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The Urban Life of an Urban Nomad Couple

 
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We have appropriated the phrase "urban Nomad" but we are referred to as"homeless".There are many of us all over the world and besides the suffering,alienation and pain as well as deprivation and disdain there much knowledge,wisdom and at times spiritual insights that come out of this particular life.There are also some very funny,very weird and very dangerous stories to tell! Like what do you do when your legs look like salamis? How do you react to physical harassers? What do you do when a "good"Samaritan" leaves you three pepperoni pizza pies next to you while you're sleeping on the train? Or when you're under a taupe that someone takes a lighter to? How do you keep warm in 25 degree nights if you need to sleep on a sidewalk under an overhang? What to do when you wake-up at 1 A.M. and in front of your cart is a bag from Starbucks with about thirty perishable leftover sandwiches? Or how to wash your hair every week in a prime tourist attraction bathroom?  My friend Israel lived for 17 years on the street and at the beach.He was an encyclopedia of street wisdom!He also died from the beach environ he breathed-in deep in the sand under the boardwalk and the smoke too.He had to drink before his doctor's appt s so he could keep his disability payments even though he had quit long ago.Shelters are more dangerous he'd say which my wife and I found-out.  We are married thirty-five years now and once while homeless I had to get something out of the electronic automatic bathroom.A guard comes along and accuses us of having sex in there!Sex?Homeless? They should only know the impossibility of conjugal marital relations in this situation! But aside from this so much to learn! Come along with us on this journey! And see YouTube "Invisible People"
 
Stuart Sparber
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Just a minute note from 2 homeless Permie; so essential to have a good mending tape such as we use,Gorilla tape.Held together a cracked metal rim on a luggage cart rim when wrapped tightly around.  Also when thread is not strong enough we use nylon cord,the type that you would use to haul up a crab cage.A big eye needle, soap or beeswax to thread it and you can knot and tape the ends from fraying with gorilla tape.Had to use it ;both in crisis repairs.Worked like a charm!
 
Stuart Sparber
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For us homeless Permie two items you'd throw away are extremely precious;plastic bags and corrugated cardboard.Maybe plastic bags are an obvious choice; aren't "those"people crazy about their plastic bags? Do you know how hard it is to dry clothes off body when you have nowhere to hang them? Thus everything is dry and sorted and safe.It also protects you from Thieves because negative curiosity is stronger than covetousness! Even in our luggage we use them and a big lawn bag over our luggage in rain or when we sleep on the train. Mildew also is not a very pleasant odor and dry items do not mildew.Bed bugs don't get in either.  The big bags can be used as rain gear or for insulation in the very cold.  Corrugated cardboard is also in several layers on dry pavement a great insulator. Many things homeless people do appear to others as crazy but you'd be surprised to know the truth! Necessity is the "mother of. . ." and surely you yourself has been mothered by her.Money sometimes ruins initiative?
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Stuart Sparber
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Like to post some pictures of Jennie and me. As you can see being homeless is not all suffering and deprivation. We enjoy many things and share many joys. We both are avid readers and have a sterling library near at hand! I do digital graphics and we both love music and You Tube cooking shows as well as Permies!
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Stuart Sparber
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Sometimes as homeless nomads it is just hard finding things to do when one is settled down indoors.Having to cart around two substantial luggage carts also limits your travel and choices.Storage places are too expensive or out of the way to be of help.If you had wanderlust you can't do anymore what you used to.Luckily our local library is liberal in it's policies to the homeless( actually homeless fought them in court to make them liberal).I can't just go to a museum, many will only check your coat.Very hard to drag these carts on a bus too! We used to carry backpacks and two other bags but it was awkward and painful. If you are blessed with difficult family members don't get to the point that they can't do essential favors for you! Ours did it to us so we had no choice.
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Stuart Sparber
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There are many, many reasons people become homeless.Not every person is mentally ill,addicted or even destitute. But what happens afterward can be interesting and sometimes downright nasty!  In N.Y.C. there are ( how the City Dep't of Homeless Services or D.H.S.) three categories of shelters: for families,for single people and for couples ( used to be married legally now any couple considered ). You must receive shelter in order to qualify for cash welfare benefits, which include free storage and a furniture allowance if you get an apt. later, and S.N.A.P. food benefits. The only benefit that is yours without shelter when you are a couple is S.NA.P.  Both singles and families even without shelter provided receive all these benefits, but the usual rule is you must take their shelter. Now I can't speak for families,even though I know of their stories from newspapers,but I can speak for couple and singles experiences since we are a married couple and know personally many singles who have been there done that. You are not given any choice of shelters but single men can use shelters that the city does not contract with.There are none for married couples except what the city provides. This post is getting too long but needless to say that what the city provides has many problems, the topic of my next post.
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Stuart Sparber
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Our Experience with city of N.Y. shelters can be summed- up O.M.G.!!!   In 1999 we first became homeless after living in Albany,N.Y. We still had a little money after living two months at an Extended Stay America .The City of Albany had no civic shelters, only charitable non-profit.No provision for married couples at all.They put my wife in a house for battered women because this was what was available.I was not allowed within fifty feet of the house.My situation was not much better.I had to live 2 miles from my wife and take a Breathalyzer test every time I entered.So we decided to go back to N.Y.C. where I purchased a tent .
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pollinator
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Location: France, Burgundy, parc naturel Morvan
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Hi Stuart, nice but also weird to hear of someone living on the streets.
When i was a wild youngster i was a squatter, travelling through europe i came around homeless people quite a lot.
Some told me of the things you're saying, survival techniques basicly, insulation, cardboard, ways to stay warm.
In Granada, south of Spain, they lived in caves, caves the gypsies had lived in for centuries, but they moved up into houses.
Some managed to stay away from booze and built something up.
I remember Juan vividly, a German ex car mechanic, who one day picked up a guitar and left the ordinary life, he had a nice little set up, i was welcomed to stay once in a while in his cave. He was busking and ate at the catholic church. I knew he wouldn't hurt me and he knew i was a good one. Funny how you get a keen eye for that.
Still bad things can happen all the time when you're on the streets, it's not boring at all !
But you can't get ahead being on the streets, you're too vulnerable, can't stack for better times to come.
Some one will notice what you're doing and steal of you when you're not looking, am I right?
And if they can't get you they get revengeful and dealing with mad and sometimes evil people senseless on drugs that can be dangerous.

