Survival Guide to Homelessness

No matter where you go, there you are.

Monday, December 06, 2004

A message to homeless teens

If you are a runaway in the United States, unless you have gone through a very difficult procedure to become emancipated, you don't have the right to work or make contracts. This puts you in the worst possible position, a position of artificial dependency, partnered with inexperience and physical awkwardness. You are in trouble.

It may seem that you have four choices: seeking charity, thievery, drug trafficking, or prostitution. Not one of these is an acceptable or sustainable lifestyle, but you may decide to try one or all of them. If you do, know this, it does not make you a beggar, a thief, a drug dealer, or a prostitute. You are who you are, the fiery, self-reliant individual who is aware that he/she has a right to be treated better than what was happening at home. You stood up for yourself, and now I want you to remember that you are worth standing up for. What you are driven to do by need is not who you are. You will prove that later in life. Believe it now.

I want you to think about your troubles one at a time. You must address the same needs an adult has, but you must do it with fewer social resources. You may not be able to get a car, so now think. Where will you find shelter? Consider abandoned buildings. Consider tent living at campsites or in national parks. Consider unused warehouses. Try to avoid people who will give you a place to live in exchange for sex. These relationships almost always end in violence. Getting a place for a night or two is one thing. Getting ensnared long term grows ugly quickly.

It is often possible to sleep on buses or subways. Bring a newspaper and hold it up in front of you while you doze off if transit police check for people sleeping.

How will you keep warm? Layers of clothing are very helpful. I recently heard an interesting suggestion from polar explorers. If the night is very cold, eat some butter or margarine. This keeps explorers warm in Antarctica, so it is worth considering. Blankets are good. Huddle up with other runaways, if you can find some to get friendly with. They are least likely to exploit you.

Know that you will be exploited, you will be stolen from, you will be victimized. Be at peace with that reality, and try to limit the damage. Try not to get hurt. Never seek revenge. This advice is not applicable to the jail or prison environment where an early show of violent strength may be critical to reducing danger in the future.

Do not use drugs. Please. Just don't do it. This is the time when you will become an addict, because life sucks, and drugs are such an easy and available escape. You must avoid this trap, or you will be paying for it for years to come.

You must survive till you're able to make some contracts, or get involved in the underground economy. You may be able to find work by making friends with Latino day laborers. They often know people who will employ you without documents. Try to obtain false documents that will establish your age at 18 or 19. If you succeed at this, buy a car at your first opportunity and follow the rest of my advice as if you were an adult. If you follow this path, you may take a great deal of pride in how you lived through being a runaway.

The most important thing I can teach is that this will change. Things will get better. Have fun every day. It will help you think. Do something silly. Each day you will find new solutions. Beware of people who want to take over responsibility for your life. What they offer is seldom worth what they want in return.

76 Comments:

At 8:24 PM, Blogger Marke said...

Wow, it's really powerful to hear you speak to people's destinies like that. You're speaking things into being. There's a lot of authority in that.

 
At 12:40 AM, Blogger paulmonster said...

I emphatically agree. I came quite close to a quasi-homeless status in my adolescence, and while circumstances led elsewhere, the prospect of it terrified and enthralled me. Reading this and other entries on your blog helps me understand the whys and wherefores of that ambivalence.
As a former employee of a municipal drunk tank, and as a current employee of the county library, I'm often on the other side of this perspective on homelessness, and in those capacities it has always been a challenge to remember and expound my personal commitment to compassionate public service, in environments not always supportive of that. A degree of ambivalence is essential there; but more importantly, an understanding of the inherent dignity of every human being, no matter on which side of the processing desk/plate glass, is indispensable. We all have to look ourselves in the mirror every day, just as we all have to live with our own memories.
I warmly support and second your empowering messages of dignity and responsibility. With great respect and thanks,
pjs

 
At 7:11 PM, Blogger Bill said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 7:11 PM, Blogger Bill said...

I thought it was really great how you actually gave real advice to homeless teens instead of just saying something along the lines of "I don't care, just don't do it." Nobody learns anything by being restricted from it, and I think the world would be alot better off if more people had that sort of frame of mind.

 
At 12:41 AM, Blogger bitchess of pimpland said...

hypothetically speaking, of course, lets say you are fifteen, look fourteen, definitely dont have a car, and cant sleep in a subway every day, where would you go? not the shelter... not the shelter please...

 
At 8:53 AM, Blogger the_blind_bat said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 8:53 AM, Blogger the_blind_bat said...

How can I find what the laws are concerning homeless teens?

 
At 5:28 PM, Blogger 25_years_later said...

Just as dangerous are "halfway houses" run by usually Christian organizations and their quasi-legal "foster homes." From 14 to 18 I was subjected to all manner of abuses you can think of for a (once) pretty, precocious girl.

The promise of a warm bed and regular meals is very tempting when you're 14 and you know there's no way you can go home. But beware of these places. They attract employees who have agendas, and right after raping your soul and body, it's destroying what modicum of self-confidence you had. All of course, all in the name of saving you. Saving you from your intelligence; saving you from your own body; saving you from the few things you had left to love.

I can only hope they are one day shown the same hospitality. But this--even this blatant, criminal abuse--can be better than what was at home. At least I walked away from this.

If you're a girl, think of any living relative you can and at least let them know what's going on. You may find yourself on the next plane there.

All of this is much, much more difficult for a girl to deal with. We're pretty and vounerable and oh so soft. But even with this perspective, I think you'd be better off trying your luck on the streets as this site suggests than in one of these places. I would have been.

They do ask too much, and I asked too little. I literally slept under the stairs, and should have left. So, guys, just stay the hell out of these places. The promise of a warm bed isn't worth it.

