18 People Reveal The Unwritten Rules Of The Homeless That The Public Is Completely Unaware Of

There’s a lot about the homeless life that people who live “comfortably” don’t know about. They’re found here on this Reddit thread.

1. One of the more fucked up things I’ve read in a while

Check out the food people give you. I know people who’ve been given shit sandwiches and stuff with glass in it. Just be careful.

2. Good things to know

I was homeless for about 4 months in Las Vegas. Rules I learned in the area: (I’m a girl BTW :))

Don’t walk around without some sort of knife, because drunk, stupid people like to pick on homeless people.

Search each machine you can for loose change and vouchers. Also, if you spend a dollar at the penny slots and need a drink, you can get free ones on Fremont Street, which is also a great source of free entertainment when you’re bored.

If you find a friend, make sure one watches while one sleeps.

Make use of shelter money. In Vegas, there is a social service run by a church outfit that provides you with housing vouchers if you are one of the first 10 people in line in the morning. You can find a friend, double up on the vouchers in some places and get a weekly rental for an entire month. This is awesome during the summer when it’s 120 degrees outside and you need AC and a shower. This is also cool if you find a job with a telemarketing company or something that requires you to shower daily.

If you get involved in drugs, or have a gambling problem, and you’re already homeless, you’re pretty much destined to remain homeless in Vegas.

If you have food stamps, share. I once had a homeless man buy me a sandwich, and it was the most humbling experience in my entire life.

That’s about all I got. It’s pretty gnarly out there, and I’m definitely glad I am no longer homeless. I give back what I can these days, and am pursuing a career in Social Services so that I can continue to help others.

3. You’re in it together

My dad told me about the time he had to live homeless for a week for a class; he was working toward being a Catholic deacon. He has lots of stories from it, but the one that stuck with me was his first night of being “homeless” he woke up covered in layers cardboard, with a rock on top to hold it in place. The other homeless took care of him his first night on the streets.

4. Don’t run away from a good home

If you’re trying to run away from good parents, and are underage, we will make sure the police find you.

Kid was 15, and after talking with his friends, we heard no reason for him to be running away. (teenage angst) Made sure the police took him home, and left my cell phone number in case he ran away again.

Just because I was homeless, that didn’t mean I didn’t work 2 jobs. Would work about 56 hours a week at a gas station between 2 stores, and then did the usual selling papers on the streets in the morning.

5. It’s a good time to go learn

Save every penny. Buy a tent. Put your tent next to a river. Go to the library every single day. Spend as much time as you can applying for jobs. Take the first job you can get. Keep bathing in the river, and working until winter. Do not spend a dime on booze. Once winter comes get an apartment, and keep working. Apply to your local technical college, and get a job in IT. Stop being homeless. Worked for me.

6. Again, people can be pricks

Be wary of items given to you by other people. My cousin counseled homeless youth for a few years, and one of his favorites got sent to jail for accepting a “gift” of a cell phone. The phone ended up being stolen out of the owner’s car, and had GPS attached to it. The police found him with the phone, and arrested him on the spot. My cousin was called in as a character witness to testify on his behalf. Not sure what happened after that though.

7. Under no conditions will you touch my testicles

Sleep with your phone by your balls so if someone tries to rob you whilst you sleep they can’t find your phone.

8. Karma, karma, karma chameleon

Share what you have with your group. What goes around comes around. If there are a group of you, each person can stand on a different corner to beg and make far more than you would by yourself.

9. Just don’t

Don’t beg on someone’s corner if they are already there.

10. This is a nice thing to do

When dumpster diving, if you find a pair of shoes and they are not your size or clothes then leave them neatly by the side of the dumpster for the next diver.

11. Don’t sleep on my spot

If I have been at this shelter longer than you, DON’T TAKE MY SLEEPING SPOT ON THE DAMN FLOOR. Seriously it took me three weeks to get a spot next to the wall and under a table. Don’t set you bed roll out an hour ahead of time and think I won’t toss you shit out of the way.

12. By elders, he means “People who have been homeless longer than you”

Respect your elders AKA don’t fuck with the old timers.

13. Seattle, 2000

I lived on the streets in Seattle in 2000, and lived in shelters and transitional houses for many years after that. I was 15 at the time, and there is a pretty big homeless population here. We had some weird rules. I mostly lived on Broadway, and each homeless group really had their own rules. There were also the ave rats, who lived up by the university. They had a whole political system. People were at the top, and people were at the bottom. You could also get kicked off the ave, and most those kids would end up on Broadway. Almost everyone on Broadway was a junkie, or gay. And there were the downtown kids, mostly young foster runaways or kids with mental issues…lots of juggalos down there. So, I guess we were sort of the crazy group.

