Hitting Hard Times? How-To Survive Homelessness

If you notice you might be heading through long-term housing issues, you might want to consider purchasing items while you still have funds available. Having an emergency kit for survival is always a good idea, and even if you don’t end up using it, you’ll still have gear to use for camping or other trips. If not for yourself, perhaps you know of a homeless person who could use a few items.

There is no sure-fast way to survive potential financial and housing loss, but you can be prepared by planning ahead. Each person’s situation is unique. Usually a person struggles financially because of unemployment or other financial hardship. After dipping into savings, eventually housing becomes unaffordable. Belongings are sold or put into storage before downsizing living arrangements. Overtime, a person may end up being in housing transition for awhile moving from one temporary place to another, renting a room, shopping online for cheap hotel rooms, or living in shelters. Finding a place is not always that easy. It can take months to find a compatible roommate and only end up lasting a couple of months at best. Shelters, especially during COVID-19, have specifications and may have limitations on how many people they can take in. If you are fortunate to have a vehicle, this can work as an emergency shelter, but most cities have ordinances against sleeping in a vehicle anywhere. It usually requires moving several times in the middle of the night, and of course, vehicles do not have facilities like toilets and showers, so a person has to rely more heavily on local businesses. This is feasible to an extent, but with COVID-19 only a couple of businesses are open all night, 24 hours a day. Between the hours of 12pm-5am it is nearly impossible to find any business that is open. If you live on the street, it is worse. Everything is by foot and you may or may not be able to get into businesses at all.

If you become homeless, there are different kinds of homelessness. Homelessness can mean being in transition without set housing, constantly moving from one temporary place to another. It can mean living in a hotel for a few weeks, months or even years. People who stay at shelters are homeless. A person who depends on their car for shelter to sleep at night is homeless. Then there are the homeless who live on the street and find a place to sleep on the concrete, outside a building, or on a park bench. If a person does not have stable housing indoors somewhere, they are considered homeless. Homeless people may or may not have an address. It becomes difficult when you do not have an address. Not only do you not receive mail, but you will most likely have problems getting a job without an address. If you foresee your housing becoming unstable, sign up for a PO Box before you lose your address!

There are many stereotypes when the word “homeless” is said. It causes a fear in many people. It is automatically thought that you steal from stores and are going to ask for money. The truth is, while some homeless do ask for money, many panhandlers actually have housing believe it or not, and are just struggling financially, or are there to put word out to the community. There is also the stereotype that a homeless person might be dangerous. Most homeless people are friendly and are not a threat at all.

For those who stay in shelters, the facilities provide for an overnight place to stay, free meals, and a place to shower. Some stay a few nights, others can stay for a minimum amount of time, and if conditions are met some stay for several months to a year. Social services are offered to assist homeless in long-term programs with the goal of transitioning out of homelessness and back into housing. Usually this requires having a disability, an addiction, or a medical condition.

If you are homeless, a good bit of advice is to remain groomed to the best of your ability with what you have accessible to you. Maintaining good hygiene and always being respectful and polite can only help the situation rather than hinder it. Laundry mats are refugees from the weather. It isn’t that expensive to do a load of laundry to stay clean. Cleansing wipes, wash clothes, and hand sanitizer help with staying clean.

Finding gear that helps with weather conditions and being mobile can make a considerable difference. Take a look at this list and shop #affiliate links directly from this page to your account on Amazon.com. Find products for yourself, a homeless person, or to add to your holiday shopping list with this list of product recommendations!

Here is a list of items you might consider buying:

Ski apparel is already insulated and waterproof which is perfect for cold weather. Workout clothes are good for warmer weather, for working out, to use as sleepwear, and they wash and dry quickly.
• Ski jumper | Arctix Women’s Essential Insulated Bib Overalls | Men ski overalls
• Jeans | Jeans
• Thermal shirts and pants | Thermal underwear
• Cami shirts for women | Camis
• Sports bras | Sports bras
• Workout clothes | Workout clothes
• Thick socks | Thick insulated socks

Jackets & Accessories
Keep your body, head, hands, and toes warm with the proper wear. Use a ski jacket as an extra blanket when flipped over. Windbreakers are good to have for slightly cool and rainy weather. Head band warmers are perfect for keeping ears warm and protected from the wind.
• Ski jacket | Ski jackets | Alpine design ski jackets | Columbia Women’s Extended Bugaboo II Fleece Interchange Jacket
• Light weight coat | Amazon Essentials Women’s Lightweight Water-Resistant Packable Hooded Puffer Coat | Amazon Essentials Men’s Lightweight Water-Resistant Packable Puffer Jacket
• Windbreaker | Windbreakers | Columbia Windbreakers
• Head band warmer | Head band warmers
• Ski cap | Ski caps
• Gloves | Gloves
• Mini-umbrella | Mini-umbrella
• Simple jewelry organizer | Jewelry organizer

Having the proper footwear, if you have the ability to carry it with you or store it, can be multi-functional. Slip-resistant, food service shoes are good to have to pick up a job at many local food establishments, they also serve as rain shoes and for keeping feet warm if outside in cold weather. Flipflops that can be wiped down protect feet from fungus when showering. Don’t forget to have a good pair of tennis shoes or sandals for everyday walking.
• Slip resistant shoes | Mule slip resistant shoes | Slip resistant shoes
• Flip flops | Sport flip flops
• Tennis shoes | Tennis shoes