Trust me.

 
At 1:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reading this blog and the comments about the dangers of homeless teens got to me more than I realized, so for better or worse I guess I'm going to put my two cents in here. If you have a bicycle with at least a front mounted basket,(and a good lock),backpack,waterproof matches, a mylar emergency blanket(two is better, one for a ground cover, one to wrap in), or a tarp and some rope or parachute 550 cord,any type of energy bars, food bars,MRE's or accessories) you can seriously lessen your chances of being in such a vunerable position.
Almost forgot: sometype of handheld defense system-pepper spray,handheld Taser,etc.
Even without a bike,the other items can be purchased at surplus stores, sporting good stores or even Target, Wal-Mart stores.
I'm not homeless, however, I did 3 years in the US Army with an honorable discharge, I'm on the Internet and know where a lot of the good low cost surplus websites are. If I should ever become homeless,this is the way I would go. One more thing: If you don't have to run right away, then don't. Stay, save whatever money you can, get to a surplus store and start buying these survival items. I think you will be able to figure out for yourself what other survival items you will need.
My e mail address is carol.carol@iwon.com if you want or need any of the websites to check out(I only pick the cream of the crop)(smiles)

 
At 11:41 AM, Blogger Mobile Homemaker said...

That's some good advice carol. One caution about the pepper spray is that in some states it is classed the same way as tear gas and unlicensed possession is treated as a felony. Another issue I have with weapons of any kind is that they can be turned to use against the owner, and they tend to increase the likelihood that you will stand and fight, rather than prudently running. Every fight I ever won was a fight I didn't get into. All the other fights harmed me in some way, even when I came out on top.

 
At 4:27 AM, Anonymous red_skyline18@yahoo.com said...

thanks ...i actually am a teen runaway...but i was confiscated by the police...was getting tooo low on energy...i had to runaway bcause of the treatments ot home...i was actually doing good out there...its the thing of being lonely all the time out there it hurts...been alone all along...i wish there was someone to runawaywith ...it probably be more eisier to have someone to keep you going tooo...this may have to happen again for me..thanks...and very good advice...i have yet to find a site with information about homeless teens...my email is included if there is anyone who would like to talk of it...

 
At 1:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hello people.this is a verry good site.. it told me alot...im doing a speech in homeless teens and i needed some info...
i useto be homeless when i was 14 i have been on the streets for 6 months and it was tough..it was from march october. it was a good thing it wasnt winter.i feel really sorry for homeless perple now..now that i know how it is and feels... i actcully lived it i know what they bin through

 
At 4:33 PM, Anonymous James said...

I am glad to see a project going on for this cause. I was a runaway/house-hopper for 6 years, yes scince I was nine. I am glad that you warn people of the hazards and drawbacks yet at the same time how you teach how it can be easier witht the right procedures. I have personal advice for runaways however... And all homeless in general. You are never above a hand out, or a friend for that matter. I myself have met people who are ashamed of thier state, or assume that any kindness is an insult or taunt. I have found out that more often than not these offers are legit. Every now and then someone will preform a jerk of a move but belive me, help is more often than not a good thing.

 
At 1:33 PM, Anonymous samantha said...

Hey I am homeless but it is not that easy when you have a two year daughter that you have to worry about. My mom put me out in nov and I have been living with so many people that it is havind a side affect on my daughter and now I really don't have any where to go. what do you have to say about that!

 
At 4:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just had to come and tell you how wonderful I think you're blog is.
Mucho kudos, senior.

I was homeless for three months during this, my 17th, year.
I left out of a combination of choice and circumstance.
Luckily, it was springtime in eastern washington, so, seldom was the weather too hot to bear. Nothing a water fountain couldn't fix. (Dark complexion, no sunburns for me, hehehe.) Also luckily, I was only on my own on the streets for a week before I went to stay with my friend. But even then it was hard... I don't know if I have a word for how low, empty, and worthless I felt.
I've been depressed before, this was different.

Here's a thought, why not write a seperate article on ways to spend all that extra time. I picked up the AWESOME habit of reading. Many hours I spent at the library. After I tried the drug thing and almost got addicted to speed.

(Don't do drugs kiddos, espicially if you are in a situation like this, you will only be brought down lower.)

But anyways!

Paix ami

 
At 6:10 AM, Anonymous unpredictable said...

i got tears in my eyes when i read the post. both my brother and i ran away. me in a search for happiness and chasing dreams, him to escape his pain. we both took drugs (which i don`t recommend coz being a runaway you`re already very vulnerable and probably feeling lost and drugs make this worse) but he was into amfetamines and soon into heroine and i was into acid and xtc. now, 13 years down the line, he`s still fighting his addiction. rehab in, rehab out. happy for a while, then relapsing again,...
i`ve been lucky, i guess. nothing too bad happened to me. always seemed to have had someone looking after me, giving me a place to stay without contributing to the damage. i managed to work my way out of it and to be honest, the worst part was working my way out of my own head which was full of confusion, sadness and pain. but it worked... and each time i felt myself slipping back into the dark, the amount of time i dwelled there became shorter and the happy or content moments longer...
i`m 29 years old now and in my final year of a course in social work. i want to work as a detached outreach worker and be on the side of the kids and help them making their dreams come true...

 
At 5:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

it seams like when teeens g o missing there around the age of 18 or 19 and some times its the parents falts because they kick there teens out when there pregnat or if there even gay....

 
At 8:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's sad is people want to go into the "helping people" industry only to find out they are not allowed to "help". They have to follow the industry standards that keep people homeless and in despair.

