Friday, September 2, 2016

10 Things I Learned About Homelessness, Being Homeless


The end of June I finished my contract at the church I was working at and mid-July we gave up our townhouse we were leasing.  For the next 7 weeks my family and I were homeless, while I continued to non-stop interview. God was really good to us.  We had friends offer us their homes, we had gift cards and love gifts, I had unexpected money come in from writing.  We never went hungry.
It was however a stressful time. We had to pack of everything we owned into storage pods and ship them off to storage, except for what we could fit into our 2 cars.  It was hard on my wife and it was hard on my 2 kids.  We tried to not use the words "homeless" in front of them.  We worked hard to keep them busy and their focus off of the situation.  We made the best of it.  We took time to explore our area and find cheap or free fun things to do.  It was still very hard on my kids!
After sleeping on the floor of our old townhouse for 2 weeks, and then over 7 weeks staying in 2 friend's houses, the in-law's house, and 5 hotels...We are no longer homeless. I have just accepted an amazing new job at a really great church.  As a of a few days ago we got keys to a brand-new, just built townhouse. We are in fact the first people in to move into the development.

 Here are a few things I Learned about Homelessness, Being Homeless...
10. People immediately stereotype you. People hear the words “homeless” & assume the worst about you and that you must have done something wrong.  Yes, even churches.

9. What you REALLY need can fit into 2 cars. When you really whittled down what you and your family needs to live day to day and get by, it really is amazing how little you really, really do need.

8.  Registering your kids for school is difficult. While there are laws against discrimination and protecting families in various forms of homelessness, most schools will require you to have proof of a physical, permanent home address.

7.  It is hard work and almost a job in and of itself being homeless.  Trying to deal with daily chores and routines, of living day to day is actually much more time consuming than you would imagine. While at the same time trying send out resumes, fill out application/questionnaires, schedule phone/skype/in-person interviews. 

6.  The post office process is long and difficult, and they WILL lose your mail. We seriously lost 3-4 weeks of mail (checks, bills, correspondence, paperwork and more…)

5.  It is hard on your children sometimes, and you have to work to make them feel safe and secure.  Nothing was more heartbreaking than to have my daughter ask me- “please don’t put us in an orphanage or foster care…”, while driving home from a 4-day long interview as a family and finding it wasn’t going to work out.

4. You will struggle with tiredness, sleepiness, and emotion as you adjust to different beds and places to sleep.  It is hard to sleep some nights, not sleeping in your own bed combined with the stress and worry.

3. You will QUICKLY find out who your real friends are.   We truly found out who the Body of Christ was during the process.  Having 2 different friends put us up in their homes, receiving love-gifts, and TONS of prayer and encouragement.

2.  It doesn’t matter your level of education, years of experience in a job, age, race or social-economic class, anyone can find themselves quickly homeless.  22 years of experience, undergrad and graduate level degrees, writer for numerous magazines, blogs, and resources…still ended up homeless.

1. God is good, you really learn to pray, depend on Him, and live by faith.  The last 7-8 weeks has been a complete humbling but renewing experience of understanding God, family, and faith.