such thing.

really great post.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
skygazer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 08:06 PM
Response to Reply #4
7. Thanks TexasLady
This last job has enabled me to have what probably equals $8,000 worth of work done on my teeth. It seems like a lot less of a priority when you have so many other places for the money to go, doesn't it?
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
IndyOp Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 08:25 PM
Response to Reply #4
25. Jerry Springer won my heart one day -
Someone called his radio show to SLAM him for having such horrible people on his TV show - including women who were sluts with bad teeth.

Springer just about LAUNCHED into the stratosphere on that one: WHO THE HELL MAKES YOU THINK YOU ARE ANY BETTER THAN ANYONE ELSE JUST BECAUSE THEY HAVE BAD TEETH?

I don't like Jerry's TV show - I really do wish he would find a way to encourage people to show the best of themselves sometimes. I don't like his radio show either - he is too conservative for me. But I like Jerry himself. Good man.

:D
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
MrCoffee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 08:05 PM
Response to Original message
6. been there, done that, and thanks for your post
merry christmas, skygazer.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
skygazer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 08:07 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. And to you, MrCoffee
How's that little Demitasse doing, BTW?
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
MrCoffee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 08:08 PM
Response to Reply #8
10. fantastic, and thanks for asking!
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
htuttle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 08:40 PM
Response to Reply #6
31. I was homeless for awhile during Poppy's regime
I slept in missions, under a bridge, in a car, and one night under a picnic table in a park while chasing work around the Northern Rockies for about a year. I scrounged food, learned to work some angles -- as well as rebar, and smoked cigarette butts I'd picked up at a bus stop (great place to find fresh smokes, btw, since the bus invariably shows up right as someone lights a cigarette...). I sold my blood to some pharma-vampires in Spokane and shivered on an 80F day afterwards, and rode a boxcar once through the Rockies (with two Vietnam Vets I'd met who knew what they were doing). And I've seen the looks in other people's eyes as I walked on past them with my beat up backpack. All in all, other than the fleeting moment of brilliance (a view of the mountains, a rare act of kindness etc..), it sucked. Big time.

But what sucked worse was seeing a beat-up station wagon pull into the mission kitchen parking lot with a family with kids living inside. That sucked worse than the cold nights, the cold food and the cold stares. Big time.


Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
yewberry Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 08:07 PM
Response to Original message
9. I'm that broke right now.
I'm grateful for the roof over my head, and I'm very grateful for the food that I can get. I'm not thrilled to have to depend on the food bank, but there it is. I'm behind on all of my bills, and I expect I'll find out very soon the legalities of having the power or water shut off.

The nature of the work that I do sometimes puts me in the position of working closely with poor and homeless people, and I wouldn't wish that on anyone. Hell, I wouldn't poverty in general on anyone. No one "deserves" to have to forgo food or medical care.

I'm doing national service (2nd year) and this is what it costs me.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
skygazer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 08:09 PM
Response to Reply #9
11. Oh, tofunut, I hope things improve for you
What a precarious feeling that is! :hug:
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
yewberry Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 08:15 PM
Response to Reply #11
15. Thanks for your kindness.
I'm so tired of it, though. I hate being poor. Hate it.

It's funny--national service is great and all, but sometimes it makes me want to go out and take any job, any job at all, no matter how exploitive and wrong for me, as long as it pays. Not exactly the community-minded citizen they're trying to foster!
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
IndyOp Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 08:29 PM
Response to Reply #9
26. What kind of national service are you doing that is leaving you this
strapped for money for the basics? PM me if you don't want to post it on the boards - but I think you should let people know at least in a general way what is going on with national service.

I am ashamed that people who are decent enough to do national service are being treated this way.

:(
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
yewberry Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 10:21 PM
Response to Reply #26
54. I'm in AmeriCorps.
The work is great--it's really rewarding, and I get a lot done. Most of my time is spent in a public school, working with kids who are having trouble.

Unfortunately, the money is a real problem. I work around 45 hours a week, but I could make make money part-time at McDonalds. No joke.

It's true that national service has a lot to recommend it, but it's a huge struggle. I get a small stipend and a bus pass, and sometimes I wonder if the financial problems are all I'm going to take away from the experience.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
druidity33 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 07:30 AM
Response to Reply #54
84. I did Americorps in NYC...
The stipend was the highest in the country... but you try living on $800 a month in New York City. I had to live on a commune in Staten Island. One room shared bathroom and meals... kinda like a rooming house. Trouble was, i worked in UPPER Manhattan, cleaning up the Parks. So, a 2.5 hour communte, each way, each day. Take the bus to the ferry to the subway then walk a mile or two in between.

Good stuff.

I got out two weeks before 9-11 and am thankful to be here in MA.

But i've been homeless before and i would for sure choose broke and not knowing if i can pay the bills, to homeless and no income coming soon. Best of luck to you. And start typing that resume.

How close are you to finishing the last year? You can only do 2 right?

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
yewberry Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 12:39 PM
Response to Reply #84
94. Oh boy, that's a crazy commute.
I'm really lucky that mine varies between half an hour and an hour. The program I work in is unique--though I am an AmeriCorps member, my team is administered by a local anti-poverty/anti-racism organization. If I'm not at my school site, I'm doing anti-oppression or civic engagement trainings or service projects.

And yes, I'm absolutely sure that being broke and feeling a little desperate beats the hell out of the alternative. I'm in the middle of the year now, and the frustrations that go along with the work are at a high right now. It's easy to get fed up this time of year, too.

This is the second and final year for me. My organization is making noises about getting me into a leadership position, but I'm not sure that I could take it. Thanks for your encouragement--the resume is looking pretty good, too.

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Monkeyman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 08:09 PM
Response to Original message
12. We are working with Homeless Veterans
We are becoming overwhelmed by the numbers . We been setting up Shelters like this one
http://www.helpaveteran.org
But with over 200,000 homeless vets its just blowing my mind. If this many vets are homeless think about how many there is out looking for shelter every night.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
skygazer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 08:12 PM
Response to Reply #12
14. I know vets make up a large number of homeless
What a shame! Nobody deserves to be homeless but it seems like such a tragedy to serve your country and then not be able to afford to live in it. :cry:

Thank you for your service to them. I will check out that link. One of the things that I'm grateful for is that I can finally contribute to some causes to help others who are experiencing what I've gone through.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
eridani Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 08:10 PM
Response to Original message
13. Lived in a car for a couple of months in the early 70s
Going to school and surviving by dumpster diving. No period of unemployment since then has ever resulted in being homeless since then.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
BR_Parkway Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 08:16 PM
Response to Original message
16. I wound up homeless in a nasty divorce, we owned a company together
and that got all tied up before we lost that too. I went from being a right winger, Rush listener to a person who could care about other's struggles in a matter of moments it seems. Up until then, I was all about me and mine - the hell with everyone else for not working as hard as I did to get what I had.

And in an afternoon, it was all gone. I wasn't lazy, I wasn't ignorant or a bum strung out on drugs or booze. It took almost 2 years to get back on my feet - but I can't forget how easily I got there whenever I see other's struggling to make ends meet.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
skygazer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 08:17 PM
Response to Reply #16
18. I'm sorry you had to go through that
Pretty tough way to learn, isn't it? :hug:
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
BR_Parkway Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 12:51 PM
Response to Reply #18
95. I'm actually not sorry, I like who I am today so much more than who I
was then. And if it hadn't happened, I wouldn't be who I am now, I wouldn't care about the same things that I do. It makes me appreciate what I have now more also.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
IndyOp Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 08:17 PM
Response to Original message
17. Thanks for this post. I've never been homeless but I've always tried
to be understanding. My family nearly fell over the economic cliff several times. We stayed in our house because my grandparents helped A LOT. If they had been unable to help we would've had harder times. I know that my family's financial problems were not a reflection of our morality - my parents were just as willing to work hard during the times when they could not work as during the times when they could.

We have so many "unspoken" beliefs about money and morality in our culture. Religious people used to speak aloud their belief that the wealthy are the most moral people on earth and that we can tell they have high morality and will go to heaven because God is rewarding them here on earth already. So wealth = sign of moral goodness. That belief is held, but left unspoken by many, many people in our society. We need to expose these beliefs and let people really face them and see how stupid they are.

Merry Christmas to you, too!
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
skygazer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 08:20 PM
Response to Reply #17
21. That's so true
Poverty is so often just a lot of bad breaks. And it cascades rapidly.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
I_Make_Mistakes Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 02:37 AM
Response to Reply #17
80. I am a Christian and as these types reflect that belief, just ask
them, "Which of those God loved the most, had a life of luxury and non-hardships?" I start with the prophets and then the Apostles and disciples, and let's not forget Abraham, Moses and etc.

Somehow, and I am not sure how, our society was infiltrated by these notions (movies, media, papers, etc.?) of things in the Bible that are no where to be found, when one reads the Bible, (urban myths, such as good things happen to good people, just ask Jeremiah, Stephen, on Mary Magdalene was a prostitute etc.).