 
At 4:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only th I don't like about this is: you really need to encourage these kids to find people who are willing to help them out of this instead of just helping them through this. In today's world you need an education. These kids need to find a way to finish school and get a job and have a productive life. there is soo much more to life than just surviving, there is LIVING! Now, I'm not talking about materialistic things, but you need money to buy food and shelter, to be self sustaining. I wish these kids all the luck to find there place in theis world.

 
At 9:06 PM, Anonymous harmony said...

you obviously have never experienced homelessness for yourself otherwise i think you would be a little less judgemental about homeless teens. i've lived most of my life in and out of shelters and was kicked out of my house at 16. i think that you believe people are a lot more hospitable and caring than they really are. you could have all the friends in the world...but do you think one person will take you in as a teen when you've got no where to go? if you try that...the police are always after you...and then what? go into some foster homes? yeah...right. you don't think kids on the streets are getting an education? anything but...they are learning everything they need to in the reality that they live in. for some people it is about survival...always about survival. sorry that some of us don't get to sit up on our fancy high horses...but you gotta do what you gotta do. he was giving homeless teens the information they need to know. raw...cold...facts of life. the little things he mentioned can help save a runaways life... you're right...they should find a way to have an education. are you going to pay for their schooling? pay for supplies...give them a safe place to do their homework? they don't need someone telling them what they need...they know what they need. if they had the means...don't you think they'd rather be in school learning about history...rather than digging through the garbage just to survive? what they need is people out there trying to change laws...who are willing to take them in...people who create organizations that will help them...no hurt them.

i believe that we all have a place in this world. who says that the homeless don't have a place in this world? who say that they don't have a purpose...or can't LIVE? we are all here for a reason...it's not up for you or i to decide...

i'm a 20yr old who was homeless at 16 and has been surviving since birth. my mother worked three jobs around the clock just to feed us and we were still homeless most of the time. she was the best mother she could be...she did the best she could with what she had. in the end...that all that any of us can do. do the best we can with what we've been given. if you've been given nothing...you've got to change your perspective of of what something is.

right now...i'm still living paycheck to paycheck. in college...trying to get through school. if it's one thing that i've found...its that having nothing...gives you a lot more motivation to find or create something. thats what i'm trying to do...create a better life. i'm studying to be an activist in nonprofit organizations...and i'm a full time volunteer for care corps. they help feed the hungry...and shelter the homeless. it may not be alot...but it is my contribution.

if history has taught us anything...it's that the leaders and revolutionaries in this world have overcome poverty and the worst forms of oppression and have arisen and changed the world.

 
At 5:43 PM, Blogger darkanimelight said...

I've been on the streets a couple times. It wasn't too bad except it was cold because it was winter. Stepfather always was a more-than-total jerk. I have a couple friends now that are still on the streets. Got kicked out for being gay and another for just being a teen. It's tough out there. And scarey. If you ever have spare change and you see someone who's homeless, no matter how little the amount GIVE IT TO THAM. You have no idea how much of a world of difference even just 5 cents could make. Hey, even an extra coat. Anything helps.

 
At 10:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i just want to tell you how powerful the messages are on this board. I was a homeless teen - who managed to get through it without drug addiction, prostitution or compromising relationships. It was a struggle but it built charachter and it IS possible. I own a home now, have a wonderful child and a great job. While I have chosen a more "main stream" life - I used the tools you outlined here to survive and thrive in tough circumstances. The most important tool was hope, perserverance and a belief that i was not summed up by living situation and that i would triumph in the end. I only wish i had your site then to inspire me. You should be applauded for providing this information and hope.

 
At 7:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I work at a non-profit organization for St Louis youth. Specifically, I work for their Emergency Shelter which houses runaways, homeless teens, adolescents in state custody, and youth facing a family crisis. The young adults I work with continue to amaze me and teach me important life lessons of resiliency and courage. Our youth are strong, insightful, and persistent. There are resources available for youth and I encourage those in need to take advantage of them. I'm disappointed in the programs that do not serve our youth properly and who do not recognize their full potential but please know this - there are agencies out there who are completely dedicated to assisting our young adults. I have seen so many adolescents discover their talents, abilities, and will to survive. I have seen so many success stories. The youth we serve deserve all the credit for their accomplishments and I thank them for allowing us to play a very small part - if not at least allowing us to witness their transformation. If you or someone you know are in need please call National Runaway Hotline 1-800-999-9999. They will be able to give nationwide resources. Please do not give up on yourself - you are worth more than you know.

 
At 4:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First off, thank you. I've learned a ton within the past fifteen minutes!
Secondly, I'm wondering what advice you have on being a homeless teenager and wanting to stay that way- not wanting to get picked up by the police. Any tips would be great!

 
At 6:42 PM, Blogger Mobile Homemaker said...

I'm confused by your question, Anonymous. This post A message to homeless teens is my advice to homeless teenagers. It's the sum of it.

 
At 8:12 AM, Anonymous Anna Campbell said...

We need your information about homeless teens, organizations, shelters, etc at our Volunteer US organization website. This is free for groups helping children in America.
http://www.volunteerus.org

 
At 10:24 PM, Blogger willonpill said...

I am getting the message that you are encouraging teens to become homeless, and I hope that I am mistaken in that regard.

An education should be a teens first order of business. An education is the key to getting what you want in life, not necessarily anything more than a GED, but some type of education is a necessity in today's world if you want to be successful.

Perhaps I am mistaken, and I hope so.

 
At 1:54 PM, Anonymous Rachel said...

