introducing #NOMADNOMORE

2 months ago I posted a video announcing that my family and I are no longer homeless.

At the end of that video I mentioned I’d be sharing a project soon that would require your participation.

This is that project.

It is very clear that no one person or organization can end homelessness.

Resources and efforts are too scattered.

And what about individuals who have a passion to end homelessness but don’t know where to start?

#NOMADNOMORE is, I hope, the solution.

we need to connect and unite to effectively end homelessness.

I believe this can be done in my lifetime.

individually, we can’t.

but together, we can!

are you in?

links to the Google Doc, Google Form, and Redbubble shop below.

let’s create a world where everyone is housed in a way they find comfortable.

no. more. nomads.






SWF, 29, seeks “the one” for LTR (long term residence)

After 6+ months of homelessness, 12 states, over 100 cities, and countless charming townships, villages, unincorporated communities, etc., we still haven’t found a home. It seems like rejection after rejection. So I decided to stop searching.

Instead, I’m asking the right community to come find *us*. See my personals ad below.😂

We’re cool-ish people who want to be part of a real community.

We like to leave places better than we found them, shop local when possible, and we’re full of ideas on how to make places better. We’re all neurodivergent, creative, lovers of art, history, music, and nature (well, me, the dogs, and the baby love nature — not so much grandma).

Do you want us? Would you like for us to call your town or city “home”?

Give me a holler. We can set up a first date or go for coffee idk. 😉

*Forgot to add: must love dogs, 4-season communities preferred!

we are overcome by testimony

Revelation 12:11 says, “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.”

The scripture speaks about those Christians which defeated the evil one through their unwavering faith in Christ; how? By the Blood of Jesus, and through their own testimony, and the fact they did not love their lives more than they loved Christ.

I’ve never really “loved” my life, tbh. To love something means you’d die for it. Paul said, “to live is Christ, to die is gain.” And elsewhere, scripture states “if you love your life, you’ll lose it; if you hate your life, you’ll keep it.” That was a running joke between me and my grandfather. He kept waiting eagerly for the shores of glory; I guess we are all a dark bunch. I kept telling him “the more you want to die, the longer you’ll live, so you might as well start enjoying your life.”

But that’s not the point of this post. I realized that I’ve talked a lot about the dark side of homelessness. Like many things, I tend to skew to the negative or to the shadows. It’s not my intention, I promise. If you met me in person, you’d say I’m the most bubbly and optimistic person you’d ever met. But that’s often the case with “happy” people. That happiness masks a lot of hurt.

Today, I want to share with you some amazing things God has done for us since we’ve been homeless. I want to share with you some miracles, even if they’re small ones. I want you to know that God can and still does perform them every day. We set out on a journey in January 2021, to do things God’s way. To fully surrender to his will. To live as the apostles and believers of the early church who came before us.

And then we ended up homeless lol. In March 2022. But I believe it must be part of God’s plan, to get us to where and who he wants us to be. A home is only part of the picture, though I admit it is often (okay usually always) the biggest part of the picture for me. I’d be lying to you if I told you my faith never wavers, that I never get frustrated with God, that I never feel like throwing in the towel and giving up. I’d be flat out lying to you if I told you that I don’t ever question this, wonder if it’s punishment or something, wonder if I’m just destined to never have a home again.

But God is faithful. And he is well able to take care of us. And I think many people forget that; on the rat wheel of life, doing things society’s way, doing things according to the world’s systems, we forget that God cares more for us than the sparrows, and that he is our provider, protector, guide, and sustainer. We trust him to get a 30% discount at a department store and call that a “blessing”, as if our God is not the mover of mountains and parter of seas.

I’m hoping that by sharing these testimonies, it will help us overcome. But I’m also hoping it opens your eyes to the power of God, and how much he really cares for you as well.

Testimony #1: The Kindness of Strangers

Since we’ve been homeless, we’ve encountered kindness and help from so many people we don’t even know.

  • Angela, in Navarre, FL, who bought my son an ice cream cone while he was in the middle of a meltdown, even though she herself is a struggling single mom.
  • The young man at Dough Ivey’s Automotive in Easley, FL, who fixed our flat tire for free, on a Sunday, even though they were closed. I didn’t have anything to pay him at the time, and I keep forgetting, but I definitely want to send him something. He had beautiful blue eyes and wore glasses, and was there working on his wife’s car. Thank you so much.
  • The group of fraternity bros at Orange Beach who helped us (literally carried) The Boy back to the car after a meltdown on the beach. These guys were so sweet and helpful. We affectionately refer to them as “The Cotton Bayou Boys”. If ya’ll find my sunglasses, please lemme know lol.
  • Micheal, Patti, Kevin & Katie, Mallory, and so many others (if I neglected to mention you here, I’m sorry) who generously gave to my family in order to help us. Because of them, we were able to stay in hotels instead of the car. Kevin has also shown me a lot of Christlike love and concern at a time I really needed it, and I’m forever grateful for that.

Testimony #2: Little (big) Blessings

These may not be big to you, but they were certainly big to me at the time. (And still are).

  • The time I spent our last $120 on a hotel for the night, only to be aggressively harassed by the guy in the room next to us because The Boy was being loud (he’s autistic and had been cramped up in a car for days, of course he was loud!). I went to the manager of the hotel to ask for a refund, but we’d already been there an hour, so he couldn’t. The system wouldn’t even allow him to. I explained to him that I couldn’t stay there because we didn’t feel safe, and I was afraid for my son’s safety. He offered to move us to another room, but there was no way I could’ve slept after that. This beautiful soul opened up the register and paid me back the cash I’d given him, plus the change. I sobbed. I don’t like crying in front of strangers, but I’d already started before he helped us; I couldn’t stop once he did. That money was everything we had left, and I’d spent it that night just so The Boy could shower and we’d have some relief from the car. That man will never know how much that meant to me. After he gave us the money back, we were able to get The Boy dinner and I think we ultimately ended up driving somewhere else to rest for the night. You didn’t have to do that. Thank you so much. I thank God for you always, and I pray he blesses your business and family.
  • The time God gave me a word of knowledge for a young man in Alabama. It showed me that God can still use me even if I’m not…he showed me he can use me wherever I am. Wherever He is.
  • All the homeless people we’ve encountered and have been able to help or minister to. That has done so much for our souls. It’s a blessing to be a blessing to other people. That kept us going. It seemed like everywhere we went, God had a person appointed for us to minister to. Although, I’d argue it was really God working on us, cause he could’ve used anyone to help those people.

Testimony #3: The Day

We’d been sleeping in the car for about 20 consecutive days. We were all drained and exhausted. The dogs were fed up. The Boy was tired and cranky and sick of being cooped up in the car. My mom was at her breaking point. And so was I. We’d already pawned the last valuable things we had in order to buy enough gas to get back to the rest stop. We’d been staying at a rest stop in Louisiana for about three days. I kept eagerly awaiting my paycheck, but it hadn’t arrived yet. We had some snacks in the car, but we were running out. We had just enough gas to get back into town and *do something*. We just didn’t know what to do. My son was hungry. I had a total breakdown. I sobbed before The Lord because I was so upset that I was putting my child through this. At this point, no one knew we were homeless. No one knew we’d been living in the car. We were out of money. Out of everything.

I found the Tiffany’s earring back to the earrings we’d pawned the day before. I convinced my mom we should drive back into town, using the only gas we had, to get the earring. I convinced the man to give us anything for it. He gave me $2 lol. My mom was upset; we’d spent the last bit of gas we had to go back there. And now, there we were. Sitting in the hot car, no snacks left to feed The Boy. All of us miserable. We had two choices: sit there and let it all fall apart, or go into town. I wrestled with the decision, but I finally decided the best thing for us to do was to go into town, find the nearest police station, and ask for help. I couldn’t let my kid suffer anymore, and I obviously wasn’t able to help him on my own. My mom and I argued. It was the lowest I’d felt the whole time we were on the road.