We have been mislead, and I don't even understand where these beliefs were instilled in me, because, I actually read the Bible, and it ain't in there!
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Joe Chi Minh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 04:22 PM
Response to Reply #17
105. Not how stupid they are; how blasphemous. Christ was born a poor man and
Edited on Fri Dec-22-06 04:35 PM by KCabotDullesMarxIII
As the Good Book says straight out, Christ chose the poor to be rich in faith, lived as an indigent (in fact, he was looked after much of the time by a group of women - most of who presumably would not have been in much a position to act as providers).

When Christ was not vehemently excoriating the respectable, rich theocrats of his day, he was often trying to teach them, but, it seems that they generally tended to be far less apt pupils than the Samaritans and sinners, held by the former to be religious outcasts. (Having difficulty tearing myself away from the Blue Brothers on the TV, at the moment, as I haven't seen it for ages. Theme from Peter Gunn on at the moment for you oldies).
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Trajan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 08:19 PM
Response to Original message
19. I have .... both homeless and penniless ....
Edited on Thu Dec-21-06 08:20 PM by Trajan
The homelessness was a LONG time ago .... the poverty, not so long ago ....

Some of the comments on some of those threads were ridiculous, but how is that different from any other threads ? .... there will ALWAYS be an element of ridiculousness here, because we ARE faulty human beings ....

I am glad to have a great job now, and to provide the dependency needs of my children, with some surplus left over .... I am glad to give to those who need, now that I have the opportunity ...

Let the stupid comments here be met with 'correction', and then move on ....

Surely there will be other lame posts ....
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
riderinthestorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 08:19 PM
Response to Original message
20. Also, most people don't realize that they too are just a paycheck away from real poverty
So many people live on that thin edge where they are just making it, just. I've been on that thin edge and when I give money or food to someone on the street, I just breathe with relief that it didn't happen to me while I sorrow at what misfortunes brought that particular person to that place and time.

I've been pretty disgusted too at some of the posts on DU that have outright stated that poor people just aren't working hard enough. I was really shocked at so many DUers who openly mocked Will Smith's attempt to shine some light on real poverty (Happyness movie). Too many people don't "see" what real poverty looks like, what it feels like - I for one am glad that a star of Will Smith's quality is drawing attention to it.

I am so glad that you are making it skygazer and wish you a joyful season this year. Thank you for an important, moving post.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
skygazer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 08:21 PM
Response to Reply #20
24. Thank you so much
I wish the same to you. :hug:
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
shireen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 08:21 PM
Response to Original message
22. thank you, your post meant a lot to me.
I'll never know what it feels like to be poor, to be lacking basic necessities. But my imagination can take me to that place, and it horrifies me. You're absolutely right, we have no right to judge the poor and the homeless. I used to ignore pan-handlers, subscribing to the usual myths that they're lazy bums who will spend the money they collect on alcohol or drugs. But one day, while watching a man limping along with an empty can, it struck me that I have no right to judge this person, to assume that he's just a lazy bum. I should give him the benefit of the doubt, roll down the window, and hand him a few bucks. And I've been doing that ever since.

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
KG Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 08:21 PM
Response to Original message
23. never homeless, but was scrounging for food near the end of some weeks.
i live in the city, and am panhandled regularly. heard all the stories, which i normally interupt to give them a sizeable sum. i don't care how they'll spend it. i'm just pretty goddam grateful that it isn't me there.

i consider it a deposit in the karma bank. it's come back to me me many times...
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
mopinko Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 08:30 PM
Response to Original message
27. if it makes you feel any better, there is a lot of hostility to
people who are well off as well. i was raised poor, been pretty poor, although not ever homeless. and i am now pretty well off. there have been many threads around here of the "eat the rich" variety. the whole privatization of social security debate was thick with them.
which is to say, i take to heart your words, but urge you not to take to heart too much of what is said around here. lots of bitter, and even unbalanced folks, and some paid to spew and stir up shit.
peace
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
skygazer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 08:35 PM
Response to Reply #27
30. Yes, I have noticed that too
It astounds me as well.

I don't really take the silly shit personally or even too awfully seriously. I do, however, like to take the opportunity once in a while to educate. If even one or two people gain something from it they didn't realize before, it's a positive thing.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Karenina Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 08:43 PM
Response to Reply #30
130. I, too, have experienced homelessness.
Edited on Fri Dec-22-06 09:30 PM by Karenina
I did not grow up poor, far from it. My family includes members who have distinguished themselves in their fields, gained national recognition and garnered financial success. There are also those who have dedicated their lives to the "common good" and not profitted monetarily. I pursue an artistic goal to this day and had I known as a biological-ticking-clock-30-something what I know now there would likely be 2 fewer people on this earth. I grew up in a generation that truly believed we could "have it all."

The rapidity of the slide was a shock to my system. It was like a train wreck. I will NEVER regret the decision I made to stay at home with my kids. Indeed, as my youngest had the ASD label stamped on his forehead at 3, it was MY ASSESSMENT that I was the only one really qualified to be his advocate. That decision exposed me to vulnerability in a way that were I the M.O.W. (mom of world) my youngest proclaims me to be (at 5 he drew me an award certificate that hangs on my wall), NO MOM OR DAD would ever face.

I put all my cards on the table with my ex, believing we had respect for each other and could make a decent split. I thought we had agreed how to proceed, leaving the door open for reconciliation. His issue was my career that was beginning to take off. When he backed up a moving van into the driveway, began to grab things, informed me he'd leased a new flat, not paid rent on our house and was taking the kids, I simply sat peacefully and watched.

Family insisted I take the kids and come back east. My position was that no matter how wronged we'd all been, I was not willing to deny the kids easy access to their dad. I'd also established strong ties with all the prominent medical people researching my youngest's diagnosis and was doing layman's research for them. Immediate family response, do what WE say or you're on your own. "Successful" people are often CONTROL FREAKS.

Within a month I was living in my car. The woman at the shelter refused to admit me saying it was no place for me and she felt I would be safer there. I remember perseverating, "Hot DAMN, I did what I was taught I had to do. Be twice if not 3 times as good. I speak 3 languages, have a degree from the most prestigious conservatory in the world, in addition to other highly developed skills... WHAT'S A NICE KID LIKE ME DOING IN A PLACE LIKE THIS???" Got a p/t job with a high power accounting firm. Guess what kids! I was STILL HOMELESS. Don't ask, AND DO NOT TELL.

When I finally got Sec. 8 housing the landlord said my application was better than any he'd ever received for employment. I told him I wasn't into Real Estate, just needed a place to hang my hat...

"60 Minutes" did a program and I showed the producer how to spot folks in the library, gave her all kinds of info about WHOS, HOWS and WHYS, then smelled a rat. They never got a release from me, as in one exchange the exploitive stench informed me. One of the women featured in the story was FIRED FROM HER NEWFOUND JOB because the company was "embarrassed" that she had been homeless. :eyes:

My previous post, which provided stats about the DELUSIONS Amis hold about wealth, was deleted. I was a bit surprised but realize I shouldn't be. I have no clue how it is that one who has watched his life fall apart and felt the derision would find consolation in the declarations of one who believes he's "made it all on his own" that he too is somehow a "victim." I call "identification with the oppressor." One cannot pull oneself up by the bootstraps if one has no boots.

As devastating as my experience was, I would not trade it. It taught me much.

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Name removed Donating Member (0 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 08:42 PM
Response to Reply #27
32. Deleted message
Message removed by moderator. Click here to review the message board rules.
 
mopinko Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 11:16 PM
Response to Reply #32
57. like i was saying....
i rest my case.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Monkeyman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 08:32 PM
Response to Original message
28.  I just was thinking thats the smoke you see
There are whole Families out there. We are the riches Country in the World what the hell is wrong with us.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
bobbolink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 01:29 AM
Response to Reply #28
73. What's wrong? Heartlessness.
:(
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Tierra_y_Libertad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 08:33 PM
Response to Original message
29. I was as a kid. Homeless and hungry poor.
Not all the time, but often enough to remove any notion that being poor and homeless is somehow "romantic" or inspirational, or good for one's character.

I've also seen real poverty, starvation poverty, sell your kid as a prostitute, poverty abroad.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Oeditpus Rex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 08:45 PM
Response to Original message
33. Sky, you've made almost every point in this post
that encompass to me what liberalism is about.

I feel privileged to know you more than digitally.

Merry Christmas. :hug:

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
skygazer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 08:50 PM
Response to Reply #33
35. That means so much to me
Thanks, my friend. :hug:
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
LSK Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 08:46 PM
Response to Original message
34. K&R
Edited on Thu Dec-21-06 09:05 PM by LSK
No I have not, but I think many people here should try harder to imagine themselves in someone else's shoes and stop viewing the world from their own worldview.

Also, I'd say most of us are not far from that happening to us and we don't even know it. We really need the social safety net that they are building in Europe.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
enigmatic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 08:53 PM
Response to Original message
36. Yes
It wasn't a fun time in my life, and I wouldn't wish it on anybody.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Megahurtz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 08:54 PM
Response to Original message
37. I've been Homeless
and I've got my Masters from the School of Hard Knocks. :silly:

Yup. People don't know what it feels like to spend the last few bucks that someone gives you on Beer. Extreme stress is minute by minute when you're Homeless. People generally kick you when you're down. Yes, I know that "Homeless Scorn" very well.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
laylah Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 08:55 PM
Response to Original message
38. Oh skygazer, what a wonderful topic!
Although I have a roof over my head, it is only because my ex is chipping in for the mortgage. I do not "qualify" for food stamps so have become very familiar with food banks. Car tags have expired, along with the insurance. I became a card carrying member of the "Divorced Wives Club" 4 years ago...went from financial security to worrying about where the utility bill will come from. My wish for me this holiday season is that 2007 will be a much better year for me.

