Survival Guide to Homelessness

No matter where you go, there you are.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Current Status of the Blog

People often ask about the current status of this blog. In one word it's idle. I haven't found a publisher. I haven't converted it to a book. I haven't written a post in a very long time.

The blog, as it stands, seems to keep finding new readers and maintains a gratifying amount of response. I continue to moderate comments to keep away haters and spammers, but most of the comments are positive and get published. I occasionally get requests for personal advice, and I do my best to answer questions, but in the end, remember, there are no experts for how you should live your life. None but you.

If I had stayed single, I would probably still be homeless, but I decided to start a family at the beginning of the millenium, and accordingly I changed my lifestyle. It wasn't easy. I still miss the way things were in the way that nostalgia always pains you. You forget the hardships of youth, and remember only the freedoms. Mostly you forget how lonely you were.

I've done alright for myself. I've got a middle class, union job in a recession. I've got a wife and two sons with some special needs. I never bought a house, but like most Americans, I often can't see any options to the way I am living. I rent and I work. I go fishing. Last year I caught two white sea bass, one 25 lbs and the other a whopping 40 lbs, on the same trip. It was one of the great thrills of my life.

I do projects for a local museum. I'm planning to go gold panning on the central coast of California just to try to find color in the pan. I'm going to go hunting for jade near Big Sur. I'm teaching my older child a very fast method of multiplication called the Trachtenberg system. Google it if you like math. It's good stuff.

My younger child has autism but is so bright he'd make your head spin, and so charming he makes George Clooney seem like a dork. He taught himself to read at better than a second grade level when he was four, even though he could not speak in sentences and no one was teaching reading to him. He's a genius hidden inside a closed box. One day I hope to help him find his way out.

In the end, everything changes. Everything changes all the time. That is the great lesson of my life. It is the lesson I've been learning all my life. I've been a teen runaway, an artist, a student, a homeless adult, a criminal, a friend, a cult member, and an atheist. Well, I'm still an atheist. No benevelent living god would create a world so difficult, so painful, so competitive. Of course, that's beside the point. God or no god, life is, and we are responsible for making it as good as we can, even when the world is determined to be stacked against us.

We are not responsible for how hard the world is. If you feel like giving up, if you want to die, if you have lost everything, I hope you'll come here and read my post Controlling Desperation. That is my manifesto. In the end, if you wait, every problem that seems permanent will change, and you will find a way through. Never give up. No matter where you go, there you are, and that makes you wealthy.


At 4:28 PM, Blogger ha1ku said...

Thank you for these words. I needed to see them.

Don't give up on the publisher. Perhaps your writings are ahead of what the market wants to read. Personally, I fear the economy has yet to make its big turn, and maybe then you will find a larger audience.

At 4:40 AM, Anonymous Coolrobb said...

Times are tough and I'm living in my car now....ouch! Having a family that demands complete submission to their orders is obviously no help at this point, because it only brings me down further and erodes any desire I have to achieve something in life.

I wish my Dad was still alive, he would be there, he always was for me.

At 12:42 AM, Blogger Mobile Homemaker said...

@ Coolrobb: Read the blog. You don't need as much help as you think. You have a car, and that is a huge advantage. Now you just have to meet your other needs.

At 8:03 AM, Anonymous Brandon said...

Hey mobilehomemaker,
Don't give up, don't even think about it. Get into posting articles weekly, get the crowd going again. I personally show this blog to a lot of my friends, and we all love it.
Best of luck to you,

At 8:18 PM, Blogger Justin said...

I understand this may not be the most profitable option for you, but in case you haven't heard about this already: you can self-publish books with the Amazon Kindle store with up to 70% royalty. Most of us who visit this website will buy your book.

At 10:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey I see what you did there! You made a blog about being homeless, tried to sell it into a book, which would give you enough money to not be homeless! Traitor!

At 11:52 PM, Blogger Mobile Homemaker said...

Well, um, no, I have no allegiances, and I was already not homeless.

At 12:37 PM, Blogger DAVID said...

I can relate to your experiences. Perhaps not exactly but in very close generalities. You really don't know me enough to say " No way Man, some Creap!" in reality we are alot alike.

I feel you do need to accept the fact that you are not alone in your struggles. I thought the same, Now I know differently. Have you ever went hungry for over 4 days then someone gives you a piece of bread or a few dollars; That is what I am referring to. If you start looking for the blessing and thanking to provider you will receive more blessing. when you see the stars at night be thankful cause the did not just happen, they are their for a purpose to show his glory. When you hear that bird singing, Why??? Cause the bird is Thankful. You really do need to accept the fact you are not alone, stop the anger and accept the fact that each day is a new Day full of hope and blessing. Not always like we expect but full of Thankfulness. Why now just say "I don't understand why or what will happen but I trust you to care for me cause your eye is on the sparrow and you care for them so I know you will care for me. Thank you Lord Jesus".

in his grip

At 5:10 PM, Blogger Mobile Homemaker said...