We drove into town and agreed to stop at a McDonald’s to use the wifi to look up resources. We argued more. My mom’s faith was wavering; understandably so. I tried with all my might to faith like I’d never faith’d before. But I was terrified, too. I felt like Job, right after he’d lost everything. We wept because we knew that asking for help meant risking losing The Boy. Still, the Holy Spirit kept prompting me “write”.

Before I went into the McDonald’s, I prayed several things. I prayed for God to show my mom and everyone else that he’s real and he’s still able to do miracles. I prayed that he would take care of my family. I surrendered to his will, knowing that even if I lost my child and everything we had, I would still follow Jesus. I prayed for God to do what he does.

I didn’t want to write about any of this until *after* it was over. You know, after we’d gotten a house. After we’d paid back all our debt. After we’d become a “success story”. But still, I heard “write.” So I went into that McDonald’s to charge my laptop while The Boy slept, knowing it may be the last time I would see him. I took a risk, emailed my wonderful supervisor to ask if I could have my paycheck early. (In my family, you’re taught not to rock the boat at work, or risk losing your job in any way.) Then I started writing a post. I started it off, “This is the face of homelessness. Me. My face.”

In the two hours while the boy slept, my feed was flooded with support. I received my paycheck early, along with a huge show of support from my supervisor. It made me feel so relieved. I felt better, that to me was a miracle by itself. I thought, “okay, we can make it, we can be okay now.” And if that wasn’t enough, people kept offering to help us. At first, I turned down everyone. Actually, I was dead set on not accepting anything I hadn’t earned. But then we decided as a family if people want to help us, we shouldn’t turn it down. Instead, we should use what we’ve been given to survive, but also to help others.

So that’s what we did. The next day we were able to check into a hotel and shower for the first time in 21 days (unless you count rinsing off at the beach water spigots). That same day, we were able to bless two homeless people with gift cards.

That’s the day that changed my life. Well, it changed the way I communicate with God…and it changed my ideas about what he’s capable of. I was blown away by how he orchestrated everything and took care of us using the kindness of total strangers. It was beyond what I could’ve ever expected or anticipated. It’s funny too, because before I walked into the McDonald’s, my mom said “what do you expect, some total stranger’s gonna walk off the street and hand you money?” And in effect, that’s exactly what happened lol.

The look on her face and the relief and elation we both felt when I walked out of there with food and cold drinks for all of us, it was amazing. The baby would be able to eat, and that was what we were most worried about. I actually should reflect on this day more, because it had a tremendous effect in building my faith. I didn’t post in order to get anything, and I expected maybe some people would offer to help in that casual “oh if I can do anything lemme know” kind of way, but very rarely do people ever mean that lol. (In my experience, anyway).

Over the past few months, my faith has significantly tanked. It’s good for me to recall these blessings to remember what God is capable of. Hopefully it’ll have the same effect for you.

Testimony #4: The Weekend

About two weeks ago, I was really struggling with our next steps. We were hoping to find a rental around here somewhere, but as usual, struggling. I had a bit of a breakdown and just started crying out to God, because more than anything, I just need direction. Does he want us to stay here? Does he want us to look elsewhere? It’s always so difficult for me to know what the right decision is, and I’m extremely fussy about money, so I don’t ever want to waste our resources by staying in a place there’s not a chance of getting a house in. (Or if it’s not where God wants us to be.)

I was sitting on the bed sobbing and asking God to show me, to help our family, because I was SO worried about the coming weekend. Hotel rates rise on the weekend, and this particular hotel is upwards of $120 per night during the weekends, but only about $60 per night on weekdays. I knew our cash supply was running low, and it was freaking me out. I cried out to God, and a second later, I had a ding on my phone. Someone I don’t even know had sent me a gift through mutual connections I’ve never met IRL. Then, this person also offered to help us secure a place once we find one.

Later that night or the next, it was time to renew the hotel room again. I was not looking forward to paying for the weekend, because I knew it would take way more than I wanted to spend. But I was grateful for the gift we’d been sent which could help us pay for it. Just had to bite the bullet.

However, when my mom came back from the front desk, she told me we’d already been paid up until Sunday! The most expensive nights of the week had somehow already been paid for! The two nights I was most worried about, the Lord took care of. The clerk at the counter said, “um, how much further out do you want to extend it? You’re already paid up until Sunday.” Praise God. You might think a hotel room being paid up for two extra nights is no big deal; it’s only a couple hundred dollars, right? But what meant so much to me is that God knew how worried and stressed and anxious I was about those SPECIFIC two nights — so he took care of them. Thank you, Jesus. He cares about what we care about.

Now, friend, I can’t tell you why God answers certain prayers when he does and not others. I can’t explain or unravel why he waits 20 years to fulfill one promise, but answers some other prayer at the drop of a hat. I can’t explain why your situation hasn’t been resolved yet. But I can tell you that God is willing and able to fix whatever it is you’ve got going on. Even if it doesn’t look like how you thought it should. I am learning that sometimes delays and denials are blessings in disguise, designed to re-route us to where we need to go, and more importantly, to who we need to be.

I believe God has been making provision for us this entire time until we get to the Promise; that is, the life and home he has waiting for us. My faith is weak often; it definitely has been this week. I didn’t even want to get out of bed today (but thank God for a bed to not want to get out of!) Looking back at all these things God has done for us so far (and this is just a short list, it doesn’t even include all the little tiny things, like when we’d get lost without GPS and we’d somehow find what we need when we needed it when we were at our lowest) gives me hope that we will be alright. I just have to keep leaning on him rather than myself.

Thank you for reading ❤

Just want to add a little disclaimer here, please forgive me if my dates and details aren’t 100% accurate. This has all been such a blur and so stressful, so you can imagine my memory is not at its strongest. But these are all actual things God did for us, and I hope they’ll be encouraging to you.

homeless | pt. 14 (what does a meth dealer, a single mom, and a middle schooler all have in common?)

What does a meth dealer, a middle schooler, & a single mom all have in common?

They all live at the same hotel.

We’ve been staying at motels & hotels across the southern U.S. recently. One common thread I’ve noticed is that, due to the housing shortage, hotel prices have went up, while quality has went down. Dramatically.

Smarmy hotel owners are taking advantage of this fact, charging $90-$200 a night for a fleabag motel. Allowing rampant drug abuse, domestic violence, & filth…all around the innocent children & families that are staying there because they have no other options.

Here’s the scam:

🏨 hotels keep certain rooms reserved for weekly rates. These are usually the worst, most unsafe rooms at the back of the property.

🏨 they block off certain rooms at the front of the property for walk ins & tourists. These are the most recently renovated & cleanest rooms you see in the photos on the website.

🏨 some hotels (like the one we’re staying at currently) make deals with staff members, paying them under the table & giving them a room, in what can only be described as a human trafficking situation.

🏨 They know they’re breaking a dozen health/safety violations, among other laws, so they boot out guests that threaten to involve the authorities. They avoid police presence at all costs.

🏨 they ignore/deny bad reviews/complaints, refuse refunds, etc.

When this homelessness journey started for us a couple months ago, one of our first stops was our hometown in Florida, to visit family in the hopes of getting help or at the very least, some empathy. (We were denied on both counts 😒).

I paid $123 for 1 night at what was considered the “fancy” hotel when I was growing up. Not only was it now filthy & falling apart, but the place was filled to the brim with homeless people, scam artists, & “riff raff”.

When we complained about the conditions of the place, we were essentially booted out & denied a refund or another night. (The owner literally stood outside of our room to ensure we removed our belongings).

(Don’t even get me started on the place we’re staying now. And the horrible thing is, there’s a dozen other hotels in the area that would be just as bad. :/ )

Clearly, the title “slumlord” is now applicable to hotel/motel owners.

It’s to the point you can hardly find decent, safe places to stay because the lack of affordable housing is driving everyone (including the unseemly) to the same place: your local hotel.

So if you’re wondering why the quality has gone down at your hometown hotel, now you know: lack of affordable housing is pushing both the chickens & the foxes into the coop, & heartless hotel owners are seeing dollar signs.

Hotels are not homes. They’re not made to be lived in long-term.

