The Homeless Survival Guide

Posted: July 1, 2008 in Survival
Tags: , , ,

Sorry but this is going to be a long post but i can´t cut it down.

The whole guide:

I know nobody likes to think of ever being in this situation, but for most people, it’s entirely possible with the economy being what it is. This is not the be-all, end-all to street or urban survival, but more like a crash course.

I was homeless myself for almost a year, and it was hard, but I managed. I missed a lot of things from my previous life like TV, phones, running water, and flushable toilets, but when put in their proper perspective, I realized they were all very inconsequential to my needs for shelter, security, and the all-consuming desire to eat.

Being homeless in a large city, is like living in an urban jungle full of predators (people). You practically need eyes in the back of your head to get by. You’ll develop a sixth sense for danger after awhile, or you’ll become a victim of a random, or not so random act of violence.

Street people have an uncanny ability to sense fear and vulnerability in others. If you act like a victim, you’ll be a victim. Homeless preople prey on each other as well as those foolish enough to put themselves in vulnerable situations. They’re not the only predators out there stalking victims though. It’s especially dangerous for females who can easily become victims of sadists and sexual predators.

Street Life

Living on the streets comes with it’s own set of rules.

  • Mind your own business. Nothing will cause you more problems than sticking your nose in where it doesn’t belong.
  • Blend in with your surroundings. Try to dress like those around you. If you look like you have more than they do, they’ll try to take it.
  • Don’t look for trouble, but defend yourself if necessary. Street people have an uncanny ability to sense fear and vulnerability in others. Walk tall, but not too tall. If you act like a victim, you’ll be one.
  • Never show your money or other valuables. Keep watches, rings, bracelets, etc. in your pocket, and out of sight. Keep your cash in various locations so if you do get mugged, you don’t lose it all. Barter for needed items rather than use money.
  • Avoid the police. There are some nice cops out there, and then there are those who are not so nice. If stopped, be polite and courteous. Nothing will get you locked up, or your butt kicked faster than being a smart-ss! To the latter category you’re a non-person, and for all intents and purposes you are. Nobody will care what happens to you.


The options here are only limited by your imagination.

Homeless Shelters: Shelters are probably more dangerous than sleeping on the street. They’re typically understaffed, overcrowded, and have no security. Your stuff will get stolen while you sleep, you may be attacked by some deranged person, or you could contract any number of diseases from your fellow roomies. At best you’ll probably get lice..

Alleys, park benches, doorways, drain pipes: All poor choices.. you will be harrassed by cops, street punks, other homeless people, and may wake up smelling like piss where someone relieved themselves on you whilst you slumbered.

Drainage pipes and sewers: Also bad choices.. You’ll stink to high heaven, can be bitten by rats, acquire a bad infection from all the germs and bacteria present, or at worst get drowned during a storm.

Vacant buildings or homes: A good choice if you check the places out both during the day and at night for habitation. Other homeless people, drug users, and gangs may frequent them. If occupied by any of the above, look elsewhere. If you find a suitable residence cover the windows at night if you use a light source, and make your comings and goings as unnoticeable as possible (early or late hours of the day). If you wish to stash some of your belongings, make sure to conceal them well or they may be gone when you return.

Vacant and wooded lots: Good ideas if they are out of the public view, show few signs of use like beaten down paths, collections of trash like bottles, cigarette buts, etc. I lived in a hole I dug in a secluded lot, that I lined with plastic. It wasn’t the roomiest or most luxurious of accomodations, but it was safe and livable. I had a styrofoam chest filled with ice to keep my perishables like lunch meat and milk cool, a small area to cook in with a pipe for ventilation, and a shelf carved out for my bed. At night I pull some old debris over the top to conceal the entrance. I cannot stress the need for stealth when entering an exitting whatever shelter you find.

Food and Water

You have several ways of procuring sustenance.. You can panhandle for money, you can do daily labor when it’s available, you can do odd jobs for people for food or money to buy some, you can eat at soup kitchens if they’re available, or you can dumpster dive behind small restuarants or stores. If you use the latter option, make sure to wash your find off with clean water, and if you don’t know how old it is don’t eat it. Figure out what times they typically discard stuff, and be waiting. Bad food can give you a variety of abdominal distress ranging from food botulism to diarrhea.

Water can be found just about anywhere in a city. There are usually plenty of water fountains to be had, or hydrants on the sides of homes or businesses. Some people take off the knobs, so don’t forget your pliers. always carry an empty bottle that you can fill up, so you don’t get dehydrated.


You will definitely have a need for protection when living on the streets. What form it takes depends on the location, your natural ability to defend yourself, and what risks you’re willing to take. I’m not giving any advise here, but a good knife, fixed blade or folded is a must. It should be of a legal size and able to serve several roles. In a bind it can be used to defend yourself, but will main be useful for food preparation or cutting things like cloth, plastic, cardboard, etc.

As far as guns and other items go, I wouldn’t recommend it. If you happen to be stopped and searched by the police, you just bought yourself a one-way ticket to jail. The city Jail is not a place you really want to go. Every dreg of society will be there, waiting to make your acquaintance. The streets won’t seem so bad after a night or two of their accomodations.


Staying healthy is hard to do when you’re homeless, but it’s still possible. Some suggestions are:

  • Brush your teeth regularly. A painful cavity or an abcess can be unbearable and possibly life threatening
  • Wash frequently. If nothing else, at least wash your hands before you eat. I used to buy baby wipes for this purpose. If you’re personable, you can probably befriend a convenience store clerk who will allow you to clean up ocassionally in their wash room.
  • Wear layers of clothing. It will allow you to regulate your body temperature by adding or removing layers depending on the situation. Layers also protect you from serious injury from blows and cuts.
  • Shoes: Good shoes, that fit well are a necessity. You will be using your feet a great deal, and you don’t want to get blisters or open sores if at all possible. If you can’t scavenge a serviceable pair, break down and buy a cheap pair that fits.
  • Wash your clothes. It’s easy to get lice and other pest if you don’t.


Money can be acquired in numerous ways. There’s daily labor places, doing odd jobs for locals, recycling, and panhandling, if you have the stomach for it. If you choose the latter, you can do well for yourself, but it comes at the price of your dignity.

There’s a lot more I could go into, but these are the basics, and I’m tired of typing.

I posted this because it´s a good guide to survive being homeless, I hope that someone that needs it finds it.

Original site.

WOG out.

  1. feedingpets says:

    Did you notice how many homeless have pets? The National Coaltion of Homelessness estimates the figure to be 10%. Go to it shows where to get pet food if you are homeless.
    I will keep your blog address so others facing homelessness can read first hand on how to cope in these scary economic hard times.

    Thanks for the link and it´s really nice of you to pass it on.

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