Got two words for you, David. Guess what they are.

At 9:32 PM, Blogger GregoryB said...

Hey. You don't have to post this comment. I was trying to find a way to contact you. I really like your blog, and you have some talent with writing. I am currently writing a book and starting a publishing company. The book is called, "Homeless College Student" and you should know that I am not just some guy writing a book. I have a degree in journalism from the best journalism school in the country. I am working with the editor of the Statesman and an editor with the New Yorker. Anyways, I would like to publish your book. I could help you get everything organized etc. If you would like to know more about me, than you can see my many videos on youtube.

At 3:30 AM, Blogger Mobile Homemaker said...

@GregoryB Usually I'd nix a comment like yours as spam, but I visited and I really liked the video I watched. You've got talent.

At 3:57 PM, Anonymous michael said...

You have a story to tell that's why you keep attracting readers. I would make an e-book and sell it directly. You can even make your own audio book. If you have enough writer friends or trusted friends, they can give you a good read. Easily, you could break this story into different sections or releases. I am an art admin so if you need some planning help, drop by my website---its in revamp mode but it will be up soon.


At 5:51 AM, Blogger Gypsy said...

Thank you so much for sharing your unique insight regarding homelessness.

I am one of the so call "99ers" whose unemployment is now exhausted. With the number of similar cases pushing over 5 million now there is an incredible need and desire for the inspiration, hope and information you have provided here.

I have considered being homeless for many years just for the sake of enjoying life. I have often pondered the question: What would life be like if society as we know it were to end and people were returned to relying on nature? I believe I would not only be fine but I would thrive.

My chance to find out may be just around the corner.

I hope you can acquire a publisher.

Keep up the great work! You have truly inspired me.


At 8:26 AM, Blogger kevin said...


I stumbled on your blog a few years ago and just returned to it. I very much appreciate what you do and why you do it. I have long debated within myself about 'leaving it all' and just take to the road. It is hard though as I have been married 30 years and have children and grandchildren. My dreams don't necessarily intersect with those of my family and so it makes for a big choice. I currently am jobless after working for the same company for six and a half years so many things you have blogged about may be useful to us.

I hope you will continue to maintain your blog even if the book never materializes. From comments you have made, I believe that you realize that the blog is a lighthouse, and many ships use its guidance to stay off the rocks. Thank you.


At 3:35 PM, Blogger Naya said...

I jus came home and my mother said we needed to talk. i asked why. she said she read all my texts and she knows Ive been telling my friends about her hitting me and arguing. She then went on to say that she hates me and i do too and we have no relationship and she might end up hitting me badly one day.
She told me to ask someone to live with me. I told her, she is well aware we dont have any direct family in the States. She then proposed a shelter, I said Im not dropping out of school. She said I couldnt stay in a shelter because then she'd have to move out of the state. I said Im still not quitting school. and told her to come to school if she was so determined. At first she blabbed and said I'll be there in the morning. but now I think she realised the possibilities of her having to address the issue of her violent arguments toward me.
I dont know. Never in my life have I EVER thought Id have to be in this situation. Ive never felt the need to save money and i dont have a job neither dont I drive.
Please does somebody know, name of shelters. hotlines.. places I can stay but still attend school.
Please someone help.

At 3:38 PM, Blogger Naya said...

My mother just told me to find a place to live.
PLEASE someone help.
Numbers of hotlines, shelters.
Never in my life did I feel the need to save up, and I do not own a car or have a job.
I am 17.
And my mom is a very unreasonable person. (and I do not mean this in a bad way) its jus fact.
Please help. I dont wanna quit school..

At 9:31 AM, Blogger Gypsy said...

Take a deep breath. I will post the information you need but I need to know what city you are in.
You can call 211 from any phone and get info for agencies that will help and I will do some digging into local solutions for you if you want.


At 9:33 AM, Blogger Mobile Homemaker said...


Many areas in California have a phone service, 211. Similar to 411 this service provides information, but the info it provides is local services, generally governmental. If there is a 211 in your area they can put you in touch with hotlines and other services.

I do not advise running away except in extreme circumstances. You describe being hit. If you are being seriously physically abused, you can consider reporting your parent to Child Protective Services. This will land you in the system, and their outcomes are poor, but they should be able to help you finish high school. I don't really know how to advise you. I ran away when I was seventeen and back then (the 1980s) there were no shelters for 17 year old runaways. I was already out of high school so that wasn't an issue. Your biggest problem is getting the right to work and drive.

I suggest you call social services and feel them out anonymously on whether they can help you stay in school and get a car and a driver's license license if you don't already have those. Additionally ask what is required to get a work permit.

You are in a tough spot. Good luck to you. Try to stay calm and think things through carefully. I can assure you things will change. Don't think about your problems as if they are permanent, because they aren't. Trust me on that.

