ActivismEconomyGovernmentMilitarySocial IssuesUS PoliticsWorld Politics

Why Don't Homeless People Use Shelters?

Updated on July 22, 2016
Kylyssa profile image

Kylyssa Shay was homeless for over a year in her youth; it lead to her activism involving homelessness. She thinks, feels, and has opinions.


When I was homeless, I spent a lot of my time sleeping "in the rough," which is another way of saying outdoors. Many homed people assume the homeless don't use shelters because they're drug users (and drug use is against the rules) or refuse to follow some other aspect of the shelter's rules. But no, I was neither using drugs nor too defiant to obey the rules.

I've been asked why I didn't just stay in shelters. The issue is pretty complex, but here is my answer, my reasons for sleeping in the rough, and also some of the reasons I've seen others avoid shelters. Some of these might surprise you. I know I was shocked to discover a few of them myself.

Please keep in mind that not all facilities have all or even any of these downsides. Still, these are the things many homeless people have experienced at some facilities in the U.S. which may have caused them to later avoid using them at all. There are good ones out there, too. They can just be hard to find sometimes.


As someone who has worked in homeless shelters, I am very aware that the vast majority of these workers are good people who are doing their best. I am glad that these facilities exist to help people without homes. However, it would be an injustice to pretend that shelters in America are plentiful enough or that they're all safe enough, or free from other downsides.

photo by Beverly Lussier
photo by Beverly Lussier

19. No Pets Allowed

Trading faithful companionship for somewhere legal to sleep is not an option for some. Think about your family dog, the one you've loved for years who is a member of your family. Now imagine that you become homeless and all you have left of your old life is that faithful, lifetime friend. He is your only source of affection and companionship. Could you abandon him without a second thought?

Pets are usually not allowed into shelters, so their owners often choose to sleep outside with the only friends who haven't deserted them: their pets.

18. Denied Entry Due to Mental Illness

Some people are denied entry due to mental illness, even if caregivers have given them paperwork stating that they are not a danger to themselves or others.

Since most workers and volunteers are not trained to distinguish between violent criminals and harmless people with mental illnesses, the tendency is to be overly cautious and refuse anyone with any mental health issues entry at some (but thankfully not all) shelters. Workers and organizations cannot be blamed for being ill-equipped to handle mentally ill clients because they simply don't have the resources to train volunteers or workers.

17. Discrimination Against LGBTQ People

40% of homeless teens and youth identify as LGBT and often don't use shelters because many of those places, like the parents who discarded them, discriminate against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.

According to the National Coalition for the Homeless,

"LGBT youth are also disproportionally homeless due to overt discrimination when seeking alternative housing – widespread discrimination in federally funded institutions frequently contributes to the growing rates of homelessness among LGBT youth. Once homeless, these youth experience greater physical and sexual exploitation than their heterosexual counterparts."

Shelters are often infested with lice or other parasites.
Shelters are often infested with lice or other parasites. | Source

16. Fear of Contracting Parasites like Lice, Scabies, Pubic Lice, or Bedbugs

No matter how clean a facility is kept, the danger of getting parasites there is still very high. Mind you, this is not the fault of staff or organizations running shelters, it is simply a hazard of having sleeping arrangements that hundreds of people cycle through; bedbugs are now even fairly common in high end hotels. Homeless people tend to carry a lot of parasites, likely because they tend to sleep in lots of different places. So if you sleep every night in a different bed that a long string of other people have slept in, or if you sleep too close to an ever-changing assortment of people, eventually you are bound to get head lice, pubic lice, or scabies, and it's hard as heck to get rid of parasites when you have no home.

Bedbugs are a biting parasite that can easily infest a bedroll, backpack, clothes, or other possessions. Homeless people don't want to infest the homes of people who give them a place to stay for the night or to bring bedbugs to work with them. Volunteers and employees also need to take precautions to avoid bringing bedbugs home with them.

The parasites commonly present in shelters were my second most important reason for avoiding them. I'm itching right now just thinking about the nasty things.

15. Hours of Operation Incompatible with Work Hours

Contrary to popular belief, many homeless people have jobs. Because check-in hours for shelters are often rigid and the process of waiting in line and checking in usually takes hours, many working poor cannot use them. Others work evening or night hours which don't allow them to get inside before curfew. People who work from nine to five usually can't use them, either, since by the time they get off work, it's usually too late for them to get in line for check-in.

Another reason some shelters are incompatible with employment is that they require people to attend AA or other drug abuse rehab classes, often held during normal work hours, every day or most days they use the facility, whether they have a drug or alcohol problem or not. Others require those who use their services to take rudimentary job skill classes or other life-skill classes during business hours even if employed and already well-educated on those topics.

By the time I had a regular job, I had decided to sleep outside exclusively, so this was not a problem for me.

Shelters attract predators.
Shelters attract predators. | Source

14. Danger of Rape or Assault

Homeless shelters and the areas around them are often hunting grounds for human predators. Some of the craftier ones get jobs at the charities while most others just watch for individuals departing in the morning or arriving in the evening. It's not just rapists, either. Predators in search of "excitement" will track a lone person leaving a facility so they can beat him or harass him for fun.

Also, although there are usually attendants of some kind on watch, almost none of them are trained to deal with violent behavior, leaving users vulnerable. Volunteer workers honestly cannot be expected to put themselves in the sort of danger intervening in such situations requires, nor can they have eyes on the backs of their heads or keep watch over everyone. Lack of sufficient staffing is common and people can only do so much.

For me, this was the number one reason to avoid them. Once you get raped or assaulted in a shelter or because you were trailed after leaving one, you just don't want to try it again, no matter how hot or cold or rainy or otherwise unpleasant it is outside.

Criminals are well aware that police seldom take complaints from people without homes seriously. Many people avoid shelters because pretending to not be homeless (which means avoiding shelters, missions, and soup kitchens) is one of the most effective ways to avoid such predators.

13. Fear of Contracting Disease

Diseases spread easily in close quarters. There's always at least one person with a cough. One reason it's hard to fall asleep in a shelter is the almost endless coughing. Many of those with coughs have chronic illnesses or transmissible diseases. Tuberculosis is frighteningly common among people living on the street. When you may have to sleep out in the elements on any given night (there's no guarantee you'll get into a shelter every night), even the flu can be a life-threatening disease to contract.

If you know that many people are homeless due to ill health or chronic illnesses, you'll see why accommodations full of sick people pose an even greater risk to them.

12. An Invasive and Disrespectful Check-In Process

This answer has brought me a lot of flack, but even though it played only a minor part in my decision not to use shelters, I feel it is important to mention: The check-in process in some but not all of these places is sometimes humiliating and dehumanizing.

On more than one occasion, I was asked questions such as, "Do you have any sexual partners you could stay with?" as well as other questions about my sex life. One worker even said that I find a boyfriend to stay with, basically suggesting I exchange sexual favors for a place to sleep. Keep in mind that I, like most women homeless more than a few weeks, had already been the victim of sexual assault. It made me feel horrible, like I was less than a person and had nothing else to offer anyone.

Many shelters don't offer accommodations for the handicapped.
Many shelters don't offer accommodations for the handicapped. | Source

11. Lack of Handicapped Accommodations

While I was waiting to talk to someone about volunteering at an associated soup kitchen, I was shocked to see someone turned away because he was in a wheelchair. Another person and I offered to pull his chair up the stairs and help him inside if he needed it, but they told us it had to do with insurance concerns and said that they were sorry but, no, he couldn't stay.

That was the first time I saw a handicapped person turned away from a homeless shelter but sadly, it was not the last. Many of these organizations make use of old buildings re-purposed to fit a bunch of beds. Sometimes their beds are located above the first floor and they have no elevators. Some don't have railings in the restrooms or ramps into the rooms or buildings either. While it is not the fault of those who run them, some facilities are unable to accommodate people in wheelchairs.

Regardless of what the Americans with Disabilities Act says, some places that provide temporary housing turn away people in wheelchairs or with other mobility limitations such as the need to use a walker or crutches to get around. While sometimes they will offer a hotel voucher to the disabled person, that doesn't always happen. Not every organization has the funds to do this and a shelter can get shut down if they break the rules. They truly don't want to turn away disabled people, but they may have no choice.

10. Drug Addictions

Yes, some people avoid shelters because of drug addictions—their own or others'.

Since many locations have signs insisting they are drug free zones, some drug users will avoid them. However, many drug users and dealers do not, making some of them hot spots of drug activity, and those frightened by drug related activity may come to avoid shelters because of this, quite reasonably fearing for their or their children's safety. Still others are themselves trying to get off drugs and being around other users makes it very difficult for them to do so, so they avoid staying there while trying to kick their drug or alcohol habits.

9. Separation of Family Members

This is a biggie and it's pretty horrible when you think about it: Most homeless shelters separate families.

Women can bring their pre-teen children into most women's facilities, but teenage male children (as young as 13) may be required to go to a men's shelter which they may not even get into. Can you imagine a mother leaving her young teenage son to sleep alone on the street without her protection while she sleeps inside? Most parents will not leave their children, so instead, the whole family sleeps in their car or outside.

Men and women usually cannot stay in the same place, so husbands and wives are separated, knowing their spouse might not get a bed somewhere else. These people are often elderly or disabled and depend on each other for safety and care. So again, most of them will forgo the use of temporary emergency housing so they can take care of each other.

Also, children cannot stay in the vast majority of men's shelters. This leaves single fathers in a very difficult spot, one that is not only heartbreaking but criminal. While some may say the children should just be taken away, the homelessness is usually temporary and the loss of a parent or parents will probably affect a child more deeply than a month or so living with insecurity and discomfort.


8. Some Service Dogs are Barred from Entry

Service dogs, other than seeing eye and hearing assistance dogs, are sometimes denied entry to homeless facilities. Mobility dogs (that help you stand or get into your wheelchair, assist you up stairs, etc.), dogs that provide assistance for mental conditions such as anxiety or agoraphobia, and other service dogs are even more often denied entry.

People frequently lose their own identification papers, often through no fault of their own, so it is no surprise that they often lose identification papers for their service animals. Even in the case of seeing eye and hearing assistance dogs, if the person has lost the dog's paperwork or doesn't have an official harness, the dog will not be allowed inside. Few people in that situation will abandon a service dog.

While it is perfectly understandable that facilities will not allow animals, especially those that are not service animals, it's also perfectly understandable that disabled people would not be willing to part with an animal that increases their ability to function, especially at the risk of having that animal die from exposure or get lost or stolen. Many people who rely on animals for independence and safety are unwilling to be separated from them for any reason.

7. Staff Assumptions about Drug Use and Criminality

While it was not often said aloud, many shelter employees and volunteers regard all people who need their services as drug addicts and criminals. To avoid being perceived as such, many avoid using those services.

When you are homeless, many people will automatically treat you as a criminal and a drug user. They are unable to comprehend that a person without a home may just be someone down on his or her luck without any wrongdoing on his or her part.

While I'm sure they mean well, many organizations and their employees or volunteers take it upon themselves to cure people of their sometimes non-existent addictions and criminal ways. Some put a lot of pressure on homeless people to attend alcohol and drug abuse counseling even if they are not alcohol or drug abusers.

I remember the smirks and questioning looks I got when I insisted I had no drug or alcohol abuse issues. One employee actually asked me, "Well, then, why are you so skinny?"

Forced participation in substance abuse counseling takes time away from job searches and current employment which the average person in such a situation cannot afford, causing most employed homeless people and those actively seeking employment to avoid shelters that require it.

6. Danger of Theft

While most homeless people are not thieves, a few of them are. It only takes one to spoil it for everyone else. When you have no home, your little bit of stuff is precious; it's all you have.

While I was not robbed inside a shelter, I heard stories from many who were. They stopped using shelters to protect their few meager possessions from theft.

Shoes are among the most commonly stolen items. Foot care is incredibly important and the loss of your only pair of shoes can be life-threatening. It can also be extremely difficult to replace them if they get stolen.

5. Religious Differences

Most shelters and kitchens have some sort of religious service people are required to sit through to eat or sleep there. I'm an atheist, but this didn't bother me much. Frankly, I was pleased to be in a climate-controlled room and sitting at rest somewhere without fear of getting harassed by gangs or police, no matter what I had to pretend to believe. It didn't even bother me that I had to give lip-service to the notion that I was being punished by God for being a bad person.

However, some people object to this, often people with strong religious beliefs of their own who believe they already have a good relationship with God. I've met a fair number of people unwilling to sit through the services and pretend their situation is a just punishment from God for being a terrible person. Very religious people might get extremely offended when someone looks down on them and tells them they don't have a good enough relationship with Jesus to deserve a place to live.

4. Lack of Privacy and Fear of Crowds

Many homed people would argue that people who are down on their luck are not deserving of privacy. However, the complete lack of privacy can be especially hard on people with mental disorders that make them fear crowds. I encountered several crowd-phobic people who could not be convinced to use a homeless facility even though they were sickly and ill-suited to outdoor sleeping even when the weather was good.

Deserving of privacy or not, people with mental illnesses that cause a fear of crowds or even a fear of a moderate number of people packed into close quarters are genuinely terrified of such conditions, even in the safest of circumstances.

Charities understandably try to make the most of their square footage by squeezing as many beds into their facility as possible. Unfortunately, that can make them frightening to people with PTSD, claustrophobia, social anxiety, or fear of crowds.

3. Lack of Control

By the time a person is on the street, his or her life is usually already careening out of control. That feeling can be enhanced by the regimented check-in times, eating, prayer, sleep times, and check-out in a shelter. Some people stay out-of-doors so they can feel like they have some vestige of control over their own lives.


2. Rules That Unfairly Endanger Disabled Individuals

Walkers, crutches, and canes are sometimes taken away from users at some organizations during check-in. Sometimes, even appliances such as leg braces are taken away for "safe keeping." While I can understand that the danger of theft is very real, and that some people who are mentally ill might hit people with their crutches, braces, or walkers, it is frightening to be left without mobility in a strange place. So some who have need of medical appliances or mobility assisting devices forgo the use of homeless facilities.

1. Lack of Available Beds

There is not enough safe, legal shelter for everyone. No matter how many people choose not to use them, there are still not nearly enough beds available for those who would like to sleep indoors despite the risks involved.

In most cities in the US, there's space for less than 25% of the homeless people living in that city. In some cities, there is room for less than 5% of their homeless population.

Additionally, many cities have made ordinances limiting the number of people a charity may serve. In some, they may not provide beds for more than 20 people! Additionally, some cities have created ordinances barring services from being located in or near the downtown area (where the churches and other organizations likely to provide such services are most likely to own property) or laws preventing two shelters from being within a certain distance of each other.

This is why lines to check in form so early in the day and staff is often so quick to deny entry to people for the most trivial of reasons. This may be why some facilities have made their requirements for use so restrictive. In fact, some of them have made their requirements so strict that, in some cases and despite a long line of people trying to get a place to sleep, they don't even fill the number of beds they have.

In my opinion, the ordinances are a bigger issue than the lack of funding because the ordinances have prevented people with funding from opening or expanding existing shelters. What you can do about it is find out what your local laws are regarding homeless facilities and write to your congresspeople and representatives as well as donating to local charities and helping to fund new ones.

Are Current Shelters Perfectly Adequate to Serve the Unhomed Population?

Do you think that current shelters are sufficient in number, quality, and dignity to serve the needs of the American homeless population?



    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Kylyssa Shay 114 minutes ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

      While this comment by Camden Reed is off-topic, I decided to allow it to publish to help illustrate how misguided religious people can interfere with helping homeless people while acting as if their efforts to stop the spread of information are somehow divinely inspired. Because such comments are rarely civil, I like to take the opportunity to publish those that aren't profanity-stuffed so that others can see that such attitudes really do exist.

      Dear Camden Reed,

      What gives you the idea that Jesus wants you to stop writers from spreading information about what homeless people experience and how they can escape homelessness by "politely" asking them to stop thinking and to stop trying to find solutions?

      The Jesus my Christian friends and family members worship is a lot different from your Jesus if yours actually did put you on a quest to silence voices that make you feel uncomfortable. My friends' and family members' Jesus is all about speaking with honesty, helping poor people, and reducing suffering, so they are in full support of my activism. Why don't you tell us about your Jesus and why He doesn't want me to think or help other people with their struggles and explain why you think He's better than the Jesus my loved ones worship?

      By the way, I only published the comment from this particular sock puppet. Your IP address always gives you away when you try to pretend you're more than one person.

    • Camden Reed 11 hours ago

      Hi, my name is Camden Reed, and I'm a high-schooler, and I'm reading this article to help strengthen my essay on homelessness. I know this might be the last thing you would want to read, but I would feel guilty if I didn't take an opportunity to express Jesus with you! Jesus saved my life a while back, and I know what it feels like to be without him. In my opinion, no one should ever go their life separated from God. I understand what you may be thinking. "Why is this Christian imposing his beliefs on me?" or "Why can't I just live my life and you live yours?" you might ask. Well, it's the role of the Christian to share the good news of Jesus Christ to "all 4 corners of the Earth". I know it's hard to be an atheist when people like me are always ranting about God, but I think (from former-atheist to atheist) every atheist fears that there actually is a God. It's natural. Atheists try to make everything in the world make sense, but they can't. I sure couldn't...

      God is on the move, and He's reaching out to you. If you accept Jesus into your heart, you will never go through your struggles, alone. God will never stop reaching out to you, but don't wait until later to become a believer in Christ. If you choose Christ, today, you'll have one less thing to think about, tomorrow! I believe God is calling you, and as a former-atheist, I think the best advice I can give you is to stop trying to make sense of everything.

      “I am not a genius, I am just curious. I ask many questions. and when the answer is simple, then God is answering.”

      ― Albert Einstein

      “But maybe it's what the world needs. A little less sense, and a little more faith.”

      ― Rachel Joyce, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

    • Kylyssa Shay 5 days ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

      I'm delighted if the information I have provided helps you in any way, even if it just helps you to feel better about the difficulties you are facing.

      The one thing you can do that will give you the greatest possibility of safety is to hang onto your car if you have one. If you don't have a car, find someone you trust who is also homeless to exchange sleeping watches with you.

    • Richard Sittig 7 days ago

      I got off-track. What I wanted to say is thank you for posting these articles, they are helping me plan ahead and brought up several things I didn't even consider! I'm terrified for the future but I'm doing what I can despite my own issues to try and ensure I'm not on the streets longer than a month, and your work has helped build the foundation of which I will launch from when that time comes. Thank you!

    • Richard 7 days ago


      Heck, I wish there were more people like you here in Missouri. I started out earlier reading your exhaustive article on what to buy if you are/for the homeless, and wound up here because I had concerns about the shelters especially in my area because it seems my state has some of the worst programs and shelters around. I could be wrong. If you hadn't already guessed, I'm essentially homeless myself; I'll be out on the streets at the end of the month (my birthday, no less. Joy :/). I had a turn of bad luck with former roommates stealing everything I had when I went on a temp work job trip doing landscaping. I sent them most of the money I was making to work on the house which needed a LOT of work, and then come to find out I go home and every single thing was gone except for a couple tore up couches and useless furniture. No idea whatever happened to these guys but it left me with next to nothing and I had already moved there because I lost my landscaping job of 12 years due to the owner selling the business. So yea, I'm down in the dumps.

      I got off-track. What I wanted to say is thank you for posting these articles, they are helping me plan ahead and brought up several things I didn't even consider! I'm terrified for the future but I'm doing what I can despite my own issues to try and ensure I'm not on the streets longer than a month, and your work has helped build the foundation of which I will launch from when that time comes. Thank you!

    • Kylyssa Shay 6 weeks ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

      Please explain how it would benefit, say, your own mother, if your father passed away and she became too ill to work and support herself for you to practice tough love and let her die on the street as older people tend to do when ill? Would you just sadly say, oh, she made her bed, now she has to lie in it, when you found out she'd been beaten and raped as most women suffering homelessness are? Because that is exactly what you are advocating for. You are advocating for the abandonment and suffering of people who are out of their depths and unable to help themselves.

    • guess who 6 weeks ago

      I think people r right enough is enough. Tough love is the key being homeless sucksvim sure but if your homeless cuz of choices in your life that u made then u need to suffer the consequences and if that means being homeless then that means being homeless don't get me wrong its not that I have no compassion I do but I do believe that in order for u to turn your life around u need to suffer all consequences for the choices in life that u make. Tough love is the key whether its homelessness or adfiction. God helps those who help themselves..

    • Kylyssa Shay 2 months ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

      You and I both know what I've said on this page is true. I'm actually glad people make comments like Irrelevant's because many decent people just don't comprehend the level of hatred some individuals have towards people who are homeless. There's frequently little logic normal people can see in anything people warped by hatred say.

    • The truth speaks 2 months ago

      This comment is for Irrelevant:

      In your comment of 2 years ago, you said that a lot of the stories to read or heard about the shelters are fabricated,, & HOW THE HELL WOULD YOU KNOW IF YOU'VE NEVER HAD TO USE ONE!!

    • Kylyssa Shay 2 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

      It's also actually cheaper. It costs less to house a person than to maintain a single cot in most homeless shelters. It's safer, cleaner, healthier, and allows for the growth of self-esteem and confidence. It aids in getting more work hours or regaining employment if the person is unemployed.

