Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Camping on the Street

Today I read yet another article about some city clearing a homeless camp. I don't blame the city. But I do wonder where those folks will go now.

A lot of people, smug and self-righteous in their warm/cool apartments or homes wag their fingers and talk about how these people should be ashamed of themselves. After all, they're all druggies or alcoholics... right?

Suppose, just for a moment you lost your job tomorrow. And further suppose that like the vast majority of folks in this country you are living from paycheck to paycheck. You have no support net. Your family members live across the country, too far for you to travel or move. And they're in worse financial shape than you are. Your job is not quite forty hours or you haven't worked there quite long enough to qualify for unemployment.

Days tick by as you desperately search for another job while staving off the electric company and your landlord or mortgage company. When you're down to your last dollar you contemplate outright theft to feed your family. The food banks and other support systems are inundated with all the other families that were laid off at the same time you were.

Safety nets fail. You're evicted from your apartment or home. Your belongings are piled in the front yard or on the street. You scrabble to cram clothing and your most precious possessions in your car along with your family and drive away before your car is repossessed.

If you're fortunate, you own camping gear--a rough shelter to keep out the weather. Otherwise, you all crowd in the car, alternating on a spiraling schedule of parking and moving on before you attract the attention of various authorities.

Through the grapevine, you discover dumpster diving and setting aside the terrible shame of failing your family, you seek out the bits and pieces to feed them. An acquaintance mentions an empty building where your family might be able to squat in a small room...no water, no toilet, no power or heat, but there's a roof and if you're careful you can build a small fire in an empty pot or barrel so your family doesn't freeze.

Above all, you fight to stay under the radar of all authority because if you don't, they'll take your children away...

That's the truth.



  1. It's not an easy situation and you're right. Unless you walk a mile in another's shoes you cannot know what brings them to the point where they have to camp on the street. Judge not...

  2. I never judge. It's too easy to imagine ending up in their shoes. It takes resilience and great courage to survive being homeless.