If you haven't read my Message to Homeless Teens, please look it over. That and Controlling Desperation contain my best advice to you. Write again and let us know how you are doing.

At 12:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. I'm totally impressed by the second post. Don't quit! Stick with this if you possibly can in the midst of your other responsibilities. Pursue the book deal or self publish. Here's why...
Your description of running away VIVIDLY brought to my memory the umpteen times I dejectedly sat staring out my bedroom window wishing with all my heart I could get away from an alcoholic parent. Unlike you, however, I knew there was only one way I might support myself & wasn't willing to do it. Realistically, I was a chubby, zit faced 13 year old who figured she would starve.
It's something I never think of now. But, fifty years later, you make it seem like yesterday.
You write very well & there are people out here who need to hear your story. Thanks for writing it.


At 12:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good for you in your determination to finish school. It's your ticket out! Is there a counselor or teacher you can discuss this with?
I was abused by an "unreasonable" mother as well. Any abuse is unreasonable & it doesn't have to be physical. Telling you to leave is abuse & may be illegal in your state i.e. abandonment.
You can contact a local abused womens' shelter or Crisis line. They will be able to advise you. you.
My thoughts will be with you...


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

Go to a public library or a fire station.. outside both of these places you should see a diamond shaped yellow sign with hands that says "Safe Place".. Go in, tell anyone that you need to talk to someone for a safe place and they will take it from there... Be strong.. I've been where you are.. Be smart.. Do this right.. at first you may say screw this, i'm out of here.. but don't do that.. let them help you get away from that toxic environment but still go to school and have food and shelter, you don't have to sleep in the streets or go hungry.. Most of all.. make sure you do every thing you can to get that diploma and go to college because knowledge is the *only* thing they cannot take from you. You are strong enough to take this

At 12:40 AM, Blogger Molly's Virtual World said...

During the past eighteen months of unemployment I have been terrified of impending homelessness. Since reading your entire blog, my terror has been replaced with thoughtfulness, and perhaps even a measure of curiosity regarding my predicament. Although I am still fearful, I realize that I have more control over my situation than I previously thought . . .

As a writer, your voice is a beacon to those who choose a graceful and dignified approach to homelessness. Your words are intricately woven, yet simple, and beautiful, and I do wonder where you received your education? Are you self-taught? Regardless; amazing.

Please keep writing, and congratulations on what you have accomplished on this blog.

At 2:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mobile Homemaker. I have a 2005 chevy cav coupe, and I am trying to figure out another way than a car cover to keep the sunlight out and people peeping in. Would I stick out if I put a black garbage bag on both windows? And what about the back window? Thanks!

At 3:35 PM, Blogger Mobile Homemaker said...

My guess is that garbage bags in the windows would stick out fairly badly. I recommend the car cover because it worked for me. Use what works for you.

At 9:30 AM, Anonymous Burke said...

Mobile Homemaker,

My family has been homeless for over a year, and I've lost all hope. I found your article Controlling Desperation to be very helpful, but I need some advice about homelessness as a family. I'm very concerned about what might happen to my kids.

You can visit the link in my name to respond. Thanks for your time.

At 8:48 PM, Blogger jibbguy said...

Excellent information. Thank you for posting it.

Living near the water, there is another option to cars... boats. A cheap old fiberglass boat (sail or power), of 22 to 26 feet, can be gotten very cheaply these days (i got my sailboat for $400). Even boats made in the 1970's are often still seaworthy (always make sure they are fiberglass, "wood" requires far too much maintenance).

I guess technically if you are living on a little boat, you are not truly "homeless" (but you are still "off the grid" and have no address). But ALL the other issues you write about are still true and need to be handled. You are definitely discriminated against when living on a small boat, and are treated exactly the same as homeless.

Some unique problems are: Very good anchors or concrete moorings are needed. Make sure the anchor lines do not chafe. A dinghy is needed to get back and forth to shore. An old canoe or kayak works well and they are cheapest. Stay away from inflatables (they don't last long and are thief magnets). The older and cruddier the dinghy, the better.

You can also be hassled by the various forms of police when living in boats. The main issue, is being able to prove that your on-board "porti-potty" gets properly emptied at a marina or by some other legally accepted means (receipts). You must also be able to prove that you have a working engine, or a viable set of sails and rigging. The good part of this is, once you can prove these things, they must leave you be, and generally do. Sometimes they require an anchor light to be on all night. For this, the best solution is a solar-powered garden / walkway light for about $20. Never buy something that has the "marine" title to it, it will cost at least twice as much.

The biggest expense and trouble is finding a place to go into shore with the dinghy, to get water and charge a battery (solar panels are very useful), and having a safe place to leave the dinghy while on shore. The cheapest way is to cut a deal with a local resident on the water for a monthly fee... and if they have a WiFi bridge transmitter set up, you can get internet access as well (it travels pretty far over water). Otherwise, you must pay a marina a fee.