The good news is, my other vehicle is a 1984 VW Westy...complete with stove, fridge and sink. Just think of the places I could live! :shrug:

You are a very apparent kind soul. Happy Holidays and blessings to you and yours.

Jenn
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
skygazer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 08:58 PM
Response to Reply #38
40. I wish better things for you in 2007 as well
I've been in that limbo of making too much to qualify for assistance but not enough to live on. Terribly hard. Hang in there. :hug:
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
bigwillq Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 08:57 PM
Response to Original message
39. Thanks for sharing your story.
It puts a few things in perspective.

People on the street near where I work and go out on the town ask me for money all the time.

I never give because I know that most likely they're going to spend it on drugs or alcohol.

Now I drink and have done drugs so I'm not judging them for doing it themselves but to me, that's not helping them get to a better place then they are now.

So when you said, that may be the only pleasant thing they experience all week kind of put it in perspective.

I have offered to buy these people who ask for money food. I offer to go to the closest store and they always say no. They want the money.

After reading this, maybe I will give them money next time.

I am glad you shared. I like to hear other people's experiences esp. if they're very different from my own.

I wish you the best.

:hi:
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
skygazer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 09:01 PM
Response to Reply #39
42. Bless you, will
That is exactly what I hoped to accomplish with this post - to give people some insight into what its like. Thanks for reading and understanding. :hug:
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
rollopollo Donating Member (107 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 09:01 PM
Response to Original message
41. Food stamps
"and what it feels like when people in grocery lines turn up their noses and judge what youre buying with your food stamps. I learned to feel guilty for buying my child a candy bar with those food stamps when he did well in school or deserved something special for being such a good kid."

That brought a tear to my eye.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
skygazer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 09:02 PM
Response to Reply #41
43. ....
:hug:

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
The Straight Story Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 09:03 PM
Response to Original message
44. Well done and well written my friend! (nt)
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
kentuck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 09:11 PM
Response to Original message
45. I was homeless and hitchhiked around the country for a spell...
Edited on Thu Dec-21-06 09:22 PM by kentuck
when I returned from Vietnam. I could have stayed with my folks but it was something I needed to do. I recall sleeping outside of a big church in Denver because the inside was already packed with ramblers, travelers, and homeless people. I recall sleeping in a cave in New Mexico once. I considered myself more of a rambler than a homeless person, although I had no home and sometimes went without food.

Once I was so hungry in Cincinnati, Ohio, and it was bitter cold, that I gave a pint of blood and almost died. I fainted on the floor. I think they gave me an extra $5...
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
LibraLiz1973 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 09:25 PM
Response to Original message
46. I have. And I totally agree with what you said.
Edited on Thu Dec-21-06 09:38 PM by LibraLiz1973
I was raised by a struggling (single) mother. My mother was college educated- a preschool teacher.
A teachers salary in the early eighties was verrrrrry small.
She had been laid off from a job when the school closed, and it took her 8 weeks to find a new one.
During that time we went from barely eeking by with her job, welfare and food stamps to being homeless.
For quite a while we lived in a car. If we were lucky, we were able to sleep at her work- if her boss
was in the mood to be nice. We were allowed to shower each morning at her work (it was a converted house)
as long as it was done by 6am.
This went on for several months while my mother saved up for first, last and security deposit for a new apartment.

You want to know what scared is? Live in a car for a while. In Los Angeles. When your 10.

The stigma of being poor as a child is something I almost can't describe. Food stamp shopping~ getting to the check out counter and being treated as if we were dirt. Lunch tickets used at school so I could eat~ I was ALWAYS the last in line so people would not notice that I got the free lunch. When someone did notice, I was mocked. Sitting in the welfare office with my mom~ looking at all of the other single mothers around us with their children who looked as shell shocked as I felt.

Even when we got into our apartment, things were rough for those first few years. How many times was our phone shut off? Our electric? Cable~ Forget that, we could barely afford rent. I lived most of my younger years in a one bedroom apartment in Van Nuys-filled with second (or in many cases third or fourth) hand furniture. We had no health insurance so I literally didn't see a doctor for 9 years. I didn't get Christmas or birthday gifts for years. When our car broke down my mother started leaving home at 5:30 in the morning to ride the bus to work. She'd be home by 7 at night. Once again, it took months (about 6) to save for a new (used) car.

As the years went by, things got better. By the time I graduated high school we had a bit of money. We were lucky.

Many people don't ever get to break that cycle.

I never pass up an opportunity to give back. Homeless person needs money? I give it to them. It's not my business what they do with it. I've walked in their shoes- and I'm not about to judge what they need to do with the money.

I've LITERALLY stopped talking to various people through the years because they made fun of a poor person, mocked the homeless, or shown how uncaring they are. People with that kind of attitude aren't the type you want around you. The one thing you should ALWAYS have is compassion. Don't be so quick to judge- because someday, that could be you or someone you love.

I'm also very conscious of the fact that, like most of the rest of America, my entire house of cards would crumble if I didn't get a few paychecks.

Be empathetic and don't be so quick to judge- because someday, that could be you or someone you love.



Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
alittlelark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 01:12 AM
Response to Reply #46
72. Your post was stunning.
I knew one or two kids in your position while I was in school. Ellie spent the night at our house as often as she could. She and her mother moved to Phoenix and I never saw her again. I look for her every once in a while via Google. She was sharp as a tack and never at a loss for a joke.

Your situation...her situation...I cannot imagine.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
skygazer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 06:52 PM
Response to Reply #46
118. Thank you for telling your story
One of the things I still feel terrible guilt about is what all this put my kids through. They endured much of what you describe so well. You want so badly for your children to have everything in the world and my kids were always so good about it all, so understanding when I told them I couldn't afford extra treats or movies or after school activities that all their friends got. It hurts and I know it hurt them too.

I can't change the past and I am oddly thankful for my experiences because they taught me compassion and understanding. The poor have no voice. They have no lobbies, they're not a sought-after voting block. It's up to us who understand their pain and who do have the leisure and ability to make their situations known to speak for them.

:hug:
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
LibraLiz1973 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 06:57 PM
Response to Reply #118
119. I am also strangely grateful for the experience
It helped shape my heart into what it is today.
I don't believe that I would be who I am without the experience.
So no, I wouldn't change it.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
SmokingJacket Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 09:27 PM
Response to Original message
47. Never closer than sleeping on a friend's couch in between jobs
and apartments. But I think about it all the time. Once in NYC -- in winter -- I saw a woman walking through the streets wearing nothing but a *garbage bag*. The streets were full of slush and she didn't even have shoes on.

Yeah, she was probably a crackhead, or mentally ill, or both. But does that mean a person deserves to suffer like that?

Shoot, if I had nothing to wear but a garbage bag I'd be desperate for some sort of chemical escape. I often think that if I had a less stable home life I'd end up living on a dirty mattress shooting heroin.

I worked temp jobs for years. I was persistent enough that I got "promoted" to the ManPower office. Boy, did that suck: you know who got all the jobs? All the clean, middle-class-looking people who probably *least* needed them. I knew when a raggy looking guy or woman with bad teeth came in, all they'd get would be "We'll call if something comes up." Damn! It was awful! I had to quit.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
OPERATIONMINDCRIME Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 09:41 PM
Response to Original message
48. Lived In A Car For 8 1/2 Months Over Two Winters Including The Worst in Jersey In 20 Years Probably.
Edited on Thu Dec-21-06 09:41 PM by OPERATIONMINDCRIME
Winter of 92'-93', got a reprieve for a bit in that spring/summer, back in the car again throughout the whole winter 93'-94'. The latter was the one where every other day we had a noreaster, and was the winter of one of the most challenging events I've had to go through. Long story short, every night no matter where I parked to sleep I'd get harassed by police and told to go on my way: Every damn night (Including once actually getting the shit beat out of me by a cop, unprovoked. Story for another day though). I finally found this abandoned parking area off Rt.23 in New Foundland and parked there. It was the first night I ever slept through without being woken up by cops. The next night, I chose to go there again. Problem was, I hadn't known a thing about the weather or the approaching snow storm. All I know is that I woke up in the morning chilled and with an inch and a half of snow sloping down my arm (I was in a 1980 z28 with an off track window that hung down 1/4 of an inch, so the drifting snow kinda blew on me). Anyway, I thought "what the fuck?", then to my surprise sat up, looked around, and got the shock of my life to see the 2 feet of snow everywhere around me. To make a long story short, that storm caused a state of emergency. No cars anywhere. No houses anywhere. No help. No food. No water. No anything. I ate snow. I drank snow. My car was immobile. Took me 3 days to dig out, all the while no heat, no food, only snow. In any case, that was 3 of the longest days of my life.