We need safe, affordable housing NOW — so that middle schoolers & drug dealers don’t have to share walls.

Update 8/19/2022: We’re still living in hotels lol. Albeit, the one we’re in now is much nicer. I think there’s some sort of program here that allows recently released inmates to clean and maintain the property, and lemme tell you, these guys keep the place spotless. Extremely hard workers, and not nearly as much drama as the previous hotel we were living at. I want to clarify one thing, after we left the previous hotel, we found out that much of the drama we were experiencing was being caused by just a couple unstable individuals. I can’t say I myself was entirely stable while we were there, either. We all go through things, and I made some judgments when I wrote this post originally (about 3-4 months ago) that weren’t fair to the people living in and running the hotel. They were all just people trying to get by and do their best. I do think the deal they made with the owner was unfair to them and manipulative on the part of the hotel owner; but I also realize that without that unfair deal, the hotel’s employees would literally have nowhere to live. So as unfair and smarmy as it is, it’s how they’re surviving right now. Many of them had health conditions, family issues, and other things going on. Turns out, they were actually really nice people. We left the hotel on good terms with the employees and owner, despite the difficulties of our stay. I wondered if the reason we were there is because God wanted us praying for these people. Instead, I did a lot more complaining than praying. I regret that. Please learn from my mistake.

homeless | pt. 13 (homelessness is expensive)

Being homeless is expensive.

Here’s why:

💸 Without a home, you’re always transient. Transient = gas money, public transport money, oil changes & maintenance on your car, plus car payment (if you have one), etc.

💸 Without a home, you have nowhere to store food. That means eating out of fast-food restaurants, gas stations, etc. (For my family of 3, it costs $21 to feed us at McDonald’s. Do that 3x per day, 7 days a week…I’ll let you do the math.)

💸Without a home, you have nowhere to sleep. That means risking being arrested for loitering or trespassing by sleeping somewhere public, OR paying for a hotel.

The hotel we’re in now is $355 a week. That’s a little over $1500 a month.

The hotel we were at in AR was $398 per week. That’s roughly $1724 per month. It didn’t include a kitchen so we still had to pay to eat out. We’d be paying less in rent or a mortgage in a regular house (even with utilities factored in).

When you’re spending $1700 or $1500 a month on a hotel, plus bills & other expenses, that leaves virtually nothing to save up for a deposit or down payment.

💸When you’re homeless, it’s hard to pay off debt. A lot of homeless people have medical debt or debt they incurred trying to prevent homelessness (like maxing out their credit cards).

All of this reflects poorly on your credit & makes it nigh impossible to qualify for a rental. If you can’t sit still somewhere & earn money, how can you ever pay off debt & come out of the hole you’re in? Sometimes you can’t even get a job with a bad credit score!

💸When you’re homeless, the loose ends don’t tie themselves. There’s a penalty. Like:

– I qualified for reduced-cost internet but we lost our home & haven’t used the service & didn’t have a way to call the company. I won’t be able to qualify for it again when we finally have a house.
– I qualified for a reduced-cost phone but my former landlord essentially withheld the phone, now I’ve lost that benefit, too.
– Charter is charging me $170+ for an unpaid bill even though I tried to cancel services on the 1st day of the billing cycle. Their policies dictate you can only cancel via phone or in-person (didn’t know that was an option). I didn’t have a phone at the time, so I couldn’t call in, but I used online chat & was rebuffed. Now they’re sending me to collections…over a service I didn’t (& can’t) use.
– I had to drop out of school because of our situation, losing the money I paid in application fees, orientation fees, transcripts, etc.

These are all major headaches & added stress I don’t need.

💸Being homeless is unhealthy & it’s expensive to heal from. Homeless people overburden the medical care system with millions of dollars in hospital visits, to have a warm place to sleep or to treat injuries & illnesses they’ve sustained. The toll on your body is astronomical. You can’t afford the medical treatment you need, which only exacerbates problems, costing *everyone* more in the long run.

8/19/2022: I wrote this post for my LinkedIn about 4 months ago. This particular article is about the real cost of homelessness. I began writing about our homeless journey on LI in late March, after sleeping in the car nearly 20 consecutive nights. I was worn down, I was frustrated, I was on my last thread. I had nothing left to do but speak. I kept hearing God say to write. So I finally gave in. Not to ask for anything, but just to share the truth of what it is to be homeless, and hopefully change people’s perception. To make them as upset about homelessness as I was/am. People act like being homeless is the easiest, laziest way to live. In reality, it’s the hardest and most expensive way to live. I hope that our story will help break stigmas and false ideas surrounding homelessness. I hope my posts will challenge you and convict you and stir you to action. Thank you for reading.

homeless | pt. 12 (miracles)

Yesterday I tasted my momma’s cooking for the first time in over a month.

She made fried pork chops & mashed potatoes.

After that, she sat on a broken pallet with a homeless man named Eric behind a dumpster surrounded by dog feces & watched him devour the portion she brought him.

God spoke to her & gave her insight into Eric’s life. She repeated these things to him & they were both surprised by the accuracy.

I won’t repeat what they spoke of because I think it’s special & sacred. But Eric walked away with instructions for getting his life back, & my goodness, was that beautiful.


Today we visited the shrine of Christ in Abernathy, Texas.

I took The Boy in & he marveled at the expansive statue of Christ’s mangled body clinging to a cross made of faux tree logs.

He said, “look, look!”

I said, “Jesus!”

He rushed up the stairs. I immediately saw what he wanted, so I let him go for it.

He touched the faux-Christ’s leg. I remarked, “look, he has boo-boos.”

The Boy stared up in wonder. “Boo boos.” He cooed.

I said, “He has many boo-boos.”

He moved down the other side of the staircase.

As he climbed down the stairs, he counted: “one, too, free, fouwer, fivve, six, sevven, ate, niine, ten, elevenn” — he stopped at eleven, I’m guessing because that’s as high as he could remember lol.

I like to think it wasn’t the stairs he was counting, but the boo-boos…mostly because we were only on the third step when he stopped.

“Jesus loves you,” I said.

He didn’t want to leave. We had to carry him out. (But I suppose that’s par for the course, ’cause we usually have to carry him out of everywhere.)

As I put him in the car, tears rolled from his gorgeous blue-green eyes…he pointed to the statue & cried, “Mine!” as he does with so many things.

But this time he was right. & I couldn’t help but tear up & think, “Mine!” too. (For He belongs to all of us.)


Being homeless has sucked. Really, really sucked. But moments like these make it suck so much less.

I truly wouldn’t trade the people we’ve met, the things we’ve experienced, the things we’ve seen.

We’ve seen tent villages of homeless people living in the middle of a median in metropolitan Louisiana.

Last night I saw an old man with a guitar — homeless, of course. He reminded me of my grandpa, a musician.

Today I saw a young couple walking down the street holding a baby in a car seat. I’m assuming they had no car. They looked content like they were making the best of it. (Do you know how hard it is to carry a baby in a car seat?!)

We’ve met Samantha, Bob, Ashley, Dee, & Chris (I haven’t posted about him, & probably won’t) — some homeless, some not.

All people who needed to be seen. Who needed to be loved on. Who needed to know they weren’t forgotten about…

I’ve learned about community. Discomfort. Asking for help. The list goes on…


I don’t know if you believe in miracles, but I sure do.

I’m living them every day.