The upshot to boat living is, you always have a bunk, it is fairly private and quiet, and it is often in a beautiful environment. But it is "camping"... fairly primitive camping at that.

A great item to have is a plastic water bladder that absorbs sunlight to heat the water for a shower. Called "solar shower", they are invaluable. Ways to capture rain water are also important.

The propane stoves you mentioned are best, the alcohol marine stoves are generally not very good and take forever to cook something. Cook stoves make a decent cabin heater in cold weather.

Always pick an anchorage that is protected from all sides; so no large waves can come in depending on the wind direction. I know many people living on small boats, some for decades. It is a unique lifestyle. Not "easy", but probably no harder than "car life" and once set up properly, it can be fairly reliable and un-stressful.. and you are "cheating the system" by paying no utilities or taxes.

Thanks again for the great blog articles, I have learned a lot!

Key West, FL

At 10:33 PM, Blogger Mobile Homemaker said...

Nice comment, Key West! How do you handle rough weather?

At 7:08 AM, Blogger jibbguy said...

Thanks. The issues with bad weather generally are about your mooring or anchors. Even well-set multiple Anchors can drag (and the lines can chafe through), and you may end up on a rocky shore or some other bad place. Usually, you will simply end up on a mud or sand bank and its no biggie. What the oldie "insiders" do, is take an old truck wheel rim, cut-down 50 gal drum, or some other steel thing, and pour "wet-drying" concrete inside it to create a permanent mooring (or use a engine block). But there is no "ownership" of moorings... someone can come along and take it if you happen to leave for a time. Likewise, you can find an abandoned one and use it. Some marinas rent moorings on a monthly basis (and include shore amenities like bathrooms, etc). But this is generally too expensive, not much cheaper than renting a dock.

Hurricanes are very bad of course, and the thing to do is evacuate before they arrive... there are shelters available for the general population to stay in.

I guess the thing is, if you do this as suggested, you will probably have no more than $1,000 invested total. So if a big storm does sink your boat, it is not too huge a tragedy. For instance, most of the costly stuff (laptop, solar panel), can be taken with you on shore. FEMA might even pay you for the loss.

Even in a good anchorage that is protected in all directions, you will get small waves from high winds. These are not really dangerous, just uncomfortable. For this reason, people who get sea-sick easily are not recommended for this lifestyle... even if the boat never leaves the harbor. Same is true for those who get claustrophobia.

We here in the Keys have nice weather year-round. But boat living up North is a bit different. Any body of water that freezes in the winter, cannot be lived on then.... although some do try, using "bubblers" to blow air around the boat under water, that keeps the ice from touching the hull (this only works in totally still areas with no current, and it takes a lot of electricity).

But i guess one of the most important factors of boat living, is "location". There was a Supreme Court decision a few years back that upheld the right of people to anchor where they like, as long as they are not a hazard to navigation. So rich folks can't have the local police "move you along" if they don't like looking at you. But they can do it in other ways, such as limiting access to shore. Some towns are boater friendly, some are not. Generally, where you see a lot of small boats anchored, is the better place.

At 12:18 PM, Blogger Mobile Homemaker said...

May I convert these comments to blog posts, jibbguy?

At 10:04 PM, Anonymous Elizabeth said...

Just found your blog, and I think it's fantastic. Can't wait to read through it all.
Have you thought about publishing it as an e-book?
Probably you've heard this already, but I couldn't get through ALL the comments to see.
Where it started and where it ended promises to be a great story. No doubt a number of websites would offer the e-book and you could have a little more of that freedom you miss. I'd buy it! In the meantime I'll read the whole story...

At 9:18 AM, Blogger Solis Sparrow said...

Being thrown out has become a reoccurring theme in my life. My father threw my mother and I out when I was only a couple days old. That would be the first of many...Then my mom shacked up with one of my dad's friends with 3 kids including me. Same shit only more violent and angry mixed with booze...The three of us were his whuppin boys; we are retards this and we need mental help that. I was probably the worst offenders of name calling and emotional torture :p We lost our family resources due to pitifully disputes and Ed made my mother cut all family ties.We were thrown out constantly like yesterday's garbage. Fast foward, got some spoiled half siblings and I graduated high school. I wanted to go to college but that would mean associating with "the other family" and pissing off ed. His bright ideas were that I'd find a FULL time job, join the army or gtfo.
I spent my summer job hunting, applying 2-3 jobs per day and after 6 weeks I finally got one. But it didn't meet his criteria. He wanted 40+ hours not I LEFT the house. I wasn't thrown out. I left. I spent a month staying with friends then I ended up with my uncle...that did not work out. So here I am with only a couple days left in a comfort in with my only option being living in the woods. I was angry; I thought people loved me...But now I'm a little at peace...I always wanted to live in the woods like a true transcedentalist. I'd be free...I wouldn't have to afraid of anyone's psychological bullshit...I'd be so in tune with nature...I'm in no rush for's the end if the world as we know it and I feel fine. I've been to a woman's shelter before...nicht guit. I don't want to drag my friends and family down anymore. So, Ill fly around chirping songs. Can't wait for spring.