So anyway, that was only 3 days. I had the rest of the 8.5 months in the car as well. Very little food, no heat, not much of anything at all but my mind and my strength. Thing is, I don't have a single regret about that time. Though I had nothing, I was also in some ways more content and free than I've ever been since. I learned more in my car than most people could probably learn in 10 years about the world. I've always said that there isn't a person who couldn't benefit from having to live in a car with nothing for a week. Just a single week.

So anyway, yes, I've been homeless. I know full well what it's like to have absolutely nothing. That's why to this very day I'm thankful for all I have, and it's why I try and donate whatever I can and push others to do so as well. It is quite important to reach out to others who are truly in need of a helping hand.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Boxerfan Donating Member (710 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 09:41 PM
Response to Original message
49. Lived in a camper for 2 years.Alchoholic (sober 12+ years now).
Many demons needed to be erased. The homeless part was mostly due to trying to live in Marin County on $10.00 an hour. Not possible to rent at those wages in a "rich" town. But getting sober was what saved my life & has allowed me to have...A Family!
Unfortunately the nest I made in Oregon has been preyed on by developers & I may face an imminent domain case without funds to relocate or fight it. Right now it's up to the city-I pray they don't make me & my family homeless again.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Subdivisions Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 09:51 PM
Response to Reply #49
50. One word for you...

BRAVO!



Merry Christmas and Happy Hannuka!
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
unsavedtrash Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 09:58 PM
Response to Original message
51. I have been there too
Edited on Thu Dec-21-06 09:59 PM by unsavedtrash
My mom found out I was gay and kicked me out of the house. I was homeless for a little over a year.
I am a lot more resourceful now and have a much better idea of what "family" really means.
Merry Christmas!
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
nashville_brook Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 10:05 PM
Response to Original message
52. grew up dirt poor. been homeless. used food stamps. the whole 9 yards.
people who haven't been there just don't get it.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
LibraLiz1973 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 10:24 PM
Response to Reply #52
55. Could not possibly agree with that more
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
6000eliot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 10:07 PM
Response to Original message
53. I was never actually homeless,
but I did go hungry many, many times. My mother was abandoned by my father with five kids to care for. Now I have a PhD and am relatively affluent, but I do not forget.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Bjorn Against Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 10:36 PM
Response to Original message
56. Thank you so much, that was an extremely powerful post.
I think many in our society people want to deny the reality of poverty, but the challenges faced by people who experience are so enormous. We should not ridicule the poor for not being perfect, sure a number of them may waste their money on alcohol but haven't most of us wasted money on frivilous items from time to time? People who have never lived such a life should not be so quick to judge.

What we need to focus on is getting people help. There is no reason anyone should have to live in poverty in the richest nation in the world. Yet I hear very few politicians standing up for the poor, the focus is always on the wealthy with lip service to the middle class. Be honest, how often do you hear politicians from either party talk about poverty? Yes there are a few heroes of the poor in Congress, but their numbers are far too small.

What we hear far more often is about how the poor leach off the system, yet we never hear about how the rest of us all leach off the system through the benefits we receive. We get free access to an incredibly large system of roads, we get free education in public schools, and a huge number of other benefits as well. Before we criticize the weakest in our society for taking advantage of the benefits that are available to them, we need to look in the mirror and see the benefits we are taking advantage of.

Your post is very important, kicked with the highest recommendation.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
bobbolink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 01:33 AM
Response to Reply #56
74. Not to mention the businesses that "leach"... Halliburton, anyone?
:mad:
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Maraya1969 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 11:31 PM
Response to Original message
58. I am very aware that if my parents did not have the money I would have been
homeless. I've had bi-polar disorder since the age of 17 and even though I tried very hard and had a good education AND I did very well in college I could not keep a job! I even had great jobs with great pay that I quit because I was frozen in my bed for days. I remember being fired from one job because I was having really bad panic attacks and I kept running out of the office to a pay phone to call someone for help. They did not know what was going on. I assume they just thought I didn't care about my work or was lazy. So I was fired.

I never look at homeless people as lazy. I look at them as people who are just like me who did not have the privilege of a parachute to keep them from falling on the ground.

Thank you for doing what you did and thank for sharing it. Hopefully it will change some hearts.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
rosesaylavee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 11:34 PM
Response to Original message
59. Homeless due to family illness.
Wouldn't wish it on anyone but it has opened my eyes and my heart in ways I would never have imagined before. We were more fortunate than most. We were able to stay with family as we struggled to work things out. It was not pleasant living with inlaws that blamed me for the situation (not rational but it gave them focus) but it beat living in a box or most shelters I have seen.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
me b zola Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 11:45 PM
Response to Original message
60. I have been both
CNN recently said that 2/3s of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. It doesn't take much of anything to pull the rug out when when you are barely getting by.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
GenDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 11:46 PM
Response to Original message
61. When my husband was in the Marine Corp in the early 80's
we were very poor. Thankfully we had a roof over our heads -- but we lived with no car, no telephone, and had barely enough money to eat. I had two small children, at the time, and we struggled to stretch that small pay check. We ate a lot of macaroni and cheese and fish sticks, and by the end of the 15 day pay period we were sometimes down to a box of cereal. We finally applied and received wic, and in retrospect, I'm sure that we would have qualified for food stamps. The pay scale improved and promotions helped our situation by the end of his enlistment, but the early days were really tough.

We also lost our furnace a few years after his discharge and couldn't afford to replace it, so we heated our home with a kerosene space heater for a couple of winters. This can't even compare with homelessness, but it was a struggle and it makes you more compassionate toward people that are down and out.

My husband used to work in a not so great neighborhood, and he made friends with one particular homeless fellow that he saved all of the returnable cans from his office for. His name was Jesse. He is pretty sure that Jesse was picking up a 40 oz-er with that can money, but has never questioned or judged what he used it for. A few years ago Jesse brought my husband a present at Christmas time. It was a happy meal toy wrapped up with a hand made Christmas card taped to the outside. The note was beautifully written and thanked my husband for being there for him. That gift has always meant the world to my husband and he's saved the note and the toy. We often wonder what has become of Jesse.

This thread is vitally important, and I'm so glad that you posted it, skygazer. In a time when people obsess over a stupid feud between Donald Trump and Rosie O'Donnell....this puts it all in perspective. Times are really hard for people right now, and the struggles have spilled into the middle class. Now, it is many of the middle class that find themselves struggling to survive. Going without health insurance and dental insurance now is a middle class problem. Many of us are a paycheck away from financial disaster --I know we are.


I NEVER judge. Jesse put a face and a personality on homelessness, and so did all the people that have shared so honestly in this thread. I gave to the second harvest a few nights ago. Maybe in the future I will need the services that they are now providing for people like you and I that find ourselves in situations that no one asks to be put in, but situations that can happen to the best of us.

Thank you, this has really moved me!


Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
badgerpup Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 11:59 PM
Response to Original message
62. Was homeless once..
between jobs, too. A situation that was 'promised' (not marriage) by a then-boyfriend* fell through and I had NO safety net.
I was very fortunate in that it was only for a day or so.
Even so, I WAS SCARED. Where do I go from here? What am I going to do now?

A guy I'd just met and barely knew allowed me to stay at his place and be his housekeeper...and he NEEDED one, poor guy...until I could get on my feet.

We got to be good buddies as well as housemates. :pals:


Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
tinfoilinfor2005 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 12:16 AM
Response to Original message
63. One of the best posts I've ever read.
Especially this time of the year.

When I got into financial trouble after my divorce twenty some years ago and couldn't pay some of my bills, it scared me to death. I could picture the whole thing spiraling down and down. When the kids and I were at the point where we were stealing toilet paper from public bathrooms to have more money for food, I was a wreck. Couldn't get to sleep and was depressed all the time. But it never ever got even close to what you describe, thanks to the love of caring people, both relatives and strangers.

Now, years later, I have more than I need. And I think I am generous, both with family and with strangers. I think if I can add anything to your wonderful letter, it would be that charity begins at home. Look around with honest eyes and see whether there is someone in your own family or neighborhood who could use help. Sometimes it is easier to write a check to charity than to see the obvious need of a family member.

Merry Christmas back to you!

K & R
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
ThomCat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 12:18 AM
Response to Original message
64. I was homeless once.
I learned more from being homeless than I did from the all my time in College.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Joe Chi Minh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 05:50 PM
Response to Reply #64
107. Our most basic assumptions are our life's work; they're not something
Edited on Fri Dec-22-06 05:51 PM by KCabotDullesMarxIII
any course of higher education can provide.

The heart is the seat of wisdom and of our most basic assumptions, which either reflect the former or the lack of it.

Even in terms of physics, when asked the criterion he used when selecting his fundamental hypotheses, Einstein stated that it was aesthetic - Beauty. No scientist or economist or intellectual of any kind was ever able to measure or quantify Beauty. And of all the beauties, moral beauty is the highest because it is quintessentially spiritual - as far as the heavens are above the earth; the beauty perceived by the senses, the lowest.

We all love particular items of the Fine Arts. If we don't like most classical music or the great Masters, or ballet or poetry, nearly all of us are inspired by the great arias, nearly all of us are moved by the Pieta, or by certain poems and songs.

