Don’t Panic!

They are the most important two words of advice ever spoke, especially spoken to anyone on a journey. And homelessness is a journey, even if your locale never changes. Most homeless people never travel far from what was once their home, but still, they end up going places they never thought they would have. The worst thing you can do as a homeless person is panic. So, please, don’t panic! Becoming homeless is not the end of the world. It certainly is not the end your life.

Although some four to five million people experience homelessness within a given year, there are less than a million people homeless in America at any one time. That’s because the vast majority of people’s homeless experiences last only three to four months. They experience homelessness only once, and never again.

Please understand that by the time a person admits to themselves that they “might” become homeless, usually by that time it’s too late to stop it from happening. Although you should be aware of any opportunity to prevent homelessness from happening, once you think that you’ll become homeless, you should be considering your living arrangements once you become homeless. The point of having a fire drill is to teach your self what to do when their actually is a fire. It’s not a bad idea for anyone to take the time to consider what they would do if they became homeless. Talk to people you know and trust before hand. If you have family and/or friends who are willing to talk about it, make plans with them. A lot of people have ended up on the streets only because they were too ashamed to talk to family. And once family learned of their homelessness, their family took them in, and off the streets. If feelings of guilt are a problem, if you talk to them now, before you are homeless, you’ll feel less guilty about it then the actual event occurs. Also, check around to find all the different homeless service providers in your area, and if you can’t find any near by, don’t be afraid to expand your search beyond. Know that all the service providers offer, and what their requirements are for receiving services from them. Every service provider/shelter is different, sometimes offering vastly different services with vastly different requirements to receive them. Most rescue missions don’t charge any money for a night’s stay, but they will require you to bow to their god. Most Salvation Army shelters don’t demand you practice their religion, but they will charge you money, usually anywhere from 5 to 15 dollars a night. Some shelters only help women, some only help families, some only help addicts, some only help mentally ill. And there is one one place in Nashville that only helps people who are duel diagnosed, that is, they have addictions and mental illnesses. If you only have one of those issues, they won’t help you. It’s much better to know exactly where to go before you become homeless, then trying to figure it out while on the streets and you have little resources.

Being prepared goes a long way towards avoiding the panic of becoming homeless.

Know that if you don’t have a pre-existing condition of mental illness or addiction, that your homeless experience will be short lived. You will recover from it, and perhaps you’ll even gain a new and broader appreciation of life for the experience.


About Kevin Barbieux

I have been diagnosed as being chronically homeless. I write about my experiences and opinions of being homeless
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