At 8:14 PM, Anonymous Rachel said...

Can someone give me some advice? I am 18, a girl, and have very little money.

I'm about to be a homeless New Yorker. I am new to the city and have no friends or family in the area. Likewise I have no car. It's New York City, having a car is impractical and expensive, even if it doesn't run.

So since I haven't heard a single good thing about shelters, I am wondering if anyone can advise me on where to stay? My homelessness will probably be for at least a half a year if not longer.

So does anyone have suggestions short of a cardboard box or leaving the city?

At 12:16 AM, Blogger Mobile Homemaker said...

There are a variety of ways of homelessness. Mine involves having a car. Why are you glued to New York? It seems like a place that is pretty hostile to young homeless women. Is NY your home town, or is it your destination?

At 3:07 AM, Anonymous Rachel said...

New York is my new home. I've only been here for a about a week. I have to be out of the place I'm staying in two weeks.

I just got a job, but it pays very little and I don't have enough money for any kind of deposit for a lease. In a few months I should have enough to get me back on my feet, I'm just trying to figure out what to do until then.

In the short time I've been here despite it being a bit, hostile, I've come to love New York and would really like to stay.

At 5:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found your blog and information about being homeless priceless. I'm working on an assignment for my sociology class and found this site. Thank you for sharing your experiences so others can learn from them.

At 12:44 PM, Blogger liz said...

Thank you for your blog. You are truly inspirational and I wish you all the happiness in whatever life you lead.

I am part of a Seattle homeless outreach group that brings food, clothes, hygiene products and importantly a smile and a conversation to our clients. Some of the best people I know live under freeways and in RVs.

I wish people took the time to know people in all states of life; thank you for your voice.

At 12:49 PM, Blogger Matt1652 said...

hey man your truly inspiring thanks

At 12:57 PM, Blogger Matt1652 said...

i spent some time in the army a few tours i got a tatto on my side its says we were born, with hearts of gold as, we grow old our hearts turn cold.. i know the heart ach and pain that this world can display and thatks for ur story youve really inspired me..

At 9:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Mobile Homemaker, Just wanted to thank you for all the work you put into this blog over the years. I am not currently homeless, nor have I ever been, but I do live on a sailboat, and it's not like it's an expensive sailboat, but one I picked up for about $800. It's big enough to live on, and I really like the lifestyle, but even though the boat was cheap, there are always hidden expenses, especially with boats. Anyway, I recently lost my job and I may have to leave the boat and live on the streets for awhile. I can't even afford the boat anymore. Your website has given me a lot of ideas, and more than that, it has shown me that being homeless isn't the end of the world. I like the fact that you always tried to encourage the dignity in people, and showed that there is actually a bright side to being homeless. It's all in the way you look at it.

I'm not going to down-grade you for getting your life together as one of the other posters did. Nor am I going to call you a traitor or demand that you publish your book. People move on. You were homeless once and you learned a great deal from that experience. You were good enough to share that knowledge with the rest of us, and I salute you. Congratulations on your new life, and thanks again for your insight and your support to all of those are either homeless or curious about how to survive.

At 3:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Iv been readying your blog for the past few days. And everytime I read it, tears burn my eyelids. Im a26 year old female who will lose her housing on May 1. I have decided to just live homeless because getting an apartment or renting a room would just put me back in the situtation I am in now. I am attempting to pay off all my debt and finish college so one day I can afford to live life how I choose. Of course this is the hardest decision I have ever had to make. And everytime I think about it, i ask myself am I really ready for such a lifestyle. After reading your blog, I am comforted in knowing this one thing, I WILL BE OK. Your blog explore areas and avenues that I had not considered. And after reading your blog I realised that I am in a pretty decent situtaion. I have a car that runs. I have a job. I work the graveyard shift so I wont have to be on the streets at night. During the day, I could visit the Mall, Library, Movies and other areas of interest. My only problem is getting some sleep. But considering everything else, Im sure Ill be able to work that problem out. I want to thank you so much for sharing your knowledge. It has helped me ALOT!!! Mostly with my attitude. I have a more positive outlook on things. So here's to being homeless!!!

At 9:34 AM, Anonymous Aaron said...