      But folks don't want the "undeserving poor" to get things they don't feel they are human enough to have.They'd rather have more money spent keeping people in lousy conditions on the theory that if homelessness sucks enough, people will escape it. They don't realize that homelessness already sucks immensely and if people saw the way out, they'd take it.

      Most of the folks I've helped find homes have done brilliantly all on their own once the money issue has been solved. A huge percentage are on the streets for losing everything to medical bills or illness (their own or a dependent's), getting kicked out for being gay, being disabled Veterans the government refuses to help, working at exploitative businesses that do not pay living wages, or due to losing a job from downsizing.

    • Speth 2 years ago

      People need homes and the support to learn or remember how to live in them. Providing those homes, and the rent to enable keeping them would be an infinitely better solution.

    • Thomas 2 years ago

      Yes, the current housing of homeless people is fine. I'll let the author of this article in on a little secret. The accommodations are not supposed to be pleasant, easy to deal with or anywhere on par with a person's actual home. That might encourage them to want to stay in the homeless shelter, rather than re-integrate into regular society with the rest of us. Homeless shelters are not places where people should keep coming back to again and again. Personally, I think that people should be banned from homeless shelters after staying for more than a month. If you can rebound by then, you're not trying hard enough!!!!!!

    • irrelevant 2 years ago

      A lot of what I've read on here about why people don't stay in shelters are fabricated. And secondly, In Livermore there aren't any shelters for women, unless you have a big fat maggot, then u might get priority to be on the waiting list.

    • anonymous 2 years ago

      Yes, there should be 24 hour services for homeless. However, some of the churches and shelters are adding baking soda to the clients food. Which causes them to not only get full immediately, but causes bloating and high blood pressure. Families are also separated in some situations, due to age. MUCH CORRUPTION takes place through that of circles including staff and advocates slowing you down or stopping you from getting out of these shelters. They assign people to fraternize with family members that are adulthood. They need more professional staff and advocates. These people are unprofessional and disrespect the homeless clients. The clients do not receive much help, staff etc.keep much of the donated items themselves and they do not drive the clients for appointments unless your one of the few that are favored. I have had numerous problems in the shelter. The workers are extremely corrupt. Yes, they need more shelters, but they need investigators on the staff/advocates.

    • Kylyssa Shay 3 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

      @anonymous: What a rare and wonderful shelter you manage; you have no idea what a good organization you are in charge of if you think it is typical. You should feel extremely proud to work where you do as your shelter displays a degree of excellence uncommon in American homeless shelters. My "irrational" ideas about homeless shelters came from both being homeless once upon a time and using assorted shelters across the US and volunteering in them later when I was in much better circumstances. Some of the things you mention are downright illegal in some cities. Some American cities limit homeless shelters to a certain number of beds far less than 400. A shelter that is allowed to provide beds outside of the night-time hours is extremely rare.Please leave a link to your shelter's information page and I will be sure to promote it in the hopes it will help donations to an excellent homeless shelter. I'm working on a page full of good American homeless shelters to give them the credit that is due and to illustrate how it ought to be done.Just ask the people you serve if your homeless shelter is typical of shelters they've stayed in. I'll bet your shelter is the best any of them have ever found or heard of. I'm not sure how personal experiences count as irrational but I'll bet most of your clients have had similar "irrational" personal experiences in other shelters. Especially ask the lgbtq people you serve if they've ever experienced discrimination or violence outside of or inside of other shelters. You have no idea of what a good job you are doing in comparison to what's out there.

    • anonymous 3 years ago

      I have worked at a homeless shelter for many years and can say this person has irrational ideas about homeless shelters. I'm sure there are people who shouldn't be working in a shelter because they lack the compassion needed. We serve roughly 400 a night in a clean, safe environment. We have zero tolerance for any aggressive behavior. We make accommodations for physically challenged. We don't discriminate for any reason. We make accommodations for those working third shift to sleep during the day even though we are a night shelter only. We allow people who are impaired due to drugs and alcohol to stay as long as they behave. We have an extremely clean facility, no bug infestation. Our intake process is very respectful. We always strive to treat our guest with respect and dignity.

    • Kylyssa Shay 4 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

      @kadymitchell: Many people who are poor now had children when they were not. Many upper-middle class people such as yourself think it is impossible to lose a job or to have a child or spouse get ill or injured enough to wipe out their savings but they are wrong; insurance does not cover what you think it does. Unless people have a few million dollars in the bank there's really no way to be sure they will always have money. That is how people such as yourself end up homeless. You are one major illness or accident from homelessness now or in the future unless you have at least a million dollars in the bank. Everyone is very shocked when it happens to them, especially the folks such as yourself who think poverty equals moral bankruptcy. I hope you never face the situation but the only way many people dead set on the idea that poverty equals being a bad and stupid person is when they experience it themselves.If an upper-middle class family becomes poor after they have children, what do you suggest be done with those children? It isn't as if God makes the children "didn't happen" or magically whisks them off to a rich family when a spouse dies or leaves, or if a child or parent gets so ill or injured that savings get wiped out, or when jobs get lost when the jobs cease to exist. Would you give up your children if you suddenly became poor?The truth is that many families do not step up. They believe poverty equals stupidity and moral bankruptcy. They tell even their sick, elderly parents, "you made your bed, now lie in it" after those parents did things like putting them through college, giving them the down payments on their first houses, and providing free childcare to their children.In working with homeless people, I encountered very few people who had children after they were poor and many who had children before illness, tragedy, or a rotten economy struck. Most were earning middle-class or upper-middle-class wages just like the folks you think should be allowed to have children when they chose to have children. They were just like you before really rotten stuff happened in their lives- no better, no worse.

    • kadymitchell 4 years ago

      Yes, no matter how many are built there will never be many people have just given up. Families have to stick together and help one another. People have to learn if you cannot afford to have children don't because its not the governments responsibility to raise them.

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      No. God says to help those in need. Also you never know when that stranger comes along in need of a meal or a warm coat. Could be Jesus in disguise

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      I say that, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, and all you people in homeless shelters treat all the homeless people very, very badly it just needs to stop people are dying everywhere because all of you workers in homeless shelters are selfish, I may be a 16 Year old but ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!


      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • Evan R. Murphy 3 weeks ago

        Very good article that sheds light on some of the realities of homelessness and shelters. Helps folks like me who have never been homeless understand better, and could be used by people working to create better shelters or to improve the conditions of existing ones. Thank you!

      • EM 2 months ago

        If you are in a position to need a shelter bed chances are you have burned your bridges with family and friends due to drug abuse, violence and untreated mental health issues.

      • Kylyssa Shay 12 months ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

        The problem with using the police to determine identities is that most homeless people aren't criminals so they aren't in the system.

        Loss of ID is a terrifying experience for people without homes. It causes all the problems you mentioned plus it presents an additional danger to Americans of Mexican or Hispanic descent; they could potentially get deported if they can't prove their citizenship.

      • Claudia 12 months ago

        I challenge anyone to walk into the county clerks office without any personal identification give them your name and SS# and have them issue you new ones .

        This poses a serious and in many cases life threatening problem for the homeless. Without the proper Identification they are not able to get any assistance, such as .shelters , food , housing, cash and medical, Even job applications require ID"s

        Would it be possible for local police departments to set aside a day or two a few times a year where homeless people could come in and get their identity verified by either fingerprints police files or even a police officer that has seen proof of their id . Then give each person a temporary photo id that they could use to get a permanent state Id

      • Jason 2 years ago

        I'm homeless right now, after spending 10 years working abroad I became ill and was repatriated to the United States.

        I was happy for the medical treatment I received, but after 3 weeks and a clean bill of health -- thank you sir, goodbye! I had to leave with nowhere to go. After being gone for ten years, I had to start from scratch. 35 degrees outside and all I had was the t-shirt, shorts and flip-flops I wore when I was returned to the States.

        What I, and probably many others truly need are: A place to take a shower. An address to use for mail. Canned food that we can store. No "shelter emloyees" ruining your job search. Or ruining your job, for that matter. Do they not understand that it's not a good thing to go to your new boss and ask for a note so you can go back to your homeless shelter after hours so you can work a normal shift?

        The problem is, shelter employees know that in order to expand their operations (and get more government grants) is to house a larger homeless population. Now although they can't "make" more people homeless, they can "keep" more people homeless by not letting them have a job. Or throwing them out as soon as they get one. I've seen it happen twice now (once to me).

        We need clothes, a place to shower, and an address to use for mail. That's pretty much it. I won't stay in a shelter for the reasons listed above as well as in the article. A big thing for me is theft, and being around people who use drugs increases the chance of me losing stuff like work shoes -- and ultimately losing my job.

      • ionkosmic 3 years ago

        BIG NO unfortunately . Just take a look at Greece. Things are really difficult there for homeless peopleand refuges because very simply the people that create the government are useless and not human.I really feel shame and pain for what is going there.

      • anonymous 3 years ago

        It varies quite a bit by place within the US. In Ft. Lauderdale FL they were impossible to get into. In Indianapolis IN I got forced to use a men's shelter (hurrah transphobia) when I finally got into one, in which I was robbed and raped, of course. Meanwhile deaths and mutilations from cold were ongoing outside. To my chagrin, I'll very shortly find out what being homeless in New York is like.

      • anonymous 3 years ago

        Definitely NOT! I didn't know of the ordinances preventing expansion... it seems like cities would rather house people and to keep their cities looking good, than to force people to live in the streets...

      • lilydanne 3 years ago

        Your speak the truth sadly a few of these people who still feel like the homeless deserve it even if they were to become homeless they would still possibly feel this way I think it a coping mechanism

      • Kylyssa Shay 3 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

        @ajtyne: People are not usually required to convert, just to sit through a service and look interested and/or to say "Amen" at the appropriate points. They also usually won't escort a person out for not saying "Amen" or for not looking interested during the service but they will often question them intensely. I usually just sat through the service about what bad people homeless people are and looked interested and said whatever they wanted me to. But I don't have a religion so it wasn't anything terrible. It was mostly Christians with other beliefs (like that Jesus forgives and loves everybody and that God doesn't purposely punish people with or for being poor) who objected or felt awful. So it was really a Christian on Christian kind of unkindness for the most part and there was no converting to be done because most people I met on the streets and while volunteering were Christian. But it really hurt them to be told they weren't good enough Christians or that they were flat-out bad Christians or not really Christians that God was choosing to punish.There's no need for you to apologize on behalf of other Christians for requiring lip service or for discriminating against LGBT persons. The vast majority of mainstream Christians aren't doing these things and you certainly aren't. There are far more Christian victims of that behavior than people doing it.Actually, in most shelters, the cost of maintaining one "bed" for a month is equal to or greater than the cost of a two bedroom apartment into which four people could be housed, at least in Michigan. It would never be discussed because homeless people have been put into a category as "undeserving poor" and our society would not go for it. It would be too much like helping a homed person stay in housing which many people have no problem with. So they'd rather pay more for an unsafe situation than allow that kind of help to be provided. Charities and organizations using a "housing first" approach have seen huge success in getting even chronic homeless people off the streets and eventually paying their own way. But there are a lot of opponents to housing first programs.

      • chi kung 3 years ago

        Dignity is the first that is not present at these places, nor is fair treatment unfortunately. Most "workers" here hate their job, they just do it for the money - not a great situation which shows up in their attitude towards the homeless...

      • AJ 3 years ago from North Carolina

        I say NO to every part of your question. I do not have your experiences as either a shelter seeker or a shelter worker, but it takes a very perfunctory check to show all your points to be true. I think, from my experiences talking with homeless people in Philadelphia, that one thing that would help the situation a lot is psychiatric care. I have also read that the homeless problem grew suddenly because of cut backs and laws that no longer permitted people to be hospitalized against their will. Now, psychiatric hospitals would be another hot issue for me, but I still think that a person who is in need of psychiatric care cannot always be capable of realizing that. And families absolutely MUST be kept together. I already knew that men were often not allowed to stay with their wives and children, but did not know until reading your lens that boys as young as 13 are considered "men" and forced away from their mothers and siblings to sleep at a men's shelter where their lives could be in danger. I think now homelessness is surging again because of the economy. I have seen so many people that I know online only who are homeless or in danger of becoming homeless, and I have gone through that danger, although not to the point of homelessness, thanks to a relative. I am shocked to read that prayers and such are required. Are you saying that they require people to actually "convert" or adopt the particular religion (I'm assuming you mean Christian but not sure)? Or are you saying that people FELT that it was being required? I must tell you that it is so completely against everything Christianity is about and everything our Lord Jesus stands for to say that homelessness and all the related problems are punishment. In the New Testament, Jesus was questioned about this. They asked Him, who sinned, this unfortunate person or his parents, for him to end up in such a bad condition. He rebuked them and told them plain and clear that it has nothing to do with sin. Repeatedly. Homelessness, rape, drugs, violence. These are evidence of the general human condition. These are NOT EVER punishment for sins. God may remove some of His protection (for lack of a better way of saying it), allowing bad things to happen as a sort of wake up call -- this is what people mean (or should mean) when they claim America is under God's judgment. But God does not punish individuals in this way or even nations. That is not what is meant. It is so often misinterpreted. I feel so bad to think that people who should be seeing the Love of God in action are feeling the wrath of people who call it the wrath of God! That is not the Christian way. Alas, many people call themselves Christians but are not -- or have no understanding of the ways of Christ. I believe the only hope is to make private apartments/hotel rooms, which of course would never be even discussed because of the cost and security issues, but I believe they could be if people would address these problems and force lawmakers to discuss them. They fling money without having a good grasp of how or where it will be used, and if they see something not working the knee-jerk response is to withdraw money. I am a Christian and I am so sorry that you were so poorly treated by anyone naming the name of Christ.

      • CaztyBon 3 years ago

        No, I know there are many homeless families and they don't have enough shelters for them.

      • anonymous 3 years ago

        My brother caught TB in a shelter. He also told me about being given blankets at bedtime that the shelters only washed once per month which resulted in things like scabies and lice. He too ended up choosing the cold hard streets over an alleged comfortable warm bed. I, myself remember a shleter I stayed in when I was 20 years old. At the front desk was a sign that said, "You did what you wanted to get here and now you'll do what we want to stay here". No, I didn't. I was running from an abusive relationship. After 33 years I still remember the words of that sign. I am now homeless again, after 33 years. I'm on the streets and not even thinking of seeking a shelter bed because I have a small dog who wouldn't be allowed in.

      • waynekat 3 years ago

        I don't live in america but I would doubt there are enough shelters, especially now... Thank you for an eye opening lense. I didn't know....

      • chironseer 3 years ago

        Hi, great lens, I was once forced to sleep rough on the streets for a week in amsterdam, and on one of those nights I stayed at the salvation army hostel, which was really a big hall with most of the people in it out of their minds on some drug or other.It was the most dangerous place I've ever stayed for sure, I much preferred the streets.

      • EsotericAllusion 3 years ago

        What an excellent article about a subject which concerns me. My son recently told me, that homeless people would come into the building where he worked seeking help as they did not want to go to the homeless shelter due to drugs and fear of violence. What can we do about such a problem in this group of vulnerable people?

      • KFairweather 3 years ago

        Group shelters are inherently dangerous and the entire paradigm should be rethought. Better is a model that works like a motel or old motor lodge. Separate rooms, with varying number of beds, cabins with two or more rooms for families, trailers homes (although after working with the FEMA housing program for a decade and a half I find trailers to be sub standard housing), cottages and even uninhabited lost-mortgage homes. There was a pilot home building program in Louisiana after Katrina where actual homes were built for disaster victims. And with the amount of money that was spent on temporary housing and trailers, building a new home for each registered victim would have been cheaper. We have some kind of idea in this country that people don't deserve to live well unless they live in a certain, accepted way and are lucky enough to maintain that life. Homelessness is not a disease that is contagious, it is a condition caused by the standards of our culture. is a national shame that we have so many unoccupied homes due to greed and malfeasance, illness, unemployment and other reasons and so many people without homes for many of the same reasons. Pure logic says, put those people in those homes. Banks are losing money with repossessed homes sitting empty, being robbed of copper and other materials, being vandalized, burned and destroyed. Neighborhoods lose value with empty homes sitting on their streets. If nothing else, it would behoove mortgage holders to pay homeless people to occupy these homes until they are sold just to insure they are monitored and kept from the dangers of vacancy. In the long run, it would solve so many problems, it seems obvious. But, we have a cultural imperative that says, homeless people don't deserve standard housing unless they get it the way their neighbors get it. It's shameful to see families on the streets when there are places for them to live and the only reason they aren't there is because their neighbors would be jealous.

      • Finn Mauritzen 3 years ago from Wading River, NY

        That fact that there is even a need for homeless shelters is an abominable symptom of a sick society.

      • Jillynn 3 years ago

        They are largely warehousing people while stripping them of their individual humanity.

      Would You Be Reluctant to Use a Shelter?

      There are not nearly enough shelters and many of them that exist are too hazardous or, more often, too regulation-bound to be effective in providing safe haven from the elements.

      The fact of the matter is that almost no one is immune from the possibility of homelessness. In many cases all it takes is one personal catastrophe to put a person or family on the street. Homeless people are just like you and me.

      After reading this article and getting some more information on the dangers and indignities you could face in a shelter, do you understand why many people without traditional housing avoid using them? If you wouldn't use a homeless shelter, you can hardly expect homeless people to. I hope you will share this distressing information and help others see why things need to change.

      If you were homeless would you be reluctant or feel some apprehension about using a shelter?

      See results

      Should Be Grateful for Assistance No Matter How They Are Treated? Or Do People Deserve to Be Treated like Human Beings?

      Some people believe that the homeless should just be grateful for any scraps tossed their way, no matter what indignities, dangers, or humiliations they must face to get them. They believe that they should be grateful even if a worker suggests they exchange sexual favors for a place to stay or if they get assaulted in or when leaving a shelter. They believe that anyone who suggests that there is anything wrong with shelters as they currently exist is simply hateful. They believe it's a sin to criticize any efforts to help, no matter how those people being helped are treated. The hate mail I have received regarding this page supports these views.

      While I worked in shelters for many years as a volunteer and absolutely know that the vast majority of workers are doing their best, I believe the system is deeply flawed. There are not enough facilities or security, and a homeless person is a person, deserving of a degree of dignity. What do you think?

      Homeless people should be grateful for any help, no matter the dangers or indignities required to receive it.

      See results

      Do We Need More, Better Homeless Shelters and Help for Existent Ones?

      Do we need to build more homeless shelters and help the ones that already exist?

      See results

      About Comments

      This article has received some very angry responses. Please, before sending hate mail or leaving an angry comment, read the whole page. If you want to use the comment section to express your disgust, please refrain from profanity or your comments will not be published.

      Comments do not appear immediately. Due to the number of comments with swearing or threats in them that this article gets, the comments are moderated. Your very much welcomed comment won't show up until I have a chance to see the notification in my inbox and approve it. I am not always at my computer so sometimes this can take a day or longer.

      © 2009 Kylyssa Shay


        0 of 8192 characters used
        Post Comment

        • Crystal 6 months ago

          Actually, yes, we do deserve privacy. This is an objective fact.

          And with or without mental illness, privacy is a universal psychological need; lacking it is detrimental to the mental and therefore physical health of every human being. This is why it is always considered inherently abusive to infringe upon someone's privacy.

        • Kev 9 months ago

          I say to open MORE shelters that COMPLY with ADA guidelines, and to completely drop the unnecessary "Pray to stay" or "Work for our thrift store/'rehab program'/whatever in order to stay" requirement. Christian-run shelters have all kinds of discriminatory (and are, sad to say, legal) rules. Muncie Mission (in Muncie, IN), a shelter a friend and I got perma-banned from just this week, has these rules that you're shown in a PowerPoint slideshow that has these obviously discriminatory rules:

          [The PPT file looks hurried and cheaply made, BTW. I could do better... but, I digress.]

          * (Picture of the serving line) This is where you get your three meals a day. If you need more than three meals a day because of diabetes or other medical concerns, you should look for another place to stay.

          * (Meme "Before there was Iron Man / There was Iron Lung") If you have medical or mental health issues beyond the care we provide, you should look for another place to stay.

          * (Picture of their elevator) This is our elevator. It can be used ONLY with staff permission [capitalized emphasis theirs], if you use a wheelchair or other medical issues.

          * (Picture of breathalizer) You may be asked to blow in this. It MUST read .000 or you will be asked to leave.

          * A couple of slides say the same thing about drug use and you may be asked at any time and if ANY drugs are found in a urinalysis, again, they say "You will be asked to leave."

          There are others, but some of them contradict with each other.

          Going on, they will not let you even have certain things: laptop, even if you are going to school (Someone attending college asked and said it was MANDATORY for their homework,and they said "Oh well, then go look for somewhere else,then!"), cell phone (they're afraid you'll call a drug dealer) or even "People" Magazine or "Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition" because they think it's porn... seriously!

          And they have confusing rules: If you don't have a job, you're REQUIRED to work at their "New Life Center" EVERY DAY, but if you DO have one, you're asked to "volunteer 8 hours a week," but if you NEED a job and are actively looking for one, how is that even possible?

