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Homelessness: The Upside Of Urban Camping

Homelessness has an upside - no rent, no mortgage payments, no utilities bills, no house insurance, no cable TV or internet bills and NO TAXES to enrich the filthy rich and support unjust wars and mass murder.

It is a commonly held myth that all homeless people are lazy, dirty, shizophrenic, mentally ill, drug addicts or alcoholics.

Steve is an articlulate, clean and sober man in his 30's who lived as a homeless "urban camper" for 5 years in Vancouver, Canada. "Those 5 years", said Steve, "gave me some of my best memories".



Steve was down on his luck but managed to buy a tent with double cover protection and thermal blankets. He hid his tent in a secluded wooded area at the edge of town. Nearby, he kept a food container that he locked so that the racoons couldn't open it. He also had a dim light that couldn't be seen from a distance. He would only use the tent as a place to sleep at night.

Steve wanted an education but couldn't afford it, so he decided to educate himself. During the day, he would catch the bus and travel downtown where he would shower and shave at a community center. He spent much of his time at the local library where he studied and had internet access. He would eat at the homeless shelter before catching the last bus and returning to his tent at night. Listening to the hoot of the owls and the whoop of coyotes, Steve fell alseep under the stars every night as a free man.

Why Don't Homeless People Just Get Jobs?

One reason a homeless person may not be looking for a job is that he may already have one. Normally, from one third to one half of the homeless population is employed. During the current economic situation with so many mortgage foreclosures, over half of the homeless population in many cities have jobs.

This might lead you to ask why these people are homeless if they have jobs. Many employed homeless people are working at minimum wage jobs, jobs which don't provide enough to pay for basic living expenses in many parts of the country. Also, many of them are underemployed, they don't get enough hours of work to pay the bills. In fact, some people who work for low wages become homeless when company cutbacks cut their hours.

Other working people are homeless due to alimony, child support, or mandatory insurance payments for children they don't have custody for - these can easily equal a homeless man's entire income when combined. Student loans in default can garnish up to 25% of a person's income. Creditors can also garnish wages for other debts. Homelessness has pretty much replaced debtors' prison in America.

So why don't they just get more work and work two or three jobs at a time? Many of them do. But a cluster of minimum wage jobs at a few hours a week doesn't generally get them very far. Getting enough hours with multiple jobs can be difficult as well. To make multiple jobs work, employers have to be willing to work with a schedule which accommodates their employee's other jobs. Finding two (much less more) employers willing to work around other work schedules is difficult enough but each added job makes finding and keeping a balance even more difficult.

With job openings being rare and many people being available to fill them, employers will understandably be choosier than during better times. Homeless applicants will go to the bottom of the application pile for numerous reasons.

Freedom = Nothing Left To Lose

As most advocates point out, many homeless people are hard-working folks who are simply down on their luck. While society might tell you that hard work is the best course of action when you’re down on your luck, why not rest a while? Why not enjoy the freedom that comes with having nothing left to lose?

Don’t bust your ass going from town to town looking for a job that doesn’t exist. Standing on a street corner with a sign can sometimes net over $300 a day. Even if you cut that down to $50 a day, that’s still $250 a week, which isn’t that bad considering your cost of living expenses are practically nil. You might even have enough left over to afford a few luxuries. Homelessness is much more pleasurable in a warm climate like sunny Florida or California.


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