© Homelessness: Protecting Yourself

There are several different ways of being homeless: homeless on the street, living in a car, living out of a tent, couch surfing in other people’s homes, temporarily staying with family or friends, homeless shelters, and maybe more. But each person’s situation is unique to their own experiences. Whichever way it has gone, they all have something in common: the need for survival, safety and eventual self-sufficiency.

This article was written with the intentions of being helpful to someone out there, anyone, in some way, and I pray that it succeeds in doing so.  If you have found yourself in a similar position, I pray the Lord will soon give you a rescue and in the meantime provide you with provision and the strength to get through. Hold on because this is not the end of the road for you – there are greater things to come, in Jesus’ name.

Please also know that although this page covers numerous things you can do in the natural to sustain our bodies, what we really need more than ever is to be prepared in the spirit.  Please continue to pray in faith, rebuking any doubt, that God can and will open doors for you.  Having a Christian Bible on hand will prove to be the most powerful resource you can have because you will be armed with the Word of God and know how to fight against spiritual attack which can manifest itself in physical ways. God bless you.

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LIVING

The most important thing you can is find some sort of shelter.  Shelters are often the best route to take because of the numerous resources they offer.  Churches may also be able to provide you with lodging for a few days or weeks as well.  These are the greatest sources because they have connections to other resources that you might need.  Services may include food, clothing, job services, transportation, day care services, access to medical services, and even help with acquiring birth certificates and identification cards.

But we know that sometimes shelters are full to capacity and it can take a few days or weeks to get in.  And some churches might not have the appropriate accommodations for you. If that’s the case for your area try looking outside of your region, just don’t give up too soon.

In the meantime, don’t be afraid to ask family and friends for help – sometimes the person you think is least likely to open the door could be the one person who will open their home to you.

The other option is sleeping in your vehicle if you have one.  You can park in places like rest areas and even Walmart parking lots.  These places tend to be safer as they are lit up with lights, cameras and security.  If possible, it might even be worth it to look into camp sites as well.

However, if none of these options are possible and you have to rough it out on the streets for a while, then here are some things you can do. If possible and you have some cash, it would help you to look for a cheap gym membership. The gym will give you a place to shower, and to stay cool or warm while you search for resources and opportunities.  Some gyms have special offers for as low as $10 per month.

Libraries are a great resource as you can use their computers for free and look for resource agencies such as shelters, churches, employment and employment services, and free items.  Using this resource will better lead you into a direction of help and hope.  You can also use their washing facilities to clean up and refill water bottles.  This will also help to keep you out of the cold, hot or rainy weather.

The better suggestion is to sleep in an open area where you can be seen. This will leave you less susceptible to theft or attack.  Sleeping out in the open will help you to see those who are around you, and you will be more likely to be able to protect yourself if you can see someone coming before they arrive. Another suggestion is to try to stay close to public buildings.  This can play as an added protection to you in the event something should happen and you need a safe place to run to where you can get help.

Another option for some is there may be an abandoned building in the area where you can squat for a few nights. Be careful when entering buildings or abandoned homes as its possible that someone else may be squatting there and you do not want to overstep – you want to avoid violence at all costs. If you decide to squat, be careful that the structure is not weakened and could collapse – find yourself a spot near the exit or beneath support beams which will help protect you from a potential collapse.

ITEMS

Try to gather clothing.  There are some clothing drop off locations where many people leave clothing on the sides of the containers (perhaps the containers were filled to capacity.) This would be a good opportunity to look for any items that might keep you warm when temperatures drop in the evenings. Socks and hats can be especially important as cold enters through the feet and heat leaves through the head. Try choosing clothing items with plenty of pockets as this can act as storage for your belongings.

One of the most important things you can do is to keep yourself warm.  Seek out any service agencies that could provide you with clothing. If you find yourself without access to the internet during this time, you can still ask people in the area or even go to a library as a guest to do some research.  Some agencies may provide you with blankets or even sleeping bags. Blankets and sleeping bags are great commodities, and sleeping bags can even help you hide your belongings to prevent theft.

Gathering newspaper can be a huge help.  It can act as insulators to help keep you warm, it can also be used as bedding to sleep on, and finally it can also be used as fire starting materials to keep you warm. Don’t forget, the newspaper is also a form of entertainment to keep your mind off of things, but there are also posts for employment and resources as well. Staying in the news can help you find upcoming events and keep you updated on what’s going on in the world. Knowledge is power, as they say.

Keep any water bottles or containers.  Not only can you refill these bottles at library or park water fountains, but if you have trouble keeping warm you can start a fire and heat up some water. Those warm water bottles can be placed in your clothing (but NOT directly on the skin) to help keep your body warm.