Update 8/19/2022: I wrote this post for my LinkedIn about 4 months ago. We’re living in hotels, so, technically, still homeless. I began writing about our journey because I was hoping to challenge the way people think about homelessness and homeless people. I was hoping to stir change. I wanted people to be as upset about homelessness as I was/am. I’ve also realized some people have an odd disconnect between Christianity and homelessness. That is, “God wouldn’t let you be homeless, it has to be a mistake or choice you made, and it’s your own fault” — not in those words exactly, but the perception. (Now, I’ll clarify, this is the attitude of some, not all, Christians. Especially those who prize financial wealth as a symbol of blessing.) As a believer, I am trying to take this journey as a lesson. Maybe I did something wrong, maybe I didn’t — but I don’t see God as a teacher smacking my hand with a ruler. I see him as a kind Father, guiding myself and my family to what he has for us. We decided to go “all in” on his will. We dared to believe that he is still capable of doing what he did in Scripture, and we staked our lives on it. I have no reason to doubt this is all part of his plan, somehow. Even if it’s a “redirect” lol. We have learned, and are still learning, so much on this journey. I do not regret what we have gained. I do not regret seeing God move powerfully in the way we have (ways new to us, I might add). I am thankful for everything we’ve learned, the people we’ve met, and the things we’ve experienced. I know God has a purpose for it, even if it is not clear to me right now. I am still frustrated…still tired. I was in a bad mood all day long today because I just want my son to have a home. But I know that there are people who have it worse than us. And how fortunate we are to be doing this with Jesus, rather than without him. Being homeless doesn’t mean you’re automatically unsaved or lost. Christ himself was homeless. I hope you’ll remember that next time you see a brother or sister in Christ struggling.

homeless | pt. 11 (homeless does not equal jobless)

When people find out we’re homeless, they usually assume we’re jobless.

They automatically think that having a job will solve everything.


I have a job. I make decent money. (It’s not Beyoncé money, but it’s money, okay?)

But as I’ve mentioned in other posts, there are more barriers to finding a home than just income.

Problem? No house. Solution? Job!


A job certainly does help, but housing first is the solution.

Many homeless people ARE employed. But being homeless puts you at great risk of LOSING your job.

It’s hard to get a job when you don’t have a home. It’s even harder to *keep* a job when you don’t have a home.

Do you know how difficult it is to get ready & be on time for work everyday when you don’t have a home? How hard it is for remote workers to keep their jobs without a home? …home is literally your office!

On top of that, your paycheck is earmarked for survival before you even touch it.

Society at large associates homelessness with joblessness. “Get a job, ya lazy bum!”

Because getting a job magically fixes homelessness🙄Having money magically gives you a home🙄🙄

❌ Wrong.

Many well meaning people have offered to find me work or additional clients. I would love additional clients, but I’m having a hard time keeping up with the ones I’ve already got!

Homeless people aren’t lazy. Many of us work hard but we can’t work hard *enough* to get out of the holes we’re in.

Homelessness doesn’t equal joblessness. And jobs don’t fix homelessness. Income is only one *small* part of the homelessness problem in the U.S.

Having a home makes working a job feasible. Survival is a full-time job on its own. And working actually *costs* money.

Sure, if someone gave me gobs of money I could buy a house & we wouldn’t be homeless anymore. But it’s not that simple, is it?

My point is,

The attitude and preconceived notions around homelessness need to change.

Having money doesn’t guarantee you a home.

Having a job doesn’t guarantee you a house any more than having a house guarantees you a job. But having a house sure does make working & finding work easier.

Shelters are wonderful, but they’re restrictive.

Many programs for the homeless are job, addiction recovery, or mother-focused…those are are all great, but they’re exclusive, with strict requirements many people can’t meet or are discouraged by.

(I read where one man refused to go to a shelter because he would’ve been forced to surrender his dog. You may call that silly, but it doesn’t seem to be trivial to him.)

The methods we’ve tried in the past don’t work.

It’s not hopeless. We *can* end homelessness. We just need to change the way we think about it.

It’s not job first. It’s housing first.

Homeless people need safe, affordable, inclusive housing…right now.

Update 8/19/2022: I wrote this post about 4 months ago for my LinkedIn. I started writing about our journey with homelessness because I wanted to open people’s eyes about the realities of homeless life. The stigma and attitudes surrounding homeless people are just plain wrong. I figured, if people can see me and my family, they can see another side of homelessness they haven’t considered. You have no idea how hard it is to work while homeless, until you actually do it. All the cries for “jobs first” are ignorant. I’m sorry, they are. I’m thankful every day to God for my job and my amazing clients which enable me to support my family. I thank God for generous people who have blessed my family so that we don’t have to sleep in the car anymore. But many homeless people are not as fortunate as we are. I know you may have read one or two success stories about someone “working their way out of homelessness” — but I’m here to tell you, I’ve been working for 6 months, making good money, and we still haven’t been able to get anyone to rent us a house. In fact, when my mom was working also, we were making a combined yearly income of 3x the average rent in the U.S. Didn’t matter one bit. Wonky credit scores (due to being homeless), lack of landlord references (due to the altercation which caused us to be homeless), and the fact we have pets, are huge boundaries to being accepted or even qualifying for rentals. On top of that, I have a special needs child, which means we’re limited in where we can live and what types of homes we can live in. (You don’t want to share a wall with us when he’s up at 2am, but other than that, we’re great neighbors.) There are so many more factors to having a home than just “get a job”. I hope reading our story will help you understand that housing first is the only true solution for ending homelessness in America. And I’ll also say, it shouldn’t matter how someone becomes homeless — you shouldn’t treat them better or worse based on their circumstances. Homelessness can touch anyone. Treat people with kindness, always.

Honestly, at this point, I feel like I could offer someone a million dollars for their rental house, and they’d still turn me down. The rejection has been that extreme and depressing. Of course, realistically, no landlord would turn down a million dollars lol. But that’s certainly how it feels.

homeless | pt. 10 (you’ve probably been homeless)

You’ve probably been homeless.

You just didn’t know it at the time.

There are many types of homelessness.

According to the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, which is a bill aimed at easing the lives of homeless youth, homelessness can be defined as:

🏚️ individuals who lack a fixed, regular, & adequate nighttime residence
🏚️ sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason
🏚️ are living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations
🏚️ are living in emergency or transitional shelters; or are abandoned in hospitals
🏚️ a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings
🏚️ living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings
🏚️ migratory living

That time you “couch-surfed” in college? Homeless.

That time you had to move back in with your parents? Homeless.

That time you & your family had to stay at a friend or relative’s house? Homeless.

That time you lived in a hotel or your car ’till you could get back on your feet? Homeless.

That time you crashed at a friend’s place until you could find your own?Homeless.

That time you lived out of a dilapidated RV? Homeless.

When you think of “home”, what do you think of?

I have always been a person who adored houses, architecture, etc. I used to dream about owning a large, lovely house, hosting *the best* Thanksgiving dinners with *perfect* tablescapes, & making memories with the large family I’d someday create.

I’ve called many places “home”, but I’ve realized that home isn’t as much a place as it is a feeling, an environment.

Having a place to sleep is *NOT* the same as having a “home”.

“Home” is important. It wasn’t until this year that I figured out that whatever sense of “home” I had in childhood died along with my great-grandparents. I’ve dreamt of having a “house” I could make into a “home” my whole life.

Did you know that individuals who have experienced instability in childhood are far more likely to become homeless as an adult?

There’s a reason we fantasize about home. There’s a reason you feel a sense of relief when you walk through the door & change out of your “good clothes”.

Unfortunately, we usually don’t understand the importance of “home” until we don’t have one.

Home isn’t just a house or a place to sleep. It’s stability. It’s relief. It’s safety.

We can give people places to sleep, we can give them food, we can give them temporary relief…but what we all need is…home.

For more on the McKinney-Vento act:

P.S. Go back & reread that definition, & imagine all those things, but from the perspective of a child. How do we have homeless kids in the U.S.? Fix it, Felix. Lawd Jesus hammercy.

This post was adapted from a LinkedIn post I wrote 4 months ago. I’m hoping by sharing our journey, you’ll rethink what you thought you knew about homelessness and homeless people. The stigmas around homelessness are hurtful and only perpetuate the cycle for homeless people. Read the full series by checking out the category “homeless journey” here on my website.

how to be homeless

Back in the first week of March 2022, when it became pretty clear to my family and I that we were going to end up homeless, I did a Google search for “how to be homeless”. I thought maybe someone who had been there or was still there would write some tips or a guide of some sort to help “incoming” homeless people.

I didn’t find anything.

