Tips to avoid being dehumanized as a homeless person

A LITTLE MORE ACCOUNTABILITY, A LITTLE LESS ENABLING

By Max R. Weller

I’ve found these to be useful in my own life as the Homeless Philosopher here in Boulder, CO since early 2008, and I think they would serve anyone well no matter how long or how short a time they find themselves homeless.

> STAY CLEAN AND SOBER. Everyday challenges are so much easier to deal with when you keep all of your wits about you, and in wintertime it could even save your life.

> RESPECT YOURSELF, RESPECT OTHERS, AND RESPECT THE COMMUNITY IN WHICH YOU LIVE. It’s also expressed in the Golden Rule, and makes life much easier by greatly reducing conflicts with those around you.

> PRACTICE GOOD HYGIENE DAILY. Yes, I certainly know firsthand that depression can lead one to neglect this, but pushing through that wall by taking a hot shower and putting on clean clothes can go far in lifting your spirits. Just do it!

> EAT MORE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES, EAT FEWER CARBS AND SWEETS. To make this possible, you’ll have to shop for yourself and avoid the free food giveaways — which tend to be heavy on beans, rice, pasta, and donated (stale) bread/pastry.

> SPEND YOUR MONEY, REGARDLESS OF ITS SOURCE, ON LIFE’S NECESSITIES AS THE FIRST PRIORITY. My only income is from generous passersby at a particular intersection in Boulder; this cash pays for my food and beverage, clothing, hygiene items, camping gear, books and newspapers, bus fare, etc. Plus, I’m able to save money for emergencies (currently $120 in my coffee jar “piggy bank”) and occasionally I can even donate to a worthy cause. I’ve never applied for nor have I received any taxpayer-funded benefits since I moved to Colorado over seven years ago. My quality of life, as I see it, is better than that of most other homeless people I see who have become dependent on the myriad of social services being promoted to “help” us.

> BECOME A PART OF THE BROADER COMMUNITY BY MAKING FRIENDS WHO ARE NOT HOMELESS. I can’t stress this point enough; the most effective dehumanizing process is for homeless people to become segregated, either voluntarily or by subsidized housing policy, into rat packs and ghettoes. This means that you can’t spend your days hanging out at Bridge House nor at the other popular homeless hangouts like Pearl Street Mall, Boulder Creek Path and Central Park, University Hill, etc. There’s a whole wide world of people out there to meet, and I can highly recommend it based on personal experience.

> THE LESS TIME YOU SPEND WITH UNQUALIFIED “CASE MANAGERS” AT HOMELESS SHELTER/SERVICES PROVIDERS, THE BETTER. This type of do-gooder can cause a lot of harm to unwitting clients, who often aren’t in a position to distinguish good advice from manure.

There are other commonsense points, of course, but it’s not my purpose here to get bogged down in details. ggp6p

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