Hey, i'm 14, and I ran away last June. I've actually been doing well. I planned ahead, so I have everything I need to live without a home. I mostly camp out, doing odd jobs for spare change when I pass a town. Some days are great - some are just plain hard. There's a lot of really nice people in this country, and I'm so glad to have met them. Im not stupid though, I know that there's a lot of bad people too, but I do my best to stay away from them. I can fend for myself, and it makes me proud. :) Thanks for all the tips.

 
At 11:47 AM, Anonymous Ehhh... said...

This has been the most helpful thing I've read so far. I'm serious.


I've been longing to leave for a while now. The two houses that I live in (My parents are divorced) are both psychologically and emotionally scarring in their own different ways. Sort of like a double whammy. I've spiraled down a path of supreme unhappiness and a need for something better, and this is the only thing I see fit because I've done everything in my power and my power is weak. I can't handle it. I have my escape all planned out; what I'm going to bring, how I'm going to survive, what about my appearance I'm going to modify so I cannot be easily identified, etc. There's a place I know, a square, and it's a haven for the homeless. I see them all around wherever I go. There are places to stay during the day--bookstores and cafes--and I'm certain that there are places to sleep. Of course, I'm planning on leaving when it's warmer out. But all I want to do is work on my novel in peace, because that's what my future holds for me. I'm bringing my laptop. I know there's a relatively big chance of it getting stolen, along with everything, but I have a solution for that. All I'm worried about is it being able to get published. Well, Social Security in general. Do I need my number to get by? Should I get a fake ID (I'm 14)? I'm going to have an alias until I'm 18, but what then? If you ever check your blog, please help me :(

 
At 8:49 AM, Blogger Mobile Homemaker said...

I'm afraid that I have no experience with making false identities, but I imagine it has gotten harder since 2001. If you can, get your real birth certificate and social security card, and get a state issued i.d. You may find you need it if you want to apply for public assistance.

 
At 1:01 PM, Anonymous formerly homeless in a2 said...

There's a place here in Ann Arbor, MI called Ozone House that's for teen runaways (HIGHLY recommended), and there's also the national "9 line" (sorry, don't remember the prefix-if it's 800, 866 or 888, but it's 999-9999 after that...)you can dial that anywhere in the U.S.

 
At 1:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When you wrote this: "You are who you are, the fiery, self-reliant individual who is aware that he/she has a right to be treated better than what was happening at home. You stood up for yourself" You assumed all who have runaway are not being treated well.

People, please remember some runaways are or were already mentally ill and/or using drugs and alcohol that caused them to spiral downhill - some refuse treatment and medication no matter what the parents did.

Not all runaways are from "bad" families.

 
At 9:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey, i came accross this because im writing a speech about how "the system" seems to lose track of kids and they end up in horrible situations. my cousin did.

i use to work in a library so i know all of this for sure. if you are looking for a place to stay warm during the day and a little busy, public libraries are great- just dont start any trouble and no one will bother you. you can sit and read and occasionaly eat. they have bathrooms you can use to clean up and sometimes you can use the computer without a library card from that town. just dont try staying there overnight- the police will get involved.

 
At 7:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hello its shan-wich again.... i love how you gave homeless teens some real advice. your blog really makes me think..and gives me hope. since i am living in a tent 4 miles outside of glenwood springs colorado, i have problems with bears and wolfs. i have found that i have to have a sharp knife on me at all times, i also found it helpful to keep a journal..to remember the good times. and smile about them during the bad times...<3

 
At 11:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am 17 i have been homeless many times and will be in one week. many people i love the most are also homeless right now and i dont think anyone could have ever givin me better advice and i am about to print this out and pass it on to loved ones thats good advice

 
At 10:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is really empowering stuff right here. Amazing job with this whole blog.

 
At 12:25 AM, Anonymous rivers said...

hi. i wanted to thank you for all the support you have given me without even knowing. im 15 and on the street. im happy with my life,but theres hard days. when i have those days i take comfort in going to the libraby and using the computer to read this blog. just so i feal less alone. i feal like after being told all day everyday im nothing yi feal so seprate from society. when i read this it lets me know thats wrong. thanks for what you have done for me.

 
At 7:09 PM, Blogger Maddie said...

Wow... I'm not homeless, but I AM 16 and this really spoke volumes to me. It was inspiring and comforting in a lot of ways. Thank you for creating such a great site.

 
At 4:38 PM, Anonymous emaleigh (pronounced emily)) said...

this is a really great site, im only 13, and ive had some thoughts of running away, but i know that im not nearly as strong as all those that HAVE run away, i want to run away, but i feel i would miss my friends to much, i feel so much respect for those who have run away and im really happy for you that are doing well because i know that you deserve as good a life as all the rich kids out there, probably more then them even. <3

 
At 5:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a librarian too and ran across your blog while preparing for a display on emergency preparedness. Thanks for your realistic advice to teens. You write very well and should consider publishing a book based on your blog? Homelessness is something I only experienced for a week or so living in a car in NY when I was in my early 20's. I had lots of contacts and places to go so it wasn't the real deal. It's good to get a reminder of the hard realities as I see and speak to people who are homeless frequently. It's easy to get callous.

 
At 6:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. You know it really makes you think... Coming from a sheltered suburban youth, it makes me wonder about what it would be like to runaway and be alone. Difficult as it would be, I can't even grasp what it would be like to have no support system, family, money, or the will power to go on living every day. I hope that somewhere in the world that runaway teens have something to eat and somewhere to sleep tonight but I know that wouldn't be true.
In school we read the book Sketches by Eric Walters and it has a great story of 3 runaway teens who try to find there way. I now have to write an essay on it and it's deep. This is a tough topic. You never choose to live on the streets. And if you do choose there is some bigger picture everyone else is missing out on, whether it be horrible parents or some issues, there's most likely a problem that follows it. I'm sorry for everyone who ever has to go through hard times and can't just be a kid. I wish you could have what I have. Or what others take for granted.