Yet all the Fine Arts belong to an immeasurably lower order. And when one considers the often wretched characters of some of the greatest painters, poets, etc, this is seen to be perfectly consonant with the fine Arts occupying the very lowest place in the spiritual hierarchy of the Fine Arts.

However, unsurprisingly, perhaps, many of the very rich, aware at some level of their propensity for Mammon-worship, place immense store on the Fine Arts, as they feel it affirms that they are outstandingly sensitive and spiritual souls. Well, I think most of us recognise those qualities, rather, in Jesus' parable of the Widow's Mite and the Good Samaritan.

The fact is, people get it. Most people seem to see the big picture. Ghandi, Mother Theresa, even desperately fallible statemesmen like John Kennedy and Bill Clinton. Their hearts are an open book. Not because they wear/wore their heart on their sleeve, not because they tell us, either directly or indirectly how great they are or were, but because we read their hearts by their actions. "By their fruit you will know them."

Unfortunately for mankind (on a purely human level, i.e. largely bereft of the light of eternity), we have always been led preponderantly by people driven by worldly ambition (described in the New Testament Epistles as the most pernicious of vices) and the lust for power and wealth, however spiritually their motivation has sometimes been cloaked).

"Blessed are the poor", one Evangelist quotes from Jesus' teachings, while another tells us, "Blessed are the poor in spirit". The latter has often been cited as a "plea in mitigation"! (Rather like the guy in the song who owns up that he killed the sheriff, but he didn't kill the deputy....

However, as St Leo once pointed out, Pride, that vice that so blinds the heart, commonly goes with wealth and power, and conversely, humility with poverty. Not hard and fast rules of course, but significant principles for our understanding.



Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
nam78_two Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 12:32 AM
Response to Original message
66. K&R and no
Edited on Fri Dec-22-06 12:41 AM by nam78_two
I have been middle-class all my life and have been grateful every day of my life for it and I have always realized that the quality of the life we lead ultimately (at least imo) is mostly a matter of chance.

I used to see kids at the school I went to, rich kids, talk about affirmative action and about how "I got here because I studied hard-why should someone get here through affirmative action". And I used to think "No-you got here in a large part because you dad/mom was a doctor/lawyer who could give you all the opportunites to study, the best tutors that xyz who grew up in the poorest part of town never had."

I think we all have to learn to look at the least fortunate among us and a)not judge them, b) OFFER A HELPING HAND and c) think "There but for the grace God go I".
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Jcrowley Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 12:38 AM
Response to Original message
67. Crimes against humanity


K&R
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
bobbolink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 12:41 AM
Response to Reply #67
69. "If I was a dog, would you help me?" sign held by homeless person
Your quote is great--who is it by?

You?

It says it all.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Maru Kitteh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 12:41 AM
Response to Original message
68. I ate, gobbled and stashed the leftovers from patron diners plates
so my daughter could have good food,diapers and toys. I know what hungry is when you no longer feel it in your stomach and bowels. Hunger becomes a state of being, no longer attached to the body but a force that takes over the mind. Almost nobody in this country understands that.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Recursion Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 12:49 AM
Response to Original message
70. When I was a kid, we went "camping" sometimes in the car
I only realized later that what I thought of as "camping", most people called "getting evicted and skipping out 30 minutes before the repo man comes for the car, and sleeping in your car for several days while your parents frantically look for another place to live". So, yeah, I was homeless, but my parents did a good job at keeping it from disrupting my childhood too much.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Joe Chi Minh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 06:04 PM
Response to Reply #70
110. That's something I only realised late in life.
My first thought had been why didn't they tell me what a hard, cruel world it was, instead of just saying they couldn't afford something, or money doesn't grow on trees - which didn't make a lot of sense to my dim wits (my slightly older brother who was manual worker, was always smarter and wiser as a child, more understanding of everything than me. I'm still learning things he knew then).

Then the penny dropped. They simply wanted to shield me from that knowledge as long as possible, no matter how much my grizzling might have got on their nerves.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
mzmolly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 01:04 AM
Response to Original message
71. I experienced poverty as a child.
I'm not going to bleed for anyone here, nor will I share my specific "horror" stories. However, one of the reasons I'm a democrat is that we believe in an "equal start" for everyone. Although that goal is not entirely possible, I prefer to strive for it, as a nation.

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
bobbolink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 01:41 AM
Response to Original message
75. Unbelievable as it sounds, it gets even worse...
San Luis Obispo's dying fields
In recent months, three seriously ill men have walked to the field across the street from a local shelter to die
BY KAREN VELIE

On the south side of San Luis Obispo, amid blackberry bushes and eucalyptus trees, is a field where three local homeless men perished in less than five months.

There were no stab wounds. There were no bullet holes. In fact, there were no signs of a struggle. However, shortly before their deaths, all three men had been discharged from local hospitals.

From the shopping center and residential neighborhood that border the field alongside Orcutt Road, between Broad Street and a little southwest of Laurel Lane, you can't see the makeshift tents and lean-tos hidden among the trees and bushes. You wouldn't know that numerous less-fortunate residents of the community sleep next to a small creek that meanders through the field littered with sleeping bags, blankets, and patient-discharge bags.

David Fitzwater, 49, was a shell of a man, more than 6 feet tall and a slight 160 pounds. Afflicted with crippling arthritis, a heart condition, and bleeding ulcers, he lived in agony. In spite of his angst, however, he volunteered his time gardening at the Prado Day Center and performing chores at the San Luis Obispo homeless shelter. People loved him.

Shortly before sunset on Oct. 4, Fitzwater's bloated and discolored body was discovered by two homeless men in the dirt field across the street from San Luis Obispo's homeless shelter on Orcutt Road. A plastic hospital discharge bag, bearing his name, still lies atop a pile of fallen leaves near where Fitzwater's body was found. more...please read.


http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...

This should NOT be isolated in a little-used forum!
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
hfojvt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 01:56 AM
Response to Original message
76. yes and no
Edited on Fri Dec-22-06 01:57 AM by hfojvt
I have never been homeless, except for one night that I spent on the streets of Portland and then on the floor of somebody else's hotel room. (edit, for the next couple days).

The year before that I lived in a trailer in the woods - a 10 x 50 mobile home, with no electricity, no running water (and hence no indoor toilet), and heated from a woodstove. I had little income that year, but was living on my $5,000 in savings. Then I went to grad school, made $5900 a year, and was saving money.

But I have that formal education and I am working janitorial at the age of 45.

I think you are seeing a different side of DU. The thread about able bodied people who refuse to work was a general question. I can check, but I do not remember it getting a flood of 'throw the bums out' responses. Typically I see threads about how people will always give to the homeless, with the vast majority of the responses being 'right on' and only a few, three or four, who say 'I used to, but I got scammed' or 'I got scammed, so now I only give food'.

For the most part, I think you are preaching to the choir.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Lilith Velkor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 02:19 AM
Response to Original message
77. Me
I lost all my friends, too. I don't know if I'll ever stop hurting from that.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
uppityperson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 02:23 AM
Response to Original message
78. Was homeless once.
I was voluntarily poor when I was in my mid-20s, but have been truly homeless once. I moved and thought I could find a place to live, affordably, but couldn't afford anything. I lived in a friend's kids playhouse (4X8 ft) for a month while searching for somewhere I could afford to rent (first & last were really hard to come up with). If I had had credit cards I could've charged rent, but I didn't have any. Yes, I had a friend who let me live in kids playhouse, in late fall. I thought I was better, but suddenly realized how fast and easy it was to fall. No drugs, no alcohol, just not enough money to rent a place. I applied for foodstamps and they gave them to me for 3 months. Then they discovered they had made a mistake and sent me notice I had to repay them. Crying to the case worker "I was honest and told you everything. I can't afford to pay them back now. If I WAS able to afford to, I wouldn't have applied." Caseworker kept repeating "it's ok, it's ok" to which I could only reply "it's NOT ok". We settled on paying back $5/month forever.

I found a place to live on only first month's rent, got a job, paid back foodstamps and realize how fast and easy it is to fall, even without having any "problems".

Happy holidays.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
vickitulsa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 02:31 AM
Response to Original message
79. Been steadily slipping toward homelessness for the last three years.
I have helped others out of that pit before and been very close myself, so I know what awaits if I can't avert it this time.

I've been away from DU for the last few weeks in large part because of the impending disaster unfolding in my "real" world as winter approached. Winters are the worst -- they make everything MUCH harder. Every time there is a winter storm, like the one that just hit Denver, the very first thing I think about is that homeless people will be caught out in it. So many deaths are not even reported or noticed.

My present living situation is worse than deplorable and worsens by the week. No hot water, no propane, no flushing toilet, impossible to heat properly ... but I'm so glad to have the roof and panic when I think about being forced out of here at last.

I'm too old and disabled to survive out there. I'm a chronic pain patient with many other medical problems being insufficiently treated through Medicare and Medicaid -- but I don't fool myself that there is truly a "safety net" out there. To the extent that there are safety nets, in medical or other areas, they are gravely overburdened and underfunded; and you have to be able to get around, to sit in offices filling out paperwork, just to get on a list and then wait -- often for a rejection.

I am so glad you wrote this post, skygazer. I've never been able to adequately express here at DU the scary peril and humiliation of poverty, though I've tried a few times. You described it all so well, so thank you.

