Thursday, November 1, 2012

How do you get help if you are homeless - Part 1

This is Part 1
More Parts to locating help
will be forthcoming
If you are seeking help at this moment,
go here (NCH) to get started;
or to WAV here on Twitter
or WAV here on Facebook
NCH will point you to help
WAV will point you to community

What would you do if you knew you were going to be homeless on a certain date?

What would you do if you didn't know you were going to be homeless, and suddenly found yourself so, turning from one minute to the next?

Is it possible? You bet.

Who would you contact? What arrangements would you try to make? What would you take with you? Who would you tell? Who would you not tell? What would you think of yourself?

Today on the internet, there is much more information available to those who are experiencing homelessness.

This is a huge difference from 2010.

At that point in time all I could find I blogged about.  You can read one of my pre-homeless blog posts here:


Go to Google. Type in “How to get help if you are homeless.” Search.
Too tired to type it in?  Here's a link to the search.

You'll get about 103,000,000 results in 0.28 seconds.

This was not the case in the nine months from 2009-2010 prior to the day I walked out my door into homelessness on August 5, 2010.

In fact, just finding a foodbank online was a huge issue.

Folks were told to call 211.

I can tell you in Los Angeles, that wasn't much help either, at that time. 211 told me for 9 months, “Well, you can try these places, but really lady, we can't help you until you are actually out on the street.”

Sound like something out of a nightmare?

It was. My own personal nightmare, and I intend to see to it that others do not have to go through the same bureaucractic dysfunctionalism I went through at the time.

Now go back to that search page.

Take a look at the dates on the front page results – here are the results from the search I ran 11/1/2012 at about 1:15pm PDT.

Notice anything? Dec. 15, 2011; Jun 22, 2012, Oct 22, 2012, Sep 25, 2012, May 7, 2012 – those are the dates shown on 5 of the first 8 listings for that search.

Today, people have more chance to find help online – or at least how to locate information to help themselves.

This is due to the many people experiencing homelessness and the advocates sweating blood and tears -- to help re-educate the public on who is homeless and why. Because of the advocates championing for those experiencing homelessness to have internet access, many homeless service providers and shelters have shifted to be aware of that necessity.

Internet access is an expected part of our social community in this day and age globally. Yet, as few as 2.25 years ago, for a homeless person to have the temerity to ask for access to internet and, heaven forbid a cell phone was a fight.

Here's an interview I gave, while homeless, in the later part of 2010/early 2011 to the founder of – the reason I'm including it here, is the diatribe I give on the stigma of being without a home and expecting respect for using electronics while not having a home.

Today, some people still ask my street peers, “But you're homeless! How can you be homeless and use the internet, much less have a cell phone?”

Back in those days – odd, isn't it, that term … back in those days, a whole 2.25 years ago? When there have been people without homes for how long?  The answer is ages.  (Yes, there will be a post this month on the history of “homelessness”).

Back in those days, when I gave that interview, I was the first recipient I know of to receive a mobile pocket device to help me access the internet.  It was October of 2010 when I received the iPod that saved my sanity and helped me communicate while I was homeless.  It's not odd, that even now, when my "baby", my laptop, goes down, that same iPod still saves my sanity.

It was an experiment, and it caused quite a bit of flack.  But again I digress.  That's fodder for another post.

One of my fears was the iPod would be stolen. Life on the streets is anything but safe.

Safe is a relative term, however. I have often chosen to be on the streets when a housing situation turned unsafe enough that I feared for my life or felt the possibility of violation was more than I could bear. That's saying something, if you have any idea about how unsafe the streets are.

But I digress.

I want you to take a look at the last item on the screen shot of the search I give as an example.

Nadia Gomos. It was thanks to an interaction with Nadia, that led me to the person who helped me to my first stop on the streets – an emergency shelter to try for admittance in.

I didn't know Nadia's name at that time, but she was the most helpful contact I found on the internet, before I became homeless. She had a blog about homelessness. I wrote a comment on her blog. She wrote back. On her blog she counseled me to go to Twitter to find people who would be able to help.

It was through her taking the time to communicate with me I was put in touch with help.  You need to take into consideration that Nadia and I are across the big pond from each other, today as we were then.  The person who led me to help was literally across the ocean.

Ponder that!

Across the ocean someone gives me more help in connection information than I could get locally.  Blow anyone's mind?

It is now commonplace to hear stories about people on the streets helping each other to resolve homelessness.

Then, it was exploratory, experimental, and championed by folks willing to run into brick walls. I was fortunate Nadia's guidance was directly to one of those folks.

Nadia now writes for the – here:

It is kismet that Nadia's name came up on that search.  I certainly didn't plan it.

Yet, I think I've jumped ahead, once again. It may be too early in my conversation with you to ask, “How to get help if you are homeless.” Don't fret, we will come back to getting help. I have heard stories, both miraculous and abysmal.

To resolve something one needs to define it, n'est-ce pas ?

So, let's back up a bit … what is homelessness?

Think about it for a bit, and then join me on my next blog post.

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