Sometimes, homelessness is unavoidable. There are a myriad of issues with housing in America, and suggestions like “get an Airbnb” or “stay with family” aren’t always possible.

The thing about being homeless is, it’s expensive. The other thing about being homeless is, it’s extremely hard work. You almost revert back to a primal instinct — how do I meet my basic needs today?

If you have a car to live in, that’s great. But your main concerns there will be finding places to use the bathroom, shower, budgeting for food, clean water, and finding safe places to sleep where you 1. won’t get arrested and 2. won’t be bothered.

For reference, we’ve been homeless since March 2022. (I’m writing this as of August 2022). For over 20 days of that, we lived in the car. Just me, my mom, a disabled child, two dogs, in a Volkswagen Tiguan (the smallest SUV ever, like I mean seriously).

Here are my tips for surviving while homeless (while living in your car). I pray that you aren’t currently homeless while reading this, but if you are, I’m praying you have a home soon. And I hope these tips help.

  1. Don’t spend money on a hotel unless you absolutely need to. Hotels are money drains. If you are fortunate enough to have a job, hotels and eating out will suck up all your resources and you’ll constantly be struggling to pay for it. The average hotel, even on the cheap end, can be $500 a week. That’s 2k a month, conservative. You could rent a house for that! Save your money, don’t spend it on hotels, as tempting as it may be.
  2. Make your sleeping space and car as functional and comfortable as possible. I can’t stress how much easier life is when you keep your car clean and develop a system for storing and accessing your stuff. We recently bought a storage bag that straps down to the top of the car and it’s made so much more room. I wish we would’ve done that when we were sleeping in the car.
    • Lay down the backseat, if you can. If not, sleeping spread horizontally across the front seat can be okay, just be sure to cushion beneath you. You’re sleeping in a car. It’s going to hurt. I’m sorry.
    • Try not to use too many blankets and pillows because it’s hard to keep everything clean and laundry is expensive. Also, it affects temperature.
    • Use privacy screens on the windshield and windows. You can either create curtains out of towels, or buy premade privacy contraptions from Walmart or a camping store.
    • Use a storage bag (ours was around $120, but there are smaller ones that are cheaper) to store things you don’t need every day up on top of the car.
    • Only keep things you use everyday in the car.
    • Invest in a battery you can charge using your car. Good Lord, this thing was a lifesaver. Eventually we had to pawn it to buy gas, but it was like $200 and kept all our devices charged. It charged while we drove during the day, then at night we used it to charge phones, tablets, laptop, etc.
    • Don’t let dirty laundry pile up. We made that mistake and it was miserable. Try changing your outfit every other day (worked for us). Of course, if you have kids, you’ll want them to be in clean clothes always, and you’ll do more laundry. (Be sure to check around to see which laundromat is cheapest — some of them are outlandish. And hotel laundry facilities are sometimes more expensive than local laundromats.)
  3. Carry a water jug. Buy one gallon or 1 liter bottle of water for cheap at Walmart or a gas station, and refill it for free at water spigots at rest stops, gas stations, etc. Some restaurants will allow you to get a cup of water for free. That’s nice when you really want a cold drink but can’t or don’t want to spend the money on a cold one. (Bonus tip, many gas stations that offer fountain drinks allow you water for free. Some of them even have a sink you can wash your dishes in. I used to wash out The Boy’s cups this way.)
  4. Keep your toothbrush and toothpaste in your purse or in an easily accessible spot on your body. You never know when you’ll have a nice bathroom you can clean up in.
  5. Some rest stops, gas stations, or restaurants offer WARM water, but not all do. Take note of the ones that offer warm/hot water. It makes a difference, I promise.
  6. Buy dry, long-lasting food items. Granola bars, Pop-Tarts, instant oatmeal (which you can add hot water to and enjoy), rice cakes, cereal, etc. I’d avoid chips if you can. They’re expensive and don’t really make you feel full. Another great option is fruit in the pouch (like applesauce). Makes great snacks for kids, too.
  7. Use apps to get reward points and discounts for food. Sometimes apps like Wendy’s and McDonald’s will offer free food, or you can use your points to get free food. Even pharmacies, grocery stores, and the like, use rewards cards and apps. So if you have a phone/device, take advantage of all of that.
  8. You can also seek out food pantries or soup kitchens to get warm meals and non-perishables. We didn’t do this, but it’s a good option.
  9. If you can, try to eat fruit and fiber. This is gonna be a lil personal, but being homeless and sleeping in weird contorted positions does a number on your gut. Drink plenty of water and try to eat fiber-rich foods when you can. It’ll make trips to the bathroom easier and faster (which is great, since it’s likely a public restroom you’ll be using).
  10. Public bathrooms are few and far between. Stay near 24/hr gas stations, make note of retailers like Walmart, Dollar Tree, and Dollar General. They seem to be more homeless friendly than other places. You may need to make a small purchase at some places to avoid a hassle. Bonus tip for women: Dollar Tree and Family Dollar stores usually keep a “Store use” package of pads or tampons in the bathroom.
  11. Compare value. McDonald’s isn’t always the cheapest way to go. I figured out quickly that it took about $22 to feed our entire family at McDonald’s, but it took the same amount to feed us all at Chic-Fil-A, which is better quality food, stays with you longer, and tastes better than McD’s leftover. (No offense to McDonald’s, love you.) Likewise, Dollar Tree or little stores like Dollar General or convenience stores aren’t the best use of your money, especially not when it comes to food. They’re usually overpriced for convenience, and even dollar stores are selling you a much smaller product. You think you’re getting great value, but, eh, you’re really not.
  12. If you need a hot meal that stretches, try a Little Ceasar’s Hot-N-Ready. It fed our family of three for about $6. Sometimes if we got two, we’d have leftovers to munch on later. You can also make sandwiches (see tip 22). Domino’s also has a $5.99 carry out deal for two pizzas. We found that pizza stretched further for us than most fast food, and it still tastes pretty good when it’s cold. For drive thrus, Burger King can’t be beat for cheapness.
  13. Fountain drinks are ALWAYS cheaper than bottled, and they taste better. They’re nice and cold, too, so it’s a great treat, especially if it’s hot outside. You can get a large fountain drink at most places for 50-99 cents. Also be sure to check rewards apps for free fountain drinks. Alternatively, you can buy canned beverages, which imo are just a waste because they go flat. (Or, save the money and don’t drink anything but water).
  14. Free wifi is available at most McDonald’s, as well as public libraries. (Don’t bother with Burger King’s wifi, it sucks. Chic-Fil-A’s internet is decent. Starbucks’ is great, but only if you’re in the building or on the patio.) If your phone is turned off, or broken (like mine was — both of those things), take advantage of free wifi and free public hotspots to check your email, apply to jobs, contact friends and family, etc. We spent the majority of our days looking for a space I could work, because I’m a writer and work remotely. Wifi is my life lol. Some rest stops are really amazing places to work, btw, as they offer free wifi. The Alabama Welcome Center is my favorite (I was able to work *inside* the building). But the Florida Welcome Center has good internet, too. Bonus, sort of shanky tip: some hotels don’t password protect their internet. In a pinch, you can check your stuff by covertly hanging out in the parking lot. Just don’t stick around longer than a few minutes.
  15. Take advantage of public spaces like libraries and parks. We couldn’t go inside public libraries because of my son’s, *cough*, energy lol. He would’ve went wild inside, and he’s not nice to books. But anyway, libraries are a great way to stay warm (or cool), use wifi, read, and just have peace and quiet. (Something very hard to come by when you’re homeless).
  16. Find safe places to park overnight or to sleep. Most Walmart parking lots allow overnight parking, but they’re not entirely safe. We had a really scary experience at a Walmart in Arkansas once (a hot spot for human/sex trafficking). Some Cracker Barrel’s allow overnight parking. Just Google “free overnight parking”, and watch out for signs posted in the parking lots. Truly, we found that rest stops were the most safe and nonjudgmental places to sleep. Usually security guards don’t give you too much trouble, especially if overnight parking is allowed. You’ve got bathrooms, vending machines, and a water source *right there*. We would spend our days in town and come back at night to sleep.
  17. If you do sleep at rest stops, be sure to know the rules about how long you can park. Choose an area to park that is slightly away from everyone, but still near a few cars. Be EXTREMELY CAREFUL if you’re sleeping at the Florida Welcome Center. It’s a hot spot for sex/human trafficking and it’s scary as crap, especially if you’re a woman.
  18. Park under a light, if you can. Lock your doors. Do not repeat a pattern of behavior. Once you’re ready to sleep, park, and hunker down. Don’t get out of the vehicle unless you absolutely have to. And this goes without saying, don’t open the door for anyone or roll down the windows. If someone approaches your vehicle at night, start your engine and leave.
    • If you have a child, I cannot stress this enough, PUT YOUR CHILD LOCKS ON. My son nearly fell out of the car when he figured out how to open the door. Also put your window locks on. He loves throwing stuff out the window.
  19. Make yourself scarce. If you frequent the same places over and over, it WILL draw suspicion, and could get you in trouble with the lawman (law enforcement). Try to vary your routine.
  20. Be extremely vigilant. We were once nearly ran over by a rogue semi truck at a rest stop in Arkansas. It was dark and he couldn’t see; he took out a pilon trash can, nearly ran into two parked vehicles, and almost crashed into a whole row of semis. It was so scary I had panic attacks for weeks after. Be extremely aware of your surroundings at all times. Homeless people are at higher risk for becoming victims of crime.
  21. Things you should always have on hand or in your car somewhere accessible:
    • A small bottle of dish soap (we prefer Dawn, it’s got the most bang for your buck) for washing dishes, hands, and general mess clean up.
    • Your toiletries (especially toothpaste and toothbrush). I recommend keeping a small bottle of dry shampoo (like $2 at Walmart) so you can freshen up your hair when it gets greasy from not showering. Deodorant/antiperspirant is also a must. Buy the big ones, not the little ones, it’s actually cheaper. You’ll also want to keep your own toilet paper on hand.
    • Baby wipes. I cannot even express to you how valuable baby wipes are when you’re homeless! Baby wipes are the answer for everything: cleaning up messes, getting yourself clean, blowing your nose…Idk. Baby wipes are amazing.
    • Something to write with and paper. It’s helpful for taking down directions, writing down contact info for people about housing/jobs, etc.
  22. Save your change and pick up change from the ground when you see it. It seems silly and embarrassing but pick up any change you see and keep it in a safe place in your car. It’s helpful for vending machines (especially when they don’t take cards). We even bought gas with change. There’s no shame in using change. A little adds up to be a lot sometimes.
  23. Keep a cooler for cold items. This is something I wish we really would’ve done, but we didn’t have enough room in the car. This is especially important if you have kids. You can keep Uncrustables, milk, yogurt, juice, and other perishables in the cooler. One thing we enjoyed doing was buying deli meat and making sandwiches (it was a nice break from fast food, and relatively cheap). But we ended up having to give the leftover meat and cheese to the dogs because we didn’t have a way to keep it cold. (Bonus tip: If you have a child, don’t buy milk until before bedtime. If you buy it too soon, it may be no good by the time your kiddo is ready for it. Seems straightforward but it’s a lesson we learned the hard way. Most rest stops don’t have milk, so you have to plan for it.)