Hey Mobile Homemaker,
As many have said in posts, I stumbled across this blog recently, while trying to prepare for the unexpected condition of homelessness that may happen to me soon. I've gone through your blog, and it's difficult to put into words how impressed I am. I can see why you think your efforts seem overly-appreciated. Stay humble about that, but you definitely deserve the praise. You have given so many people a strong sense of confidence. You provide a powerful surge of reassurance that can only come from being well informed and fully prepared. I saw your original posts are from 2004. And this is 2012. Imagine that! Your longevity is incredible! I also noticed in your "Current Status of the Blog" section that you seemed to doubt the end-game value of your enormous efforts. It seems you are asking what the end-result point was, because you've never really experienced a "tangle payoff" you could appreciate. But let me assure you, in no uncertain terms, you are indeed benefitting from all your efforts, and benefitting every minute. Even if you can't understand or embrace that fact, it's true. I've seen your views about not believing in any god, and that's perfectly fine. But I'm convinced that there are definitive, undeniable signs of cause and effect everywhere. I also see distinctive evidence of masterful design and intent as well. What does that mean? I honestly don't know. However, I do believe that religion is definitely NOT the answer, and I have personal theories, but that's not the point. Also, I certainly realize the perfectly RANDOM nature of all movement in life can cause any person to permanently disavow any creative causality. And that's perfectly fine too. But I can assure you of another thing with great confidence: Cause and effect relationships are in very much in play in our world, regardless of what anyone believes. If you sow seed, you will reap a harvest. Period. That's just logic and physics. So trust me, when it comes to handing out free and extremely valuable advice about being homeless, you're practically Johnny Appleseed. And you can trust that your efforts have already created an infinite "return benefit" loop, because your fine work is so greatly needed and appreciated, whether you can truly believe that or not. Your reward system is permanently in place now, and it will last forever, especially since that was not your original intention at all in the first place. So stop sowing here if you want, or keep going. I recommend you keep throwing that seed around everywhere. I promise you, it's a lucrative investment opportunity with long-term benefits!
Keep up the good work my friend!

At 1:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's good to know that there is a resource like this out there on the web for people to see and use some of the ideas.

I'm actually writing a book on my experiences being homeless.

From 2003 until 2011 my home was my beat up oldsmobile cutlass supreme. I roamed around quite a bit during that time, mostly as an itinerant student. I have taken about 200 credits in coursework during those 8 years at quite a few great schools.

I started out at the University of Miami for two years (full-time), then started moving north where I spent a year at Clemson, then a year at George Washington, then a year at U Penn, then two years at Harvard, and finally went south-west a bit to spend a year at Carnegie Mellon, where I met my fiancee.

I naturally did a lot of what you recommended during this time. I got a mailbox at the local UPS store wherever I was that year and in some cases I was given a campus mailbox even though I was only a part-time student. I have a nice collection of student IDs, haha, they're great for the discounts at many places.

I used the university wellness centers for hygiene most of the time and got a summer student YMCA membership during the non-academic year. I always had access to high speed wireless networks via the campus and I could often park in the student lots and sleep there with little or no security worries. While I was at UM, they had a policy where the psych stats class required a really cheap calculator ... for arithmetic but unable to do anything fancy, so loads of kids went out and bought $5-10 crap calculators for this purpose. I took donations from literally hundreds of students and salvaged all the little solar panels from them, wired it all up and made a transformer to charge batteries. I put this big array up in my back window of the cutlass during the day to charge my batteries that I used for all my electronics (including an electric blanket for winter warmth when I was up north). I also converted my engine (V8 diesel) to biodiesel and was able to get 95% of my car's fuel for free from local restaurants.

I spent loads of time sleeping in the car, and it was a great car to live in with a pretty big back seat for keeping lots of my junk and just throwing a blanket over it during the day. The trunk was big enough for me to keep most of my clothes.

I was employed during about 90% of the time I was homeless. I held down work study jobs each semester. Then during the summers I worked at a few summer boy scout camps where housing (a nice big tent with bed and bathroom/shower facilities) and dining hall food was provided. I also worked at a large scale pretzel manufacturing facility in PA the summer before and summer after studying/living at U Penn. I worked on the 2010 census too while I was at Harvard.

I'm finally settling down this August with my fiancee. We found a nice little efficiency to share in Pittsburgh (we met while she was finishing her masters at CMU)

My next challenge is actually trying to get a career going, which might be a little tough considering I don't have any degrees despite having earned a BS, MS, and an MBA (assuming I would have only been at 1 school rather than 6).

I did manage to network pretty well, so who knows, it might not be quite as bad. I'm thinking about taking actuarial exams since it seems like you can get a job in that field assuming you can pass enough exams ... they might forgive the fact that I have almost 200 credits but no physical diplomas. For what it's worth, my transcripts all piled up look pretty impressive.

Thanks again for even having this resource available for the current generation of technologically able (internet using) homeless population ... and for just shedding some light on the whole situation. I hope your blog helps diminish ignorance of people who think that homeless people are dangerous or that it's some sort of sin to not have a mortgage.

