Where do the homeless live?  If you’ve been following our story you know we spent our first two months in tents, camping out at local State parks with the odd weekend in a motel when the parks were full.  Camping fees were $35 a night so it’s just not an option for many homeless and motels are even more expensive. 

There’s a homeless hierarchy of a sort and I’d say we are pretty much at the top of it now.   I don’t actually consider us homeless- preferring ‘alternatively housed’;  but I know a lot of people would say we are homeless as we don’t have a conventional residence- a house or apartment.  Hey, I just subscribed to Trailer Life magazine, so I know we aren’t the only family living in a trailer!  And we live in a RV Park- with utility hook ups, internet, laundry and shower rooms.  We can stay for 6-months (been here 4 so far) before we have to move out, so it gives us a semblance of permanence.

But back to the question- where do the homeless live ?  Some homeless people, generally long-term homeless, live in conditions we can’t even imagine ourselves in- under bridges, in abandoned subway or train tunnels, or abandoned buildings. Some homeless people find a free campground and may even stay there long-term.  Some hit the shelters- and while the  restrictions of shelters can be inhibiting and the conditions less than pleasant and not always safe, at least it’s a warm and dry place to spend the night.  Don’t expect to call it home though.  Come morning you are back on the streets.  Interestingly in an online quiz about what people would do if they unexpectedly became homeless, many people said they would go to homeless shelters and stay there, get a job and save enough money to move to an apartment.  Like it’s that easy-  our two local homeless shelters require everyone have a clear TB test before they are even  allowed entrance.  One is only for single men and the women’s shelter will only allow boys up to 10 years of age.  Explain to me where a single mom’s 11 year old son is supposed to sleep when she and the other kids are in the shelter?  And no, you can’t stay there for months while looking for that elusive job.  It’s first come, first served- a place to shower and sleep and a hot meal if you are lucky.  One night at a time.

Our homeless friends, Benjamin and Tricia have been living in a tent next to an agricultural field for 5 years!  I couldn’t believe that when Tricia told me.  What’s worse is she has a son nearby who won’t help- too ashamed that his mom is homeless!  Now that Tricia is finally receiving disability checks we are hoping they can move into an apartment. Hard to find something that meets her income level and allows pets (they have an older golden retriever) though.

The newly homeless – those with some resources- may stay in cheap motels or camp as we did.  When their resources run out they might sleep in their vehicles- parked by the side of the road or in a different parking lot each night.  Regardless, there’s a lot of moving around which makes it difficult to ‘settle in’ or establish a routine of any sort.  That’s one thing for a single male, another for a family with kids who should be in school.  I’ve been noticing a lot of class C (the sort you can drive- think Winnebago) RVs parked in public lots around here for a night or two.  Some are fairly distinctive and I see them in different areas around town over weeks.

We are so lucky to have a relatively stable space to call home. It’s too small- nothing like a vacation off school to point that out- but it’s ours and it’s safe and secure.  When I say it’s time to go home, the kids know where we are headed.

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