  24. The less bulk the better. Try to stay organized in a way that works for you. Keep clothes minimal (saves money for washing clothes, anyway). If I could do it all over again, I’d keep one small tote for bathroom stuff, one for clothes (or a travel bag), and one for food. You really want an airtight way to store your food, or else it’ll attract bugs.
  25. If you can afford it, get a membership to a gym or YMCA in order to shower. We didn’t do this and I wish we had. Showers at truck stops are upwards of $5, and it’s not entirely comfortable. Sometimes parks or beaches will have public showers you can rinse off at (you just can’t get fully naked and clean very well). If you can find a truck stop that still allows free showers, God bless you and enjoy it.
  26. Either invest in a mailbox at a shipping and packing place (like UPS) or have your mail sent to a loved one’s address. (Get their permission first, of course.) Mail becomes weirdly important once you’re homeless and have nowhere to send it. Avoid PO boxes; they’re expensive and you’re limited on what you can use it for. Most things (like forms you’ll fill out when you apply for assistance) will require a physical address, and a mailbox at UPS will give you that.
  27. It seems simple, but if you don’t need it, don’t buy it. I spent a lot of little money here and there on buying toys or fun things for my son just to make the situation better for him — that’s the only exception.
  28. Be generous. It seems counter intuitive, but helping out others will always come back to you. I’d also suggest you pray. I have seen God move and work wonders for us, just when we thought all hope was lost (like people giving us money or finding out our hotel room was paid up without us paying anything). I don’t know how we would’ve gotten through this without faith in Jesus. Finding a faith community can also be crucial.
  29. Rest when you can. Being homeless is exhausting, not only physically but emotionally and mentally as well. The toll it takes on you can’t be underestimated. Homelessness is a form of trauma. It’s those really hard moments where we finally gave in and paid for a hotel (when we had the money to). Taking a hot shower, enjoying a warm meal, sleeping in a bed, it’s those little things that make you feel human. Do things to make yourself more comfortable or human, even if it’s small. It goes a long way in keeping you going.
  30. Remember who you are. You don’t have a home, but a home isn’t who you are. Being homeless does a number on your self esteem. But you have to remember that you’re smart, capable, attractive — all those things. You are a person first. Just because you have fallen on hard times doesn’t make you worth less.
  31. Don’t waste money on “get rich quick” schemes like the lottery, gambling, etc. It goes without saying, but don’t waste money on things like cigarettes or alcohol either. If it’s not possible for you to stop, GREATLY reduce your consumption. My mom is a smoker but I’m not. She went from a pack a day or every two days to a pack a week, and the cheap cigarettes at that. (Discount tobacco stores are good for this purpose.)
  32. Try stretching, breathing exercises, etc. Your body *will* hurt. Not only from the physical discomfort and all the movement you’ll be doing, but also from the tension you carry from the mental stress of it all. Whenever you’re in a bathroom or somewhere private and comfortable, stretch, take deep breaths, and loosen your body.
  33. If you have kids, try to keep their routine as normal as possible. That will ease the situation for them. It’s okay to talk to them and explain the situation in a way they can understand. Try to keep your frustration and emotions in check. It’s okay to let them know you’re upset by the situation, after all, you’re human…but it’s not okay to take out your frustration on them. Remember to connect with them, take time to listen to what they have to say and talk about things they enjoy. Take them to the playground, the lake or beach, and let them have fun. (Both activities are free, btw.) Let them get their energy out. I loved taking my son to indoor playgrounds at McDonald’s — it met several needs all at once: food, wifi, bathrooms, play. I could work while he played, which was awesome.
  34. Don’t spend money on plastic/paper products like plates or paper towels, if you can avoid it (except baby wipes. Those are a necessity in my book). Most places will give you extra napkins if you ask, or you can get them free at most gas stations. Buying a cup, plate, and bowl from Walmart ($0.50 a piece) and washing it after each use is cheaper and better for the environment. I used to keep a stash of napkins in the center console for messes and makeshift plates. We kept the boy’s dishes in the same basket as our food.
  35. Rest stops, fast food places, and the library are great places to charge your devices. Not all rest stops offer accessible outlets, though, so look for large ones with welcome centers and seating areas. Sometimes truck stops will have seating areas you can eat at and also charge your devices.
  36. If you want to try to cook from your car, you can try a camp stove or utilizing microwaves at places like 7/11. Some people cook things using their car’s engine. I’ve never tried it before, but you can Google tutorials. Bonus tip: Some people have found success camping at campsites during periods of homelessness. So if that sounds like it could work for you, check into it. It wasn’t an option for us because The Boy is an eloper and it would be dangerous for him. Also, we have pets, which is tricky at campgrounds.
  37. Fill up your car, don’t top off or put in $5 at a time. You’ll get better gas mileage that way. If you can stay in one area and not drive that much, that’ll help, too. We ended up traveling all over the southeast, including Texas, in search of affordable housing and cheap hotels (once it was clear we could no longer live in the car).
  38. Weekday hotel rates are always cheaper. If you MUST get a hotel room, do so on a weekday. That way you can sleep, clean out the car, shower, etc. It’s a nice break from the car, so at first we would get a hotel room maybe once every ~12 days.
  39. Don’t be afraid to ask for discounts ANYWHERE. At the hotel, when getting your car repaired, basically anywhere. Ask for discounts. You never know when someone will cut you a break.
  40. This is what everyone will say to you, but I wouldn’t be covering everything if I didn’t reiterate it: check with your local housing authority, homeless shelter, churches, etc. for help. Most public housing has a waitlist a mile long, and if you have a job making decent money, you may not qualify anyway (check your state’s income requirements anyway– you may be below the poverty line and not know it). Don’t be ashamed to apply for assistance, but stay on top of your case so you don’t fall through the cracks. In some cases you may qualify for emergency assistance. I can’t tell you how frustrating the whole system is, so I will warn you it can be really discouraging. I remember trying to renew our food stamps and checking the box “homeless”, only to be asked what my address is (*eyeroll*). Ultimately we lost our food stamp benefits because my phone didn’t work and they couldn’t complete the phone interview. (Even though I contacted my case worker via email to let them know my phone was broken). Bonus tip: you may qualify for a free phone through a government program. The process takes a while, and you need an address to send the phone to (unless you apply in person).
  41. Don’t be afraid to accept help. There are a lot of “fake” homeless people out there grifting and fooling people. They go back to their hotel rooms at night happy as larks. It’s hard to see that when you’re trying to be honest and work your way out of homelessness the right way. So when someone offers you help, don’t be proud and turn it away. Take that free meal, take that cash or gift card, take the clothes. And thank God for them. (There’s also no shame in getting on public assistance, if you can.)
  42. You learn pretty quickly to adjust your expectations and be less picky. I’m a hugely picky eater and my son is, too. I got accustomed to cold french fries and watered down drinks lol. To me, a great day was being able to sleep even 2 hours straight without waking up in pain (I slept in the front seat most of the time). Learn to take your wins when you get them. This is not going to last forever. It sucks, and it’s hard, but try to see silver linings when you can. It keeps you going, I promise.
  43. Have a strategic plan out of homelessness. Think about all the things you need to do in order to secure housing, make a list, and start accomplishing things on the list. What are the obstacles or barriers in your way to obtaining housing? Write them down and figure out how to overcome them. For me, my list was:
    • Get a job (happened about a week before we ended up living in the car, but I hadn’t gotten my first paycheck yet)
    • Fix my phone & get it turned back on (so I can call about houses)
    • Save money for a deposit (we have saved and spent at least 3 deposits by now, unfortunately)
    • Find a cheap hotel we can live while I work & save money
    • Get bills caught up (car insurance, car payment, phone bill)
    • Pay off debt (to raise my credit score, because most landlords want a credit check)
  44. Pay your bills, if you can. Again, I know this seems like a dumb tip, but trust me, keeping your credit card payments on time and your car/insurance payments up will only help you get housing in the future. Bonus tip: Don’t get caught up in payday or title loans. Don’t take out any debt, unless you know you can pay it back within a short time frame. These things are vicious cycles that kill your finances and will prevent you from saving money for a home. $60 today is not worth $20 in interest tomorrow.
  45. Consider moving. Okay, sounds dumb to move when you’re homeless, right? But depending on where you live, it may be more affordable to find housing elsewhere. If I could do things all over again, I’d sell everything off from our old house and use the money to move us somewhere else. Also, some areas are just way easier to be homeless in, unfortunately. It’s much cheaper to live in your car in Arkansas or Texas (weather permitting) than somewhere like Georgia or Florida.
  46. When looking for housing, opt for PEOPLE instead of property management companies. They’re more willing to work with you and more likely to be sympathetic to your plight.
  47. A bigger deposit can cure a lot of woes. This tip, and tip 46, come from a realtor friend of mine, Mitch Messer. In his words, a landlord’s worst nightmare is a vacancy. If you can demonstrate you’re a responsible tenant in spite of your bad credit score or homelessness, you may be able to work something out.
  48. Many small towns have affordable housing but don’t advertise those houses online. Take it old school; check Craigslist (beware of scams), check yards for “For Rent” signs, check newspapers, and ask around. Join Facebook groups for the area and see who’s got property for rent (or lease to own, if you can gather the down payment).
  49. Talk to people. I can’t stress how important this is. We have found much more favor by speaking to people and connecting with them rather than trying to do things online. (Like the $166 a week hotel with a kitchen I found, just by driving around and talking to front desk clerks.) People are generally friendly and willing to help. TALK TO THEM. Especially locals who know the area and how it works better than you.
  50. Check into programs. Some states offer incentives for remote workers to move there. Some programs offer housing along with employment training. If you’re a college student who is homeless, check your school’s resources and talk to your guidance counselor. You may also be eligible for rental assistance due to the pandemic (we weren’t, because we never had a formal lease).
  51. Maintain relationships with friends and loved ones. I can’t stress how important this is. Being homeless feels hopeless and so lonely. If you can, stay in touch with friends and loved ones. I can’t tell you how many times having people to talk to saved me from going off the deep end. Especially as a parent, it helps to have someone to confide in and vent to, or just have adult conversation. It’s also nice to feel like you have people in your corner checking on you.