The big one I remember is that you always took off your shoes when you sleep. And if you sleep outside, sleep on top of your bag and tuck your shoes under it. Sometimes my bag was way too packed to pull that off comfortably, but people would take your shoes, just to fuck with you. They would call the annoying or new kids oogles, but they wouldn’t ever kick someone out of the neighborhood like ave rats. Just too much heroin going around really to have that type of control.

Probably the most offensive thing you can do, is finding out where someone who’s homeless lives. If you follow them, they will stop and talk to you, and if you just enter a squat uninvited…well, it’s really dangerous. It was respectful to pretend like you didn’t care where your friends went at night. At any point you can get uninvited too, and you’ll just be locked out that night. They do not give a shit about where you are staying, this isn’t a pity party.

Broadway is pretty small too, just about 7 blocks long…so people would panhandle right next to you all the time. If they weren’t at least 2 shops away, they were probably doing it to piss you off…or it’s just their normal spot. Like I always camped out in front of this mexican place, because they had awesome leftovers. But, it was absolutely uncool to sit or lie down around other homeless kids. Or stand on the side of the sidewalk that the stores are on. It’s illegal on Broadway, and doing that just attracts the cops. I remember asking other homeless kids to stand all the time, just because I was sick of getting picked up by the cops.

Lots of theft too, no real like idea of a moral code at all there. Although, people would share their drugs with you all the time. That way they had someone to bug about sharing back when they didn’t have any cash. Later on I lived at tent city, and still got stuff stolen from me quite often even though they have a decent community too.

14. This guy is trying and it’s awesome

I’m homeless in the Houston area. I live at a transitional work facility. Its okay. I’m going to college and working here to cover my rent. I work full time for the guy who runs the ministry to cover my rent and he lets me use a car to get back and forth from school because I knew him for years beforehand. It could be a lot worse for me, but also I really want to get out of here. It’s full of people on parole and almost everyone has been to prison for at least 10 years here. Some guys are nice, others pretend to be nice, and some are ruthless motherduckers. I really want a real job but since its hard to get a living wage job w/zero experience. I’m getting a degree first. I’ll have my Associates after this semester. The worst part about being homeless is the loneliness. I meet people at college but being broke keeps me at arms length. It really sucks when I meet a girl I like, but I can’t do shit because all my money and time goes into what I need to do, not what I want.

15. Some more good rules

  1. find a group of people you can trust (not easy to do) and stick with them.
  2. don’t be the guy with the sign asking for money…ever
  3. people think all homeless people are on drugs because that’s the stereotype they are presented with, do your best to not blend in with those people. You will be amazed at what people are willing to do if your making an honest attempt at getting on your feet and you do your best to present yourself that way.
  4. don’t do anything stupid to get money (sex, crime), you will regret it
  5. also, don’t be a fucking rat, that shit will get you killed. Remember, a lot of the people in your world are “off the grid”
  6. if you are getting nowhere in the city you are in, get out of there. There is always someone “headed your way”
  7. never ever turn down a chance to do some work. Never. That may be an opportunity to get you started again.
  8. even if you’re not religious, if a religious family offered you a place to stay (sometimes “if you go to church with us” but not always), don’t turn it down. 7.1) don’t do anything to them such as steal or rob them. That’s how reputation get started.
  9. you never to good for anything, if you think you are that may be why you’re out there to begins with.
  10. yea, those cloths may stink but at least you have some.
  11. Americans – if you’re young enough, the military may be your best option. Money, food, bed and job and all you have to do is show up.
  12. stay off drugs, that again may be why you’re there and could very well cost you a chance to get off the streets

I’m sure that’s not what you were asking but it’s been over 20 years since I got back on my feet and those are the things that have stuck with me.

16. Libraries rule

I’ve been technically homeless about 3 times before the age of 15, but you would not be able to tell just by looking at me or conversing briefly. Average looking white, 20yr male college student. Without explaining a ton of other stuff and including many sad stories, I’ll get to the meat of the question. For my family, I remembered that we would go to the library everyday for several hours at a time. It’s a place where extended stays aren’t particularly unusual. Additionally, you have ac/heat, internet/computer access, water fountains, bathrooms, lounge chairs, and nearly endless educating vessels surrounding you in the form of books. TL;DR If you’re ever homeless, go to the library.