 
At 5:50 PM, Anonymous Ohanna :) said...

i hate reading im 16 lol but you are trully amazing i actually read the whole thing and it was really powerfull ..wow! if you ever write a book i would deffenitly buy it..who wrote this blog anyway?

 
At 1:07 PM, Blogger Mobile Homemaker said...

A survivor.

 
At 10:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for posting this. I'm currently taking courses in Social Work, and this gave me more sensitivity and insight into the issue.

 
At 10:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I am not homeless but I've thought about running away a couple times. Sometimes I feel as though no one understands me. I may not be speaking in the same view point as everyone else but I feel as though I learned something. High school is hard; drugs, sex, money, peer pressure and all the other things that add on to the stress of trying to get a good education. I met a man once who was homeless and he use to be in the same spot everyday. I met him when I was real young. At first my mom that I ran away from her but she saw me sitting there just watching him. Granted I was 6 years old so the whole don't stare rule didn't mean anything to me. But he was always really nice to me. He told me stories of his life and he told me something very important that I'll never forget. There is no such thing is I can't do something. It's either you don't want to or you don't know how. And I've gone by that my whole life. I guess what I'm trying to say is don't let people tell u can't do something. I know I'm probably off topic but it felt really nice to share my story. And this year my mom invited my friend to thanksgiving this year. He said it's the first thanksgiving dinner he's eaten in 6 years. I was do sad. But sadly my friend was "hurt" by some people who think it's fun to hurt and "hurt" homeless people. The "hurt" means kill but I am not going to judge because it is not my place to. But thank you to all there who do help the homeless. And this is a very well written blog. I think I'm going to stay home for now though.

 
At 3:26 PM, Blogger Freedom said...

You gave good advise and I am glad I found your site. So many of the responses just helped me re-energize my focus for a project I have been working on for years. I have been trying to get grants from foundations to start a rescue ranch for runaways, with no help in site. I am starting a fundraiser later this month when the t-shirts are done to help raise the funds to get started. I can't help now, but hopefully I can very soon. Just FYI I am a single mother who was raised in a abusive household and later married an abuser. When I left him, me and my children were homeless for awhile. At that time I ran into alot of kids homeless, which has led me to start the ranch. If anyone wants or needs to contact me abrinaus@yahoo.com

 
At 4:30 PM, Anonymous Blaire! said...

Thanks SO much! My mother is smothering me and I have tried to hold off on this last option. Suicide isn't for me, it would just show weakness and give my persecuters what they're looking for. I think that the way my mother sees like is unneccessary and irrational and so are her standards! I really didn't think I'd get a single hit when I typed survival guide for the homeless teen in google! Thanks so much for the input! If I get back to a computer on my travels, I 'll tell you how your advice worked out! ^-^

 
At 9:31 AM, Blogger Mobile Homemaker said...

Anonycat left two comments here that I am not publishing making a defense for thievery. Because theft leads inevitably to incarceration, I have elected not to publish them. This is the most sensitive part of the blog, likely to be read by the most vulnerable people. If people want to see these posts, please email me at Homelessness @ gmail . com

 
At 2:39 PM, Blogger peachsunsets said...

I ran away from home when I was 16. Some kids let me sleep under a trailer in the winter. I got sick and they dumped me in front of thee police station. I had to stay at a detention center and you lose your innocence pretty quick. The judge asked me if i wanted to go home and I said, "yes". I slept for weeks on my parents floor. If you have a home.....stay put!!! It isn't forever.

 
At 7:52 PM, Blogger Mobile Homemaker said...

It's a balancing act. I'm not comfortable telling kids to stay put. Sometimes it isn't the right call.

 
At 10:10 AM, Anonymous Where will I sleep tonight? said...

I'm at school right now, in class. And after school, I'll be visiting my girlfriend and her family. They're vegetarian...

After I see her (the girl, my girlfriend, HER, the WOMAN who I love) I will tell her that I'm going home, and not to worry about giving me a ride , etc...

My father is clinically bipolar, and my mother is an alcoholic, and they've both decided that I'M the one who's unmanageable.

Seventeen. I smoke cigarettes, they're bad for you, you know? But my parents can't keep me under control. No matter how many times they steal my cigarettes, I steal them back.

So they kicked me out. And after I make love to my girlfriend and cuddle and kiss her goodbye and tell her that I love her, I am going to sleep in the fucking canyon.

Unless a friend will take me in.

I'm not going to beg or plead, though... I'd rather sleep with bugs than to compromise friendships.


At least I got a nice vegetarian dinner...

 
At 10:47 PM, Blogger mokshus said...

Thank you. I am glad this resource is available. It makes me happy to see a good teacher showing those who need this information giving it out in such a positive and supportive way. My mamma told me the only thing she wanted me to accomplish in my life was to wake up and be perfectly ok with what I saw in the mirror. Thanks, to everybody

 
At 10:52 PM, Blogger mokshus said...

Thank you. Thank you for your advocacy not only for survival, but for the survival of mental and emotional well being. It makes me happy to find such encouragement.

 
At 5:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was semi-homeless one summer as a teen. (My dad and step-mom kicked me out to live with my mother, who lived 45 minutes away, but all my jobs were in my hometown.) I couch-surfed that summer -although that term hadn't been invented yet. I attributed my success at finding places to stay (pre-internet) by being a great house guest: be polite, clean up after yourself, help with chores or cooking, etc. Leave the place better than you found it.

God bless. . .