          Oh, BTW, I'm an atheist, and I faked it good enough. I even was asked to lead the prayer at a couple of meals. But a couple of "morning devotional" sessions was mostly 30-minute soapbox sessions to air the b.s. of what he thought was wrong with the world...

          TL;DR, some of what he said made me cringe. He thought LGBTQ should be banished permanently "Because God Said So, Damn It!", that there was really NO constitutionally-mandated separation of church and state, we were founded as a Christian country from Day 1 (Uh, WRONG, Dennis [his name]! Section VI of our Constitution AND Amendment I say otherwise!!!!), all a bunch of stuff. I mostly written Linux Bash Shell Scripts in my provided notebook when we were *supposed* to write our "shortcomings" and our offerings to God in them...

          And don't get me started on their "Statement of Moral Obligation," a confusing document about "Biblical Marriage".

          But all what you wrote is what me and my friend experienced too. And just because we had our reasons, they kicked us out.

          Screw them, I've been living on the streets since 2011 and I can survive. These places are 3 hots and a cot with restrictions.

        • Jane 11 months ago

          The Shelters in Dallas TX are awful. Many people would rather live in Tent City (underneath a major expressway in Downtown Dallas) than go to a shelter. Why are the shelters so awful? They are very authoritarian. You have to be in at 2 or 3 p.m. and they lock you in. If you leave out for any reason you are banned. The staff is often rude and abusive. There are major privacy violations as well. Dallas has instituted some type of system where all of the shelters share information with each other and with about 150 other businesses that are suppose to help the homeless. So if you are homeless for one night your name and social security number and other personally identifiable information are shared forever with 150 different agencies and private corporations. Never to be deleted. Also, Dallas Shelters turn over all of their shelter lists to the police. Each night. They give the police the names of people to be searched (even after background checks are ran) by the shelter. How do I know? I have a cousin who is married to a police officer in another city. Her and I weren't speaking for while and she had her husband violate the law and he looked me up and could see every shelter I had ever stayed in, in the State of Texas. There should have been no way he could see this if I wasn't breaking any law. Which I wasn't. But the shelters just violate your privacy. So they frighten many people away. The Bridge Shelter in Dallas forces everyone who stays there even one night to sign away their rights to their personal information and so the shelter can share this with hundreds of different public and private companies. Other shelters do the same.

        • Kylyssa profile image

          Kylyssa Shay 21 months ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

          You can be certain homeless women get raped at a horrifying and alarming rate in India as well, probably even more frequently and with even fewer repercussions for their assailants.They may even be more likely to be murdered by their assailants. I'm guessing more people are alarmed by the rape of middle class and upper class women no matter where they are than by similar crimes against people of the lowest classes anywhere on earth, even in their own neighborhoods.

        • Margelia profile image

          Margelia 21 months ago from Culver City, California

          I know this is an old article, but I had been looking for something that summed up the major problems that homeless women have to deal with, and this does it perfectly. I wanted something to share on Facebook, because there are so many posts I have seen about the horrifying conditions for women in other countries... Everyone rallies around causes like rape in India, but what about here in the U.S.? The rate of sexual assault among homeless women is simply unacceptable. I cannot believe more is not being done about it. I'm not saying we have the same problem as India, only that their problem is garnering a lot of attention while ours are being ignored. Is it because these women are homeless, and in India average college students get gang raped? Is it more horrifying to people that these women get attacked?

          I don't know, but I think there needs to be a conversation about this... Thank you so much for such a well written article. It makes it easier to bring all of this to people's attention when it's presented so clearly and succinctly.

        • GypsyOwl profile image

          Deb Bryan 2 years ago from Chico California

          Thank you! The only long-term solution to homelessness in America will be from-the-heart change in how people are treated across the board. When we are able to treat each other as we want to be treated.

          Opinion aside. My experience has shown me being homeless happens to people in all walks of life and all levels of achievement, motivation, and even hard working people find out through disaster or economic shifts suddenly life comes along and everything changes. Displacement is what they call my situation.

          Shelters aren't an option for me. I appreciate your presentation and from-the-heart observation.

          And, today I found your page because it is LotD on Squidoo's home page. Congratulations well deserved!

        • Dressage Husband profile image

          Stephen J Parkin 2 years ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada

          Not having used a shelter I am horrified at the issues described here. However I am not really surprised. Most people with a good job never think how it is to be out of work and fighting against the prejudices of other ignorant people just like they actually are.

          Only after an actual experience of living the life of the homeless can people understand and handle this difficult situation fairly and well. This is true in many areas of life and unfortunately this is the root cause of most of the issues in the Western World. It is ignorance and the fact that what we do not know we do not know can and does hurt us! Good Hub - Today's LOTD on Squidoo

        • Kylyssa profile image

          Kylyssa Shay 2 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

          @burntchestnut: The biggest problem, in my opinion, is nothing anyone involved with running shelters can do anything about directly. Predators are going to stalk homeless people leaving shelters; they know it's safer for them to choose homeless victims. Society has to change for that to change. Law enforcement has to change (equal enforcement of and protection under the law) to change the phenomenon. Places like underfunded homeless shelters also often don't have the resources to run background checks on workers and certainly not on volunteers. One way to get around these problems would be to have housing assistance programs in place of homeless shelters.

        • burntchestnut 2 years ago

          Homeless shelters have to have money and they have to have volunteers (or paid workers), both in short supply. It's easy to criticize people when we've never been in their situation or have observed the inside of a homeless shelter. The well-run shelters (and with money), provide the homeless with dignity, keep the family together and help training to get a job. I never realized the homeless have to deal with violence or uncleanliness in some of the shelters. But the workers can't tell if someone will be violent, and they certainly can't force everyone to bathe and submit to a physical to see if they have a disease. It's a problem that has always existed, but the public rarely knew about.

        • ozoneman68 2 years ago

          @lskjk: It's sad that in this day and age where our currency isn't worth even a quarter of what it used to be and so many of the once decent paying jobs having been outsourced that a large amount of people still believe that anyone who is homeless is either mentally ill, a drug addict or alcoholic - or (as is commonly believed in the buy bull belt) they're being punished by "god".

        • lskjk 2 years ago

          I am homeless and also do not have a drug or alcohol addiction. I tried to stay in the Salvation Army shelter and made it one night. At the intake they run your I.D. and make you do a drug test and breathalizer, which to me they were saying that I was a drug addict no matter what. While I was waiting I saw two men come out of a room, one was buckling his belt like they had just did something sexual. The staff didn't care or pretended not to notice. Now, I have a problem with this because I was raped by a man. They put us in rooms with no supervision and the door closed. I barely got any sleep that night. I never tried to stay in a shelter again.

        • annemarievocalsintallahassee 2 years ago

          the only ones that I know of that are clean, are usually battered women shelters with lockdowns.I am looking for a safe emergancy haven myself in Portland Maine till I can get into the Victoria Center.

        • Kylyssa profile image

          Kylyssa Shay 2 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

          @Vicki_P: The unfriendly pre-meal sermon I recall most clearly was in a shelter run by a Reformed Church. It wasn't particularly nasty but it clearly communicated that the pastor felt homelessness is the consequence of and punishment for sinning. Some pastors even talk positively about the sermon style online. I'll add some links.

        • Vicki_P 2 years ago

          Where I live, no, there's not enough. There are always homeless on both sides where I live (a small urban park in one direction, two major plazas in the other). This city has a large "soup kitchen" but the city itself doesn't help much at all. There are a few other nonprofits that help in the area. I love the lens, it's great. I did want to say, though, that no Christian group I know of would tell you that you're being "punished for your sins," so I don't know what kind-of shelter that was you had experience with. Emmaus Ministries in Chicago may be a good example of a multi-denominational shelter/kitchen that provides love and help, in their case, to men in survival prostitution. (PS - I tried posting this in the debate comment, but it's not working - I tried a number of times.)

        • Kylyssa profile image

          Kylyssa Shay 2 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

          @Alison Williams: We have enough vacant buildings in America that we could probably house all of the homeless people in the world very comfortably. Unfortunately, even if the banks that own the abandoned (and now decaying because no one has been living in them and keeping them up) houses and other buildings were to give permission for people to live in them, it would be illegal. Yes, it's crazy.

        • Alison Williams profile image

          Alison Williams 2 years ago

          I found this page quite enlightening. I always thought of Shelters as a place of refuge and thought that things like theft, assault and rape were more likely to happen to a homeless person on the street. I was aware of drug addicts possibly being in them but I thought everyone had their own room and you could just avoid them for a lot of the time. Last year, my landlord evicted me and I was worried sick at the prospect of possibly being homeless because I was hitting a brick wall all the time trying to find somewhere else. I couldn't move back in with my family because of problems there and the thought of sleeping on a cold, hard street scared me a lot. So I rang shelters but no-one could take me for various reasons such as age or income.Maybe not all shelters have these problems but one way I think might solve problems for the homeless would be to use vacant housing that has just been standing empty for years. Why can't they be converted somehow and temporarily house a few people while they get themselves together?

        • anonymous 2 years ago

          it's actually quite sad that shelters don't provide enough materials and facilities for the homeless, not to mention SAFETY. Being a woman in a shelter would be one of the hardest things I must assume. Great lens, thank you!

        • jen09 writes 2 years ago

          I found this very interesting. My husband works hand-in-hand with law enforcement and often views homeless as lazy, however I am a bit more sympathetic. Your article really brought to light a lot of issues I had not thought about previously. Definitely going to share it (and a few others on the topic) with him

        • Kylyssa profile image

          Kylyssa Shay 2 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

          @mary-helmers: Those sound like great ideas. Kleenex and bathroom tissue are also always useful. I need to add a bunch of things or possibly create an additional page geared more directly toward making care packages. Please remember to keep safety in mind and take someone along with you when you do something like handing out backpacks. And don't be discouraged if some people seem ungrateful or curse at you. Many such people are either mentally ill or just lashing out because they've been hurt so badly they fear peoples' motivations. Thank you for being a caring person!

        • mary-helmers 2 years ago

          Thank you for your informative and well-written articles! I have copied a lot of the information to put into packs I will now be making up and giving out to homeless men and women I see. Your listing of what is needed is a huge help. To many of the things in your list, I intend to add a couple of toothbrush holders--one for a toothbrush, and one for holding small stuff like a pencil with extra lead and a pen. And also add a few plastic spoons and some Ziplock bags in 2 or three sizes and larger plastic bags with ties. I'm going to see just how many things I can include for $20. Thanks for giving me an excellent way to be able to help. I have wanted to do so for some time, but did not know what I could do other than to offer a sandwich or something of that sort.

        • sarah-kareem-7 2 years ago

          I am an international student from Saudi Arabia, I feel sad deep from my heart when I see teen or elderly as homeless. Every day I cry when I came home, I appreciate my bed and every thing more than before. Being homeless is not an easy thing at all, May God (Allah) help every single one in this world with financial and health problems. This page is so great

        • hclyne1 2 years ago

          Having been kind of homeless - I needed to stay in a shelter type accommodation but thankfully here in Australia ours are much better than anywhere else in the world they're LGBTQ friendly, disabled friendly and treat a person with respect and decency and I felt no judgement at the one I stayed at. It's classed as short term accommodation as you do have to pay a weekly rent but for that you got 3 meals per day and a lockable room to yourself. Also our government provides people with various financial assistance depending on your circumstances including a homeless allowance.

        • Alyssa DeBoer profile image

          Alyssa DeBoer 2 years ago

          I had a very bad experience with being homeless and homeless shelters (thank god only for a week). It was one of the worst times of my life. I love your article. I understand ever aspect of all your homeless articles.

        • Lionrhod profile image

          Lionrhod 2 years ago from Orlando, FL

          I am in the middle dealing with the almost opposite challenge. While we were out of state and working to get back and get our feet under ourselves, my husband's mother was taken and determined as Alzheimer's incapacitated and thrown in a home by a person who for a freaking living, warehouses the elderly.Thankfully we had a home to move into. However then there are things like electricity (we lived for 2 months without - and the place was almost condemned because of that) and food and such.Obviously things are now on the mend and we now have electric and internet and a few other basic amenities. Still working on a car and all.And yet still we have to find the $1500-3000 or so to just get a lawyer to get her out of the home she's got stuck in. So that she can be treated with basic human respect - be allowed to garden and worship and pet the dogs and..simple things. As in she wasn't allowed to make a phone call out for a year. We weren't even allowed to know what facility she was being held in.Wacky stuff.Being homeless or near so is completely demoralizing and astonishing and...just outright a mess. No, I don't have the answer yet. Still trying to figure it out myself. This page...truly hit my heart. Thank you for doing what you do and what you can.

        • jan-powers-16 2 years ago

          Housing First programs are more of an answer, especially for homeless families. I tried to get into a program like that, here in Los Angeles, but they wouldn't accept me because my mental illness was so out of control. It was difficult to get mental health help while being homeless. My children were taken from me because I was mentally ill and unable to qualify for a program that would stabilize my family. It took me years to get them back, and the entire experience with Children's Services was dehumanizing. The social workers we had were, for the most part, decent people who cared about the children, but the system is simply evil. I was mentally ill and homeless and somehow, it was my fault in the eyes of the "helpers." How does anyone deserve that? I am an atheist partly because religious shelters told me I am a bad person and deserve to be homeless. I could never trust a god that would punish me for being poor because my children's father abandoned us when my youngest was only two months old. I survived, managed to get a bit of an education, and am stable today. Being homeless is horrible, but the way a homeless person is treated is even worse. This is where you find inhumanity hardest at work.

        • alian1888 2 years ago

          I thought the answer was simple.... Build more homeless centres!!!How ignorantly stupidly arrogant do I feel right now? VERY VERY VERY!!!!I live in New Zealand. I have spent short stints on the street, sleeping under church bushes and other not so great places. I had a mother who beat me when she got pissed with my dad and he took off to get away from her anger issues.Get what I looked too much like my dad. ANYway!I had been offered places to stay overnight a few times and always said no thank you.Never really thought why I said that.In the end the same reason as most homeless people I guess.Pride, fear, would rather do things for myself... no handouts or help needed... OK! goes back to pride I guess.Always thought I'd like to "SAVE THE WORLD" some day.Win big on Lottery (LOTTO). look after myself then help others with the rest. Help build homeless shelters for the homeless etc.NEVER EVER! thought about how homeless people would think about some "know it all" turning up and saying here's another shelter for you to live in, use it!Ignorance is soo bliss isn't it.Right now I'm thinking.... WHAT IS THE ANSWER???????- Has anyone asked a homeless person what they would like?- Do they just want a safe place to spend the night?- Would they accept help that was given (to a degree, forced) upon them?+++ or do they really want a HOME of their own.A small safe place to go home to every night, with nice neighbors who say good morning etc. And know how to treat them like real people.... I know all about not quite fitting in, no matter where you go.It's taken me lots of years ( maybe 20-30) and lots of luck, and eventually to be able to accept the help of some very very good people whom I could trust, just to get to where I am now.I have a partner I love.... Hopefully to be married in a very simple ceremony in September.A rented house that I call HOME!A job I love, that pays a very good wage (in comparison to the minimum wage I've always gotten), and working with people who appreciate what I do... with them and for them when I can. (I like to be helpful).How I got here, I don't honestly know!But I love my life, and the people around me, who make my life worth living.To go from what I have now, to the life I used to live (which even at it's worst was nothing compared to soo many others in this world we live in... Is unimaginable to me know.IN CONCLSION:More homless shelters are not the best answer, but a plaster on the wound of humanitys shame and neglect of what is right there in front of us every day.But giving soo many people a house they can own out right, a place to call "HOME"... a place people can call safe...mine....a sense of belonging, to somewhere special, and to the community they live in.I guess even a cardboard box in an alley, with other people in the same situation can give someone that same or similar sense of home!Or as close as it will ever get for a lot of people.GOD bless the poor, the meek, and the humble... for they shall inherit the kingdom of GOD before the rest of us.Love and best wishes to all those who live simple lives, and struggle in an unkind world, who feel the unimaginable coldness of a winters night in the open.May their hearts always be as warm as the midday sun, and their souls shine brighter than the brightest stars of a clear night.Kindest RegardsAllen Murray Davis

        • Loretta L profile image

          Loretta Livingstone 2 years ago from Chilterns, UK.

          I also just tried to like your page, but apparently I am over the limit. I will try to remember to come back tomorrow. Thank you for such an enlightening lens.

        • Loretta L profile image

          Loretta Livingstone 2 years ago from Chilterns, UK.

          I have recently been reading up about homeless shelters as I have written a book about a homeless girl - Where Angels Tread - and needed to do some research for it. I wish I had found your lenses, but I did manage to find sufficient information to cover the reason why my fictitious heroine had never used the shelters before - although her experience of a shelter is a good one. I did try to post in your poll but it wouldn't let me.

        • Lionrhod profile image

          Lionrhod 2 years ago from Orlando, FL

          My answer in the duel module was: "Sadly a huge NO!" but it wouldn't post for some reason. Back when I had a car I was bringing food to Food Not Bombs. I encourage everyone to do what they can to help. Thank you for your good works!

        • OUTFOXprevention1 profile image

          OUTFOXprevention1 2 years ago

          Interesting information! Thanks for sharing.

        • your-mate-with-a-ute 2 years ago

          I have lived on the streets on and off for most of my life and in one form or another. I was ejected from home at age 13 and between foster care, group homes and shelters there was just less conflict to go it alone. I spent time living in cheap hotels but even this was not ideal. Communal kitchen and bathrooms meant possessions were constantly stollen. Unannounced searches of my room by landlords invading my privacy. And some even had no communal kitchen and also wouldn't allow cooking in your room. (Fire hazzard) so you would have to eat in their dining room (expensive) or eat take away (unhealthy and expensive) or as i did just eat 3 dining room meals a week. Rest of the time its bread and crackers.The single best thing that i ever did was to buy a car. Not only did this allow me to transport my belongings from place to place. Without having to leave stuff behind simply because i couldn't carry it. But it also gave me a reasonably secure place to sleep between housing. So much so that it became my preferred option in many instances. Fuel costs are a concern but if you can drive it opens up so many more options for employment. Some jobs are only available because nobody can make the start times due to their requirements for public transport. And there is always pizza or other fast food delivery jobs available. Yes these can place a burden on your home and transport but it can provide a leg up.One time i rear ended someone in my car and wrote off the car. It still ran but the front was totally crumpled. My employer (pizza shop owner) respected my dedication having learned of my circumstances and gave me a loan to purchase and register another very cheap car. That i would pay back as a percentage of my wages for the next several months. People like that are rare and in most instances they wouldn't lift a finger to help someone who is homeless. However someone in that situation who is trying to better themselves. They consider more like themselves and hence feel more obliged to help.Living in a car takes some finesse and planning. If you have work even part time or casual labouring work it makes things easyer. The amount of glass in a car makes it very poorly insulated. Cardboard cut to the shape of each window will help trap the heat in cold weather and keep it cool and dark in the hot sun (pizza delivery is an evening job) paint one side of the cardboard white and the other black. White face out for cool black face out for warm. With a car the issue of charging your phone is taken care of. 12volt chargers are cheap. And with that 12 volt constant power source comes other options. Entertainment is the biggest concern for me. I found myself bored to death sitting in my car all day with very little money. I started out 20 years ago when i first started living in my car by purchasing a pocket telivision. I expanded that to a 12 volt carravan VCR. Later portable DVD players became more affordable. I purchased one recently for $30 it doesn't have a battery and requires the 12 volt power from the car but it works and $1 each for weekly DVD rentals from my local video store provides me with endless cheap entertainment during my down time. An old laptop computer coupled with a power inverter (turns 12v DC into mains power AC) allows me to write out my resumes and application letters. Coupled to my mobile phone i can email and browse the net for other job opportunities.Many years ago i tried using a cooler to be able to purchase food and have it keep. This worked to some degree but milk cartons would move as the ice melted and spill and meat would become waterlogged. I saved enough money to buy a 12 volt cooler and solved the problem of having to buy ice every 3 days. However with this came another problem. The cooler draws so much power and is always running that the battery in my car would go flat. A jump pack solved that problem. I can now jump start my car whenever the battery dies. And if i know I'm parking up for a few days and not intending to run the car i can still get 1/2 a bag of ice and put it in the car cooler. I am now married and have 4 children under the age of 8 my wife and I live in stable rented accommodation and my life has changed for the better. However recently i needed to find a job urgently and there was no job vacancy where we lived. I told my wife that it wasn't a problem i would go to the city and find work. "But where will you live? We can't afford anything!" Was her reaction. " it won't cost me anything if i live out of my car." I replied. I put all my gear in the car and for 4 months i was back living in my car. But the long term history that i have. Having lived on the streets on and of for 26 years i had accumulated all the equipment i would need. So i lived in relative comfort. I don't advise anyone living rough now to run out and buy all the stuff that i have mentioned but if you are in a position to begin acquiring (financially able) or at risk of becoming homeless theres a start point. I recommend a van if you can get one cheap or trade your car for one. The added headroom and flat floor for sleeping on will make you much more comfortable. The toys can be purchased second hand if needed. I bought mine new and knowing that i couldn't afford to replace them have looked after them. Being able to watch the news or an evening movie is a great comfort. And if your up late waiting for the area your in to quieten down so that you can sleep you can watch a movie or surf the web. This also has the advantage that if passers by see you they won't assume your a bum or a hobo living in your car just a business person checking their emails on their way home and not bother calling the police to move you on. A good sleeping bag is life or death don't cheap out on this. Dacron is best value for your money but down is just as warm however takes up less space. (Is useless when wet and looses its efficiency every time it gets wet and is dried) not a good idea if you may end up sleeping outside. Don't waste your money on anything cheaper than $50 you will get a nylon cover stuffed with cotton wool. Great for camping during the summer but useless for roughing it outdoors in colder months. A small stove of some description. Butane if you have the space or solid fuel/metho if not. I would boil a pot of water every night especially in colder weather. And fill both a hot water bottle and a thermos. Wake up shivering cold in the middle of the night. Have a hot chocolate in bed and wonder to yourself about how those poor homed people are managing without this! A great morale booster and a lifesaver in itself. Showers and toilets are the only concern left to cover. I always carry a basin or a crate that can be emptied easily and filled with warm water for a sponge bath between showers. Many shelters or assistance agency's will have showers and all you have to do is ask for one. If they have one they won't refuse you. The other option is truck stops sometimes they charge a small fee or will give you free use with a fuel purchase. Find out where they are and what the deal is. These are usually open 24 hours so you can use them when its quiet and theres no-one around. Toilets i usually tried always to park close to one where i could or if not make use of one when its there. In my area many are closed at night due to vandals. I would keep a roll of toilet paper and a small folding trowel in a bag where it was easy to reach if i had to go. Not pretty but beats messing yourself. That's my story. Hope it helps someone. Or at least entertained you.

