When I was first trying to get inside, I made sure my prospective landlord wouldn’t know I had ever been homeless. Why? Simply put, I didn’t want to jeopardize my chances. It was enough to tell him I was on a fixed income, which at the time was Social Security Disability
When one lives outdoors, and weather conditions are less than favorable, one sometimes wakes up freezing and soaking wet—not to mention flat broke. Under such circumstances, you can’t imagine the feeling of grati- tude that would overwhelm me as I succeeded in scraping up 63 cents for a senior cup of coffee at a Mac- Donald’s. At the store most frequented, they wouldn’t let us in if we didn’t have coffee change.
One of the many unexpected challenges that arose during my transition from homelessness to indoor living stemmed from the fact that I had simply gotten used to living outdoors. This caused many of the practices that worked for me when I was homeless to be carried over into the context of indoor living.
As the homelessness crisis worsens, cities all over the U.S. are desperately trying to come up with solutions. California, for example, is in a frenzy to build new homeless shelters that will fit thousands of new shelter beds.
Mental illness is often cited as one of the driving factors behind the growing homeless population in cities such as Berkeley and Oakland. A lack of resources for the mentally ill has led many people to the streets.
When I was homeless in the San Francisco Bay Area, I relied to a large degree on the moral support of lifelong friends and family who were not. For one reason or another, it was not feasible for any of them to let me stay in their homes for any substantial length of time.