At 1:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your experiences and wisdom. I suspect and that at least within the next 6-8 months, unless there is a true act of God, that I will have to adopt a homeless lifestyle. I could not be more shocked as a 53-year-old woman, that this is how my life would turn out. I have always been self-sufficient, raised a family, and did all the normal things that people do.

I am the perfect example of how a single decision followed by an unrelated single injury can be the beginning of the end of what I knew life to be about. You mentioned somewhere about how many paychecks it would take to become homeless...most of us have resources...selling things, pawning things, credit, etc., to squeak us by for a period of time, but I'm here to say that if paychecks don't end up coming in for X amount of time, ANYONE can end up on the streets. And it happens a lot faster than you can imagine.

I think the biggest thing I am surprised about is the lack of empathy on the part of family and friends. I now know that I am in this world ALONE. I'm at the end of my ability to "hang on" as people tell you to do (hang on to what?). "Something will happen," (Yep...something's happening all right - I'm getting ready to live in a car). "The right job will come along again, you have so much experience!" ( doesn't ALWAYS come along again!)

Let me say that I have never asked for any help from anyone. Ever. But, my family all knows my current situation and does nothing nor do they offer anything, all the while with plenty of extra rooms in their homes. I was telling my brother the other day about finding out how people convert vans and trucks and live out of them, and that I was having to consider doing that. He didn't even respond. Neither did his wife. Really? Your own brother doesn't even respond? I was asking myself why. I think people are plain uncomfortable with the whole idea of someone truly being down on their luck, unable to pull themselves out. To accept that someone has REALLY exhausted all possibilities is to accept that THEY ALSO could end up that way someday.

Your friends are uncomfortable when you answer them honestly when they ask you, "How are you?" They don't really want to know. When you share one thing about the truth of your life, they don't even bother writing back. They can't handle that kind of truth. I wonder if anyone really does want to hear that kind of truth...that a friend or family member is REALLY in trouble. My "best friend" lives in a 1-Million dollar home with 9000 square feet, and even she has not offered to help. Every now and again she will throw in the comment, "If I could I would...." (Really? No you wouldn't. Just stop lying.)

I don't want anything from these people. But I want them to want to help others. I am literally shocked at how little people actually help others now that I'm the one who needs help. I'm really shocked. I see the world much differently now. I always did help others, give to the homeless, etc., so I do not feel this is Karma.

Because of these things, I have lost hope in humanity as well as hope for any semblance of the belief of how my life was going to turn out. I now am faced with incredible fear and realize that I can only count on ME. I have ONLY ever counted on me, but I always thought that everyone would be here for each other. Not so much.

So, you have actually been more helpful than my family and friends! I thank you for that! You have provided me with a wealth of information on how to proceed, how to survive, how to start, how to change my attitude (as hard as that will be), etc.

Please keep your valuable blog open so that others like me can be helped as well. In our current state of the economy...I dare say that homelessness will become a problem that soon people will not be able to sweep under the rug any longer.

Thank you again!

At 3:09 PM, Anonymous Mike said...

I had another idea for a topic : sex. I know lots of people would say that isn't a human need, but I would argue with each and every one of them. Prior to you getting married, did you have a girlfriend or such, and if so do you have any things that we should know? Hope everything is going well!

At 3:42 PM, Anonymous Jeeez said...

Mobile homemaker, i really sense your dedication to honesty. It seems to me that society is going through evolution. I hear a lot about helping people without hope,and having a stable lifestyle for the poor homeless children, and it strikes me that most of the thoughtless care, caustic shelter voluntears and ranting comments come from the assumption that nothing is normal about homeless living or any living different from "MINE" verses "THEM". Is it not true that most of the world lives what is considered homeless? I know a family who raised and educated 5 children while homeless, one of them autistic. All of her kids are successfull adults now, four of them with their own businesses, oh the autistic guy has his own I.T. business and is working on educating autistic kids. He he's also a hi end auto mechanic, an awsome carpenter and supports his mom. They stay on the road a lot, i guess he's some kind of consultant, nobody cares if the awsome guy acts wierd. Makes you think doesn't it? I hope you get more on this blog about homeless families, and if i see one more comment about the hopeless homeless children, i'll invite the guy to a family game night at the local tent city and see whose kids are hopeless.

At 7:07 AM, Blogger unswydd said...

Well, I've been reading this off and on for the past couple of years and I believe I'm about ready to begin my journey.
I'm a 57 year old female cleaning houses because I can't find a "real" job. I'm an ex-felon, (20 plus years ago) and still can't get hired. Looks like I'll be paying for my crime the rest of my life.
Anyway, I do have a car, albeit a small one but I'm a camper/backpacker and therefore have much of what I need to manage nicely.
I live in Central Illinois where it gets pretty cold in the winter and pretty hot and humid in the summer. I do have friends that leave for the winter and I think I'm going to camp out in the summer and see about staying in their house for the winter. I have a dog also so he will need attention especially in the colder months.
I'm so tired of fighting with bills, utilities and rent but I do have very little debt. Still owe one more year on my car and it's mine. So, I figure I can save quite a bit of money doing this for a couple of years, just scared to begin I guess. It's winter now so I think I'll take the time to prepare and begin once it warms up. My biggest issue is trying to keep it a secret and not generating pity. I'd hate that. Don't want to explain my reasons to family or friends. Accckkkk!
Thanks so much for the blog, it's really helped me make a final decision. Just hope I make it.
Good Luck to everyone trying to live this life!