Ration whatever food you can get your hands on. If you are able to purchase your own food be sure to purchase non-perishable, high protein items such as canned foods, dried meats such as beef jerky, granola bars, nuts or trail mix, etc.  and plenty of water. It doesn’t hurt to keep packets of instant coffee on hand as well. Just make sure that what you have is light weight and isn’t too bulky to stash or hide.

Keep your belongings close to you at all times. There might be others who are tempted to take from you because they are in need as well.  The last thing you want is to get robbed of the little resources you have, or to get pushed away from wherever you are by security or police.

SAFETY

Avoid confrontation and physical altercations.  You do not want to end up in the hospital without insurance or needing prescriptions that you cannot purchase. In addition, you certainly do not want to end up in jail – that will not help you when it comes to job hunting if you truly want to get off the street. Try avoiding anyone who seems intoxicated or psychotic. HOWEVER, if you must protect yourself, DO SO!

In regard to confrontation, you can help deter predators by keeping a hard demeanor and if you have to act like you’re crazy then just do it – most people will leave alone the one who acts insane – this means talking to yourself and flaring your arms wildly in the air and if need be scream. I know it sounds crazy itself but doing so has actually helped homeless people to survive, especially if you’re a woman where men outnumber women in the homeless population.  And keep yourself covered up to protect your body from predators.

Don’t tell others what you have.  You can leave yourself open to confrontation, theft or assault.  You have to keep in mind that others are in need as well and might want what you have. So its best not to tell anyone if you have cash or anything of value. This can help decrease your chances of being robbed and losing the little that you have. Keep your things well hidden as best as possible.

If possible, try to make a friend.  While it might be difficult to find someone out there that you can trust, if you do find someone, this could be a great benefit to you.  You can help protect one another through the night and share food or other needed items.  Be wise in your choice, make sure the person has demonstrated trustworthiness before you simply hand over your trust – you don’t want your things to just disappear over night or get caught up with someone that can hurt you.  Through research, I’ve read that veterans can be great street partners because they know how to protect themselves and will be willing to protect you as well almost as if you are a part of their military unit or their family.

Sometimes, having a companion such as a dog can be beneficial to you as well.  Not only will it help keep you from feeling lonely as you create a bond with your pet, but it can also help decrease anxiety and depression.  In addition, the dog can help protect you from thieves and provide you with extra warmth as you sleep. Just be careful of stray animals, making sure they are friendly and free from fleas.

MORE

Trying to keep yourself as clean as possible will help you when trying to acquire employment.  If possible, purchase some wet wipes and use public bathrooms where you can wash up at any time.  You can also buy soaps for about a dollar or so at any store.  You’ll feel much better about yourself if you can keep your appearance presentable versus the other way around, and you’ll be less likely to be deterred from areas where you are seeking refuge.  If this is difficult for you to do, do not let it take away your confidence, help is on the way, it’s only a matter of time.  Just try your best.

Remember, we all have skills and abilities that can help us significantly during times of trials.  Use all the skills you have to the best of your ability.  It might be the ability to speak or negotiate well.  You might have great writings skills that will help you to secure employment.  You might be strong and fast.  You may be a hard worker.  Everyone has something they’re good at that can help you while you’re homeless – find out what that is and use every gift and ability you have to get you off the streets as soon as possible.

The greatest thing you can do is to not lose hope. It’s easy to become angry or depressed at your situation, but things can and will get better – never stop pressing forward and continue praying in faith – remember Joseph, he was enslaved for 20 years but the Lord blessed him throughout that time, even while he was imprisoned God was still with him. He wanted to lose hope, but the Lord stayed close beside him and reminded him to keep the faith, and eventually he went free and was able to free others as well.

God bless you!

PRAYER:

Father God, let us not forget that even during the trials, You are here with us. Help us to know that even what the enemy intends for bad, You will use it for our good.  Help us to not grow weary.  Give us the strength to endure and wisdom to know what to do.  Bless us with the gift of discernment that we would know where safety is and keep us from harm.  We ask that You would lead and guide us in the way we should go.  Open doors of opportunity for us. Bless us with You favor and favor with man, that we would get the help we need.  Help us to learn from our circumstances and use these experiences to help others. We trust and believe in You that can and will rescue us from these circumstances and this will become a living testimony to Your goodness and power in our lives.  We plead the Psalm 91 hedge of protection upon and may Your loving kind heavenly angels surround us in a hedge of protection.  Help us to remember that You are our Deliverer, our Comforter, and our Provider, and that You will not leave us or forsake us even in the midst of the storm, and so I praise You in faith Lord. We thank You in advance for everything You do for us. In Jesus’ mighty and precious name we pray, Amen.

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