 
At 11:42 AM, Anonymous mark edwards said...

hi..we are interested in giving accomodation and work with horses to a homeless person but dont know where to start looking any advice would be appreciated..we are not the richest people in the world but would be prepared to give a home and live as part of the family..with the chance to learn all aspects of keeping and riding etc..please let me know if you have any ideas as to where to start looking for advice as we feel so lucky to live and work where we do and would love the chance to give someone else this opportunity too!!

 
At 9:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For Rivers and any of you feeling alone--never think you're alone, b/c you never know who is out there thinking about you, caring about what happens to you, and loving you. Even though I've never met you,I care. I buy as many new coats and shoes for you each year as I can. I hope you're getting them. Do you go to the shelters to get them? Could you tell me, girls, if you'd like something pretty tucked in the pocket of a coat--a lipstick, a journal and pens? Guys, I know you need survival gear, but is there anything that you'd find useful as well as a treat? I'm thinking a Chapstick is useful for guys, but not a treat like a lipstick would be for girls. Would you like journals? Let me try to lighten your load if only for a moment, okay? I'll keep reading and sending you reminders that you're not alone, you're not worthless, you're not any of the labels society places on you.

Stay Safe!!
Jean

 
At 8:48 PM, Anonymous Liz said...

A note for girls:
It's a boy's club out there, I know, but there are ways to overcome the threats you'll almost definitely be faced with. If you crop your hair short and aren't particularly *ahem* endowed to begin with, it's surprisingly easy to pass for a guy. Invest in some baggy clothes, avoid talking, and don't let anyone get close enough to see your face. A friend and I did this for over three months, and were only found out a handful of times.
Luckily, we were able to contact my aunt in New Orleans, who's always wanted daughters and took us in without question. Since then, my friend has made amends with her mother and gone home, and my aunt has enrolled me in an excellent school.
So ladies, if you have any possible means of getting out, utilize them! Almost ANY relative or friend is better than public areas or a shelter.
The best of luck,
Liz (aka Eli)

 
At 11:26 PM, Anonymous Knarf said...

dear mobile homemaker,
i find this webbsite truly amazing and especially this specific blog. you provided people a resource to clear up their frustrations. i'd appreciate this blog a lot more though if you acknoledged the teens running away for reasons other than abuse(although i feel you didnt include this because your trying not to encourage teenage homelessness). i am soon to be a runaway teen and if i live through the expierence, i hope to start a site similar to yours except directed to the people who think about being homeless the most whom are teenagers. i wish to converse with any other future runaways about ideas of survival or such, just email me at dizimoto@yahoo.com

btw i'm 15, male, and i didn't post my life story because i'm not that selfish. my only point in commenting here is to both compliment the writer and attempt to talk to people in my similar circumstance.

and to the people with the negative comments, go spam another site with your fascist ideoligies.

 
At 3:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

im 18 and leaving my home in june to go live off the land in minnasota traveling through the forests. my suggestion to anyone who wants to run away or leave home but doesnt have a place to go. go to the woods it would be alot safer than being on the streets not to mention you can forage for food if you need to .just go to a public library look for foraging books. the forest is also a good place to go if you dont want to be found. if you have no money to buy some basic supplies(magnisiam fire starter,knife,tarp,rope ect.a good way to stay warm if you dont have or cant aford a sleeping bag would be to get some garbage bags and stuff them with newspaper you can tape the bags together cut out the bottom of one end and with the newspapers stuffed in sleep in that .always put leaves or newspaper on the ground first if its cold the cold ground will absorb your body heat.I think it would be best for anyone planning on becoming homeless or who gets kicked out or cant stand living in your house or the people you are staying with .look at survival sites for in the wilderness . how to set traps for squirells or rabbits how to make a fire that gives off less smoke so as not to give away your position. edible wild plants. even if you are planning to stay on the streets it is good to have knowledge in these things incase you get threatened or chased by hasslers on the street and have no choice but to resort to the woods (especially if you a girl) .camping in a fairly large coverage of trees is (in my opinion speaking as a girl)alot safer than being on the streets at night where someone can easily find you.and the sex slave trade is growing larger every day more girls are being snatched off the street so be carful. i have cut my hair short and am planning on binding my chest and dressing like a guy (i would highly suggest the same for other girls ).wearing sunglasses and a cap.i have never tried drugs or booze and never will.i suggest you do the same .when living homeless you want to have a sharp clear mind so you can get out of trouble fast if needed.this fact is doubled when you are under age and dont want to have a run in with the cops .i hope this helped.lol it was quite long

 
At 10:44 PM, Blogger Mobile Homemaker said...

Living off the land is nowhere near as easy as you describe. Unless you already have the skills, surviving is tough. I like to watch a cable show called Survivorman. In it Les Stroud, a man trained in all sorts of survival skills, goes into all kinds of environments and tries to survive for a week. One thing I notice is that he frequently makes it only by the skin of his teeth, and he nearly always comes out looking much worse for wear.

That's a guy with a production crew ready to step in if he gets in trouble.

If you're going to try to live off squirrels and wild greens, that's okay, but stay close to civilization, so that you can rescue yourself if needed. Passing for a boy is definately a good choice if you can pull it off, but don't think it is a perfect protection from sexual exploitation. Boys get pimped too. I guess what I am saying is to be resilient. Your methods may work for you, but if they don't, then change them quick. If a strategy you learn here or elsewhere is not working, then the only expert on how you should try to survive is yourself.

 
At 10:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm 17 yrs old and I come from a good wealthy family. my parents push me every day and it's hard to just say no to them and I just want to leave everything behind.
pointers as to where to go because I have no other family and I kind in a small community and I don't think they have shelters?

 
At 1:08 AM, Blogger Outis said...