This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but hopefully there are useful tips in here for you. A lot of these tips also apply to living in a hotel room, if that’s the type of homelessness you’re experiencing. I don’t really have any tips for those who are homeless without a car or hotel room, unfortunately. I’m sorry.

If you have any tips for how to survive homelessness, please let me know and I’ll add them. I want to say thank you to all those who have shown my family kindness during this time. I feel like we’re very close to having a home soon!

P.S.: if you’re a parent worried about raising your child and keeping them safe while you’re homeless, please know that there is a law on the books called the McKinneyVento Homeless Assistance Act, which makes allowances for your child to attend school and access extra assistance they may need. Yes, it is possible that CPS (child protective services)/DCFS (Department of Children and Family Services) can remove your child from your care due to homelessness…HOWEVER, in MOST cases, social workers and authorities just want to help you. They don’t want to take away your kid. Please don’t let that fear keep you from getting help! I was a CASA for two years and worked with social workers and experts; the majority of these people want to help you and your child stay together. Please check the laws for your state. I’ll be praying for you.

Edit 8/14/2022: Before writing this post, I Googled “how to be homeless” again and still didn’t find any relevant results. That’s part of what prompted me to write it. However, today when I Googled the same phrase, quite a few relevant results came up. I’m not sure what the deal is with that. Call me paranoid but someone from Google searched my profile on LinkedIn after I posted a link to this post there. Idk, but hopefully that means attention is being brought to the issue? Hopefully? Or I’m just a weirdo lol.

I want to add a very clear disclaimer to this post now by saying that my family and I are VERY fortunate in that 1. I have stable employment 2. we had a car to live in and could pay for hotels 3. had generous people give us money, prayers, connections, etc. My mom also had a job temporarily for about 3 months in which her employer paid for our hotel room and we were able to save money and get all our bills current.

We lived in the car for about 21 days. The rest of the time has been spent living in hotels, which wouldn’t have been possible without help from generous people. (Like the total stranger who sent me money so I could get a new phone and pay my phone bill to get it current.) My income was cut in half a couple months ago when one of the companies I write for had to reduce my hours, which made things a bit harder; but even when I was making more money, we still spent all of it trying to survive. When we first became homeless, I was fortunate enough to have SNAP benefits (food stamps) to help pay for The Boy’s snacks/food/milk. But those ran out and were not renewed because of the communication issue I mentioned in the post. I have not reapplied for food stamps so currently we are paying for all of our food ourselves. Food stamps do not cover warm food or food purchased from restaurants, which is primarily where you’ll be purchasing from if you have no way to cook. Now that we’re in a hotel, we’re able to purchase things that are microwavable and spend a little less on take out.