        • John Dyhouse profile image

          John Dyhouse 2 years ago from UK

          A very disturbing account of the issues with shelters, the fact that there are not enough is common to many countries and cultures but even if one or two of the other reasons are encountered in each one it is most worrying. I guess that they are always full so often don't see the problems.

        • Stephanie36 profile image

          Stephanie 2 years ago from Canada

          I guessed some of these reasons (especially working hours, pets, and safety), but issues of disease actually hadn't occurred to me. It makes sense, of course. I find the questioning about if you have somewhere else to stay insane. If you had another place to stay, whether it's a friend, boyfriend, or other, you'd probably already be doing that rather than going to the shelter. Fantastic lens with really eye-opening info.

        • mike-hanson-5454 2 years ago

          What is the reason that shelters often have such rigid check in times? Usually, these check in times are in the early evening, just right around the time some people are working. Shelters obviously provide a much needed service, but, the way that the one's that I have been in seem to want people to be stuck in them.Case in point. If you don't have a regular job, then you are not permitted to work via a day labor place.Ever lived on the streets?It costs money to ride the bus, or to buy gas for your vehicle and if you don't have an income then you'll be doing a lot of walking.Therefore, why don't most shelters make concessions that allow people to work day labor until they have enough money to pay for transportation, cell phone airtime and laundry etc..There are times that I believe that some shelters want to keep people in them because for every person in a shelter allows for money to be spent housing them.If a shelter had all of their clients get employment and thereby leave the shelter, those that run them would lose their jobs.If you ever stay at a shelter, do not by any means list the shelters address as your home address because it is well known in whatever town you are living in.The place that you fill out the application will more than likely not hire you because of the whole shelter/homeless stereotypes.Furthermore, if there is a plasma lab in your city and they know that you're staying at a shelter, they will not let you donate.I am not going to tell you why that is, instead, I invite you to call one up and ask them why they don't let shelter residents donate.

        • Kylyssa profile image

          Kylyssa Shay 2 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

          @yasminbrownmermaiddqueen: I'm sorry to hear that. Please be sure to exhaust every possibility of help that you can. If you live in the US please be sure you've properly applied for assistance at your local Department of Human Services; it's far easier to get help before the homelessness occurs than after. Also, keep in mind that not all shelters are bad, these are just all of the down sides people have found to using shelters in different areas in the US. Not every shelter has all of the down sides and some don't have any.

        • yasminbrownmermaiddqueen 2 years ago

          quite scared now because ill be homeless in 2 days

        • AnonymousC831 profile image

          AnonymousC831 2 years ago from Kentucky

          Fantastic lens, very informative.

        • augustday 2 years ago

          Thanks for this. I never realized that being homeless would be this difficult and complicated.

        • MVKilgore profile image

          M. Victor Kilgore 2 years ago


        • michelle-c-reeves-5 2 years ago

          Intensely informative!! Thank you for the insights and honest perspective on the Homeless subject.

        • tinastreasures01 2 years ago

          Excellent and educational article. Thank you for sharing your experience and knowledge.

        • inspirationalshortstories 2 years ago

          Certainly a heart shuddering read. Also, I'd like to recommend you to read "At Hell's Gate: A Soldier's Journey by Claude Anshin". Thanks

        • christian reese 5 profile image

          christian reese 5 3 years ago

          This is so sad. I learned a little something about the homeless people thanks to this article. Thank you for sharing your experience. My everyday problems seem so insignificant right now.

        • HSP Connections profile image

          Peter Messerschmidt 3 years ago from Port Townsend, WA, USA

          Amazing article! I only have the limited experience of living in my car for a few weeks... not really educated enough on the matter to offer any great wisdom.As someone who grew up in Denmark-- a "social democracy"-- I am always appalled by the lack of "safety nets" in the US; there's so little that seems to separate those who are having "a hard time" from a life a life on the streets. And we end up with this "chicken vs. egg" situation where there's lots of crime because people have almost no non-criminal options... the situation is created (and made worse) by the way we-- as a culture-- champion self-reliance, independence and "everyone for themselves," to the point where public assistance is viewed with "suspicion" rather than as a benefit. To answer your question... no, I would not go to a homeless shelter; mostly to avoid the criminal element, which I am expanding to include assault, theft, drug abuse and other addictions having a direct impact on me. When I lived in my car I was actually working, but was out of couch surfing options and at minimum wage couldn't get a place to live (no deposit) for a while... even if this were to happen to me today (at 50-something) I would STILL live in the back of my truck before going to a shelter.

        • jnnfr4387 3 years ago

          I work in a homeless shelter and frankly I have never been so disgusted. Everyone feels sorry for our down and out guests. I agree that maybe 50% of the people actually need to be there because of mental illness, severe addictions, or just being down and out. But the other 50% are CRIMINALS! These people have rap sheets that are sometimes in excess of 35 pages long. Charges that include: battery intending great harm, domestic abuse, keeping a drug house, habitual criminality, prostitution, contempt of court, multiple DWI'S - some with injuries to others, and on and on!!! They are players and hustlers, show no respect to staff, feel above the rules, and steal from the shelter. They request several of the same articles of clothing and then sell it on the street. They laugh and joke about pimping each other out during the day and then come back with wads of cash in their pockets! It truly disgusts me. i feel like we shelter and feed these people and then they go out and commit crimes during the day. I recently saw a photocopy of a donated check from someone's trust fund for thousands of dollars...I could n't help thinking those poor people have no idea the what kind of people they are supporting. These 50% are homeless because they have burned all of their bridges and nobody wants them anymore. I have no empathy for that!

        • chrisilouwho profile image

          chrisilouwho 3 years ago

          This was certainly eye-openning. Thank you for sharing this.

        • ShelbyLinMarie 3 years ago

          This is very moving. I am a social work major intent on working at the macro community level with my focus on homeless adults. These people are our fellow human beings! They need all of the help we can give them to get back on their way to living a happy quality of life.

        • NathanThomasTaylor 3 years ago

          In some parts of the United States, police officers say to homeless people, "You can go to a shelter or you can go to to jail - make your choice now - we will not allow you to walk around on the sidewalks during daylight hours and we will not allow you to sleep on the ground at night." What they are doing is in effect punishing American citizens for not having the means to rent or purchase living space, because there is little difference between a shelter for the homeless and a jail for criminals. Some of us who have been homeless don't like either of these choices offered to us, so we find ways to evade the authorities. We hide in places where we are not likely to be seen by the police, such as inside abandoned buildings or in heavily wooded areas or in underground drainage systems. Some of us have been known to fake drug or alcohol dependency in order to get into 'sober living' housing facilities. Some of us fake having a mental illness in order to be placed in housing for the mentally ill. Some of us who have had very rough lives choose a final solution - suicide - which ends all pain from hunger and stops the horrible feeling of belonging no place in this world. What we really all need (excepting those with extremely severe mental or physical conditions, who need special help) is a decent job and an affordable place to stay, which is not easily attainable in many parts of the United States at this time. Instead, our nation's politicians give speeches about the 'heroic illegal aliens who only come here for work' and how 'we should never expect good jobs that have been exported to other countries to ever come back to our country.' What our nation needs in order to reduce the need for tax-payer subsidized shelters for the homeless and to reduce overall homelessness is a new generation of leaders - leaders who are aren't all millionaire and billionaire politicians. We need political leaders who come from the lower economic classes. If that seems an unlikely possibility, consider that we live in the internet era, where many societal changes are achievable by people who simply have the will to change the way things are now. Are you one of the people who will use the internet as a starting point to make the world a better place?

        • anonymous 3 years ago

          Very educational. Each of us never know how close we are to being homeless. I am sure these people never thought it would happen to them. Of course not, in my opinion. I don't know the statistics behind this but I just keep my eyes and ears alert, as well as listen to media reports. I think this is an opportunity for non profit organizations to consider in order to restore dignity to those who have almost given up hope. (tried to post this at the appropriate spot but could not get the robot filter to accept)

        • amirahmed01 3 years ago

          I actually took the time to sit and have a conversation of group oh homeless individuals. To be honest I was sitting down having a conversation for a whole hour! People tend to fear them because they are not "one of them" but they are still people like you and me. And they tell you things that are out of this world!

        • amirahmed01 3 years ago

          I really enjoyed reading this article! I was on the verge of being homeless and I'm not out of the woods yet. I am poor, but rich in sole haha that's how I always tend to think. Yes, it is a tragic life, but like anything our bodies seem to adjust to any circumstance no matter how bad it is. I used to be able to eat three meals day, but now it is one and sometimes half a meal. But, what I've learned, is that my body adjusts well. Life will always be about survival of the fittest no matter how bad things tend to be.

        • Lowdown0 3 years ago

          Hello, thanks for your insight, I've been homeless before to, usually did have a job. I smoked weed then but nothing else, I would find spots where no-one was. In Portland Oregon there is a bridge called the Burnside Bridge, and this is where many homeless people sleep every night. I would avoid this place and go to the parks outside of town a bit. Sometimes it would take some creative thinking and could be scary dark and mysterious, but I'd rather be eaten by a monster than stuck on the Burnside Bridge. Thanks again

        • Kylyssa profile image

          Kylyssa Shay 3 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

          @wer_werf: It's actually cheaper to put a person into an apartment in some areas than it is to maintain a single cot in a homeless shelter for a month!

        • wer_werf 3 years ago

          I dislike the only homeless shelter my county has. It turned away over 3,500 and only 54% of the people staying there are actually from my county. Why they are building a second one it won't be big enough to serve our population. I live in a very rich county and it disguist me that we are not helping our homeless but can help other people's homeless. It can cost tax payers 5 times as much to do emergency and transiting housing so why not just put funding for studio, one, and two bedroom apartments. I vote to either end all section 8 housing or find the funding for everyone that qualifies

        • WriterJanis2 profile image

          WriterJanis2 3 years ago

          This was a real eye opener for me. Thanks for putting this info out there.

        • Doc_Holliday 3 years ago

          Very interesting lens. Thanks for sharing.

        • smine27 profile image

          Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

          There are quite a number of homeless people in Tokyo. However I have never seen shelters here like in America. this wasa very educational and enlightening lens for me. Thank you for sharing your story.

        • QianaMDavis 3 years ago

          Very enlightening article. Although this would make me think twice about operating a homeless shelter personally, I'd still like to volunteer at one and do whatever I can to help alleviate suffering of the homeless. I long ago became interested in this matter as a college student reading about whole families who having to live in shelters after the parent(s) lost their jobs then their homes, cars, savings etc. This article gives one a lot to think about and sheds a light on how many issues homeless people face and the problem with the system itself.

        • anonymous 3 years ago

          @anonymous: This would be more of a transitional housing program then a shelter the way you are describing it!

        • SheGetsCreative profile image

          Angela F 3 years ago from Seattle, WA

          I am so glad that currently 88% of people in your poll above agree that the homeless are deserving of being treated like humans. You know how important this issue is to me so I'll just send you a big "Bravo" :)

        • ErikaV LM profile image

          ErikaV LM 3 years ago

          Brilliant lens, it takes tons of courage to say all these things when so many amongst us live by the moto "you shouldn't bite the hand that feeds you" -even when that hand feeds you crumbs. Well said, well done.

        • goldenecho profile image

          Gale 3 years ago from Texas

          As a Christian I'm really sad to hear that a homeless shelter used their religious services to try to make people feel that God was punishing them by making them homeless. I think the Bible is very clear that we should be wary of labeling another's hardship as "punishment from God." I understand that you don't believe in God, but I just didn't want you to think that was what our faith really taught. Thank you for the article that spread light on so many things I was not aware of about homelessness.

        • anonymous 3 years ago

          @GuruBurt LM: I agree, and it's rare that people can understand this without being in a similar situation.

        • anonymous 3 years ago

          @CrazyHomemaker: Homeless accommodations just need to be redesigned. :)

        • anonymous 3 years ago

          Great article. If i were rich I would create a new kind of "homeless shelter". It would be a community of buildings, Much like apartments. (homeless) People would live like humans: like everyone else. No check in days and no "kick out" days. They would stay there for as long as they needed. Although I would have security for everyones safety and sections for animals (to protect those with allergies). My place would not have a high turn over rate, so it would not have vacancies often, but the resources would be there if anyone needed them. I would ask for professionals to volunteer like veterinarians, and doctors and shrinks and addiction counselors and career finding resources, and I would not make it mandatory to see any of them. I would help those who seek for it, but leave the ones who don't want or need the help alone. I learned of ordinances restricting expansion from your article!! thanks. It's good to know when I design my Community of Hope :P

        • GuruBurt LM profile image

          GuruBurt LM 3 years ago

          I was fortunate enough to avoid having to live on the streets after I effectively became homeless. My parents allowed me to move back in with them and stay with them as I rebuilt my life after a separation and divorce when I became unemployed. Without their help I would have been at least couch surfing for a while. Life is wonderful again but without the critical support when I was depressed, financially destitute things could have been very different. There are many reasons good people become homeless. They need your help not your judgement.

        • CrazyHomemaker profile image

          CrazyHomemaker 3 years ago

          This is an amazing look at homeless shelters. I often thought "If I were rich, I'd create one in my town". Now, with all of the instances you've described, I'd forget it and help out in other ways. Thanks for this lens and all of your other ones, too. Very interesting information!

        • DtKnight 3 years ago

          This a very well thought out, very significant commentary on why homeless people do not use homeless shelters. The current nature of limited habitation is a quality of this world that is unfortunate, especially in light of all the land that is currently available but held in reserve. It says a tremendous deal about any country in the way that it treats its homeless, and your lens is a very good place to start on ways to try to combat homelessness and to also figure out ways to help those in need without in turn harming them, even if unintentionally.

        • sheilamarie78 profile image

          sheilamarie78 3 years ago

          Very moving account. People forget how close each of us is to being in the same situation. Thank you for opening a few eyes. P.S. Even if you've gotten some ignorant or even down right mean responses, your words will still work on those hearts. I hope you are okay, and I will keep you in my prayers (whether or not you are a believer, you can still feel -- and give -- the love, right?)

        • chi kung profile image

          chi kung 3 years ago

          fantastic piece of writing and very much needed!

        • LisaDH profile image

          LisaDH 3 years ago

          You've done a great job highlighting the problems with homeless shelters. We need to do better than this.

        • nicolekato profile image

          nicolekato 3 years ago

          This was a great lens that really made me think about homelessness in another light.

        • blestman lm profile image

          blestman lm 3 years ago

          Awesome lens about a national travesty. I applied to work at a homeless shelter but I did not get hired -- I guess I was too naïve for at the time

        • CaztyBon profile image

          CaztyBon 3 years ago

          I really liked your lens I think if more people read the lens it would wake people up to the problems we have in the U.S.A. I know for a fact that a lot of what you wrote is true and I find it disgusting that in this day and age the U.S. would give much needed money to foreign countries that hate us instead of coming up with ways to prevent U.S. citizens from being homeless.

        • jaclyn-mellon 3 years ago

          I was homeless for many many years and in all that time I used shelters twice, and only in dire situations. I did not use them because my pet could not come with me. I was also a minor thrown out by my abusive parents and could not utilize shelters because I was a minor whose parents could not be contacted. There was also my general fear of issues listed above, my stuff getting stolen, getting illnesses and bugs. I was homeless on and off (more on then off) for ten years and I never once got scabbies, I am sure that I would have had I slept in a shelter. Also I did not have identification which most if not all shelters require, I was not able to get my ID for many years because I did not have my birth certificate. But I could not get my birth certificate without ID and I could not get ID without my birth certificate. It was not until I had a child of my own and had his birth certificate to prove who I was that I was finally able to get my birth certificate sent to me!

        • takkhisa profile image

          Takkhis 3 years ago

          What a great lens! I hope nobody would be homeless anymore. Thanks for writing this great lens.

        • anonymous 3 years ago

          One of the other things I noticed during a spat of houslessness is that there is a lack of information online about the services these shelters offer, although they are happy to tell folks online how to give them donations.I stayed in a tent in a wooded area outside town and was not bothered though keeping clean was an issue. I still managed to work and save that way.If you look at the websites, the sites have plenty of "donate now' buttons but NO actual description of what to do if you need help. Also, the one thing not covered in the article --- MANY of these shelters such as the Salvation Army and others are starting to CHARGE 5 to 8 USD per night in addition to curfews that are incompatible with getting work.

        • Margot_C 3 years ago

          Thanks for a great article. I did not realize the dangers of living in a homeless shelter. Thanks for enlightening me.

        • Kylyssa profile image

          Kylyssa Shay 3 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

          @anonymous: If the person was a renter, there is no area in America wherein landlords are responsible for the crimes of renters.I never encountered a law that considered guests in the home to be renters after a two day stay. Money has to change hands for them to be considered renters in the United States. If I discovered a renter to have a meth lab set up in her room, I would call the police. If a guest in my house set up a meth lab, I would call the police. Going in and messing with evidence at a crime scene is never a good idea.If you failed to screen a renter it is a different issue. I had a terrible experience with a renter, too, wherein I had to pay for my mortgage on the rental property while receiving no rent for 11 months and, by law, I couldn't get her evicted, during which time she trashed my rental house. I would have never been able to afford to repair it except that I allowed a homeless man who worked in maintenance at a local hospital to stay in it for free while he repaired the damage the former renter had caused. He rented it for four years after he finished and kept right on making improvements and was never late with the rent once I started charging for him to stay.My experiences were much different. The worst experiences I had with taking in over twenty different homeless people into my home over about a twenty year period were that one kid took twelve dollars from my purse and another made long distance phone calls without asking.

        • anonymous 3 years ago

          I have had dealings with homeless people on several levels and tried helping the homeless in different ways. What I want to share is more about how laws are set up to discourage helping those in need rather they are homeless are about to be homeless. When my boys left for college my home became free of space that I was willing to allow those that found themselves in hard times to stay. I learned the hard way that by helping can be very costly both emotionally and monetarily. Although, I have many stories to share I will limit it to this one.I allowed a woman who had become homeless to use a spare room in my home. it didn't take long to realize she wasn't using the room to get on her feet and move on. She had set up a mobile meth lab (which I destroyed and disposed of taking to the local land fill not putting into my garbage). Since she had lived in the room for more than 2 days she had renters rights and used them against me. When I kicked her out the local police showed up with a warrant looking for a lab she had saw. Long story short had I left it I would be in jail. I have been told the items which I destroyed would had put me there for over 50 years. This is the worst case however, all the cases I tried to help ended up just like this one People taking advantage of another persons good nature and the laws are set up in favor of the one needing help so the one in however many that will benefit is left without help because the laws are set up to discourage those in a position to help, help. I live in a house with several extra rooms that I no longer consider using to help not even those I have known. Who can help with the laws set up to the homeowners disadvantage?

        • chironseer profile image

          chironseer 3 years ago

          Hi, me again, I forgot to say that I also worked at a homeless hostel in the UK, only for a few months though, my colleagues were good people, although some of them came from very dysfunctional backgrounds, and had issues with anger and control.because of the need to get workers as soon as possible, the staff weren't always suited to the job. The shift patterns were crazy, 12 hour nights, and days, changing regularly. I don't miss it, although I met some interesting people there.

        • SheGetsCreative profile image

          Angela F 3 years ago from Seattle, WA

          Illuminating and true... so much so you've inspired me to write about my own recent experience.

        • tokfakirmiskin profile image

          tokfakirmiskin 3 years ago

          we are live under the same sun...

