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A Day In The Life of a Homeless Person

A Day In The Life of a Homeless Person

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Many of us have a daily routine that we are used to. We wake up, brush our teeth, and eat breakfast before catching the school bus or driving to work. Of course everyone’s day varies depending on what they do…their job, the school or university they attend. And in the evening most of us return to family or to our own home to settle in for the night. Not everyone though! Today we’ll be looking at how people in less fortunate circumstances spend their time. How they go about their day compared to you and.

What do homeless people do all day?

 Before we try to answer this question, let’s first look at problem of homelessness and how bad of an issue it really is. It’s not easy to get an accurate picture of the number of homeless people there are around the world. Firstly how homelessness is defined differs from country to country. And though there is some census data, many of those people living on the streets or in shelters may not even be officially registered. The last time a global survey was attempted was by the United Nations and that was back in 2005.That report estimated that 100 million people were homeless worldwide. The nonprofit Habitat for Humanity, which builds and improves places where families can call home, reported in 2015 that as many as 1.6 billion people around the world lacked adequate housing. Statistics in the United States are more up to date, and according to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Annual Homeless Assessment Report in 2017, there were around 554,000 homeless people in America, or 0.17% of the population. These are some large numbers.

So why do people end up as homeless?

People become homeless for many different reasons. The most obvious is simply when there is a lack of housing that low-income people can afford. Without housing options, they face eviction, instability and homelessness. But health and homelessness are also explicitly linked, with health problems often being a cause for a person’s homelessness. An acute physical or behavioral health crisis or any long-term disabling condition may lead to homelessness. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, people living in shelters are more than twice as likely to have a disability compared to the general population. And finally domestic violence can also lead to homelessness with many people leaving their homes to escape an abusive relationship.

So how does a homeless person is typically spend their day?

 When we think of a homeless person, most of us would think of someone sitting on a corner somewhere during the day, or maybe walking down the street without any particular destination in mind. It’s easy to make the assumption that being homeless means walking around all day waiting for luck to change or for money to fall from the sky and fix the predicament. But in reality, all homeless people are different. They have different lives, different ambitions, and different daily routines. Contrary to public perception, many homeless people look for work during the day, though as a homeless person there’s a lot going against you when trying to find a job. Many people who are homeless have criminal records, which greatly narrows down their options of where to find work. For others, it may have been years between jobs, which makes finding employment far trickier as employers see this as a weakness. And even if a homeless person lands an interview there’s the added challenge of being able to dress well enough for an interview. But where there’s a will there’s a way. Mash able ran an article in July this year about a college graduate, Casarez who told NBC Bay Area that he had moved to Silicon Valley last September with three years’ experience as a software developer, with the goal of launching a startup. However, Casarez had underestimated the cost of living and before he was able to find work, he soon found himself sleeping in a park. So he took to the streets and instead of asking for money, he asked people to take copies of his resume. “All I wanted was for one person to notice, take my resume and give me an opportunity,” he told NBC. Someone took a photo of Casarez canvas sing for a job and it was re-tweeted thousands of times, resulting in offers of jobs and help. But not all homeless people are as motivated as Casarez.

So what other activities fill their day?

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 Panhandling, which is the legal term for unlawful forms of public begging, is probably the most common activity that you’ll notice homeless people doing during the day. Many homeless people will go to their regular spot on a street corner or highway exit, at a certain time, in the same way people go to work. They don’t normally spend the whole day doing this, instead they will usually hang out there until the amount of people passing by is at its peak. According to the website Homelessadvice.com most homeless people who panhandle do so for an average of about 1 to 3 hours per day and spend the rest of the time at the library, watching movies or in their tents listening to music or drinking and doing drugs. On the subject of drinking and doing drugs it’s maybe not surprising that levels of substance abuse are high among homeless communities in the United States. Although obtaining recent accurate statistics is difficult, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimates that 38% of homeless people were dependent on alcohol and 26% abused other drugs. On our quest to understand the daily routine of the homeless, we also came across Brianna Karp, author of The Girl’s Guide to Homelessness. A self described typical Californian girl, who due to multiple factors found herself homeless and spent 2 and a half years that way, Karp published an article outlining some of the activities available to homeless people and these included; Libraries which are free so people can stay as long as they like reading and keeping the brain in check; Free concerts, and theatre performances; Local fairs, as most cities host regular farmers markets, swap meets, conventions, and street fairs; Free movie screenings at local theatres, where you will often find people standing outside handing out free pre-screening tickets; Museums which have very affordable admission rates and can be a nice way to spend a day; Art galleries openings which are often free and even include appetizers and hors d’oeuvres; And even Disneyland, which lets you in free on your birthday, as long as you have an I.D. card. Plenty more options than we had imagined!

 Finally to end on a homeless hero story, we found a 2018 article published by CBS Minnesota, about Shane Drossard, who lives on the streets of Minneapolis. Drossard was woken up at around 2 a.m. by the sound of a huge splash on the river he sleeps next to. He scurried to the riverbank, under the Washington Avenue Bridge, where he could hear a female voice. Drossard lowered himself over a steel and concrete wall and put his leg out to where a woman was struggling against the current. She grabbed hold of his leg but she was not strong enough as was swept away. So Drossard went in after the lady. The woman had attempted suicide by jumping from the bridge. “I’m going to go, I didn’t want to be here anymore anyway.” She was telling Drossard. He kept reassuring the woman so he could keep her spirits up, whilst a passer by called 911 for help. Both Drossard and the lady were pulled from the river, exhausted but alive. When asked from where he drew the courage to act, Drossard humbly explained, “I don’t know, I heard a voice and just wanted to, you know, to save, wanted to do something good for somebody.” From panhandling, to job search, to homeless heroes, the daily life of a homeless person can vary hugely, just like people in all walks of life.

Are there homeless people in your area?

And if so, what other activities have you seen them doing? Let us know in the comments. See u next time.

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