Since this blog is enjoying a new audience these days, I think it best to explain a little about myself, where I’m coming from, and maybe where I’m going.
I first became homeless back in 1982. I had just turned 21 years old, and my parents insisted I move out of the house. I was totally unprepared to make such a move so within a few months of moving out, I landed on the streets of Nashville, homeless. The actually reason for this was unknown until just recently when i discovered that I have a condition called Asperger’s Syndrome. It is a type of high functioning autism.
Though I have normal cognitive abilities, my brain is wired differently than is typical, which hinders my ability to socialize in an acceptable fashion. What most people take for granted in their day to day interactions with others, I struggle with, and for the most part fail at miserably. This inability to function normally in society is so extreme that it has caused me to be ostracized, and marginalized. It is the major reason for my divorce, it is what prevents me from making and keeping friends. It causes me to lose jobs. The list of symptoms of Aspergers is extensive. No one suffering from this condition has all the symptoms. I have about 75% of them. Check out my tab on Aspergers for more info.
I have constantly struggled against homelessness. I have had experienced several episodes of homelessness, (7 or 8 episodes) leading to my being labeled chronically homeless. Though I have found ways off the streets, inevitably my life would fall apart and I would end up back on the streets. In the 29 years since first becoming homeless I have lived half of that time, 14 years, literally on the streets. I’ve also spent years living in the grey area between homelessness and homed. I have lived in rescue missions, and halfway houses and other programs. I am currently part of a Housing First program. Well, it’s not a true Housing First program, but it’s Nashville’s best attempt at it. I have been living in this unit for over two years now. It is the closest thing to having my own place. Still, I consider it to be more of an upscale shelter system than my own home. I have a case manager who tries to get me the help I need. It’s not an easy task considering the limited resources available for homeless and indigent people. Though extremely small, it is a place of my own, a roof over my head, a door that locks, and I decide who comes and goes. It is a level of autonomy and privacy most homeless people do without.
Over the years I have experienced many aspects of homelessness, from living in shelters to living in a car (did that for a couple years), sometimes I even slept in an alley. I have also participated in several projects, the Nashville Metro Homelessness Commission, The Mayors Task Force on Ending Homelessness, an advisory council for the Homeless Health Clinic. And I was part of the core group that created and launched The Contributor, the most successful homeless newspaper in the country.
In 2002 I started The Homeless Guy blog, at the suggestion of people on a discussion board, who frankly, had become tired of my many rants and ravs. They said that perhaps a blog would be a better outlet for me. Looking back, it was again my Aspergers that made socializing in an acceptable manor impossible for me on that discussion board.
At least now I know the actual cause of my problems, and so I can “hopefully” take the right corrective steps, so to make a better life for myself, and perhaps stay off the streets for good. This blog was extremely popular when first started. And though it has enjoyed some notoriety over the years, I haven’t been doing much with it lately. I’ve been thinking of doing more here. Maybe it’s time to get motivated with it again, and see what I can make of it. Lately people seem more motivated to learn about homelessness, and seem, in general, to be open minded about the subject, more than they were when I first started blogger. Time will tell.