17. Don’t talk about the baby daddy

  • Don’t fucking trust anyone. The women in my shelter would befriend you and back stab you just to laugh at you when you get kicked out.
  • Is there general prostitution in the area? Chances are some of the women in the shelter are a part of that problem.
  • Mental illness. Mental illness everywhere. Doesn’t have to be severe, but there are a lot of messed up people. Be careful who you confront, especially if you’re unsure of their mental capacity.
  • Do you own things of any value? Welp, better keep them to yourself, because some asshole will try to steal them and resell them.
  • Do not fuck with people’s children. Seriously. You don’t know who is “friends” with who, and might fuck your shit up. Also don’t make comments about their baby daddies if it’s very obvious they have several. Touchy subject usually.
  • Don’t steal each others food. If you do, they will hunt you down and find you. I once saw a woman have drugs planted on her so that she’d get kicked out once they found out she was stealing food.

18. Be really careful out there

  • Contrary to what some others have said, carrying a weapon is bad news; you think it will protect you, but it will only invite trouble. The police and citizens will harass you. Unless you can keep it well concealed, don’t pack.
  • Don’t carry drugs around. There is a reason homeless people buy and shoot up quickly, and though it’s often just for convenience, you also don’t want to be wandering around with a lot of drugs on you.
  • If you aren’t on drugs, stay off them. It was the only reason I made it out of that life.
  • Help each other out. Be friendly, it goes a long way. Share info on where to get food, dive, sleep, etc.
  • On a related note, share what you can, don’t be obviously greedy.
  • Cops hate the homeless, stay away. Mental health agencies are a gamble; if you actually have issues, they may report you to police. If you don’t, they still might report you to police. Most homeless take advantage of the free resources offered by these agencies, so they go to them, but they are often bad news. Just take the resources and run.
  • You will find may new uses for condoms (non-sexual uses, that is). They are free and very useful; a survivalist’s best friend.
  • Protect your identity. Don’t sell your ID. Seriously, some people want it.
  • Drunks who pick fights are “top heavy”. This goes for anyone confronting an intoxicated person. Don’t try to block their blows; get out of the way and push them or take them out below the waist. They’ll fall over. Get away as quickly as possible after that.
  • Thank god for public libraries.
  • If another person vomits or bleeds (a lot of them punch walls due to mental illness, I never figured out why that was so common), don’t touch them, just get help. One word; AIDS, which will severely restrict your access to community health care.
  • If you are native, a youth, a victim of abuse or have any outstanding aspects, they probably give you a better chance at getting a shelter bed or a place in transitional housing. Use these to your advantage.
  • As already posted, check out anything you receive. There are lots of spiteful people.
  • Kind of taboo, and I’m sure I’ll get downvoted, but a lot of social workers with charities or the city are stupid; people who couldn’t figure out what they wanted to do with their lives after high school, so they decided “oh, I’ll be a martyr and help the homeless”. They look down on you and have lots of preconceived notions that all homeless are schizophrenic, otherwise delusional or just plain dumb. This can be used to your advantage to get extra food, quicker processing into housing applications and access to other public services like health care, transit passes or hair cuts.
  • Be amicable with other homeless. If you see each other in public, a simple nod of acknowledge is fine, but don’t “out” them as homeless.
  • Guys from men’s shelters try to pick up girls from women’s shelters. I’m serious. This is risky business; if you really want to “stick your dick in a crazy”, this is how you do it.
  • Don’t identify yourself to others other than your first name. Inform shelter workers as little as possible about your personal history; yes, they are there to help you, but they also want to protect themselves. If you, for any reason, make them feel uncomfortable, they may try and get you out of their shelter. It’s amazing how many emotionally unstable, sensitive, bleeding heart short ladies work at shelters that are scared shitless of the homeless they are employed to protect.
  • Never mention someone you knew from the streets or in a shelter. Just common courtesy.
  • Someone mentioned grabbing trains to get around. I never saw or heard of this, but hitchhiking is very common. I’m breaking my own rule here, but always carry a weapon when hitchhiking. That’s were you’ll most likely be assaulted. Most shelters in each city have limited stays ranging from three months to a year (mainly for transitional units), so the homeless go from city to city to “renew” their time in shelters. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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