Reddit user kettlebellPony recently asked, "People who’ve experienced homelessness, what do you wish more people understood about being homeless?" and the answers are pretty eye-opening.
1. "There are different levels of homelessness. First level is you don’t have a place of your own, but have friends or family you can stay with with little to no rent charges. This is usually temporary because you have a support system, and is caused by something generally quick to fix (like losing a job or your house getting damaged from something like a flood).
"Second level is you don’t have friends or family to help, but you have a car, cheap RV, or 'fancy' tent you can stay in. You can work to pay basic bills, use a gym membership for a shower, etc. Third level is the worst. No job, no car, no help at all. You might get lucky enough to stay in an empty parking lot or tent city for a while, but there’s never consistency."
"I’ve only been through Level 1 and Level 2, thankfully, but I know people who went through the third level. It’s hell."
2. "Once you've given someone money, it's not your money anymore. We can spend it however we want. I was a kid when I was homeless and I remember being cussed out because I used the money to watch a movie and eat popcorn by the guy that gave me it because 'it was meant for food' in the lobby."
3. "There are a lot more homeless children and teens out there that most would never notice because they 'couchsurf' with families that 'take them in' for a bit. The current system in place to take care of children is a massive joke."
4. "Good luck staying in shelters if you have anything other than a first shift job."
5. "It isn't as simple as 'just get a job.' Not having a permanent address makes it nearly impossible. Employers also know where the shitty neighborhoods that the effectively homeless often end up in or where the shelters are. The further down you go the harder it is to get a job."
"And the places that do intentionally hire from 'the bottom' do so as they know they can exploit you pretty badly in that situation. You need to get your hands on things like presentable clothes, savings, a functional car, and so forth to really get back on track. This can take months or years."
6. "There is also no 'just go to school' option either. How can I go to school if I can't even afford to take the SAT, apply, or move even if I get accepted?"
7. "Sometimes making a good decision can leave you homeless. I hate the stigma. I'm homeless because I stood up for myself, not because I made a bad choice, but even if I did, nobody deserves this."
8. "I haven't personally been homeless, but I work with unhoused. Cash is king. Don't offer to buy things. They don't have room for it. Food is heavy to carry around. You have no claim on how they spend money you give them."
9. "Don't make comments or complain if you see a person using the restroom at a business to clean up, resting on public transit, or sitting in a corner charging their phone. Many shelters won't allow people to rest during daylight hours and they often don't have a safe place to go."
10. "You gotta make hard choices everyday. You only have $5 in your pocket. Do I gas up or buy food? Gas gives me one more day of not being arrested by police for parking anywhere. I haven't eaten breakfast and lunch, but a friend from Church promised to treat me for dinner, so I guess it's gas today."
11. "Losing all the material possessions was the worst part for me. On the one hand, it's just stuff. On the other, it's stuff that represents your memories, preferences, accomplishments, etc."
12. "It can happen to anyone. All that stuff you have, your job, your home, your partner, your pets, and your car is just one bad day away from going up in smoke. The average American doesn't have any savings, and if you lose your job it only takes a few missed rent payments before you're in trouble."
"There's SOOO much truth in that short sentence. It can happen almost overnight."