Why do people choose the street over a shelter?

Why I Choose Streets Over Shelter

Published
June 03, 2009 @ 05:25PM PT

Why do people choose streets over shelter? For those who have never
been without a permanent home, it’s tough to imagine. The comments on a
previous post about this topic have been enlightening, including one that was so insightful that I had to share it. “SlumJack Homeless
is a former property manager who has been homeless and living on the
streets (read more about his predicament here). He shared his reasons
for choosing to live on the streets: 

Here are my reasons for choosing to remain “outdoors” rather than go to the shelters (which I initially tried):

1. Shelters usually require that you enter early in the eve and then
remain there until early the next morn when you must leave. This can
totally waste HOURs of otherwise possibly productive time, just sitting
around in unpleasant to worse circumstances — and a time when EVERY
resource, including time, must be marshalled.

2. The shelters I’ve been to are designed to try to keep alcoholics,
drug addicts and criminals from being able to do those things. I don’t
do those things, so the preventative measures simply needlessly and
oppressively impose upon my own adult freedoms. Like going around the
corner for a coffee in a cafe and looking for work or some other way to
earn money using the wifi.

3. Literally “imprisonment” with some of the worst people. This is a
lousy way to spend evenings and is COUNTERproductive. Or worse.

4. Property Impracticalities – I have a bicycle with a trailer
attached. This is a GOOD solution to having to constantly carry around
one’s belongings. It’s a LOT more useful, and less “unattractive” than
the stereotypical shopping cart, etc. However, shelters typically do
NOT offer any kind of secure options for one’s belongings, usually
severely limiting how much one can even carry in. This forces people to
a ridiculous minimum of belongings… one of the factors that actually
contributes to perpetuating a person’s homeless predicament.

Also, you DON’T want other people at shelters to see what you DO own
and have. There are many thieves that will then know what you’re
carrying around with you, many of whom you WILL run across later… at
night, alone, etc.

5. The “solution” IS the “problem” – Shelters are often euphemized
as “emergency shelter”… but the emergency is that you have nowhere
else to just be and operate, so being AT a “shelter” is the emergency.
And being in that predicament, even with the “help” of merely having a
lousy place to sleep indoors, a disgusting bathroom and a gesture of a
“meal” – AT BEST – just perpetuates your true problem.

While “outdoors” you can spend up until midnight or so at
comfortable cafe’s, with options to interact with intelligent and,
possibly, helpful people. You can work on things that may actually
afford a chance to get out of the jam. Use wifi. Etc. The “price” is
that of some modest purchases, but then also having to find a place to
sleep outdoors. This is becoming harder and harder to do, as cities
virtually outlaw being homeless like that.

Thanks for sharing, “SlumJack Homeless.”

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