Dear anonymous 17 year old, I don't know if this reply is late or not. But, if you are a teenager from an acceptably wealthy family and you are not being physically/sexually abused or psychologically abused to an extreme degree, and your only reason for running away is ennui or because you are tired of academic pressure: I highly highly recommend not going through with actually running away. If you cannot muster up any affection at all for your parents, at least treat them as a resource from which you can derive a future of economic well being! If you have non abusive parents that are willing to pay for your education, then you were born with a treasure of incomparable worth. I cannot stress how valuable this is. Do not casually discard it.

 
At 3:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this blog. I was recently kicked out of my house and found that my friends were no where to be found and family would rather not get involved. So with no resources and only the few things I was able to retrieve, this blog has really given me hope and some great tips.

 
At 11:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks so much!!!!! Im thinkin of runnin away...im 13 and this helped a lil bit

 
At 12:44 AM, Blogger Mobile Homemaker said...

Dear 13 and thinkin of runnin...

I hope you don't run. I hope that's what you took, in part, from my message. It's important that you don't leave unless your situation is really dangerous, really intolerable. The dangers and pain that wait for runaways at your age are very real, and are likely to haunt you a very long time. Please think carefully about other alternatives before you choose to run away from home.

If you do run, I hope only good things for you. Know that there are good things in the world, and always seek them out.

 
At 6:24 AM, Anonymous Candy said...

I love your blog...

 
At 5:33 AM, Anonymous Surviver said...

Life has been really rough lately. I'm 17 and I stay with my father in Chicago, IL. Scratch that I stay with whomever because honestly I don't have a home, I wouldn't call this one. Ever since 2007 we haven't had heat which means every winter I'm freezing to death under my covers on the floor.We don't have food, the fridge is disgusting with mold everywhere. We also do not have hot water, I haven't taken a bath in a month.! My dad doesn't give me any money, and he's a drunk! He tried to hit me with a hammer a couple weeks ago I ran out of the house. I even stayed with my grandmother untill she started doing cocaine, she even accused me of stealing her drugs and kicked me out I had to beg for money so I could go back to my dad house. I want to go to college but he will not help me nor will my mom. I feel so lonely :( I can't even get a job, no one is hiring and I've been searching for months! Everything is going down the drain and I can't take this anymore I'm seriously leaving because theirs nothing here for me.

 
At 10:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi.. I suppose I'm just looking for help, if I could get anybody's advice, it would mean the world to me.
Firday night, the beginning of the weekend, my mother called me a slob, screamed at me because my room was messy, I failed my first semester, & I was with my cousin when she shoplifted, getting it put on my record also. I've had sex, she knows it, & I have the patch. I didn't put it on at first because there was a one day gap, & I didn't want to put it on thinking it was working. I'm not a sex freak, I'm 15 years old, I'm responsible. To her, I'm a failure, slob, bum at home, shoplifter, irresponsible 15 year old girl who doesn't know what I'm doing in life.
Last night, she came into my room, and demanded that I give her my cell phone, which my father pays for. I told her no, and she attacked me. Pushed, hit, threw me on my bed. I kicked her off me in self defense, supposedly leaving a mark. She got off me, said I was "fucking insane", & that she was calling the cops to take me to Juvi for abusing her. My bedroom is in the basement, with two windows. While she was upstaires, I decided in a matter of seconds I didn't want to go, I didn't want to put up with yearly fights I've had with her. So I jumped out my winow. I don't think I should go to school, because cops are out looking for me..I don't have anything but a hoodie, pajamas, slippers, my cell phone, and a charger. I live in MI, & the tempature outside..is slightly freezing.

 
At 4:35 PM, Blogger Mobile Homemaker said...

My advice to you is terrible. You are in a terrible spot. Go to social services and tell them the story you told us. Or turn to your father. Homelessness is not a viable alternative for a 15 year old.

 
At 7:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guys if they want to runaway its there life not yours, it gives us a chance to live ya know? make our own mistakes instead of others controlling us. I really apreciate your advice I really do but I dont think people should criticize teens for wanting to. This is exactly what makes us want to run away. I have a pretty good life its just I'm so alone here when i was 13 me and my sister attempted to runaway but my stepdad caught us cause the dummy left the note on the floor I was being neglected then and she was going through a custody battle. Now I am almost 16 I still have thought about running away but I wouldnt be alone. I have my love my sister and her love we all get along and were all here for eachother and wer in this together.. Its just gonna be a page in our lives were going to learn things with our own expieriances.. And any og yall adults wanna say anything about "education" or stuff like that, think way back then when no one was in school or anything. We all have an education. We know what were getting ourselves into and my only regret would be hurting my mom I love her to death but its time for me to learn myself what lifes about. Im sorry mum.. I'll see you again.

 
At 5:28 AM, Blogger AsianGypseh (the food lover) said...

You have a heartfelt blog here and I hope it helps a lot of young people.

It made me wonder, though...
Is there anyone out there who has run away accompanied by a dog?

I see homeless guys with dogs regularly. it seems a good protection even if you do have to worry about feeding the mutt too. Any thoughts on this? Should this be an option for young runaways to pair themselves off with an animal that can at least give warning or a bit of protection? Or at least adopt a stray dog since there's so many as well?

Has it been done and are there any challenges aside from finding food enough for oneself and the dog?

 
At 10:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

17 and homeless by choice. i have a decent job now but they want a proof of residency and a state id but the state id also requires a address. im scared to lie about a fake address or usaing a random one or a shelters address. NEED A GOOD COMMENT!

 
At 5:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have no idea how much this will help anyone, but I thought I'd say that if you're too young to get a job, you could look into street preforming. I haven't actually done this myself, but I've read if you're good you can make quite a bit of money. If you can get any instrument or sing, or some other idea you can think of.