        • Girlwiththorns profile image

          Girlwiththorns 3 years ago

          Thank you for this insight into an area of life that I have no experience of and which is given little coverage in the mainstream media... The points about gay, lesbian and transgendered folk was particularly illuminating

        • anonymous 3 years ago

          @Kylyssa: Thank you. I will look out for that article. I don't have a car, but I also hope to know how to make the right friends to stick around with. I have the kind of face that looks like "here's a good victim." I can only hope to survive out there if I became homeless.

        • Kylyssa profile image

          Kylyssa Shay 3 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

          @anonymous: It is. I am actually currently working on such an article. One piece of advice I can give you straight off is to keep a vehicle if you have one. Sleeping in your vehicle is vastly safer than sleeping outside. Another bit of advice is that there's safety in numbers. Make a friend or friends you can trust and stick together. Not being seen is another factor. f no one knows where you are, no one can hurt you. Avoid high crime areas also. If you must use a shelter (and there are good ones in some areas) never, ever call attention to yourself when entering or leaving it. Go to and from it as directly and promptly as possible. Being identified as homeless is the single biggest danger of using a homeless shelter. I will link to the article (which I am still researching) within a week or so.

        • anonymous 3 years ago

          This is very informative. Is there a thread which advises how to protect oneself and sleep outside? I would think it would be very dangerous to sleep outdoors as much as in a shelter. I would like to know how one may protect his or herself sleeping outside. i ask this because I may become homeless in a few months. If this happens, which looks likely, I'm going to buy a ticket to Florida with the little money I have so I won't freeze (I'm in New York, and the winters are too hard). I would try to get public housing if possible, go on assistance and to work, but I need to find out how to survive sleeping outdoors.

        • Lady Lorelei profile image

          Lorelei Cohen 3 years ago from Canada

          I have thankfully never had to make use of a homeless shelter. Now that you mention the many reasons not to use one it really makes sense.

        • agagata lm profile image

          agagata lm 3 years ago

          I am actually ashamed to say that I have never really thought much about it. Thank you for writing about your experiences. It's an eye opener.

        • Pat Goltz profile image

          Pat Goltz 3 years ago

          I am too disabled to sleep outside. I would have no choice but to go to a homeless shelter. I would have to survive as best I could. This information is good; thank you for writing it.

        • kimadagem 3 years ago

          Wow. It's about time someone talked about this. I'm glad you did.

        • TLStahling profile image

          TL Stahling 3 years ago from US

          This was very enlightening and I had no idea. Thank you for sharing.

        • MooshkaDaisy 3 years ago

          I haven't imagined that there are so many problems with homeless sheltering. I completely changed my view on homeless people in the streets. Thank you very much for this lens!

        • kerbev profile image

          kab 3 years ago from Upstate, NY

          I read this and thought of this page -

        • GardenerDon profile image

          Gardener Don 3 years ago

          The idea of JennyLynn's below is a great one - & something we should investigate, as from your experiences it's obvious our present system is not so good.

        • Expat Mamasita profile image

          Expat Mamasita 3 years ago from Slovakia

          Thank you for bringing the problems of homeless shelters to a wider audience.

        • anonymous 3 years ago

          We should build small rooms for rent like Japan does called capsule hotels. They are clean, cheap, and small. You can sleep in a safe clean bed, get a shower every day, and go about your life. This would eliminate 80% of the disease and homelessness in the US because people could work and live like this until they could afford better housing.

        • anonymous 4 years ago

          Thank you so much this helped a lot for my video documentary on homeless people...

        • anonymous 4 years ago

          Very informative. We really need more shelters. In my opinion the should have separate facilities for each group of people. Family only shelters, drug rehab shelters, Men only shelters, women only shelters. Due to safety reasons they def should do weeding of people for safety reasons. Why not a building to take of them, give them hope, treat them like people. If I had the money I would make each person responsible for his own volunteer to stay at my building. Provide there own kitchen, be a cook, be a dishwasher, be in charge of garbage, Be apart of the laundry room, help wash cloths, help fold cloths, help maintain the building, with duties as, clean floors, clean walls, clean yard, That way they could stay there. Provide a regular space for cleanliness products, such as shampoo, soap, laundry soap, toothpaste. People even homeless have got to help also for there own well being & if the truly want help they will not mind doing an exchange of work for a place to sleep. We need a whole new outlook on such facilities for the homeless. If they never change on how they operate they will continue too have the same problems. I have seen poor people take advantage of free food. They walk in with their hair done, Nike shoes and clean cloths, Nails done and fine jewelry. I am sorry but if you have money to to that then you do not need food. You can use the money you had for those things and take care of your food. If you have money for a pack of cigarettes then you have money for food. I do feel sorry for the homeless, but like I said they still have to be weeded out like everyone else in the world. Better shelters means improved conditions for everyone. They need love and hugs and concern. I get upset when people just say "here is just a blanket for you " do you think just a blanket will really help everything? They need more people to stand up for those homeless people who really want help. we need more advocates for the cause, more people to stand up and fight. Your information was very good and very informative, Thank you for sharing it. God Bless

        • alexbricker profile image

          alexbricker 4 years ago

          Thank you Kylssa for sharing this information. This side of the argument is not told very often. When it is told, I feel people ignore the real issues.

        • dumpstergourmet profile image

          dumpstergourmet 4 years ago

          Thanks for your honesty and vulnerability here. An informative and hard hitting lens, thanks for publishing and sharing. We are a better informed group of people because of your willingness to speak out. Thank you.

        • anonymous 4 years ago

          What a great lens, makes you really appreciate what you got.

        • dellgirl 4 years ago

          ~SquidAngel Blessings~ for this wonderful lens on Why Homeless People Don't Use Shelters. What a great article, its so full of helpful information. Thank you for sharing, I learned a lot here.

        • anonymous 4 years ago

          I have never been homeless, but I have sense enough to know that I am not immune to the possibility, especially living in Los Angeles. Perhaps shelters are not the answer. As they imply a temporary solution. Maybe cooperative living might work where people can live, work, share in the responsibilities in one large residential home. Just a thought.

        • karen-stephens profile image

          karen-stephens 4 years ago

          Thank you for this important lens. I have forwarded this to our city council, demanding to know if this is happening in our city. Angel Blessings xxo

        • lookupphonenumber 4 years ago

          Very interesting and very realistic! I became homeless once for couples of months! Thanks god I knew no "shelter" then!

        • anonymous 4 years ago

          my name is jessy i am a kaplan university student writing a "Big Idea" project paper. my paper is on a graduatory homeless shelter. If you come into my shelter homeless you stay in the shelter building. i offer a program that helps people get on their feet but transitioning them to apartments on the sameproperty and under the shelter management this will prepare people for paying bills and being slf saficiant. there are a veriety of feature my shelter will have. your blog has helped to better the rules and regulations to my shelter. thank you.

        • anonymous 4 years ago

          the waiting list is too freeking long. lost my home.. on the streets with a child and no one will freeking help.

        • anonymous 4 years ago

          @anonymous: Hi: The only hope is God! Take it from someone who has been homeless for the last 2 years, without a choice, and God always comes though somehow.I am really impressed with the Lord. There is no way I can distrust Him. Remember sweetie He loves you very much, and so do I. He is not going to forsake ya. Ask Him for guidance, and wisdom. I am so sorry to hear that, your husband abandoned you, but Jesus will never do so no matter what. Love and Laughter!

        • anonymous 4 years ago

          Hi: I am homeless myself. It started in 2010, due to losing my disability benefits that I had been received by the insurance company from the company I was working for. At the time I had my dear lifetime companion doggie, and there was not a chance that I would think of being separated from it. As she was old, she passed away, when we both were homeless, leaving me without any other family in the world, nor a single true friend. God helped me, and I got an apartment through a program, where this agency paid the rent for six months. They closed, and there I go back to the street. I was very scared of homeless shelters for all the reasons mentioned in previous articles, besides, I could not help being on the street. I tried one shelter for a month an a half, but I became more depressed, losing control of my life, which is addiction free, and I left, since then, I am still homeless living in my car. I pray 24/7, and trust God that sometime, somehow, He will work a miracle for someone's mercy, and I can get help to get a decent RV to live in. I am skilled, but with my disability, it is very hard to be able to work full time, so I just do gigs or whatever I can.I personally feel, that every homeless person should be helped one on one situation, with dignity, love, compassion, and without judgement. Thank you for reading. May God Bless Y'all.

        • NibsyNell profile image

          NibsyNell 4 years ago

          Thank you for such an eye opening lens. You're a very inspirational woman to turn such a negative life experience into a positive by educating others in such a way. :)

        • AstroGremlin profile image

          AstroGremlin 4 years ago

          Homeless shelters are a business. They keep banker's hours for their own convenience, and they allow "whatever the market will bear." Why? Because they are funded by grants that assume, like the rest of us, that they have the best interests of the homeless at heart. That they are filthy, dangerous, inconvenient and exclusive doesn't stop the flow of money, does it? Then why would you expect anything to change? The problem: the "customers" aren't the customers. When has government-funded business ever been as efficient, clean and responsive as the private sector? I feel for the homeless because they have become "clients" of a business that doesn't care about their satisfaction or happiness.

        • Kylyssa profile image

          Kylyssa Shay 4 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

          @anonymous: There is hope as long as you don't give up. And if you do give up you can come back around to trying again. Over twenty years ago, I was a homeless young adult with Asperger's Syndrome, a learning disability that causes difficulty in social interactions, after my parents ran away from home. I wasn't as experienced as you surely are but I stumbled around blindly and awkwardly and eventually found my way out. I knew virtually no one who could help and no idea of who to approach for help.Contact any relatives you may have, even if you haven't contacted them in a while, even if you don't think they can or will help you. They may know who can. I have seen dozens of homeless people find help and get out of homelessness this way even when they were sure none of their family would help.If you belong to a church, talk to your pastor, minister, or priest about your situation. If you are in the US and haven't already, go down to your Department of Human Services and apply for assistance. Contact your local Salvation Army. Search for food banks in your area and contact the one that serves your zip code. And while the system of homeless shelters in America is faulty, most homeless shelters provide help. Conditions in one area do not apply to all. This page is not intended to make homeless people or nearly homeless people lose hope but to show homed people, those who hate homeless people for being homeless and think they could just stop being homeless if they put any effort into it, that homeless shelters aren't all roses and honey. It's also to show those same homed people that homelessness sucks and that it is a significant obstacle, not something that can be cured just by checking into a homeless shelter. It's also to show that the homeless shelter option doesn't even exist for some people.

        • anonymous 4 years ago

          Today 8/28/12 is my 47th birthday. My husband abandoned me 7 months ago. I have no money and no place to turn. I will be thrown out of my current housing shortly. So I was looking to find help .. but I see now there is no hope.

        • anonymous 4 years ago

          I do think that people in need of help should be grateful for any assistance that's offered, however, I don't think they should necessarily accept it. It's important to show appreciation for legitimate attempts to help, no matter how meagre, but the sad fact is some help -- even genuinely well-meaning help -- is worse than worthless, being more problematic than no help at all.Not long ago I saw a reedy, unhealthy-looking man being given a sandwich bag full of tortilla chips so salty the crystals were visible from a few yards away. He was also given a bunch of water, and strong encouragement to drink it. This was good, it was 100+ degrees out, the man was obviously losing a lot of electrolytes through sweat.Take the same situation but WITHOUT the water, and the man ends up being poisoned by these charitable individuals, he could get sicker or even be killed off completely by it. I think an appropriate response in that case is along the lines of "Thank you, but I'll have to decline unless I can get a lot of water to go with that. I appreciate what you're trying to do for me, but I'm already dehydrated from sweating, the salt will make it worse, and that can kill me faster than hunger."It's not any person's responsibility to accept additional burden or injury just for the sake of making the givers feel good about themselves.

        • anonymous 4 years ago

          @anonymous: i agree but it is not just banking and selfishness that caused it those two take up only twenty percent in the causes of homelessness fifty percent is because they were hurt emotionally and forty percent is of other things. sorry if I'm being a smart alic.:(

        • WhiteKnight7770 profile image

          WhiteKnight7770 4 years ago

          Great Lens; I use to work at a homeless shelter and everything you said is so true.

        • oakstreet 4 years ago

          This len help us to know more about the homeless people and their lives as well. I hope we can always help these kinds of people. A "like" from me.

        • anonymous 4 years ago

          @anonymous: It's also selfishness too

        • Heidi Vincent profile image

          Heidi Vincent 4 years ago from GRENADA

          This is a very educational lens Kylyssa in which you have succeeded in educating us on homelessness. Thanks for sharing especially as I realize this must be a very painful subject to share on given your own experience.

        • anonymous 4 years ago

          jesus was homeless and others great people were also.the banking system is the cause of large part of it

        • Onemargaret LM profile image

          Onemargaret LM 4 years ago

          Excellent lens! Thank you so much for the insignt!

        • kburns421 lm profile image

          kburns421 lm 4 years ago

          I just commented but have one more thing to say. Not only is this insightful information, this is an inspiration for me as a writer. This is what writing should be and what it should do. It should make people think and see things in a different light. The fact that you have had personal experience with this and included that made it even more powerful.

        • kburns421 lm profile image

          kburns421 lm 4 years ago

          Wow. I never knew all this. I never even thought about it. This is so incredible, insightful, and well written. I really learned something, and not just factual information. You've really changed my views about homeless shelters and homeless people from reading this and one of your other lenses. Although I've never just assumed that homeless people were lazy or deserved anything bad, you still have really made me see some things in a different light, in ways I hadn't thought about them before.

        • OliviaDaughter LM profile image

          OliviaDaughter LM 4 years ago

          I am a social worker and my internship was in a shelter for battered women. That was 19 years ago, but I remember the women and children. They had a home to go to but it was to unsafe for them to return. Many of them decided to return to their abuser some because they wanted to return to their abusers but others wanted to get out of the life in shelter. It was hard on them to live in shelter with children and get them to school. The mothers had to leave out of the shelter during the day and look for jobs, etc and it was difficult. Thanks for this lens.

        • Normyo Yonormyo profile image

          Normyo Yonormyo 4 years ago

          A great lens kylyssa, thank you for your time and effort to give me this insight into what troubles people without homes. I can only say that knowing these reasons I can only agree with the decision so many homeless people make to stay far away from shelters.

        • Normyo Yonormyo profile image

          Normyo Yonormyo 4 years ago

          I hope your insightful lens will create the much needed understanding of people to create the motivation to change the situation you describe.I can only imagine that the reasons you give for not using shelters is the same world wide.The situation as you describe should not exist in a society that calls itself civilized.

        • wolfiemeister profile image

          wolfiemeister 4 years ago

          Brilliant lens, I hope as many as possible see this

        • teinesamoa1971 4 years ago

          I've worked in a homeless shelter that targeted the most severe members of that population. They had serious mental issues and some had full blown AIDS. What surprised me the most when we were doing outreach with that segment was how many of them had no desire to sleep in a shelter. They'd had experiences of being assaulted, had caught diseases, had had what few belongings they had stolen, and a number of other frightening experiences. Some were too paranoid to be in such a restricted environment. Many of them used the workers at the shelter as trustees to receive their checks and had no desire for conventional living.I also have experience with a close family member being homeless. He cites the same reasons as why he chooses not to sleep in a shelter. I don't have a choice but to accept his way of living and try to understand the way that he thinks.Thank you so much for posting this.

        • anonymous 4 years ago

          This is a real eye opener. Thank you for getting the word out. Keep up the good work.

        • sunny saib profile image

          sunny saib 4 years ago

          can't speak in most parts of your lens because then i wouldn't be knowing what i'd be talking about.. but you do know it so much.. i wish you all the best in future.. your lens is for sure an eye-opener..

        • Kylyssa profile image

          Kylyssa Shay 4 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

          @anonymous: Each "bed" in an average homeless shelter costs more to operate than it would to rent an apartment two people could live in, even with mostly volunteer labor.

        • anonymous 4 years ago

          @anonymous: It takes money to turn on lights, run water, pay employees, pay rent or mortuage payments, buy needed supplies and fixtures. If you serve food then it takes money to buy food, prepare food, pay cooks, more rent and taxes. Where does the money come from? Donations? Not enough. Grants? Not enough. Nothing in life is free except a hard time.

        • ElizabethOSP 4 years ago

          This is a disturbing, ***excellent*** lense. You are a blessing to us. Thankyou!!!

        • microfarmproject profile image

          microfarmproject 4 years ago

          This is an interesting lens that brought up some issues that I had not considered before. Thanks!

        • kmyangel profile image

          kmyangel 4 years ago

          Very interesting lens, you are a great and strong woman !!!!!!!

        • anonymous 4 years ago

          It was refreshing to read real reasons people avoid the shelters. I've been homeless and knew instinctively to avoid the shelter for the reasons you listed. I'm so sick of people saying "you know there's a shelter" or "why don't you go to the mission?" They don't want to hear that the mission is only for men or that most of the people there are criminals and I'm not. They don't believe that I'm just a throwaway family member without a job. They need to believe I'm a criminal and drug abuser or they'd have to face it could happen to them.

        • Millionairemomma profile image

          Millionairemomma 4 years ago

          Thank you writing this!

        • debate76ster profile image

          debate76ster 4 years ago

          I think it is part of an amazingly large problem that we in America choose to ignore. I created a lens about the rich poor gap recently, and it made me realize that there is a significant plot to keep those in economic strife in economic strife.

        • flycatcherrr profile image

          flycatcherrr 4 years ago

          Thank you for writing this. Your article is a clear, articulate, intimate, and deeply moving treatment of a particular aspect of homelessness that is not widely understood. And I know it's right on the mark, because I was once homeless, too. Only briefly, thank God, and long ago, but the experience was terrifying and humiliating; the memories will never leave me. 'High Five' to you for shining a light on this important (and increasingly important) issue from an "insider" perspective. We really need to start to treat each other like human beings, regardless of personal problems and/or financial status.

        • DiscoverWithAndy profile image

          DiscoverWithAndy 4 years ago

          Wow, incredibly informative article. And very brave of you to speak out for something you believe in - and it's great that you want to not just constructively criticize, but that you want to make it better.

        • anonymous 4 years ago

          I've read some of your other lenses on homelessness as well as this one, and they are a real eye-opener. I live in the UK, and there's not much easily-accessible information on this topic, especially not from people who have had to live through the experience. You've really educated me; and they are a series of well-written articles.

        • anonymous 4 years ago

          Is it right for shelters to charge for a bed?

        • emmesinger1 profile image

          emmesinger1 4 years ago

 .... Here is a lens written by someone who was "homeless by choice" (as mentioned in my commentary below.) She also noticed the lack of bathrooms issue, which makes me laugh to remember it, though it's no laughing matter.

        • emmesinger1 profile image

          emmesinger1 4 years ago

          This may sound strange, but one summer about 10 years ago, when my children were with their father for the summer, I decided to try to understand this issue better, but first-hand. I closed up my pretty little townhouse and lived out of my car far about 2 weeks. Yes, I know it sounds crazy for an adult to CHOOSE to do. During those 2 weeks I slept in under bushes (deliberately undercover) in two different public parks. (Yes, all night in a sleeping bag. In fact, it was the scariest thing I had ever done.) I also squatted a house one night with a friend (yes, being bad, but again doing relatively safe experimenting). On this experience I discovered the true danger of CARS and traffic. My lord! how people drive. They go about as if they are invincible and blind in their cars. I can't tell you the number of times I felt so unseen as I had to abruptly get out of the way of a blind person driving his-her car in a PARKING LOT!! So my (1) consciousness grew of how we live UNconsciously with our cars. (2) I became terribly aware of how our nation does NOT believe in public bathrooms! What I had to go through sometimes, just to use the fricken toilet was amazing!! And imagine a truly desperate person (I was not) who cannot afford to purchase merchandise just for the right to go to the bathroom. Additionally, I became aware of a huge subculture that PREFERS to live in this way, counter-culture, seeing the mortgage as a means to perpetuate wage-slavery, etc. On abandoned, unsold, but available homes (and this BEFORE the crisis) I saw many signs written by the homeless-by-choice that read, "who is really the owner?" .... I think we should create a MonkeyBrain Lens on this issue, no? Could prove very interesting.3) I also became aware of the reality and function of "dumpsterdiving" ... (another lens to make)4) And I discovered Western Washington University's wonderful program on "Alternative Construction ". Here I met many innovative, activists living out of a bus, a yurt, a teepee, an old VW wagon, to name a few. 5) The University also has a great program that these activists engaged called, "Permaculture" -- A type of natural agriculture that works WITH nature rather than counter. (Yet another lens to write.)So, (sigh!) thanks for this lens and your shared consciousness.P.S. I have PINNED this lens to my Pinterest board, "strength and resiliency"In fact, I first visited your lens just 2 weeks and 4 lenses ago when I was a NEWBIE in the Squid Sea! ... Today I came back to PIN it and engage you further (as you can see!!) When you have an available moment, I would appreciate it if you could stop by and give me some feedback on my two (somewhat delicate "cause" lenses), "breast cancer tattoos" and "breast cancer pinkwashing".I have arranged the earnings (which are currently 0.00, unfortunately) to be shared with Women's Future Benefit (Squidoo doesn't have any specifically related to breast cancer, so far as I have seen. Let me know if you know differently?)Sending you a thank you in advance! EmmeSinger

        • AnnMarie7 profile image

          AnnMarie7 4 years ago

          I agree with this lens 100%. I was homeless for several weeks in 2001. Everything you have stated here is true as far as I'm concerned. I'm sure every city is different, but many of the the things you described here are true where I live. Or at least they used to be. It's been awhile since I've been homeless (Praise God), but I believe my city has made some changes to the homeless situation. I think the shelters here are now segregated between the sexes. A new shelter was built for just for women and children, and there is a separate shelter for the men. This is at least a step in the right direction. Co-ed shelters are a nightmare for single, homeless women. The men are like sharks circling their prey. Homeless men outnumber women here probably 4 to 1. It's frightening, and a woman really has to keep her wits to stay safe.I appreciate this lens. It brings to light a very serious problem in America today...especially when so many have lost their homes to foreclosures, due to losing their jobs.

