Living Under a Bridge: Homelessness
Following the close of World War II after returning from Europe we were homeless. Just about 10 million people were homeless then as there was no construction started in advance for the new wave of “boomers”. Farmers remodeled chicken houses and rented them, attics were cleaned out and remodeled, barns were given a once over; anything with a roof was up for grabs.
Today homelessness is different in the context that people are being dispossessed from their homes, losing their jobs, investments and pitiful savings. You may be just “on the street”. What would you do?
My expertise in military training survival pretty much is in the bush. There are aids in the cities on what to do and how to get help, but do not expect much for the millions already there who have a claim to something. I want to address the possibility of preparedness if your lifeline is thin for what you might do.
Friends, relatives, and parents will put you up for a time depending upon their resources but that wears thin very quickly. You will be expected to get a job and your own abode quickly. Of course this may not happen but you cannot exist on the largess of grandma’s and grandpa’s limited social security. Unemployment insurance runs out, savings run out and there is only so much clutter you can sell-if there is a buyer. To be flat broke by your self is one thing, but having a family depending upon you is another.
Let us look into your crystal ball and see that within a year you are going to lose your home and be destitute. What can you do now to prepare for this situation?
From my point of view I would take advantage of the boat and camper trailer market that has collapsed and being abandoned. You need shelter and there are at this time hundreds of thousands abandoned campers available, or to be had for just hauling them away. Of course you are going to need a heavy vehicle like a PU truck with a tow hitch and a target location on where to park it. Maybe your parents have a big lot or acreage. Maybe a church can point you out to a farm setting. You can always work out some part time labors for an electric line and water. Propane is easy to get for cooking and heating in 100 lb. bottles.
You are going to need very warm sleeping bags, warm outdoor rugged clothing, sanitary facilities which may be just a latrine; an access to firewood and big cooking pots. Water storage where it will not freeze. A mail drop and a cell phone is a modern consideration.
This would be high living as the next step down would be tent city-probably in a city park area with others of similar fates. Living in a tent is not all that bad as long as you have a good quality canvas wall tent. Yes, I would prefer a Teepee but the poles are the problem so we settle for a wall tent. This means 5-foot walls, at least 10’-12’ base area size, larger is better. Double wall, and or a canvas fly on the top. An inside cook stove is nice but in the backwoods a cook stove is best located in a separate cook tent because of bears. You can build a nice log reflector fire in front of an open sided tent or tarp shelter and be toasty warm below –20F Small pup tents and Wal*Mart summer tents are nice for vacations and the kids camps, but are not stout. A good wall tent with fly and sod cloth will run new at $600.00. For me I am just as comfortable under a 20’x20’ canvas tarp.
What I am leading up to at this point is to think and then acquire what you need now. Then practice using it in the back yard while you have time to learn what accessories you need. Think basics and not porta potties. Think fire-not camp stoves. Think Carhartt clothes, not Sears. Think boots, not shoes.
You will need to read up in advance from your Boy Scout and Explorer Handbooks or other outdoor wilderness camping reading material you can locate.
Your whole persona will change; you will become grubby, smelly and look scruffy. However so will everyone else in a rough work environment. Get your kids in school where they will get a hot free meal. Look for service work, trade or professional, but keep looking.
Dave Ramsey who I think is wise and gives great advice in his books and radio shows talks about getting out of debt and moving along. I think worse case scenarios beyond the basic $1000.00 emergency fund and that is if it is coming, save it all do not keep paying for a dead horse; and the hell with the creditors. That’s life, that’s tough life. Family first.
During the Great Depression many, as in other hard time cycles, took off for the bush. My Dad was one of those when he first retired from the USCG (Then they called him back in for WWII). Anyway he packed us up in a canoe and off we went in Alaska. The first winter was spent in a wall tent and gradually the log walls went up so that in year or two we had a cabin surrounding the wall tent. Not much, but it was ours. We had hunting-fishing-berries, and not much of a garden. As a kid you accept new things but it prepares you for repeats in later years when you are kicked out of Wall Street. Practice, practice and more practice on homespun skills are really fun and makes life easier when the hammer does fall.
How far into backyard-back bush survival you go is dependent upon your developing skills, health and fortitude. Anything can happen, anything will happen and the self-reliant will be the ones winning.
Collectively some people form communes with different political bases and these are excellent as long as everybody works. It is surprising how many male bums drift in for a handout. Church based communes are good although they are usually deeply fundamental and shunned by the government. I would caution about the extremist anti-racial hate groups, as once in it is hard to pull out. The bigger the armed group, the more money it needs and the more legal trouble it has. Keep it simple. You are only going to tough it out for a while, then as the economic dust settles you will be back on main street.
Been there- done that, as the old saw goes. Write me for suggestions.
Our lead in picture is from Meet Me Under the Bridge. You will find this site informative and interesting.
COPYRIGHT: 2011, Back2theLand.com. Mark Steel