At 4:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You really do need to turn this into a book. I would buy it just to have access to it when I don't have access to the internet which sometimes can be few and far between.

At 7:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a very thought provoking blog. Thanks for sharing your experiences. We live in an RV, but own the land its on. Raising kids, dog, steady job, etc. We chose the RV over an expensive house because we want few bills and we know bad things are coming. For those of you who depend on social services, any kind of monthly entitlement check, or on charity from others, I'd like to give a word of caution. I think times are coming when those of us living the American Dream will wake up to a shattered economy and collapsed civilization. We will no longer be able to provide checks or charity, because we won't even be able to provide for ourselves. In many ways, homeless people already have a leg up on the coming collapse. You're already more smart and adaptable than the average American. But go further. Learn wild food gathering, water sourcing and purification, first aid, etc. And stay safe. There will be a lot of desperate people, and maybe it will be best to get invisible.

At 2:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope you're doing well, Mobilehomemaker. I notice that you haven't updated your blog in awhile but I've always lived by a quote from the movie, "Crossroads" with that "Karate Kid," can't remember his name, but the quote goes, "There are no goodbyes on the road." The Cowboy Way. Even though you never got that book deal you inspired more people to think and comment than any homeless-help site I've found. You're a real daisy! Mathias

At 5:04 PM, Anonymous David said...

Hi, I don't know if you're still reading these comments but I just want to say thanks for your practical advice and wise words. As a newly homeless person, I learned a lot about how to conceptualize homelessness from you.

I just have two questions for you. What are your thoughts about sleeping in a storage unit? And what advice do you have regarding where and what to eat as a homeless person? I couldn't find anything in your blog covering this crucial part of homeless life.

At 9:38 AM, Anonymous Mary C. said...

I stand at the precipice of becoming homeless WITH a Service Dog. Leaving my home of 30 years will be hard enough. The thought of leaving my Service Animal behind is a heart-breaking idea. I will 'try' to keep her safe and sound with me (as she keeps ME safe, sound and sane) in a mid-sized 4 door sedan. I've read your entire blog and will take with me some wonderfully, viable tips. Wish us luck as we'll need it.

At 7:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for your blog. I, like so many others may be in this situation soon at the age of 52. I might be able to burden my relatives but would rather not. As a result of reading your blog my fear about how to go about it, and the fear was HUGE, has subsided. Your knowledge gave me some peace. The best to you and your family! Thank you again.

At 9:04 PM, Anonymous Geezer said...

This is such an excellent blog, I spent FAR more time reading this than I had expected. I had originally been looking for advice on homelessness survival (as now that I'm now retired ). You may be interested to know of three publications closely aligned to the op "Mobile Dwelling" , "Metronome" , and "Living Free". There are others , but your blog goes less into the nuts and bolts of things ,and more into the reality ( your views on charity are spot on )

So thank you

At 5:38 AM, Anonymous alessandro said...

Ehi..still there?? it is 2014 now.
I don't how I came across your blog, but I find it fascinating; only don't know if it is still active.
I am a homeless..or individual living in a car. Only....I live in Italy.
I'd like to know if you are still there, 'cause i've got a number of info about how different is the same experience here in Europe.
Lemme know if you read this.

At 8:45 PM, Anonymous Away We Go! said...

Dear Mobile Homemaker,

You sir, are a memoirist of the first order. I know that your idea of a book about homelessness has not panned out. I think it's because you were meant to write a comprehensive memoir.

The eloquence and insight that you bring to the subject of this blog would hold the same rapt attention for your readers were you to apply them to the rest of your experience - your childhood, return to "conventional" living, marriage and fatherhood, work, autism, society and politics, and all of it.

Seen through your lens, and unified by your lived experience, it would be amazing. If you wrote it, some editor wouldn't be able to put it down, and the rest, as they say, would be history.

I'm in the process of finding a used mini-van with the last of my cash, and will be moving into it in 10 days. It is a long story, as you can imagine, and it's not over yet. Terror has been present in the lead-up to this, among other things. However your words have been a godsend, and I, like so many of the rest of us, will continue to re-read them as I hide in plain sight and hope that the car keeps running until I catch my break.

I hope that I somehow thrive through this - wish me luck - and I hope that you write your book!

At 4:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was a teen runaway. That was 40 years ago. Strange, I had almost forgotten until I stumbled onto your website today. Your words have moved me. thanks


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