        • anonymous 4 years ago

          Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed [are] they that have not seen, and [yet] have believed.John 20:29

        • anonymous 4 years ago

          @anonymous: im sorry ben but people like you should be put in an institution or worse prison you are a prime example to a horrible person and im 16 and relize this and ps. get a life and stop living in yours moms basement

        • pcgamehardware profile image

          pcgamehardware 4 years ago

          Very informative lens. I never realized that the situation of the homeless shelters in our country are in that bad of shape... Thanks for opening my eyes to a very dark reality that I didn't know existed... Great lens and topic, it's just that it is sad that the homeless people are treated the way they are. As far as most of the bad comments listed below are concerned, just ignore them.Many times kids or very immature adults get on here and run off at the mouth without knowing what they are talking about. Notice that most of the bad comments are not from Squidoo members? The Squidoo community is filled with many great mature adults, so if you get tired of the bad comments, set your guestbook settings to "logged in squidoo members only". Anyway, great lens... :)

        • anonymous 4 years ago

          Great job on covering a difficult subject, 2 subjects, really--homelessness and disabiity.

        • JustOneGuy 4 years ago

          @anonymous: Really? What if I build and operate a homeless shelter of my own without anyone being forced to pay for it through taxes? Would that go for my shelter too? If so, then you are saying that it is ok to burn your place down. You sleep there, right? Would you mind giving me your address, just in case? And by the way, have any of your ancestors ever been homeless? How about those who came over on boats and stayed in temporary housing, like mine did? Would you have burned them down too? Or maybe you just shouldn't drink before you post.

        • anonymous 4 years ago

          @anonymous: you, my friend are a mental midget, an uncompassionate ignoramus and a agnoptimistic, bloated jelly-fish of a human being.

        • JustOneGuy 4 years ago

          @Kylyssa: It's tragic that the causes of homelessness aren't being eliminated. There will probably always be people who don't have a normal "home" so the ones that you are trying to help are the ones who have simply hit a bump in the road and need help for a rather short period of time to get on their feet. But that problem, getting on one's feet, isn't so easy in an economy where jobs are disappearing and the cost of everything is going up. And older folks, like myself, are making do so far but if the economy collapses, we will probably be homeless too and if we get in that position there will be millions more than there are now. You commented that you liked my rational religion lens. Thank you. I reread it and I don't like it. It's too hard to get through the first sections. I like your lenses. You write very well and your style is easy to read. Anyway, you have nice lenses. I'll stop by and check some other ones out too. Like you, I'm an atheist but I'm not sure that means we can't be religious, whatever that means. Especially if we change some of the fundamental rules. Not based on faith, no god, etc. Anyway, I could use some help on my new religion: the church of virtue. It would be nice to solve the problems of human predation, wouldn't it?

        • greenmind profile image

          greenmind 4 years ago

          Too many trolls here. We're all people, people!

        • anonymous 4 years ago

          i think homeless shelters should be burnt down... certain rat and bedbug, disease infested mongrels should be allowed in society... i dont donate because its their fault for being losers... do they think money comes easy? hell no.. stupid beggars...

        • anonymous 4 years ago

          I stayed in a homeless shelter for teens for a few weeks. I stopped going back because I was bullied. And because someone set fire to my clothes bin.

        • DeniseDurham2011 profile image

          DeniseDurham2011 4 years ago

          Very good lens. I knew the situations were less than ideal, I had no idea it was THAT bad. I have known quite a few homeless people & not many of them were chomping at the bit to get to a shelter. Now i know why.

        • anonymous 4 years ago

          I tried getting help for housing from a Veterans organization in Fairfield, CA. This organization was sponsored by the Community Action Council. After filling out all the required paperwork, I was turned away because I didn't fit thier profile. So just being a homeless veteran isn't just what is required. Sorry man... I've lost my military bearing years ago, and so I live where I can find a warm soft spot.

        • anonymous 4 years ago

          If you look at statistics, homeless shelters ARE FULL. Shelters in the United States only house around 10% of the total homeless population. There are around a thousand shelter beds in Santa Clara County and around ten thousand homeless in Santa Clara. Depending on who you ask and what year you look at. This is no different, all over the United States only 10% of the homeless are sheltered. The fact that there are so many turned away that appear at shelters during the 'early afternoon' to check in which does nothing for people working or going to school. So I sleep by the river in a tent and am two classes away from my Bachelors of Science in Information systems. I have over 80 published essays and over 42,000 unique reads on my essays. Maybe someday someone will over look the fact that I am homeless and hire me. I'll just keep improving myself and going to job interviews where they discriminate against me and keep slapping and sloshing water over the people that continue to say that homeless are all Junkies, Criminals and Crazy.

        • BobBlackUK profile image

          BobBlackUK 4 years ago

          Great lens. I worked as a volunteer in a homeless centre in the UK for several years and got a much better understanding of this subject. More people should try volunteering if only for a couple of hours a week.

        • esvoytko lm profile image

          esvoytko lm 4 years ago

          I am new on this site, but this is easily the best lens I have found so far. Thank you for helping more people to engage with this issue.

        • Angelgirl1976 profile image

          Angelgirl1976 4 years ago

          This is a fantastic lens, 10/10. My brother has been homeless for 7yrs, got to stay at a friends bedsit, which is a room and a living room in one for past 3yrs and after waiting 10yrs has now got a flat. He slep in fields, old abandoned caravans, sofas, church yards, you name it, he has slep there. I have helped him out over the years as drugs did eventually play a part in his life, but things are looking better now fingers crossed. Thanks for sharing :)

        • anonymous 4 years ago

          I had a friend that was homeless, he would go as far as to confront others that would try tobeat me up for my money. His name was Raphal. When a con-artist would con me out of money, he would try to make me happy. I even tried to offer him to stay at my place, but the motel manager wouldn't allow it. He was like a brother to me, and he helped me set my life straight. A few weeks later, he was hit by a train and I only got to see him one last time. That man changed my whole life and I became a better person becasue of him.It angers me that the homeless would be viewed as criminals when they are not. I hope your current state will improve. Hopefully, this piece of information will being awareness towards the homeless as well as better understanding of this problem.

        • anonymous 4 years ago

          I've never lived in a homeless shelter, but I did stay for one day at a battered women's shelter. I left after one day even though I knew my abusive partner was looking for me and I might not be safe, because they wanted me to do housework in the shelter and go to therapy rather than look for a job. I was not being battered because I was crazy or a bad housekeeper, and the thing I needed the most was work, so that I could save enough money to leave town and start again somewhere else away from the abuse (which I did---today I have three college degrees and a good job, and own my own home.)

        • juniperberry lm profile image

          juniperberry lm 4 years ago

          Great lens - having worked in the sector i feel that most of these are due to a lack of resources; if there were plenty of beds and we paid staff better we could do a better job at then working with individuals where they are at. Unfortunately there is so much need that even those who do a good job get overwhelmed, overworked and eventually burn out.I have heard many of these reasons for not wanting to stay at a shelter - one that stands out for me from a number of people I have worked with is the fear that if they stay at such a place they will fall back in with the wrong crowd and undo all the hard work they have done in removing themselves from addiction networks and such places where drugs particularly are easily accessible.

        • LaraineRoses profile image

          Laraine Sims 4 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

          I believe that my father was a very good example to follow. A true christian, he gave generously to anyone he could. I didn't fully realize this until after his death. Taking care of his income tax form I couldn't help but note how many charitable contribution receipts he had accumulated in one year. Although always looking after this family, he also gave generously to others. Dad never expected repayment of any kind but I remember in one particular case a $20. cheque he received in the mail. It was from a homeless person he had given money to. Dad cried.

        • ifuturz 4 years ago

          This is amazing

        • sherridan profile image

          sherridan 4 years ago

          Gosh, this is amazing! I thought homeless people did not use shelters because there were not enough beds, but this puts a whole new perspective on it. Please God that I am never in this situation; but I should have headed straight for a shelter, but I would think twice now.

        • Talktomeuk 4 years ago

          Again just want to say thank you for educating me, Im no longer ignorant to the horrors of being homeless, I now understand as best as I could without becoming homeless myself what people in poverty have to go through, you have a great lens. Ive just started my own lens, its about helping people through life problems like bullying, would you mind if I was to get someone who has the same experiences as you to talk to you if they ask me about homelessness? Cheers anyway all the best.

        • jimmyworldstar 5 years ago

          Standards for homeless shelters needs to be raised. I've heard of the awful unsanitary conditions in many and wouldn't be surprised in people avoiding the danger of it.

        • sheezie77 5 years ago

          Thank you for posting this lens, thumbs up!

        • aesta1 profile image

          Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

          This is really very enlightening. Here in Phnom Penh, there is one person sleeping in the sidewalk but he has a home in the province. He finds it hard to work in the farm so he'd rather panhandle in the street. Our street is very safe as all the tuk tuk drivers know him and this is largely a Buddhist community so no one will hurt him. I know that others have better reasons than this and as I understand it is a choice. It is complicated and having more of those shelters which often create its own problems may not be the answer.

        • TolovajWordsmith profile image

          Tolovaj Publishing House 5 years ago from Ljubljana

          I already visited this lens months before and still found it as interesting and intriguing reading. Thank you!

        • hlkljgk profile image

          hlkljgk 5 years ago from Western Mass

          wonderful insight

        • mowug1776 profile image

          mowug1776 5 years ago

          this was the thought-provoking lens

        • anonymous 5 years ago

          Returning with a fresh blessing....

        • Titia profile image

          Titia Geertman 5 years ago from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands

          Thanks for this eye opener lens.

        • ChrissLJ profile image

          ChrissLJ 5 years ago

          If I were to lose my home, I wouldn't be able to go into a shelter. I have 2 dogs and a cat who have been my faithful companions for years. They have comforted me in times of sadness and loneliness. Shared my joy in times of happiness. They mean more to me than any physical belongings ever could. I could not and would not leave them to fend for themselves or take them to a shelter where 75% of all animals are put to sleep.I would also like to add though that not all homeless shelters have all the horrible conditions. About 10 years ago, I spent the entire summer volunteering at a shelter that offered childcare for the working homeless that lived at the shelter. Medical and dental care was offered 6 days a week to both the homeless and people in the community who otherwise would have no medical care. Families were never split up... even if they were a single father with children, a married couple without children, etc. Individuals could also CHOOSE to attend life skills classes and educational type classes that would help them find jobs. Classes were offered 6 days a week during the days and evenings. They also had transitional housing where families with children could be put into apartments while working on their goals, rebuilding financial independence after getting a job, etc. There were other problems, but the shelter was ran in more of a way shelters should be run and residents were treated as family instead of criminals.

        • Zut Moon profile image

          Zut Moon 5 years ago

          Good Lens. I mostly write fun stuff but have also have written on social problems as I have done in Self-Destructive Behaviour. What a mosiac we live in - from very poor to very rich ... just doesn't seem right to me ....

        • anonymous 5 years ago

          May be an old topic but very relevant to an issue I am facing. First to give my responsesaaa to all the questions asked. It is obvious that as the population in countries increase that there will be a greater responsibility on the government of any country to help people in need. The government system in America though with a few good neccessary things tends to be way too busy to think of smart ways to simplify processes and help its people. As far as being homeless goes, I would say that I would be afraid if homeless to use a homeless shelter. This goes without saying that beggars can indeed be choosers. All humans should have dignity, and no matter what causes a person to become homeless as long as they are doing the best within their power to cause positive change then the environment around them should help that change. The reason why this is relevant to me is, that as a 21 year old, I am living at a parents house. This is not while attending school or holding a job. I perform many roles to keep the house stable but in the end it is rare that any needs are met and it has been this way for quite some time. In a way this family is a job as they all require some type of care from me. If I consider this place a job but not a home then I am homeless. Now say if the circumstances here prevent me from getting health insurance, a job, or any type of college education outside the library. Then there really isn't a way to move forward. In most cases such a struggle causes increased signs depression [whether or not it already existed]. Depression is a disability which can last a very long time and also affects the lives of many people my age and some older. If i don't have health insurance not only can it not be diagnosed but if I receive any other injuries at all I am left to pay a bill i surely cannot pay homeless or not in the same situation. There are no programs that help people with absolutely no funds but a home to get health insurance. Getting a place to sleep doesn't come without its headaches to deal with and if you go with someone else it will require your reliance on them to do paperwork on your behalf. This also goes with some problems. If you are kind you find your needs not met while you understand that other people are human beings and have things to do but then find those very people who are supposed to bring relief degrading you for your inability to deliver. Life is a big puzzle box and it shouldn't be like that all the time. If it should be a puzzle maybe some pieces should be simple like the framework of the picture while others seem to be more complex and can fit incorrectly into the frame but not create the correct picture. People who are homeless, financially unstable, without parents or guardians, without education and without skills are human beings but in the end a system which requires you to have all of the above subdues the person in addition to all of the things their life may have to offer as well. This leads back to the government. If the government is good, there won't be a lot of these shelters. Why? If there are good shelters providing the services so that people can positively change their lives then there isn't as much of a problem in later generations, it would be a ripple effect [hopefully] where success washes over the first wave of failure and then continues flowing. The government collects taxes, so the government shouldn't be able to enact any laws in which it cannot provide convenience to its citizens instead of discomfort. {If your state requires car insurance it should offer insurance to people with cars]. States may have health insurance but instead of asking about the individual's status [wealth, disabilities, education, skills, careers] it typically adds this to a list of things others must also provide. [How is one a house owner but does not have health insurance or a job?]So yes this leads to the fact that our government isn't corrupt but certainly not user friendly and sometimes the people pulling the strings aren't looking out for the interest of the citizen down to those who don't have homes. There is no prioritization either, these things are problems that are put off to the side and ignored for the next generation to handle somehow...

        • anonymous 5 years ago

          I am in an abuse situation that I refuse to leave because my only option would be a homeless shelter and I have mental health issues that are not conducive to living in group quarters with no privacy. I am also unable to hold down a job and this is a problem because these places have time limits of only 30-60 days before you are tossed into the street. Many people don't understand this and have this strange idea that the shelter is somehow going to get you an apartment. On a daily basis ignorant type people try to bully me into shelters claiming they will help me get housing, job training ect. They don't believe me when I tell them that shelters don't do that. If you have kids you might be lucky enough to get a section 8 place through social services but if you don't have kids there are no housing options other than a shelter that will toss you in the street. Like you, I am no drug user either. It makes me so angry that people think that is the only reason a person becomes homeless. Disability is actually the number one reason for homelessness. I blame the media for this ignorance. Right wing type people are always stereotyping the poor and homeless as drug addicts so they have an excuse to ignore them.

        • theSEOmama profile image

          theSEOmama 5 years ago

          This was a truly great lens, very insightful and informative.

        • traveller27 profile image

          traveller27 5 years ago

          Thanks for sharing. Blessed by a travelling angel.

        • SiochainGraSonas profile image

          SiochainGraSonas 5 years ago

          I am glad you shared this lens with us. I hope others find it. It was very educational.

        • anonymous 5 years ago

          May you be heard and may homeless shelters become places of safety, dignity and somehow find ways of increasing privacy as well as looking toward alternatives that individuals can move beyond temporary and to day time opportunities that meet real needs. Another work of excellence by you and may each negative response be as a step over another are doing an important work.

        • anonymous 5 years ago

          thank you so much for this information, you are helping me a lot for my homework. i dont if anyone else couldve helped more.

        • anonymous 5 years ago

          Shelters are necessary but should be considered a very temporary stop on the way to permanent, and supportive if needed, housing. Housing is a fundamental human right and EVERYONE deserves their own, safe, clean home. Stop helping to manage homelessness and start demanding we END homelessness.

        • anonymous 5 years ago

          Oh for the ignorance of some people, I am sorry that you have received some really angry responses, please don't take it to heart, these people are just ignorant, you are not saying that there shouldn't be any homeless shelters, what you are actually pointing out are the dangers that are faced when using a shelter. I have stated above that rental accommodation is a much better way to go and like I have said when in their own home that they dont have to line up for homeless people have a better opportunity to start all over again. We actually need more rental accommodation that can be shared.

        • Rhidawn profile image

          Rhidawn 5 years ago

          Thank you for the info! I didn't know the shelters were that bad

        • Diana Wenzel profile image

          Renaissance Woman 5 years ago from Colorado

          There has to be a better way. Sounds like there is a big need for shelter reform. I appreciated this honest and first-hand view of the realities of homeless shelters. Under these conditions, I would most likely avoid shelters, too.

        • SydneyH LM profile image

          SydneyH LM 5 years ago

          Interesting and thoughtful lens. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

        • anonymous 5 years ago

          Hello. I read the information on homeless shelters and have learned a lot. It is very heart breaking knowing that our nation is suffering more than now due to homeless. I must say shame on majority of rich who know they can extend a hand in helping to bring progress to homeless shelters. Its time to take focus off oneself and put it on the nation needs. Jesus came to save the poor, not to ignore them. For we are created in his image. Man kind must be very careful of how we treat one another, cause you never know what situation you can be in. Why must we be so self centered and not pay attention to the needs of our brothers and sisters.

        • brytaylor 5 years ago

          Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge of homeless shelters. I enjoyed reading it and feel like I learned a lot.

        • anonymous 5 years ago

          This is a very eye-opening lens. I learned things I did not know. It's good that you write about your experience and share it. Hopefully the right people, politicians and decision makers, will read it and realize that they need to make changes.

        • samsaradakini profile image

          samsaradakini 5 years ago

          What a powerful lens on homelessness and shelters - I had no idea. So now I know what to say when I hear a haughty "They don't want to follow the rules" response. There is so much more to it than that! Thank you.

        • lollyj lm profile image

          Laurel Johnson 5 years ago from Washington KS

          I'm not sure what makes me sadder, the fact that our homeless population continues to increase or the multifaceted causes that drive people to the streets. Hubby and I are a long time married couple who worked hard, paid bills, and lived responsibly from age 16 on. But the cost increase in everything we need to survive has carved out larger pieces of our income over time. We pull in our belts and pull in our belts, but what if we had children to support? We've tried to get jobs but no one will hire us, probably because of our advancing age. Many of us are one crisis away from losing everything. Perhaps those angry responses were knee jerk reactions from people who are even more frightened than I am about the floundering economy.This is a WONDERFUL, honest, poignant lens.

        • rootadesigns lm profile image

          rootadesigns lm 5 years ago

          Very interesting lens!

        • anonymous 5 years ago

          I would like to introduce you to a new concept in homeless shelters its called the Triage Low Demand Shelter. We a wet shelter that is a colaborative effort with a well known non profit agency, the major hospital provider, the major Mental health provider, and the major addictions provider in the county and all the county law enforcement agencies. We do accept people with walkers and let them keep them since many of our folks come from the hospital. We specialize in providing case management for folks suffering from MH and SA problems and look to place in programs locally and out of the county. As the owner of three dogs myself I am sorry to say that we do not allow pets. We have stretched the rules and allowed a person in a wheel chair on occassion but unfortunately very rare the problem as was mentioned is law suits. Shelters can not afford lawsuits. If required to be wheel chair accessible many shelters do not have the funds to upgrade and would probably close rather than upgrade.

        • julescorriere profile image

          Jules Corriere 5 years ago from Jonesborough TN

          Your lens is thoughtFULL and thought provoking. I was shaken by reading in your comment bar that this received angry responses. I find this odd. What you are doing is providing much needed information and education. We must never become angry about education and illumination. And it is YOUR STORY, told from your own unique lens of life. It is beyond politics. You aren't asking anyone to do anything. Except think. I look forward to reading more from you.

        • RhondaSueDavis profile image

          RhondaSueDavis 5 years ago

          Klyssa, the city is looking to relocate a temporary homeless shelter right across the street from my neighborhood! they do screen residents and keep security for themselves. It is quite controversial, and it seems this one so far has made a good name for itself, breaking the mold. It is cooperatively run by the residents and local volunteers and some city and county support as well. I have blogged about it, since it is landing 'so very close to home" thank you for your lenses ,it has been good to have read these and also to listen to the many people at our recent city council hearing on the camp. I do wonder where the line is to be drawn on enabling homelessness, as in would some not live in the shelters or streets if it were not so easy to do so? I hope that community efforts to "fix" problems don't in fact create more of it or draw in from other communities that are not as amenable. Good to look at who is befitting (financially and otherwise) from the programs to evaluate thier worth in community.