 
At 7:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

to the person who wanted a social security number. Nowadays, even babies have s.s. numbers, so, just go apply for one. You will probably need to bring your birth certificcate

 
At 11:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Beware of people who want to take over responsibility for your life. What they offer is seldom worth what they want in return. "

This is the best advice I'd ever willingly give to someone. (I'm not a fan of advice, giving or taking.) I found this out the hard way over and over for about five years. I'm now looking out my window at the snow and thinking of all those times I *almost* ran away. All those times I had a place scouted out in the woods and a bag ready, and knew everything would work out if I just took the chance. I tend to take risks but this is one I've been skirting around the edges of since childhood.

Right now the only thing holding me back is responsibility. I'm 23 now and I came back to my parents so I could find a better job and get the heck out of Kentucky. It's been hell. I don't even want the truck that I came back here to take over, but I do need it and can put it to very good use in the following years. It was only taken away because it was stolen and ran to ruin by someone I was living with. My feelings are that I must pay back the gift of having it paid off and fixed and given back, with responsible living, getting an apartment and squandering all my hard work to sit mindlessly in front of a computer screen and make wishes. It wouldn't be appreciated, but it would supposedly make up for my "lack of appreciation." No one knows how it feels to lay in a real bed at night after years of laying on what felt like rocks, or laying in a bed with someone who hated me. No one knows how amazing it feels to be able to cook food or this new world that I can't help but hungrily take advantage of, but no one either believes that I will make up for how they've helped me, once I am able to.

I know part of this is being willing to make a plan and do it whether anyone else understands that plan or not. I know part of it is being able to accept that others may not accept what I do, think, or feel or am.

Part of this, though, is believing in myself when few others will. My brother is the only person who understands what it is like to run away and live that way. My brother is also the only person willing to help me, although he has his boundaries, he gets it.

I got my job because one day I stormed out of this house pissed as all get out, walked down the street, and reapplied somewhere I had already been interviewed for a different position. This happened after everyone said to stop focusing so much on the job, and to move my focus on where I'm going to live (in this city that is new to me, where I only know my brother and who I tag along with him to hang out with). I got pissed because there were too many expectations to pacify my parents rather than actually *serve my best interests*, and got a job.

I have to take care of myself, because no one else is interested in my life the way I am. I don't expect anyone to be, really, but for a moment I let myself trust my family. I told them my dreams and my dreams were tackled like a player holding the ball on a football field.

I went for a walk yesterday and remembered things. I saw the animals that lived outside every season of the year, and it hit me. I can do that too. I was meant to live here on this earth too, and do whatever I needed to do. I have a mind and passions in my heart the same as any other person, and it's my job to fulfill my own life.

 
At 2:26 PM, Anonymous Silvia said...

Hi, I am Silvia and I have been "homeless" most of my life. I was thrown out of my Steppy's house as soon as he could do it (I was 16) and my alcoholic/addict mother was too into her process to care.

If I can say one thing here, I'll say this - I thank the owner of this blog for making this space for people to talk about this issue.

I live in a very puritanical, prudish nation (the US) that sees "homelessness" as a sort of communicable disease and attaches multiple stigmata to it in order to make you never want to end up in this situation and punishes you if you do. But the fact of the matter is that "homelessness" is the natural state of humanity and people were homeless for centuries before anyone conceived of a permanent built shelter. Most of the reason for this has to do with property ownership issues that have plagued civilization since the get-go.

Being "homeless" is not so bad. In fact, it pays to think outside the box in order to get ahead when you are in a bad way. But let me leave you this advice my young friend, do not get caught up into the following traps:

1) Criminality. Being "homeless" is a crime in most places in the US. It has been this way since the 30's when the original vagrancy laws were passed. If there is something you can avoid, I'd say crimes of any sort are the #1 way to ruin your life. The puritanical nature of US justice makes it so that a record will follow you for ever unless you are rich enough to beg in court for clemency. My crimes were committed over 20 years ago and it is still hard for me to get a job even today! Do not commit any theft, robbery or muggings! If you are female, don't turn tricks! Be your own person, lie about your age if you have to and work under the table or get somewhere you can. Work, it feels good and good for your morale, the things you have will be your own.

2) Drugs/Alcohol. Please don't pick it up, it's a waste of time and money. A sober mind is the best survival tool you have, you need an unclouded mind and sharp wits, and good health to make it on the street. If you wonder what it's like, believe me - it's not too fun. If you need to feel better about things, buy yourself a nice pair of shoes and get a haircut, or go to a restaurant and order something off the menu that doesn't cost too much but you can enjoy. For females: If you can afford it, get a pedicure :).

3) Over reliance on others. If you have friends, don't abuse your relationships with them just because you are in a bad way. You can make it if you try! I did it and so can you :) . Look into the other postings on this blog, get educated in the knowledge to make your own way in this world by yourself and for yourself. You'll be happy you did.

If I can give you some advice it would be:

1) Get yourself a hobby. I sew, knit and play guitar. I enjoy all these things immensely and the things I make are useful. Being able to repair clothing is not only a useful skill, you can make money helping other people who don't know how. You can also make money performing with your instrument and if you are really good it will lead to better things for you. If you are musician, practice my dear, and practice and practice. You will make it if you try.

2) Get a trade or two. Trades are very good to have, they are a source of revenue and people who need something done will not protest too much about who does the task for them. I am an electrician and I do hvac. I also do my own mechanical work and fix my own van and my bikes. A trade is also portable so you can take it with you where ever you go.

I hope this helps you and I wish you the best, where ever and whoever you are.

 

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