Strange how one's life can go from being so large and vivid to so small and drained of all color and verve. Thinking all the time about how to survive is just too draining. At some point one gets too overwhelmed even to voice a protest or a plea for help.

Thank you for at least voicing a reality of human pain and misery that should be harder to ignore than it is.


Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Downtown Hound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 03:55 AM
Response to Original message
81. Yep
I struggled with a really bad sleep disorder that eventually began to affect my job and my overall health. It was a driving job and not sleeping was making it very dangerous, so I had to quit after I slightly rear ended someone on the way to work one morning. It was only a minor fender bender but it scared the hell out of me enough to where I quit the job. Eventually I ran out of money and ended up without a home. Luckily I got myself into a transitional housing program almost right away, where I lived for the next eight months. I now work as a carpenter and make pretty decent money and I'm also back in school working on an IT degree. And I sleep much better now, a combination of improved life circumstances, exercise, and self-hypnosis techniques I learned.

But being homeless sucks. The stigma people place on you is terrible. In my time in transitional housing, these are just a few of the people I met who had become homeless:

A veteran 30 year newspaper reporter for the Oakland Tribune.
A socialite that had been a stewardess for more than 20 years.
Several military veterans
The sister of a member of Credence Clearwater Revival (no, I'm not going to say which one)
A movie carpenter that had worked on sets from countless famous movies

To name just a few. Homeless people are not who America thinks they are. They are your kids and your relatives and your classmates, and your workmates and neighbors. Yes, many of them do end up homeless because of drugs and alcohol, but not all of them. Not nearly all.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Philosoraptor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 06:04 AM
Response to Original message
82. Yes, and there's no place like home.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
notadmblnd Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 07:25 AM
Response to Original message
83. We have too
I remember stealing toilet paper from gas stations and opening packages of diapers at the store and borrowing a couple for my sisters baby.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
democrank Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 07:46 AM
Response to Original message
85. I have, skygazer.
It may be easy for some to make assumptions about the homeless but the truth is that an unexpected change in any number of life`s variables can lead to a crisis: illness, loss of a spouse or partner, unexpected pink slip, a divorce. Throw children into the mix and you have a real problem. Many folks are living hand to mouth and one tiny glitch can sink them, especially those who were born into abject poverty to begin with. Bless you for raising this issue.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
jarab Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 09:12 AM
Response to Original message
86. K & R.
...O...
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Nordmadr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 10:04 AM
Response to Original message
87. This actually touches on something I was have been thinking about.
I do on occassion hand out a few bucks to those in need. I have never been homeless, but grew up fairly poor. My dad was active duty military (enlisted) trying to provide for a family of 5. Not an easy thing to do on enlisted soldier salary I can assure you.

I work in County government as an Information Systems professional now, and my wife is a teacher, so overall, we do fairly well for ourselves. We aren't rolling in the dough by any means, but we don't go without either. The office where I work is located in a train/bus station in a small city. About 2 weeks ago, as I was leaving work, and had just gotten into my car, a man approached my car. I stepped out to talk to him and he indicated that he had been having car trouble and wanted to know if he could have $5 to help him out. Judging from his appearance, I didn't buy the story for a second, but chose to give him the $5 anyway. He asked if I wanted any collateral and I simply told him not to worry about it and wished him a happy holiday. I had never seen that man around before, but have since seen him around the station at least 2 or 3 other times now. It is obvious that he is homeless and his story was fabricated. At first I was irritated that he had lied to me, but the more I thought about it, the more foolish that seemed. I didn't believe the story when I gave him the money, so why should I be angry?

He may spend it on drugs or alcohol.

Who the fuck am I to judge? I've had hard times. I've made mistakes. I've been bankrupt.

I wish we lived in a place where no one ever slept in the cold and never went to bed hungry. A place where everyone could walk into a hospital and get the same treatment as the next guy. I wish we lived in a place where people did not become so desperate. Unfortunately, we don't live in that place. It makes me ashamed to have what I have when others have nothing. Like many other things I think about; it makes me want to be a better person.

Olafr
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
BleedingHeartPatriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 10:38 AM
Response to Original message
88. It's the pervasive myth of "scam artists" out there trying to get our money that drives me nuts.
Standing in freezing, wet or sweltering conditions on the side of a road, with one's desperate situation visible to all passing by, is suffering in and of itself.

This summer a homeless person approached my daughter and me as we walked out of a Walgreen's. He was a big, tall guy, and seemingly pretty aggressive, following us and shouting, "Hey, could you help me?"

At first I was alarmed, but then, he pointed to his leg and said,"I fell off my bike, and I need more medical supplies. Could you please get me some more bandages?"

Well, he had his bike, his backpack and an old, grungy dressing on his ankle. He said he'd been treated at the hospital after his accident happened, but couldn't afford to return to keep the dressing clean. It appeared he had a bad road rash on the leg.

My daughter said, "I'll wait for you in the car." She knew exactly what I'd do, especially since I'm a nurse. I bought more gauze wrap and 4 x 4's, bottled water, antiseptic wash and tape. I sat with him on the curb and reviewed the supplies, gave him some recommendations about how often to change and what he should look for to return to to Denver Health (Denver county's indigent care health facility).

Because I took that extra moment, and listened, instead of turning my back, I was able to provide some assistance. He didn't ask for money, or anything else except the medical supplies in trying to keep from getting a bad infection.

I wonder if others had ignored him, thinking he was trying to "con" them. MKJ
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
byronius Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 11:04 AM
Response to Original message
89. Me. n/t
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Seabiscuit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 11:07 AM
Response to Original message
90. I have. 40 years ago.
Edited on Fri Dec-22-06 11:08 AM by Seabiscuit
And no, I never committed any crimes while homeless.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Joe Chi Minh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 06:35 PM
Response to Reply #90
113. I hope you didn't have dependents and failed them out of a false
sense of propriety. I marvelled at the goodness of the woman who stole a couple of diapers for her sister.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Seabiscuit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 10:40 PM
Response to Reply #113
131. I haven't the foggiest idea why you posted this.
Edited on Fri Dec-22-06 10:41 PM by Seabiscuit
Where on earth did you get the idea that I had "a false sense of propriety" when I was homeless??? Simply because I never committed any crimes at the time? That makes absolutely no sense at all.

And no, I had no dependents at the time. I was all alone.

Stealing diapers for a baby who has none is not a crime to my way of thinking, but I hardly think it calls for "marvelling".
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Irishonly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 11:16 AM
Response to Original message
91. Merry Christmas
It's probably a ridiculous title for my post but I was at a loss to think of an appropriate one.

My family was on the verge of being homeless a few years ago. I was fighting with social security for disability and the husband my company worked for closed. We had no medical insurance and made a few dollars too much to qualify for assistance. We were so much more lucky than most. Our church literally supported us for almost a year. We still didn't have insurance but we had a roof over our heads, utilities on and food on the table. They even made sure my daughter had a Christmas. When my hearing for benefits was scheduled, my attorney was armed with letters talking about how my health had declined. One of the happiest days of my life was when I was able to give the church a big donation when I received my settlement. I had taught for twenty two years and my education didn't make a difference because physically I can not be up for more than a couple of hours.

Being that poor puts life into perspective. Christmas, both the secular and religious aspects, is still my favorite time of the year. I am still a traditionalist and have decorations everywhere and some still are displayed that were from my grandmother. We don't go nuts buying gifts. After I received my settlement we decided that at Christmas we would always give more to a charity/charities. We each give up a couple of gifts to give to others. I make sure I buy fair trade as much as I can and we give all year around. We always have a family meeting and decide which charities will be given to. This year I was thankful I could give a little more to Second Harvest.

A year ago my husband's brother committed suicide. My husband found the body, cleaned up the horrible mess and took charge of the situation. His family could have a soap opera written about them as they are that dysfunctional. It was the most horrible display of the absolute worst aspects of human behavior I have ever seen. My husband has paid a terrible price. He is still out on disability and is now haunted by nightmares again. We still give because we have more than a lot of people. Our donations don't match what they were last year but they are still given from the heart.

I don't judge the homeless. I work with our church's shelter and my daughter tutors the children who reside there. If I have some change I will give it to a homeless. I think it's very sad so many are disdainful of the poor. We don't know what circumstances brought them to their plight. I believe with my whole heart we will be judged by how we helped the least of us. I can't stand to see suffering and these past six years have been horrible.

Even a small donation helps. I had to learn that again this year. We are on a tight budget and when I saw the plea for donations at first, I thought I wish I had seen this earlier. Then I read someone's response of how much money could be raised if everyone would give five dollars. Duh, I can give that and a couple dollars more. So I did. We don't give for kudos and forgive me, if I sounded as if I were bragging. Giving comes from a special place in your heart. My wish for this holiday season is that more people look in their hearts and find the place where giving hope resides.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Freeusfromthechurch Donating Member (141 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 11:55 AM
Response to Original message
92. My family and I are homeless now
We're not on the streets homeless, but at a family members
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
BleedingHeartPatriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-23-06 12:27 AM
Response to Reply #92
134. I'm "house sitting" for my infirm mom.
I never in a million years thought I'd be in this situation.