        • anonymous 5 years ago

          I have a shelter in Phx AZ and i thank GOD that we treat our clients with the up most respect. what you do in the dark will come to light...........Start Living 480-235-1297

        • Franksterk profile image

          Frankie Kangas 5 years ago from California

          Another excellent lens illuminating a much needed topic of discussion and change. Blessed. Bear hugs, Frankster

        • TolovajWordsmith profile image

          Tolovaj Publishing House 5 years ago from Ljubljana

          Your lens scares me a lot. I knew about a lot of bad stuff before, but now... All the best and keep it up!

        • anonymous 5 years ago

          Loved this lens before and now came back to Bless it.

        • anonymous 5 years ago

          It also cost money to sleep in a homeless shelter. For a mother and a 13 year old child, it could cost $600-$800 a month.

        • Donnette Davis 5 years ago from South Africa

          This is an excellent lens. I love the way you have included the dangers posed - this is very often overlooked by the authorities, although here in S Africa there isn't really any great movement to create shelters or places of safety for those in need. Even the medical and education is frighteningly expensive - and extremely unprofessional and shoddy given the fact that the government is placing unqualified persons in positions of responsibility.

        • AigulErali 5 years ago

          Very enlightening lens on homelessness. Good luck to you!

        • phoenix arizona f profile image

          phoenix arizona f 5 years ago

          Good job making your point.

        • lawpost profile image

          lawpost 5 years ago

          Fantastic lense. Hopefully your experience and insight with the plight of the homeless will help others to put aside stereotypes and prejudices against the homeless and work towards a better alternatives to homeless shelters.

        • lawpost profile image

          lawpost 5 years ago

          This lense is amazing. Your experience and insight into the plight of the homeless will hopefully put to bed many of the stereotypes and assumptions that Americans believe about homeless shelters.

        • thequietanarchist 5 years ago

          Thank you for sharing this--I can only imagine what you went through. At one point in my life, I was almost homeless myself so I absolutely understand that there is no black and white when it comes to the have and have nots. Good luck to you!

        • ecogranny profile image

          Kathryn Grace 5 years ago from San Francisco

          Thoughtful, well-written, poignant, this lens hits hard and, from what I do know personally, which is not nearly as extensive, hits true. May you be blessed beyond your wildest dreams.

        • Jerrad28 5 years ago

          I've never thought about homeless shelters from these perspectives before... It's been a real eye-opener for sure! Great lens, thank you

        • pheonix76 profile image

          pheonix76 5 years ago from WNY

          I had always thought that homeless shelters would be something of a refuge for all people living on the streets -- how naive! I could never sleep if I was separated from my children or pet, not knowing what was happening to them. This is such a sad truth, thanks again for giving voice to those in need.

        • Jessica-Burde profile image

          Jessica Burde 5 years ago from Lehighton, PA

          Expanding on my 'other' response in the poll - I believe that people who are able to benefit from shelters should be grateful for that benefit, but that they still have a right to good treatment and dignity. If I go all day without eating, and someone gives me an apple and some water, I'll be grateful. But that apple doesn't come anywhere meeting my needs. It's the same thing - being grateful for a small improvement (again, this is regarding those who can benefit from sheltes, those who can't benefit have nothing to be grateful for), doesn't change the fact that it is only a small improvement in the situation and much more is needed.

        • Wedding Mom profile image

          Wedding Mom 5 years ago

          This is such an interesting read. It certainly open-up a whole new perspective on this kind of situation. Thanks so much for sharing this One-of-A-Kind lens. I hope more people will be able to read your work because it is highly commendable and very insightful!

        • SeptemberLove 5 years ago

          The homeless shelter in the U.S.A. is not effective.As one responder said .."it is just to store people"Actually , it is a growing population and not all homeless people are druggies or mentally ill people.In the near future I am trying to straighten this population of people out.First, there are no accurate places for the homeless, including the women and children. Many are in this position from loss of job or rent and bills became too much for them to handle either alone or together,Leaving items in storage caused them to lose their furniture, clothes, toys etc.There should be a place like an apartment which would give them a new start, temporaily until they have saved up enough for a apartment which would incorporate with their previous dwelling and charging just a small amount to help them back on their feet.Homeless shelters are filthy along with the inborne heard of people getting robbed ,attacked in those places, so why would you risk that? I someday soon plan to change this entire homeless situation around for all homeless people.

        • Kylyssa profile image

          Kylyssa Shay 5 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

          @anonymous: You are bang on with your statement "usually a health condition" because many official figures suggest about 40% of homeless people are disabled. Additionally, many others who may no longer be ill or not have been ill themselves (but one of their dependents has been), are on the street due to foreclosures or job loss due to medical bills, America's #1 reason for bankruptcy.I've found, however, that shelters run by formerly homeless people or people very close to it, tend to be the better shelters. They may not have all the bells and whistles but they usually have the most important aspect of all- dignity. I'm not sure what goes wrong with the shelters that turn unpleasant but I don't think it's that they are run by formerly homeless people. We know better than to treat human beings as we were treated. Funding is definitely an issue and getting people to part with time or cash or even empathy for homeless people is extremely difficult. I think the only way to overcome that is to break down the myths and stereotypes that make people unable to see that homeless people are people.

        • Kylyssa profile image

          Kylyssa Shay 5 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

          @anonymous: Fixing things starts with making people aware of what is wrong. You would not believe how many people think that homelessness is always a choice or that only bad people become homeless and thus aren't willing to even think of helping them or working on the problem. They are likely the folks who checked "beggars can't be choosers" in the poll, even after reading that the shelter process is often dehumanizing and may include things like shelter workers suggesting you find a man to who will trade use of your body for a place to stay. Many others think that homeless shelters are plentiful, that anyone can get into them, and that they are like hotels for homeless people or something. Perhaps you can see how those preconceptions need to be changed before people can get moved to action?

        • anonymous 5 years ago

          G'day well i have did alot of homework on shelters and the homeless , what i don't understand is that there is alot of evidance showing whats wrong with them but nothing what so ever on how you all should fix things, you can blame your govermant if you like but it don't change the fact that if you wont something done do it yourself's , so lets find a way to fix it and enforce it

        • anonymous 5 years ago

          Usually the people that are closer to the problem are the ones that help (aka a person is more likely to help a homeless person if that person has experienced or near experienced homelessness.)And that is why, the conditions of shelters are like this. People that are able to help the most, wont help at all because they do know and will not look into this. And, because of this ignorance, they share the point of view that a homeless person did something to deserver being homeless. Is not only until (usually a health condition) makes them homeless that they understand. And funny, their friends abandon them. Alas, politicians never come from the groups that understand the problem, so unless people start a pacific rebellion (like what happen with the movement against "separated but equal"). Nothing will change. Justice come from the people, never from government.

        • anonymous 5 years ago

          People should accept help, but not if help makes it worse

        • FanfrelucheHubs profile image

          Nathalie Roy 5 years ago from France (Canadian expat)

          I use to work in a corner store, at night, in Montreal and meet many homeless people coming in to get a free coffee (my boss was giving the coffee for free to the homeless we knew). And i would say that more than 50% of them preferred the street (even in the harsh Montreal winters) to the local shelter. many were afraid to be stolen (they don't have mush, but what they do own is sometime the last thing they have from their "before" life) and most where afraid of violence in the shelter. The shelter are useful and there should be more, but it won't change the fact that many homeless prefer to fend for themselves.Blessed (it is outside my neighborhood, but they are not going to cut my wings are they??)

        • Oliversbabycarecouk 5 years ago

          Great lens - im not in America but i don't see why homeless people avoid shelters when they are there to help and support them with their lives, not to do the oppisite!

        • Kylyssa profile image

          Kylyssa Shay 5 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

          @anonymous: Dear Jacquie B,If you happen to come back here, please contact me with the details about your shelter. I will gladly give it a "donate button" on one or more of my pages. You can find my contact button by clicking my name or photo icon on this comment. I am heartened to hear about the great homeless shelters, the ones that don't judge people in need of them. Family shelters are far too rare and those which take in couples without children even more so. Thank you for serving humanity, Jacquie B!

        • anonymous 5 years ago

          Hi, my name is Jacquie. I am very active at our local shelter. I am the volunteer coordinator and I am happy to spend at least 2 or 3 nights a week at the shelter as a supervisor. I would gladly use this shelter if I become homeless, which is not unrealistic in my circumstance. We bend over backwards for our guests. We love our friends/guests and make their stay with us as comfortable and pleasant as possible. Never would a predator be able to take advantage of our guests. We are a family first shelter. After families the priority is women and couples. While many of our volunteers are devout Christians, I am not, though my spirituality certainly plays a part in my love and compassion for our homeless friends. This shelter has been a blessing in my life and I am grateful for my position there, to share and nurture to those who are going through hard times. It has certainly helped me to realize that empathy and compassion for humanity is still alive and well in this hate filled Republicanesque country.

        • anonymous 5 years ago

          great len alot of information visit my newest len military women homeless

        • sheriangell profile image

          sheriangell 5 years ago

          I've been here before, but wanted to return to leave you an Angel Blessing.

        • Krafick profile image

          Krafick 5 years ago

          Nice lens. Keep it up.

        • chacalit 5 years ago

          try this site to build your own shelter site Get a Free Website at!

        • chacalit 5 years ago

          I am currently homeless and know this is true. I built a website to help people I know.

        • anonymous 6 years ago

          I have been homeless off and on for the last 3 years. Prior to this I was a System Engineer/System Administrator for 35 years for fortune 500 companies. Medical reasons (MS Relapse/Cervical Radiculopathy). I see drug use alot, people with bi-polar/schizophrenia). I also have seen staff problems - treatment was like a prison not a shelter. I used to be the one doing philanthropy but because of the life path change, I see the other side. I am not sure I would do the philanthropy again. There is alot of integrity/professionalism/ethics-morals-values issues with some of the shelter systems.

        • oldcat 6 years ago

          I admire your forthrightness and ability to open our eyes to the indignities you and too many other down-on-their-luck folks have had to endure. As someone who uses a walker and at times a wheelchair, I was particularly moved at the inhumanity you had to suffer at that shelter when you were injured and needed your walker for mobility....what a disgraceful lack of compassion. An acquaintance of mine lost her job at age 62 and then her car was stolen and finally found wrecked...she had minimal insurance so couldn't afford repairs and only got $100 for it from a junkyard. After going through what little savings she had she ended up getting evicted from her small apartment. After several months of being unemployed she moved into a Catholic Charities shelter after being on a waiting list. It was clean, safe, and they supplied food and job counseling but there were mandatory church attendance and prayer meetings. For those who couldn't or wouldn't attend they were given notice to Jesus-like of them. I just don't understand that kind of thinking. They also had time-limits as to how long you could stay and her time will be up the middle of next month. She still has no job and her unemployment ran out and now she's ill from some sort of respiratory condition she most likely contacted there. I'd take her in but I'm in no position to help at this point. I'm glad and proud for you that you've survived your ordeal and hope you'll have brighter days ahead. It is such a disgrace what has happened in this country to perfectly good and decent people.

        • mysticmama lm profile image

          Bambi Watson 6 years ago

          I didn't leave my husband as soon as I should of in a big part because I didn't want to go into a woman's shelter because I wouldn't be able to take my cat ~ it's hard enough to go through homelessness, but to give up a beloved pet just wasn't worth the shelter. When I finally did leave, I took my cat & stayed with family & friends & in my Jeep until I bought my RV with the last of my savings that my X didn't spend on Meth...I had enough in savings to pay maybe 6 months rent in a tiny one room apt with no furniture or anything, or to buy the RV ~ basially I'm still technically homeless, but the RV was an alternative to being completely homeless, at least in the RV I can have my cats, I can drive to warmer areas of the Country in the winter & there are a lot of RV parks that are way cheaper to rent a space in for a month that to pay rent somewhere. There are also lots of places where you can park an RV overnight for free, so for me it was a better choice than a shelter, or complete homelessness ~ I still can't afford to pay rent at an apt. So, I'm still basically homeless, but my RV is like a tiny home, so I'm happy :)

        • WorldVisionary 6 years ago

          I've been to your lens before, but I've come back to give it an Angel blessing. :)

        • AllyVuitton 6 years ago

          My heart goes out to the homeless and this was definitely an eye-opener. I really did not know loads of things on this page, and I'd be scared of going to a shelter! So touching, it's blessed!

        • choosehappy profile image

          Vikki 6 years ago from US

          Your lenses on homelessness are really very touching and amazing. Makes one think. This lens has been *blessed* ;)

        • Philippians468 profile image

          Philippians468 6 years ago

          thank you for this lens to raise awareness! great work! cheers

        • small dog lady 6 years ago

          Your lens is very moving and very effective in educating others... SO much to think about, then DO!

        • Lovinworkinathome profile image

          Lovinworkinathome 6 years ago

          I always wonder what to do to help these people and you actually opened my eyes to some of the "other" struggles homelessness can cause. So sad! I hadn't thought about a shelter as anything but shelter, however, this information proves how wrong my assumptions were. It's not the same as a Rape Crisis Center or women's shelter, is it? WOW. That's all I can say. Now, I know that homeless folks can use backpacks and mylar blankets...maybe a thermos thrown in there, too? Thanks for your concise article...and, even though you're an atheist, I will pray for you.

        • David Stone1 profile image

          David Stone 6 years ago from New York City

          Any anger, I'd guess, would be a cover for guilt. What sense does it make to be angry at homeless people, no matter who's at fault. As a very young man, I spent a few homeless days myself, a decision I made in which I refused to compromise. It taught me a lesson about the value of learning to live in a community. But I had a choice. Others do not, and that, like it or not, has been an American tradition since before independence.

        • Carmel Aaron profile image

          Carmel Aaron 6 years ago

          Thank you for enlightening us about the use of Homeless Shelters. I didn't know many of the points that you mentioned.I do know that it is more possible then ever before, except probably during the Depression, to become homeless.Great lens on a very sad subject.Thumbs-up

        • ohcaroline 6 years ago

          This is a very well written and concise article on homelessness issues. God bless you and I hope you will be successful in all of your life's ventures. Thanks for sharing.

        • anonymous 6 years ago

          I'm 19 and just starting to learn about homelessness and trying to find ways I can help. Thank you for shedding light on aspects of the issue I had never even considered before.

        • nebby profile image

          nebby 6 years ago from USA

          I've been here a few times before & have shared your lens with many that I know. Looks like you've added a bit sine my last visit.Congratulations on making the list of The Best Squidoo Intros Ever! - well deserved!

        • Joan4 6 years ago

          This is very thought provoking. You mentioned many issues that I had never considered at all. Thank you for educating me! I certainly would be hesitant to stay in a shelter now.

        • OhMe profile image

          Nancy Tate Hellams 6 years ago from Pendleton, SC

          Congrats for making The Best Squidoo Intros Ever list. This is an amazing lens and brings about more awareness of the Homeless and their needs.

        • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

          MargoPArrowsmith 6 years ago

          Very thoughtful lens. See my story about the state mental hospital above

        • SquidooEconomy 6 years ago

          ALL I HAVE TO SAY IS --------------> W - O - W

        • anonymous 6 years ago

          I like what you have to say here. Personally, I think we should have more housing options (rooming houses, smaller houses, etc.), so people would have a wider range of choices and would have less chance of losing their homes.

        • NoYouAreNot profile image

          NoYouAreNot 6 years ago

          I didn't know many things about homeless shelters, but I think I should have guessed some of them. My country (Greece) is not yet so hardly inflicted by homelessness (although things are turning to the worse nowadays), mostly because family ties are still quite strong, and that saves people in times of personal or social crisis. I think that people who maintain that "beggars can't be choosers" have already given up on their humanity.

        • hotbrain profile image

          hotbrain 6 years ago from Tacoma, WA

          Excellent lens with many good points. I don't know much about homeless shelters, but it is true that I would be hesitant to stay in one.

        • LizMac60 profile image

          Liz Mackay 6 years ago from United Kingdom

          This is a most important subject and you have covered it well. Keep up the good work in enlightening people about this.

        • ZazzleEnchante 6 years ago

          An awesome lens, provides such a great understanding of the homeless. Kudos for an awesome lens. Blessed by a SquidAngel.

        • Vern523 profile image

          Vern523 6 years ago

          @Shannon79: Hi Shannon, I too am sorry you have had to experience this. I thank you for sharing your story. I'm curious how old your son is (or was at the time)? Thank you.

        • Vern523 profile image

          Vern523 6 years ago

          Yours is an incredibly well-written and insightful article. I learned SO much from you. Thank you for writing this. I will try to share it with others and enlighten them too. Thank you.

        • AWildDog profile image

          AWildDog 6 years ago

          Even though I've not been homeless this doesn't surprise me at all. I have once visited a homeless shelter - which I believe does give more help to people in the UK - helps them find a place to live and a job and things - but when visiting there (well I say visiting, we had to wait outside) with a friend of mine, who wanted to see her friend (she didn't want to go alone), it was scary enough just to stand outside.The person we were meeting admittedly was a drug addict (sadly still is) - but the people "living" there we frankly quite intimidating.Great lens.

        • anonymous 6 years ago

          Very informative lens! Thank you for creating it!

        • ArtByLinda profile image

          Linda Hoxie 6 years ago from Idaho

          Incredibly eye opening lens. It brought tears to my eyes thinking of winter coming and so many people having to make the decision between the cold and dangers they face everyday in the world outside with no home, or finding a shelter they feel safe in. With the economy the way it is, there is more and more homeless everyday. So sad. Thank you so much for sharing your personal story and helping open our eyes to this issue.

        • bechand profile image

          bechand 6 years ago

          honestly your page was an eye opener for me on a few issues - never really thought of all the downsides of the shelter. Thank you for bringing it to attention. Hopefully shelters may see what the downsides are and do what they can do to change them for the better.

        • Allison Whitehead profile image

          Allison Whitehead 6 years ago

          I have learned a lot and feel quite humbled by reading this page. My thoughts go with you; I have had some new insights into the world of homelessness and I thank you for them.

        • anonymous 6 years ago

          I've never been homeless, but I made it a point, for years, to talk to the homeless people I met, not just give them some change and run away. I've heard horror stories about shelters for decades as a result, and I'm so glad to see someone with the guts to tackle this issue here. I truly do not understand the mentality of people who think just because another human being is homeless, for whatever reason, that they deserve to be treated like garbage, and I don't understand the mentality of anyone who thinks someone should be grateful for being treated like garbage.(On a side note, prison is not better treatment than a shelter. It is far more dehumanizing, uniformally dirty and brutal, violent, and invasive. I would never wish prison upon a single homeless person, and I have, in the course of working with inmates, met prisoners who were homeless and said they would rather live on the streets any day. So I do disagree, respectfully, with the author's characterization that prison is better than a homeless shelter. But I do agree they are fairly close.)

        • anonymous 6 years ago

          I've wondered why people refuse to go to shelters for a long time, and used it as an excuse to keep myself from feeling guilty or sad when I passed a homeless person. I'm glad I read this lens, because the truth that breaks one of your views of the world is better than a lie that can barely hold it together.

        • anonymous 6 years ago

          Wow - what an education. I have a new insight to the plight of the homeless. I do agree with Joyce that there should be a way that we can do a better job helping people.

        • anonymous 6 years ago

          With all the aid and all the money spent on housing for the middle class and wealthy, there should be a government program uncontaminated like the Philadelphia Housing Authority) to take care of our homeless c(itizens. This situation of having American citizens living their lives out on the streets is outrageous. We have land and we have contractors to build inexpensive housing and yet the demand far exceeds the fulfillment. Let's try supporting America for a change!

        • RhondaAlbom profile image

          Rhonda Albom 6 years ago from New Zealand

          This is one of those lenses that stays with you after you read it. Now that I have my wings, I had to come back and give it an angel blessing. (I added it to Angel Blessings From Pukeko October 2010)

        • Ashly Rain profile image

          Ashly Rain 6 years ago

          Amazing lens. I've learned so much from this lens, and your other lenses about homelessness (not to mention the comment you made 0n my communication lens). Thank you so muh for sharing so much of yourself.

        • affordableelegancejewelry 6 years ago

          This was an amazing lens. In fact, anyone who would leave hate mail after reading this is just disgusting. You're so brave for writing this and being so honest. Thank you so much for sharing this story.

        • anonymous 6 years ago

          Thank you for sharing your story.

        • Addy Bell profile image

          Addy Bell 6 years ago

          This lens is brilliant and spot-on. I think it should be required reading for politicians, service providers, and anyone who thinks they're entitled to an "opinion on the homeless".

        • BetsiGoutal1 profile image

          BetsiGoutal1 6 years ago

          Amazingly powerful and eye-opening lens, thanks so much for sharing.

        • RhondaAlbom profile image

          Rhonda Albom 6 years ago from New Zealand

          What a powerful lens. Opened my eyes to something I don't really know much about. Thank you for sharing your experiences, and sorry to hear you went through all that. Maybe they will help people in the future.

        • seegreen 6 years ago

          What an eye-opener. While I suspected a few of the reasons, most of these were new to me. Blessed by an Angel.