Look for what is compact and can be stored and moved easily.
• Blankets | Continental Bedding 30X40 | Fleece blankets | Shop blankets at Walmart.com
• Travel pillow | Therm-a-Rest Compressible Travel Pillow | Read REI Camp Gear
• Sleeping bag | TETON Sleeping Bags | Sleeping bags | Read REI Camp Gear
• Cot | Coleman Trailhead II Cot | Shop REI.com
• Airbeds | Airbeds | Shop airbeds at Walmart.com
• Tents | Coleman Cabin Tent | Tents | Shop REI.com

Backpacks are good for carrying everything from toiletries, to overnight clothes, to books and electronics equipment. If you find a backpack on sale, you might want to grab an extra one. Some stores have bargains around Back-to-School season when you can find a backpack for $5-$10. Ziploc bags can be found at the dollar store. These are good to store food items and help with staying organized. Trash bags are good for moving items and keeping clothes and bedding protected.
• Backpacks | Backpacks
• Ziploc bags | Sandwich bags | Storage bags
• Trash bags | Trash bags | Shop dollar stores

It is important to stay hydrated. Buying bottled water can be expensive and toting multiple bottles takes up space. Purchase a 32 oz water bottle and fill it up. Having a small thermos for soup or oatmeal is good to also save money.
• Water bottle | Nalgene Tritan Wide Mouth BPA-Free Water Bottle, 32 oz | Read REI Camp Gear
• Stainless steel tumbler | Tumblers | Mugs

Space may be limited, but if you have electronic devices they can keep you plugged into the rest of the world, be good for applying for jobs, and as entertainment. Earbud headphones are good to have to listen to music or videos.
• Earbud headphones | Earbud headphones
• Headphones | iJoy Matte Finish Premium Rechargeable Wireless Headphones | Read iJoy
• Portable DVD player | Chuanganzhuo External Drive USB 2.0 DVD/CD Player | Read DVD
• Laptop
• Cell phone

Many devices which operate on batteries can also operate by USB. USB batteries can save hours of continually charging up devices.
• USB/Battery operated 6″ fans for hot weather | Shop Walmart.com
• USB Battery backups | CXLiv Battery | Battery backups – devices | Battery backups – laptops

Being homeless is no excuse to not practice good hygiene. If anything, it may be even more important so as not to get skin infections. Most of these can be found at local dollar stores and at Walmart.com.
• Cleansing wipes | Baby wipes | Feminine wipes | Bleach wipes | Hand wipes | Makeup wipes
• Hand sanitizer | Hand sanitizer
• Face mask | Face masks
• Mini clipper set | Mini clipper set
• Washcloths | Washcloths
• Micro towels | Rainleaf micro towel | Micro towels
• Toothpaste | Toothpaste
• Mouthwash | Mouthwash
• Laundry detergent | Travel laundry detergent
• Mesh laundry bag | Mesh laundry bag | Shop Walmart.com
• Mini sewing kit | Mini sewing kit | Shop dollar store
• Mini first aid kit | Johnson & Johnson first aid kit | Mini first aid kits | Shop Walmart.com
• Bandages | Ban-Aid & bandages | Shop dollar store

Food is a personal preference and depends on each situation. If you find you will be eating out a lot and do not have access to a refrigerator, consider these items to save money and eat healthy. Shop local grocery stores for the best prices.
• Mayonnaise packets – buy in bulk | Hellmann’s Mayo, pkg 60 | Condiments Bulk packets
• Tuna packets | Starkist tuna packets
• Peanut butter | Individual peanut butters
• Apples | Apples
• Basic seasonings (garlic, red pepper, cinnamon, etc) | Seasonings | Seasoning kits
• Hot chocolate packets | Hot chocolate
• Tea | Tea
• Multi-vitamin | Multi-vitamins
• Juice | OceanSpray Cran-Energy Cranberry check local grocery stores, Kroger and United Family stores (Market Street) | Cranberry Raspberry | Read Cran-Energy Juice
• Vegetable tablets | Amazing Grass Effervescent Electrolyte Tablets: Greens + Hydration Water Flavoring Tablet with Vitamins, Strawberry Lemonade, 60 Count (variety of flavors available) | Superfoods | Powdered fruit and vegetable replacement mixes
• Canned vegetables – individual sized | 8 oz canned vegetables
• Bulk, individual shelf stable milk | Shelf stable milk

Food Gear
Most local gas stations will let a person fill up a cup with hot water or use the microwave to heat a simple item up, on occasion. If you have a car, keep a stash of food items in a cooler (no ice needed). Snack items are good to have on hand. Buy items that have multi-serving individualized snacks or that can be split into multiple days of snacks using Ziploc bags.
• Cooler | Lifewit Large Lunch Bag Insulated Lunch Box Soft Cooler Cooling | Coolers
• Lunch bag | Lunch bags
• Thermos | Thermos Vacuum Insulated Food Jar, 10 oz | Thermos
• Mug | Stainless steel mug | Mugs
• Water bottle | Nalgene Tritan Wide Mouth BPA-Free Water Bottle, 32 oz | Read REI Camp Gear
• 1 set of knife, fork, and spoon | Utensils

Other Resources
• Rewards accounts to gas stations and fast food places
• List of local food pantries
• PO Box
• Gym membership
• Library card and library share cards to access multiple libraries (TexShare card in DFW)
• Music, video, and audio book subscriptions

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