Even though it's a port in the storm, I feel frustrated by having to rely on others. I, along with my husband and daughter, have been self sustaining for decades, living what we thought was the American Dream, so this has been a hard pill to swallow. It never crossed our minds that everything we worked for could be so quickly and completely wiped out.

It's hard for a lot of people right now, and many are leaning on family and friends.


Hang in there, a better day awaits. :hug: MKJ

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Richard D Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 12:05 PM
Response to Original message
93. I was
For several months. I lived in the back of my pick-up truck, which had a small camper shell on it. I was working full time, but got kicked out of my apartment and didn't have enough money to do the first last security thing. It wasn't so bad because it was summer and I did have income, but it put a lot of strain on me. I am grateful that I did have at least a turtle shell home though, so I didn't really qualify as totally homeless.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
blues90 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 01:20 PM
Response to Original message
96.  I was homeless for short periods years ago
I was still young in my 30's and had a van and there was still enough jobs available to pull myself out . I was also on my own so any suffer was mine alone .

This topic scares me because now at 57 I can see if I don't find another job soon I will be facing this with my wife of 26 years and I'm 57 now . No van , a small car and no savings left . The only thing we have is my wifes SSI and I have got SDI due to my anxiety condition and depression which places me on the list on close to no one .

I have faught anxiety for many years and now that my life has gone down hill the depression slipped in .

I never thought depression could gain such a grip in such a short period of time . I was never the happy go lucky sort but depressed like this and feeling like no one has taken it's toll .

I really hope all here do find a way out of this bush worlds grip of suffer .
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
chaska Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 01:43 PM
Response to Original message
97. Lived in my minivan for two years. Housed now, but still desperately poor...
No money for next month's rent.

Trying to 1) get hired (lousy work record), 2) at something that pays enough to live on, and 3) avoid going back to truck driving (18 wheeler). Over the road trucking has an awful lot in common with solitary confinement.

Do this: Go into your bathroom, close the door behind you and stay there for a month, then we'll let you out to run around like crazy for a few days while you try to get done all the things you need to do to prepare to go back in for another month. Lather, rinse, reapeat ... ad infinitum.

That's trucking ... minus the stress.

...and I have a four year degree. I'm presentable, don't drink, smoke; a regular middle class guy ... with one very screwed up life.

America used to be generous with second chances. Now, once you screw up, you're truly screwed.

Sorry. You asked.

I know another DUer who has been homeless. You'd never suspect it from her.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
mandyky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 01:49 PM
Response to Original message
98. I am currently homeless
and staying at a Salvation Army Womens' shelter. I have been homeless since May and also jobless.
I was a stay at home Mom for 9 years and when my SO said go away, my son went with his paternal grandfather and I was left homeless. I am finally starting to come out of the shock, but have had health problems that had me in a wheel chair for a month or so. Hopefully after the New Year I will be released to work.

On the up side, I am out of an unhealthy relationship, my son is ok with Grandpa and I am workingon his return to my custody and I will be sober 7 months, day after Christmas!
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
LibraLiz1973 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 07:06 PM
Response to Reply #98
120. Your amazing Mandy
Looking at the future as a positive is key!
Good work on your sobriety-

YOU CAN DO THIS!!
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
petgoat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 02:46 PM
Response to Original message
99. I've been homeless, but always had a car, which helped. nt
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
jwirr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 03:06 PM
Response to Original message
100. Yes, lived in a car with 2 children in the late 70s. I would be now
except that two of my children have assured me I will never be homeless again. They watched me take care of their developmentally disabled sister for 45 years, knowing that I would face poverty and all that goes with it when I could no longer lift and carry her. I thank God for those girls and their equally generous husbands.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Let's work together to make the New Year a good one.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
madokie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 03:08 PM
Response to Reply #100
101. I promise to do that very thing
the makings for this being a good year is there all we have to do is make it happen, I think we will
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Joe Chi Minh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 06:51 PM
Response to Reply #100
117. Christmas celebrates the Holy Family. I think you're rightly celebrating your
own one, too, a little closer in the flesh in this life.

I bet we all hope this Christmas is a special time for you all.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
jwirr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 11:58 PM
Response to Reply #117
133. Thank you.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
mike_c Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 03:29 PM
Response to Original message
102. me....
I presume I will be again, when I retire.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
MinneapolisMatt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 03:33 PM
Response to Original message
103. I have.
It's something I'll never forget, and it changed me for the better.

I never try and take a meal for granted anymore. The hunger you experience is something that is hard to forget.

Happy holidays everyone,

Matt
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Cleita Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 04:10 PM
Response to Original message
104. Great post!
It's always easy to blame the victims and there are always those smug jerks who will. I know that there are those who abuse the system or the good will of people, but they are very few compared to the many, who are genuinely needy, and don't need to be classified as bums or any other "label" because of their unfortunate circumstances.

Have a good holiday and may next year be better for you and for all those who don't have a home to sleep in this holiday.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Canuckistanian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 06:03 PM
Response to Original message
109. I always try to make contact with the homeless people I see
There are guys I see regularly at the liquor or beer store and I always talk to them after I give them a buck or two. I'm always amazed at their stories and how they got to be there.

And let me tell you, it takes a lot of guts and determination to hang out in front of a liquor store when it's -25 degrees Celsius outside (-5 degrees Fahrenheit), so I know these guys aren't fakers or opportunists with real jobs.

Their stories are similar in one respect: Life has kicked them in the teeth through no fault of their own and the system has failed them dramatically. They've tried the government application route and have been refused one way or another. A family that turned them out in the street. A personal tragedy that's overwhelmed them.

At this time of year, I always think of them a little more. And give them a more generous hand.

This year, my wife and I decided to give a larger than usual gift to our local food bank, because we're doing relatively well.

Becuase a few years ago, they also helped us.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
SemperEadem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 06:15 PM
Response to Original message
111. I have
after 9/11, I lost my freelance video editing gig in LA... couldn't find work there in my field for easily 5 years. I had to move out of my own apartment and live on my sister's floor for 3 years. It was the darkest time in my life--the closest I came to going mad. I eventually moved to the other side of the country and just 6 weeks ago, I got a full time job with decent benefits. I tell you what---I am truly grateful for the experience now that I'm on the other end of it; I sure didn't appreciate it while I was going through it, but I did try to find something about it to appreciate.

I totally agree with your assessment... this 'John Knox Presbyterian mentality' of people's problems being them only needing to pull themselves up by their bootstraps bullshit when God's grace/luck/good fortune is the only thing that has prevented them from having had poverty, unemployment, mental health issues, etc. fall out in experience for them is what magnifies the ugliness of those spouting their intolerance. Most of them don't know what the fuck they're talking about when they're so busy judging and it's real easy to talk out of your ass when you have no experience of what you're talking about.

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
hamerfan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 06:22 PM
Response to Original message
112. I'm in the club,
but I usually had a car to sleep/live in. That helped a LOT, even though insurance/tags weren't always up-to-date.
What an incredible post, skygazer. Just wish I could put my thoughts/feelings into words as you have done.
By the way, I have always given cash when asked and I had some. I did not care in the least how it was spent. Either way, food or booze/drugs, it was out of my wallet, so out of my control. I figured the person knew best what they needed, I was only glad I could help in some small way.
Thank you for an amazing post. May all the best come your way very soon. What got me through was the thought that "You never know what's around the next corner". Hugs, :hug:
dumpbush
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
skygazer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 06:47 PM
Response to Reply #112
115. Thank you, dumpbush (great name, btw)
I'm doing okay these days, though like so many people, I live paycheck to paycheck and have to be very careful. One bad injury or the loss of my job would put me in a very bad place indeed but I have a little bit of savings and a tiny pension to look forward to. A great bounty, compared to what so many have and compared to where I came from.

I think much of what helped me climb (slowly and painfully) out of the hole was the fact that I come from a middle class background and so I did know there was something better (many people in poverty have never known anything else and have no idea how to find anything better), I lived in an area with a good social service infrastructure, and I had a helluva lot of luck. In the long run, luck counts for so much in these situations.

Thanks for your post.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Blue_In_AK Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 06:41 PM
Response to Original message
114. I was for a time back around 1972...
Edited on Fri Dec-22-06 06:45 PM by Blue_In_AK
...when my first daughter was small. I had started out with a little money, $400, but baby's father took it all and disappeared. I was getting $195 a month welfare at the time...a real welfare queen, I was. I was crashing around different places which got old real fast. Finally I was able to rent a 12 x 12 guest house from some friends, and it seemed like a mansion. I've never appreciated a roof over my head so much.

ed. And, boy, do I know what you mean about the food stamps and waiting in line at the welfare office. The self-righteous attitudes were really pretty unbearable.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
greiner3 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 06:47 PM
Response to Original message
116. I was homeless for 3 days;
On that note, I left my girl friend after giving her my paycheck a few days previously and it was between paydays. I stayed in my car and only ate once in that time.