        • anonymous 6 years ago

          I've been homeless for the past 2 months and I've avoided the shelters. I was referred to one and even stood in line with a ticket, but I just couldn't do it. The parasites, the food, the close proximity to a bunch of other dudes, and being stuck inside from 4pm-6a just didn't work for me. I'm in Los Angeles so the weatehr is great right now, even though some nights it can get a little nippy. The emergency mylar blanket has probably been the best $4 i've ever spent. Thanks for the tips. The last few months has been life changing, but I'm sure things will look up for me and I'll be able to look back on this whole thing as something that made me a better person. It's been a very lonely experience and some days are worse than others, but I prefer it this way than to be locked down at a shelter.

        • anonymous 6 years ago

          I have an overwhelming burden to help homeless people & I believe that the help should go beyond food & shelter Home less shelter must include programs which help the homeless to stand on their own 2 feet at the end .

        • paperfacets profile image

          Sherry Venegas 6 years ago from La Verne, CA

          Excellent. I am glad you have this platform to earn the cash you need. You survived the United States!

        • Grawr 6 years ago

          Great read.It's true I dont think we do enough for homeless people, I know people that want to help but just have nowhere to start. Thank you for opening my eyes a little more to the issues surrounding homelessness.

        • anonymous 6 years ago

          Thanks for sharing these reasons for why the homeless avoid shelters. I recently wrote about some of the dangers that homeless people face on a blog for a project I'm working on with a photographer: The Chicago Panhandler Project. You can find the blog, if you're interested at I never would have thought of the parasites or disease, but those are both really good reasons why someone would avoid a shelter!

        • myraggededge profile image

          myraggededge 6 years ago

          You have made a lot of good points here... and it might make people more aware of the pitfalls. Blessed. :-)

        • nebby profile image

          nebby 6 years ago from USA

          Over the last year or two there have been many more families that are in need of shelter, but as you mentioned above shelters don't allow pets (and i can understand why), so many families choose to live on the street so they they do not have to give up their family pet.I wish that there were more shelters and that many of the would have small apartment type living spaces for those who needed and wanted them.If we took just 1 year of the money that we give to other countries it could be done.Excellent information and passionately written.

        • anonymous 6 years ago

          I work in an honmeless shelter, and I think it is a blessing from GOD. Be glad that there ared.people willing to help you when you are going through hard times.

        • JenOfChicago LM profile image

          JenOfChicago LM 6 years ago

          Blessed by a squidangel!

        • PNWtravels profile image

          Vicki Green 6 years ago from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA

          Your lens did a lot to educate me about homeless shelters and the experiences of the homeless. Thank you for sharing.

        • anonymous 6 years ago

          I will be homeless at the end of the month. found places for my pets with one exception, my dog. I will not give him up when i have to give up everything else. hopefully we can make it down to Arizona where my father in law will give us a place to stay....Till then, homeless in Alaska

        • jlshernandez profile image

          jlshernandez 6 years ago

          Thank you for sharing this lens. It just made me realize that homeless shelters are not real shelters, but traps for unsuspecting unhomed people. I truly learned a lot from this powerful lens.

        • Starrweaver 6 years ago

          I was homeless twice in my life - once as a runaway to escape abuse. The second time I was abandoned, pregnant with a 2 1/2 year old in an unknown city. My "supposed" boyfriend moved us there on the claim of having a job. In the morning, he was gone and so was all my money! Our stuff was in a couple of large lockers at the bus station. My child and myself were left to the streets. Many people ask why I didn't go to a shelter or some group for help - if they have to ask, then they don't realize the ugly truth. Child Protection Services, many of the organizations, will take your child with the story of how you can get them back once you get back on your feet. I met many that had believed them - they in turn helped me and my child so that I would not suffer as they had. They'd done all asked of them, but never saw their child again. So I did whatever I had to to keep us safe. Collecting metal for scrap money, raiding dumpsters behind grocery stores for tossed out food. I eventually was able to reach those that could help, who didn't judge or lecture me for being gullible. I was able to get a bus ticket to go stay with some relatives. It was a new start - but I'd never stay in a shelter for one reason. When I stayed in one as a runaway, some of the staff did not believe I was pregnant. They made me work moving heavy tables and such before allowing me to get food. When I complained about them, they would cause me to miss meals, make accusations that I stole items. (at which time other people at the shelter would defend me, informing the security guard that they'd seen the items put in my sleeping area, by my accusers.) The security guard also called 911 for an ambulance when I started to go into premature labor due to the heavy work and little food. After that, several of the staff were missing when I returned a few days later from the hospital. The guard had taken my things and locked them up in his office to keep them safe. I was grateful to the guard and the main management staff - they secured me temporary housing after what happened. But these kind souls are not the norm at many shelters. I nearly lost my child due to the attitudes of those staff members, who were told not to come back I'm glad to say. But I would not ever return to such a place, especially if I had children.

        • anonymous 6 years ago

          This is SO annoying! people should have safe places to sleep and live! they need to be able to keep their walkers,wheelchairs, and crunches! and why do peple think that all homeless people are on drugs? Thats SO stupid!

        • anonymous 6 years ago

          Hi there, I was homeless for almost 7 years, some of it by choice. Something about modern society and me just don't click, I'd rather sleep under a bridge than work a 9-5 job, which is my decision. I was mostly pretty content being homeless and I would never stay in a shelter. Homeless shelters, that I've seen are disgusting and frightening places. They are dingy and smelly with rows of cots and no privacy at all. Personally, if I'm going to sleep somewhere mildly uncomfortable that's a bit smelly with the chance of someone messing with me while I sleep, I'd much rather be hidden behind a dumpster, under a bridge or in the woods, with my dog who I know will always warn me of danger.If people want to help the homeless and make shelters better, they need to treat them like they would want to be treated. Make a homeless shelter with separate rooms so you can be alone! When I was homeless, it was so hard to find someone who would let me use their bathroom because they thought I was going to go in there and shoot up or something, but really I just wanted to be in that one-and-only place that when you're homeless you can close the door... And stop feeding homeless people crappy food. I can't tell you how many times I held up a sign saying I was hungry on the side of the road and all I got was pb&j and cookies. How do cookies make my life any better? Now that I'm not homeless, I give people food I would eat, food that gives you energy. I also avoided soup kitchens when I was homeless because most of the food was worse than the crap they give you in grade school. I ate better and healthier foods by digging through the trash at grocery stores.The best soup kitchen I ever went to was so wonderful. The man who cooked was a retired chef. He made fantastic dishes (with vegetarian options). The tables had table cloths and real silverware (they usually only give you plastic cause they think you're going to brain the person next to you or some other ridiculous thing) and the people who worked there would bring you food like you were in a restaurant. And they didn't try to make you listen to a sermon or preach about their religion at all. I loved those people.Please don't forget, homeless people aren't all disgusting lunatics. Mostly they're kind and good people who are down on their luck, don't fit in with society (aka what some would call mentally ill), or have a drug or alcohol addiction. That doesn't mean your options are take pity or ignore them. Pity can be just as painful as being ignored. Just treat us normal, have a conversation, don't be afraid, and don't act like our lives are so terrible unless we say they are. Not everyone hates being homeless.

        • MicheleT 6 years ago

          P.S. I gave you 5 stars and also shared this lens on Facebook and Twitter. Great job!!!

        • MicheleT 6 years ago

          Wow. What a touching, informative lens. I can relate all too well to the majority of this lens. I wasn't homeless, but I have helped the homeless for years - any way I can. This includes taking food to them, hosting homeless families on holidays, taking hygiene products, helping individual homeless people get back on their feet as best I can. I have seen honest, hard-working homeless people go to jail because they were just walking down the street. I've seen homeless people turned away from shelters for all sorts of reasons. And the list goes on. And the world is so, so cruel when it comes to the homeless topic. Gosh, people are cruel. They say the homeless should just "get a job" or "get a life" - oh, my.... How sad. And I firmly believe we don't understand anything 'till we've walked at least a mile in someone's shoes. Even then, we all react differently. So it's still hard to judge someone else - even if we've been in the exact same situation.I'm so glad you commented on my lens. And I am so glad you aren't homeless anymore. My heart aches because you had to go through all this - but I commend you for sharing with others and teaching about the reality of homelessness.

        • Sylvestermouse profile image

          Cynthia Sylvestermouse 6 years ago from United States

          I am touched and saddened beyond words! Angel Blessed!

        • jgelien profile image

          jgelien 6 years ago

          The situations you describe are appalling. Why are people so inhumane?You have done a great service in writing this eye-opening lens. The more exposure this topic receives, the better.

        • Mahogany LM profile image

          Mahogany LM 6 years ago

          This lens really opened my eyes Kylyssa, not only in spotlighting the dangers of life in homeless shelters, but also pointing me in the direction of a way to make a small difference. Thank you for putting this lens together.

        • libertysteward 6 years ago

          Thank you for your efforts to open peoples eyes to the indignities suffered by people whose only real crime is not fitting in to the Capitalist Lie. I don't give a damn if I offend my "fellow" countrymen, they are a truly sorry lot of foolish materialistic selfish and very mean people in the majority. I do not believe most of them have a clue how tenuous their existence really is. People like you remind me that there are some people out there still worth embracing as brothers and sisters. I am an old hippie, so when I became "homeless" it was because I would not give up on my ideals and my knowledge as I was well-educated and came from a "good" family. In the beginning, as they fancied themselves elitist republicans, they rejected me for being a food faddist (vegetarian) and for living a rebellious politically defiant know, not cutting your hair, not wearing straight clothes, not being willing to die for rubber, tin and bauxite in the illegal unconstitutional war in Vietnam against an innocent people, etc. It was a different time then and many of us were homeless, but we still lived a rather idyllic existence other than being threatened with violence, intimidated and harassed by the PIGS ( I'm 62 and to this date I consider them the true dregs of society, most are violent, undereducated, willing to compromise with evil and contorted social "values"). But later on in life after I tried to live up to the social expectations of the "I got mine you go get yours" culture I lost it all in a terrible accident. I spent many years being homeless before the accident enduring multiple layoffs during the engineered "recessions" our country went through. After I lost my home to Countrywide Mortgage and a crooked Dept. of Vocation/Rehab counselor in California, and a discriminatory employer I took to the road to save myself from adversity. No benefits, no healthcare (I lost A+ coverage with Kaiser Permanente) I would sleep in my truck which I managed to hang on to. My dogs and I would awaken to icicles hanging from the ceiling of the camper shell and frozen dog water it was so cold. I had 14 camping places around Santa Fe in the BLM lands where you can stay for 14 days then you have to move on to a new location. I swept the church at the Santuario de Guadalupe where the priest gave me $15.00 each time. I didn't panhandle although I've done it a few times, but I did odd jobs, whatever I could get. As long as my dogs ate I was happy even though I was cold and hungry. I was homeless so long that when I finally came back to New Mexico to live I was one angry human being. I had a worse case of PTSD than some vets, because I understood a lot of what had happened to me and I've always been insightful politically. It took 20 years of solitude in the country learning to live with a broken body and mangled spirit. Today although I live on a fixed income and still basically indigent I live in a cabin I built on rough range land. I traded river sticks (used to make furniture) for the lumber to build the roof. I was too messed up physically to do any of it, but I did it anyway. It's taken 16 years to build it to it's current state, it's still uninsulated properly, cold and drafty in the winter, and I still need a water heater, a propane tank or a solar system to heat water. I have solar and wind power and a computer. My mind is still more important to me than my other needs. I will continue to fight to survive, I don't really know any other way. Homelessness either drives you to give up or to fight so hard that you become so hard you never get back to just being a happy soul in a sound body. Some people get fortunate and work their way out of it, but it always takes someone else to help you up. But many homeless people never get out of their reality and can see no other way. I live in such a neighborhood. One such fellow walks to town every day to get one free meal, then he drinks and walks another 16 miles home drunk, sad and often with only a windbreaker in the wintertime. He is a brilliant pianist I heard him play once when we coached him into a coffee house one day on his way to town. My other neighbors live in trailers with junk piled all around their houses, not because they are "hoarders", but because they have no vehicle able to carry trash and no money to pay for a dump fee. One fellow dug a hole under his trailer and lights a small fire under his trailer and sleeps in the smoke stream surrounding his tiny little rig. Another girl lives alone in her trailer, walks back and forth daily 8 miles a day even in the dead of winter. Her father was a friend of mine and at the age of 80 he lifted each of the 10 16ft 6x3 timbers up to the roof as I couldn't pick them up. He built the San Francisco bridge as a cat walker and was tough as nails until he died at 94. She doesn't ask for help and although I tried to give her rides she's scared of my dogs. These people remind me daily that homelessness is not a state that necessarily goes away. None of them wants help from people who would in any way dictate moral values or code specifications to them. The only thing they lack to be real revolutionaries is a good rifle and plenty of ammo and each of them would probably fight to the death before they would allow any authorities to come in here and force them into a different mold. If it is allowed to go along too long it changes you to the point where you can't shake it. I believe that it is fundamentally a reflection of how little we really care about each other, because the system we live in presumes "I've got mine, you go get yours!" and it's all about being selfish. I grew up in Latin America so I learned early on how to ignore the pain of others that was all around me. I didn't know at the time that it was greedy capitalistic thinking that was leading to all of this. As a hippie I learned to share and love with others in a communitarian way and yet even though this helped me, many of these folks are much younger than I and never had that experience. If you do not love others and fight to improve society for them things will never change. If I had any funding I would create a homeless shelter for people with pets or kids and create a little teepee village here on my acreage. But that is only a dream if my countrymen continue to be such self-involved greedy little materialistic and violent piggies. There has to be a change of heart of what it means to be an American. We are in the midst of a spiritual crisis which we will never solve by throwing money at the problem. We have to fix the value system we are all worshipping like the Golden Calf the Bible thumpers like to rail about. Oddly they are the worst offenders as they are the good that pretends to be better than it is and that is truly the worst and most insidious evil. Reach out whenever you can and help others - you don't need an excuse. My stories are on and you can read about my experiences with the healthcare system under the Digest of Articles link on the frontpage. I think about what I told myself in the have to have something of your own before you can really offer something of true value to others. If you just move them into the middle of your own chaos you just confuse things further and then you get dragged into it as well..,that might have been true, but it was equally selfish. Sometimes you just have to do something. Each time I get some money I try to spot a homeless person and give them at least $20. I am blessed to have the good things that I have and have learned to be glad for that and not yearn for more. Wanting to help others is a good thing, but don't look for more to come to you before you do, you may miss your chance to be that one catalyst that prompts everything to move in a better direction. Accepting your limitations is a good thing though, so be careful not to put yourself in an even worse situation. Life is very tenuous and it's ultimately a balancing act on the high wire and it is a long way to the bottom. One thing I learned about people is that they often want to see if yo

        • BarbRad profile image

          Barbara Radisavljevic 6 years ago from Templeton, CA

          You taught me a lot I didn't know. I hope to read more of your lenses as soon as I have time.

        • verymary profile image

          Mary 6 years ago from Chicago area

          Eye opening and very well done.

        • lasertek lm profile image

          lasertek lm 6 years ago

          For me, topmost reason why homeless people don't use shelters is because they want privacy. Although these shelters provide homeless people what they need, most would still want to be off on their own and find a place that they could consider their own. Like this lens! 5*

        • Heather426 profile image

          Heather Burns 6 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

          I think it is criminal to separate Mothers and children. My daughter's fiance was forced to find his own way in life since he was 13 because his mother ws in homeless shelters and could not keep he spent many nights in the streets. 13! There was no father around so he was all alone. It breaks my heart to think of it. So sorry your life has been so hard. Very well written.

        • Kylyssa profile image

          Kylyssa Shay 7 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

          @Shannon79: I'm so sorry you had to suffer through all that! Unfortunately, your story is not that unusual, it's similar to stories I've heard from dozens of people and it's a story people need to hear. I hope that life is treating you a whole lot better now.

        • Shannon79 7 years ago

          Homeless shelters do everything but what they're supposed to do--offer the homeless a safe clean place to sleep. I was homeless for about a month and I went to a shelter and they informed me I would have to quit my job and that my son would have to go to a men's shelter or something, but he couldn't stay with me. I told the worker, "F**k you and this raggedy shelter! I'll find somewhere else to go where they don't expect me to kick my child to the curb!" The next three shelters told me the same thing and I left; the next shelter accepted my family on the condition that I attend drug and alcohol counseling and take parenting classes. I refused and they accused me of being in denial about my problem. I cursed the people out. "How in the hell are you going to tell me I have a drug or drinking problem?!" I shouted. They said, "Well, if you don't, then why are you homeless?" Like that's the only reason people are homeless. I told them, "Just because I'm homeless doesn't mean I have a drug or alcohol problem." They said, "Prove it," I looked at them. "How the hell do you prove you don't drink or use drugs?! Why don't you prove I do?!" I shouted. They said, "The proof is, you're homeless and have no money." Well, that was the last straw. I called my card company and combined my rewards points toward a stay in a studio apartment hotel. I was able to stay with my supervisor until I got a place to live and I made a point to report that shelter to the city. Not long afterward, they were forced to close their doors; there were a lot of complaints from others about how they were forced to abandon pets, service animals, mobility equipment, sometimes even their children, to the streets. The people running the shelter faced criminal charges. Homeless shelters and the regulation of them really needs to be overhauled. There are homeless shelters that offer apartments for families in Houston, but if you have a vehicle, the tags must be current and if you are working, you must quit your job and show proof that you quit so you can have time for their job training class. If you have any kind of income, you have to assign it to them. Not surprisingly, most of their units have never been used. I mean, it's a homeless shelter; give people a place to sleep. Keep families together instead of forcing a mother to abandon her son to the streets. The way these places are run is really stupid and needs to be rethought.

        • Maraiya 7 years ago

          Being on the verge of homelessness myself, I found this lens to be very informative and helpful. I hope I don't end up homeless; but if I do, you gave me some valuable tips on how to deal with it. I live in Arizona, and while I was investigating some of the homeless shelters, I found out that most in Arizona charge a daily fee! A lot of them charge what you'd normally pay for rent somewhere. The cheapest one I found was $8 a day, which averages out to about $200 a month, and some nights you can't get into the shelter due to the overflow. Thanks for this lens. You write very well, by the way; I have read most of your other lenses on homelessness and they are all excellent. Thanks so much. I am so sorry you have had to go through so much.

        • Brookelorren LM profile image

          Brookelorren LM 7 years ago

          Another great lens, and another way that governmental intrusion hurts people (with the ordinances). I'm not sure if I would want to stay in a homeless shelter either.

        • norma-holt profile image

          norma-holt 7 years ago

          This highlights again the stupidity of humans who are better off and turn aside from those most in need. Powerful lens but very sad and once again an outstanding account of a grave problem. 5* fave and lens rolled. I am also going to feature it on my Overpopulation lens.Norma :)

        • VarietyWriter2 profile image

          VarietyWriter2 7 years ago

          I agree with pkmcr...powerful lens. Thank you for sharing and for the insight. If I was an angel I'd bless it...for now I rate it 5 stars.

        • pkmcruk profile image

          pkmcr 7 years ago from Cheshire UK

          Powerful lens and Blessed by a Squid Angel

        • Spook LM profile image

          Spook LM 7 years ago

          Just dropping by for another look. Blessed by an Angel.

        • clouda9 lm profile image

          clouda9 lm 7 years ago

          Very touching and timely information - thank you for sharing your story with us.

        • KimGiancaterino profile image

          KimGiancaterino 7 years ago

          Blessed and featured on my Squid Angel Diary this week. By the way, it's nobody's business how you spend your money. You've put a lot of time and thought into this lens and should not feel the need to defend yourself for trying to make a living. You are helping homeless people simply by sharing this information.

        • luvmyludwig lm profile image

          luvmyludwig lm 7 years ago

          I admire you for your willingness to speak up and how well you describe a very real and horrible situation. *blessed by as squid angel/greeter*

        • joanhall profile image

          Joan Hall 7 years ago from Los Angeles

          What an article. I'm DIGGing and STUMBLEing this.

        • puterfreak profile image

          puterfreak 7 years ago

          Great lens! Definitely an eye opener!

        • WindyWintersHubs profile image

          WindyWintersHubs 7 years ago from Vancouver Island, BC

          Amazing Information! 5* Homelessness is a very big problem in Canada, too (as in many countries). Many cities and towns are now trying to force homeless people to use shelters, too. This may help but I don't think it's the answer. The underlying problems of why people are homeless in the first place need to be seriously addressed. Thanks again for your info as to why people don't use shelters. :)

        • jptanabe profile image

          Jennifer P Tanabe 7 years ago from Red Hook, NY

          Great lens, disturbing information. I knew a few of the points, but hadn't realized how many reasons there are to avoid these shelters. How to improve things though - I fear many of the people running shelters are doing the best they can with lack of funding and resources. Still, if they could be educated by reading this type of material it might help them make some positive changes.

        • Spook LM profile image

          Spook LM 7 years ago

          I'm horrified by what I read on homelessness in America. However it must also be a tough call on those trying their best to help. With your experiences on all this Kylyssa, how about a lens on how you would go about improving this? Wishing you all the best.

        • jjj1 profile image

          jjj1 7 years ago

          An excellent, informative lens about an important subject. I was horrified that shelters would turn away someone in a wheelchair - and was disturbed by much else that you wrote.

        Click to Rate This Article