Monday, November 30, 2009

Cold tips

This time of the year is the most dangerous for our citizens without homes. Having survived two winters, (this being my 3rd) I thought it best to give some tips on survival.
A) Protect yourself from the wind and any precipitation. If you built your own shelter or are sleeping outside without a tarp or tent, find a place that blocks the north and southern winds. If you have a tarp/tent- face the sides pointing north and south with the main opening facing eastward and the backside facing west. This will give you the most protection against the wind.
B) Place your shelter on pallets or something else to keep it off the ground. A wet ground will not only ruin your belongings faster but also can be a detriment to keeping your shelter insulated.
C) Try to get some baby powder and multiple pairs of socks. Use the baby powder in your shoes to help keep your feet dry and extra socks to keep your feet warm. Don't wear your shoes when you go to sleep. Better to use layers of socks.
D) Have a large container or cup inside your shelter for bathroom use #1. Nothing worse than getting out of the covers when it's 20 degrees to use the bathroom and letting all the warmth escape from your bedding.
E) Candles can provide warmth in a small shelter and are available in many dumpsters for the taking. (Mostly behind dollar stores) Place these away from any materials which are combustible.
F) If you have a nice winter coat, use it to wrap your feet at night. Your extremities will get colder than most of your other body parts. Protect these parts first and foremost.
G)It takes a minimum of 4 blankets to ward off the cold during a 20 degree night plus your clothing.
H) Insulate your shelter with cardboard (Bottom and sides) and other materials easily found in trash and dumpsters.
I) If you get too cold and have a Post Office near you, go inside to warm up. Most Post Offices are opened 24hrs - 7 days a week so people can get to their mailboxes. Find other 24 hour facilities in your area.
J) Drinking alcohol does not provide warmth to the body but instead intoxication is the number 1 reason most homeless die during the winter time from hypothermia or accidents. Don't leave your shelter if your drinking!
K) Lastly, wear many layers of clothes. Even a t-shirt can help insulate your body against the cold.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

New Homeless not really new

Recently the media has been talking about the "New homeless". This geographical and economic group aren't new at all. It's just due to the economy, more former middle class citizens are finding the bottom as have many before them. The homeless encompass every type of individual from every type of defined class we have in America. The only thing in common that every homeless person has with another is the plight of suffering and the fight to survive. That's it.
So when we here the term "homeless" in any media report, the wise and the just know there isn't such a person who can fit into the box which has been created by those who live in fear or ignorance.
The irony is, even our dead have a home and are far more respected and given dignity than our living.
New media gotcha phrase...yes.


I'm thankful to have my Van to live in.
I'm thankful for my other homeless friends.
I'm thankful for the nice weather.
I'm thankful for two meals per day.
I'm thankful to live with dignity.
I'm thankful to suffer with grace.
I'm thankful for my Father.
I'm thankful for having hope for the future.
I'm thankful I survived another day.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Hope Defined

I walked into an store the other day to look at furniture prices. Not because I could afford anything today, but I knew with my disability on the way, I could have my own home, my own life, my own dignity within the next 60 days. It was a exhilarating feeling like something I really haven't felt in a long time.
I mentioned this only because one of my friends stated that he had been staying homeless in his truck for so long, it doesn't bother him any longer. He had completely accepted the situation and his statement really made me cringe. The reason is simple.
Hope is the greatest aphrodisiac there is for life. On the other side of the coin, hopelessness destroys every aspect life. Health, mental state, nutrition, relationships. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Hopelessness cost the economy, community and self respect. Needless human despair questions the very foundations of religion, governments and humanity.
I traveled that road of hopelessness for a long time.
The human spirit is not capable to suffer without a cause and have any kind of hope for the future. It just isn't possible to do. Every person I have spoken to, I've asked, "Would you rather be sitting on your own couch watching T.V. in your own home right now or rather be homeless?" I can assure you not a single person out of thousands have ever told me that they would rather be homeless and suffering needlessly. I can tell you that a overwhelming majority though have no hope of that happening in their lifetime. In fact, never in life did I ever think I would see people so filled with hopelessness that I would watch individuals wait for their death with the same anticipation as a child waiting for Christmas morning.
To know "hope" defined, one really needs to know hopelessness defined and I wish I had never found out.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Only if I knew