Advance to today and I can say that I'm not that far away to being really homeless. I go to a community funded and privately run mental illness clinic for my mental illnesses. I am on disability and run the risk of it terminating. I see and interact with the real homeless in the clinic. They are the drug addicts, alcoholics and severely mentally ill, mostly schizophrenics who will not take their meds and live how they want to, panhandling etc... It's not bad there at the clinic although the worst afternoon I've spent in many years is sitting next to an un-medicated Tourette's patient; unforgettable!
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
LWolf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 07:13 PM
Response to Original message
121. I have.
As a kid I was often sent to "visit" friends for awhile when my mom was between jobs and apartments. As a young woman, I lived in the back of a pickup truck and slept on people's couches during a period in my life. I also spent some time living with my children in a tent at a relatives member campground; we had to change camp grounds every couple of weeks. I've also, just a handful of times, sat all night on a cold street corner with not a cent and no place to go. I have a life-long weight problem that began with my second pregnancy. I was afraid the baby wouldn't get enough, so I haunted church potlucks, etc., and tried to eat enough to last a day or two every chance I got. Even when things got better, I've never lost the obsession with cleaning everything on the plate so it didn't go to waist, or with food itself. So I've been a diet/gain back person for 27 years.

I've lived in cockroach palaces and neighborhoods where we had to huddle on the floor whenever gunfire broke out. I've lived without electricity and heat. I've washed diapers by hand in cold water in the bathtub. I've hidden spare change in bizarre places so that I could buy milk for the kids when the spouse raided their piggy banks to buy cigarettes.

Somehow, in the midst of all of that, I managed to finish an AA degree at the local community college, in the days that it was tuition-free. It took 12 years. Then a BA, then post-graduate stuff that got me licensed for my current profession. Which makes enough money to support a small, careful life.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
LiberalArkie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 07:20 PM
Response to Original message
122. I have twice.. No fun at all. I lost my house the second and last time.
I only owed $2500 on the home when I broke my leg without any insurance.

I really can not recommend the experience to anyone.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
skygazer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 07:26 PM
Response to Reply #122
123. It's not all it's cracked up to be, is it?
And as your situation shows, it can happen to anyone. Bad luck, bad timing, bad breaks - it doesn't take much sometimes.

There are a lot of people in this country who are one broken leg (or the equivalent) of being homeless or horribly poor. It's not just junkies and "lazy" people. It's hardworking families.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
InvisibleTouch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 07:48 PM
Response to Original message
126. Closest I came was when our heat was turned off...
...because we couldn't pay the gas bill, at one point in my early teens. My mom went out to negotiate with the power company, while I made a fire in the fireplace. Luckily we had a stack of firewood by the front door, but I was already calculating, eyeing the furniture, and trying to figure out how long it would last us, once we had to start chopping up the chairs and tables. It didn't come to that, but I was ready to do it.

To this day I prefer a wood-burning fireplace to one of those artificial gas-log things. Because if your gas supply is shut off, for whatever reason, you can still keep warm with a woodburning fireplace. Any time you have to be dependent upon an outside source for your welfare, you're in a dangerous zone, I've come to realize.

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
tishaLA Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 07:54 PM
Response to Original message
127. I'm currently homeless
Edited on Fri Dec-22-06 08:02 PM by tishaLA
I'm not exactly the paradigmatic homeless person, but somehow I ended up this way. I grew up in a fairly well-to-do family, excelled academically, and I'm currently writing my dissertation. I am not like most of the people I have come to know in the "emergency shelter" I currently live in--most have had troubles with meth, or coke, or alcohol, or prison, or all of the above; most have lived on the streets or in their car at one point; many of the women have had turn tricks just to get by. But I am nonetheless homeless.

I became homeless because of depression. Four years ago, as many of you know, I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure when I was only 27 years old. The doctors say it was because of a virus, but its causation doesn't matter much...I just know that when the doctors told me I faced death or a transplant because my heart was so beaten up, I learned to live with the knowledge that death was right around the corner.

Except it never came.

I got physically better and mentally wrecked. I'd learned to accept certain death so much that some part of me decided it didn't want to live. I became increasingly isolated--I was helped by an onset of gout, which my CHF drugs caused and which made it nearly impossible to get around--and I increasingly love my isolation. For three years, I never touched my dissertation. For three years, I sank deeper into the comfortable abyss of depression, despite attempts by my friends, my landlord, my colleagues, and my dissertation committee to get me to seek help. It was only when I got an eviction notice--I hadn't paid rent in five months and hadn't been harrassed...that's how much my landlord liked me!--and I had to scrape together three dollars so I could get eggs and some bread so I'd have something to eat that I realized I needed to do something. But it was already too late.

Since I became homeless, I have finally started seeing a therapist. LA County gives me anti-depressants and CHF medications for free. And, although I am homeless, I have a place to stay every night with a shower and electricity and food. I had to apply for re-admission to my PhD program because I just said "fuck it" last year and decided not to enroll. But I have become productive again. I'm writing. I'm researching. My depression is under control and I think I will have permanent housing within the next 6 weeks.

I've learned so many things I never knew before. I never knew what GR (general relief) was, let along SSI and SS-something-else; I never knew that I could have had rental assistance to pay my rent; I never knew that there was a whole subculture of people I never knew about or wanted to know (God knows I had turned my head away from them many times as I passed them on the street or the bus). But most importantly, I learned the names of some of those people and I learned how good, kind, and eloquent those people could be.

I feel like I've come out of the closet. This is something I never reveal because I still attach so much shame to it....as if it were a moral failure.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
skygazer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 08:12 PM
Response to Reply #127
128. There is no shame in your situation
But I understand why you feel it. It's hard not to feel shame when society looks at poverty as some sort of moral failure.

I cannot judge those I see who are desperate - how am I to know what their story is, how they reached that point? I don't know but I do know that it's so easy to reach it and, once reached, so hard to escape it.

I'm glad for you that you are able to get some help, that your depression is under control. I am bi-polar which contributed greatly to my problems when I was struggling. Hard enough to deal with under ideal conditions - damn near impossible when one is living with the stress and insecurity of not knowing from day to day how one will survive.

Don't be ashamed - rather, be proud that you have endured what you have. And know that some of us, many of us, understand and are pulling for you.

If you ever need an ear or an encouraging word, pm me. I am living proof that there is indeed some light at the end of the tunnel. :hug:
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Sugar Smack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-23-06 05:52 AM
Response to Reply #127
137. Hey.
:hug:
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Karenina Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-23-06 06:56 PM
Response to Reply #127
138. Na, Du...
:hug: SWEETIEKINS!!! :hug:

When you get out of bed every morning, KNOW that someone you'll likely never meet has ALREADY sent you GOOD VIBES for the day. (Sometimes the time zone thing is a REAL advantage)! :hug:
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
EFerrari Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 10:45 PM
Response to Original message
132. Merry Christmas, stargazer.
:hug:

:loveya:

:grouphug:
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
bobbolink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-23-06 01:34 AM
Response to Original message
136. As another homeless person, I don't think any of this will change
unless/until poor people themselves come together and DEMAND change. Not charity, not a sack of groceries, but real change.

We have been compliant and passive, and made it very easy to be ignored.

We haven't nailed our 95 complaints to church doors.

We haven't come together and stormed Congress.



Unfortunately, I fear that what will happen when poor folk stop feeling depressed and ashamed and find their anger, that it will be a rise in crime, rather than demands on the system for change.

We need to form the modern-day equivalent of the Bonus Army!

Where's our General Smedley Butler, when we need him?!
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Joe Chi Minh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-24-06 03:51 PM
Response to Original message
139. I can't imagine any more powerful illustration of the power of America's
crypto-fascist far right to brainwash the country than the American people's historically vehement repudiation of not just Communism, but Socialism!

In (continental) Western Europe with is socialist ethos, Communism would be retrograde and irrelevant, but while wholesale homelessness in the US is the scourge that it is, ensuing in some cases from a simple injury or illness, I would have expected it to have fallen to Communism long, long ago.

I'm as aware of the deficiencies of Communism as I am of rabid capitalism, at least what it has meant in Western Europe, but I would prefer to have lived in Russia or in another Eastern Bloc country under Stalin than in the US, and be sure of a job and a roof over my head and my family, than not know whether six months from now, we would be homeless.

The sight of Michael Moore's long, bright red, articulated truck with the Hammer and Sickle emblazoned on the side, parked outside the White House (or was it Congress?) was one of the funniest I've seen. Particularly when the police arrived.... and booked him for a parking offence!!!
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
DU AdBot (1000+ posts) Click to send private message to this author Click to view 
this author's profile Click to add 
this author to your buddy list Click to add 
this author to your Ignore list Thu Dec 25th 2014, 08:16 AM
Response to Original message
Advertisements [?]
 Top

Home » Discuss » Archives » General Discussion (01/01/06 through 01/22/2007) Donate to DU

Powered by DCForum+ Version 1.1 Copyright 1997-2002 DCScripts.com
Software has been extensively modified by the DU administrators


Important Notices: By participating on this discussion board, visitors agree to abide by the rules outlined on our Rules page. Messages posted on the Democratic Underground Discussion Forums are the opinions of the individuals who post them, and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Democratic Underground, LLC.

Home  |  Discussion Forums  |  Journals |  Store  |  Donate

About DU  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy

Got a message for Democratic Underground? Click here to send us a message.

© 2001 - 2011 Democratic Underground, LLC