I will be the first to admit, we have not always been the wisest or smartest on this journey. But in our defense, there’s no class in school growing up that teaches you to survive while homeless. We have been figuring it out as we go. For a long while, we thought keeping moving was smart. I realize now it was draining our money so much faster than just picking one place and staying. (We were also afraid of drawing the attention of the authorities — the longest we ever stayed in one town was a week.)

I want to stress that we have NOT had it as rough as those who live on the streets or are living homeless without the help we’ve received. We are EXTREMELY fortunate and I thank God every day for the help we’ve gotten. We have had it MUCH better than probably the majority of homeless people. I will also say that there are MANY types of homelessness, and what we’re experiencing is just one form of it. My heart breaks for people that have no car to sleep in, can’t stay in a hotel, are unemployed + homeless, and those who are living on the streets. I wouldn’t wish homelessness in any form on my worst enemy. Nobody should live like this. And again, we’ve had it a lot better than other people. We have endured some really crappy and traumatic things while being homeless, but we’ve also been blessed to have some beautiful moments and adventures.

I will also say that one post I read talked about stealing while homeless. My family and I have never stolen anything while on this journey; I have absolutely refused and set that boundary in stone from the very beginning. We have paid for everything this whole time, but I would be lying if I didn’t say sometimes it felt like we were going to have to steal at certain points. There was one time I recall during our time sleeping in the car that The Boy needed something (now, I can’t remember what) and I was freaking out because we didn’t have enough money for it. But thank God, we were able to get what he needed. I am not judging those who do steal; I have not been in their shoes so I can’t possibly. But I’m just saying that’s a moral line in the sand we set as a family and have stuck to.

If I could go back and do the past 6 months over again with what I know now, I would’ve made some very different decisions. I hope that others can learn from our mistakes and hopefully ease their situation if they are facing homelessness. If you want to help homeless people in your area, connect with local homelessness ministries, keep useful supplies (like food, toiletries, gift cards for food and gas) handy and give them out to homeless people when you see them, and honestly, just be kind. In my experience, truly homeless people who are really in need of help are not pushy. We’ve met some other homeless people while on our journey and they are usually extremely nice, grateful people. We’ve also met “fake” homeless people who are rude as heck and refuse food or toiletries because they just want cash. Just be discerning with who you give resources to. You probably know a homeless person at this very moment and don’t even know it. Those of us who are homeless and earnestly trying to survive are not so bold as to accost you and beg from you (although I can’t say I wouldn’t ask if my son truly needed something I couldn’t provide). I can’t really explain it, but there’s a meekness of spirit that we can feel when we’re around another homeless person. Idk.

Another thing to clarify is that our experience is different from most homeless people because we are a family, and a family with a disabled child and pets, at that. Many homeless people have pets. There are many homeless families. There are people that are homeless with special needs. But we are a combination of all those things. A lot of the decisions we made were for the comfort of my son. If I were by myself and homeless, I could live on 10% of my income and save the rest. If it were just me and my dogs, it would be far more difficult. If it were just me and my mom, we could live very cheaply and be in a place in no time. But we have made a lot of decisions some would not understand, simply because it was what was best for my son at the moment. For example, when we lived in the car, we had to drive literally all day long (unless we were stopped to eat or go to the playground) because he is a sensory seeker and is only content when moving. He cannot tolerate sitting in a parked car. If he were able to sit in a parked car, or hang out in a library, or any other number of things, we would’ve saved a ton of money on gasoline. But driving was what soothed him, so that’s what we did. Another thing was staying at a shelter. My son could never stay in a shelter with spaces open to other people. People kept suggesting to me “go stay at a shelter” and it was the most terrifying thought. The only thought more terrifying than that was not having the car or a shelter at all. Because how would I keep him safe? (He is an eloper; there would literally be no controlling him — he’d run into traffic without a second thought. He needs a roof over his head, even if it is the car.) So I want to clarify that as well, that there were boundaries for us even within homelessness that aren’t necessarily present for other people. If it were just me by myself being homeless, I could’ve survived on very little cash, worked in libraries, and slept in the car, caught up my bills, etc. etc. and I would likely already be in a place by now. But that’s not our story.

Anyway, thank you for reading this extremely long edit lol. I just want to make it very clear that we have been so incredibly blessed during this journey and have been very fortunate in ways most homeless people are not. So when you’re reading my posts, please keep in mind that our experience does not reflect the reality of many homeless people who have it worse than us. Thank you for reading.

homeless | pt. 9 (humble)

We’ve been humbled by the support, prayers, and financial assistance we’ve received from you guys…really, it’s mind-blowing, and I thank God for it. For you.

But I want you to know, when you’re helping our family, you’re also helping:

– Samantha, who’s been living on the streets in Hot Springs, AR since last year when her father died. She’s got two kids she doesn’t have custody of, and a job interview tomorrow. Please pray for her. (Mom was able to pray with her and ask her what she needed — she requested a gift card to CVS Health so she could get stuff to prepare for her job interview.)

$20. And my momma sat down on the curb with her. She cried because that’s the first time anybody’s been nice to her in a long time.

– The white-haired, older gentleman from Slidell, LA who was in line in front of me at McDonald’s. He ordered an ice cream sundae and a cup of water (free most places). I saw him counting out his change, and understood what was going on. He’d ordered the cheapest thing on the menu and had probably been saving up that change for days. When he disputed the price with the young man behind the counter, the young man poked fun at him (apparently, the price had gone up a bit and the older man did not anticipate it being so much).

$10. I got him a gift card and handed it to him. He said, “Now I can get me something good to eat!” I told him to order whatever he wanted. (Tough noogies to the jerkface cashier.) Pray for the white-haired man. I didn’t ask him what his name was and I should have. (Someday I’ll learn.)

– The elderly African American woman searching the dumpster behind a gas station in the bad part of Hot Springs, AR, for food in the middle of the night. We don’t know her name, and we’re not even sure if she was in her right mind, but we decided to call her Maumelle because that’s the exit she was at off I-30. Plus I just feel like it fits.

$10. Momma handed it to her and told her to go get her something to eat. This woman probably raised a family…she’s probably worked her whole life…she’s probably somebody’s grandma. It’s ridiculous she’s out there dumpster diving for food. And she was surrounded by some very shark-like homeless fellows whom I have no doubt she had need to be afraid of. Pray for Maumelle.

Update below:

I reached my breaking point today, I think, you guys.

We left the hotel early & got a refund for the extra two nights I’d paid for. The Boy was having difficulty adjusting to the space & had a moment — threw my (new) phone & it broke a window. That cost us $150. The hotel owner wouldn’t board up the window & The Boy fixated on it — not safe. Back to the rest area we went.

We spent the last two nights at the rest area. Last night was terrifying. A big semi-truck came barrelling through the rest area…Idk if he was confused or overtired, but his vehicle barely missed ours & two others. He took out signs & a concrete pilon/trash can. We didn’t know if his vehicle was even going to stop — he could’ve smashed right into a row of semis.

About 10 minutes after that, The Boy figured out how to open the car door, & he nearly fell out — I was able to catch him before he did. Thank God.

It became overwhelmingly clear to me last night that we just cannot keep sleeping in the car anymore. So tonight we’re in a hotel. But hotels are a $ drain, & I don’t want to be unwise with what we’ve been given.

I broke down today because I just can’t do it anymore. Sleeping in the car worked for a while, but we need a home. And we need it ASAP😣

Note: This was originally posted to my LinkedIn account in early April/late March. It is the 9th post in a series I’ve been writing on LinkedIn about our family’s homelessness. I started writing because I felt like God was directing me to share the reality of what many people are facing in the U.S., and put a new face to homelessness. I’m a young professional with a disabled child, with a mom whose health has seen better days, and two obnoxious dogs. But homelessness doesn’t care who you are, and it affects thousands of people every day. I hope that by reading our stories from the road, your beliefs about homeless people will be challenged, and you’ll be spurred to cause change. Nobody should ever be homeless. Nobody.