If I knew I was going to get 25% more income being disabled than what I was toiling for in the workplace, I would've had a pacemaker put in 10 years ago.
If I knew life would give me a bowl of cherries with over-sized pits, I would've taken better care of my teeth.
If I knew every vote really counted in Florida but not the other 49 states, I would be living homeless in the Key's right now.
If I knew government bailout monies are given only to corporate people who do a lousy job, I would've finished college to be an A.I.G. Executive.
If I knew homeless people in Dallas don't have the right to have a home (NIMBYism), I would've started a cardboard box business.
If I knew it would be illegal to show compassion by giving food to another human being who was homeless, I would've spent more time doing outreach in Dallas City Hall than out in the streets.
Only if I knew.

Friday, November 6, 2009


I tossed and turned last night. I had forgotten some of the negative impacts on ones health when living without a home. The cramps first started in my feet and than went up to my calf's. I could not find a comfortable position where the pain would go away.
The body loses much of the vitamins and particularly "potassium". Cramps become almost a nightly ritual.
I always thought that one of the best things a person can give to anyone on the streets would be a can of Ensure or some other vitamin fortified beverage. Certainly socks, shoes and other small needs are just as important for their health, but without proper nurishment, the suffering is compounded.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


I walked up the stairs with my world in hands. Others were falling into line, stopping at a desk where a man sat searching through peoples belongings. The metal detector was placed next to the desk for all "guest" to walk through before proceeding to the next line. At the next stage we were asked to show proof of I.D. and anything which was confiscated from our belongings, we were given a ticket to get those items when we were asked to leave at 6 AM the next day.
After getting assigned a bed or given a mat to sleep on, all "guest" were required to gather in a large room where we were given a quick lesson as to what the "Cardinal Rules" were.
Don't do this, don't do that, you can only do this at this time and that at this other time. You must do this and you must do that. Follow the "Cardinal Rules" or you will be asked to leave and forfeit your monies paid.
It is my own personal belief shelters are noble and compassionate. They show a humane side of humanity. We should always look out for our vulnerable stray animals.
As far as warehousing Americas' economic refugees, well I have a different opinion based on my experience. One misnomer is that some shelters are free. Free as defined in the dictionary means "without obligation." There isn't a human shelter in America which is free. All require a cost. In the beginning shelters functioned as a temporary place. Today sadly, some individuals have stayed in some of these places so long, they have litterally become institutionalized and could not live any other way. No longer shelters as much as human warehouses.
That is not to say some of those working or running these places are not compassionate or don't have a big heart. It's just saying that due to circumstances beyond their control, shelters have had to adjust and morph into something which today violates many basic human rights.
Freedom is Americas mantra. Freedom is the chourus which every American sings out proudly to the rest of the world. Freedom does not exsist in these human warehouses. No Constitution, no Bill of Rights, no All men are created equal.
While many will say that they don't stay in shelters because of the rules, I have found many are just reluctant to give up their American birthright.
People have asked me why I don't go and stay in a shelter until my benefits start. The answer is that I'm not willing to give up one drop of freedom based strictly on one fact. I don't have a home. Being homeless is not a crime!
I lost my housing, I lost my health and I lost my income. I even lost most of my hair and many of my teeth. But I did not lose my dignity, humanity and my desire to live free. The cost of a shelter is just to high for me.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Looking Forward

I've had some really good news lately. First, my S.S.D.I. has been approved and I only need to live on the streets for another 60 - 70 days till my first benefit check arrives. People have been contacting me and making some great offers until that time, but I'm certain I will be living outside of Dallas due to the cost of living.
Friends of mine from the past and organizations have contacted me and we hope something will come from meetings being held in the future that can directly benefit our homeless.
I still believe that not only should advocates have a voice concerning homelessness, but that we (the general public) should be able to hear from our citizens without homes, free from any outside influence or threat of retaliation.
I'm really looking forward to be able to advocate for our people without any strings attached. It's been 3 long years since I've been hog tied. I look forward to attending the City Council meetings and Commissioners meetings again. I look forward to working with other advocates and officially putting together a "Bill of Rights" for individuals without homes.
In the meantime, patience and survive. Much can happen in 60 -70 days.