I'm always interested in making any situation better, that's why i ask and wonder if you read up about survival techniques and wild food foraging? I've seen a little documentary about this guy in France who just walked by the roads and knew every plant, fruit, nut and mushroom, he cooked it up or washed it and made salads. He explained it was hard at first, because of the heavy bitter taste of wild food, but because he knew the density of nutricients was so high he kept eating it and got used to the taste. He explained that the things we call vegetables are in fact much less nutricious than wild foods. I see it like this , we as a civilisation have become so spoiled that we changed nutricious foods for good tasting ones. Getting used to less bitter tastes all the time. Everybody got a sweet tooth.
This man had made friends along the roads, got talking to people and they invited him in, which he loved, for company , a shower and a real clean bed. They showed them out in the lawn, him pointing out edibles, the children of the family there, fascinated by this strange man that came and telling them about nature, respected by the parents. No way a schoolteacher could catch their attention! Next day hugs and waves, see you next year.

I hope you stay strong and positive and may luck be with you and your wife, you urban nomads!
 
Hugo Morvan
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Forgive me please if i say things that sound really dumb or inconsiderate, i was only a tourist in your life and live in a completely other universe to yours.
 
Stuart Sparber
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Hugo Morvan wrote:Hi Stuart, nice but also weird to hear of someone living on the streets.
When i was a wild youngster i was a squatter, travelling through europe i came around homeless people quite a lot.
Some told me of the things you're saying, survival techniques basicly, insulation, cardboard, ways to stay warm.
In Granada, south of Spain, they lived in caves, caves the gypsies had lived in for centuries, but they moved up into houses.
Some managed to stay away from booze and built something up.
I remember Juan vividly, a German ex car mechanic, who one day picked up a guitar and left the ordinary life, he had a nice little set up, i was welcomed to stay once in a while in his cave. He was busking and ate at the catholic church. I knew he wouldn't hurt me and he knew i was a good one. Funny how you get a keen eye for that.
Still bad things can happen all the time when you're on the streets, it's not boring at all !..."

 
Stuart Sparber
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Hugo, glad you shared your experiences living rough! If I had to list the negative and positive experience being homeless well it just would-be a long list.What my wife and I have always considered is what's "God's Will" Jesus (and Mary too) never considered anything but that and we have tried to follow since 1992. At many times there seems to be no choice but God provides! We go to Mass every day and pray the Rosary as well.We try to keep in Grace. When we are prone to great anxiety or hardship we try to lift it up to Him.We express everything to God.We have had much intercessions from saints. We've met a few wonderful souls.Thank you for your gracious reply.Keep in touch!πŸ˜€
.
 
Stuart Sparber
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When we first were homeless in lower Manhattan we didn't want to go to a shelter. We didn't know where to sleep.It was late Spring and we'd wander the streets at night after going for dinner at the McCauley N.Y. Rescue Mission.It was very depressing to say the least! Then one night we decided to sleep rough with others across the side street from the Mission.They had no couples shelter but the desk and desk bathroom was open all night and it would be easier making their 5:30 A.M. breakfast call.  At 4:00 in the morning I opened my eyes to see the biggest rat I ever saw staring me in the face! Needless to say that's how we first went to the Emergency Assistance Unit  !πŸ˜™better known then as E.A.U.
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Stuart Sparber
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I diverge from our narrative to inject a little hope into the picture. In all these years of homelessness I have read and researched about homelessness in the U.S. I found some outstanding people and groups. A movie and books by Ron Hall and Denver Moore called "Same Kind of Different as Me"tell a remarkable story of love, Brotherhood and Charity.Currently Ron Hall heads a national charity named after this book. A fellow named Mark Horvath makes the homeless visible in his YouTube channel "Invisible People". Great heart stuff and quite interesting.He has currently started a foundation. Up in Ithaca,N.Y. near Cornell a auto-body shop owner has built with his foundation 18 beautiful Cottages on his 7 acres above Ithaca.the Second Wind Cottages even have a theme song sung by his children.Carmen Guidi is my hero even though I have never met him!  In Moncton ,New Brunswick a fellow named Charlie started a thing called "The Humanity Project" which you also can find on YouTube. And a very famous author, Danielle Steele who has sold tens or hundreds of millions of books wrote a book about her experiences delivering huge survival packs on the streets of SanFrancisco and Philadelphia. She goes incognito and will duck back in her van if recognized which I saw for myself on the street in Manhattan! I think if any of you follow Lent you may be inspired to help!

Watch "Young Homeless Man Shares Real Truth About Sleeping Rough in Cardiff, Wales." on YouTube
https://youtu.be/TRRbCzZH_HY

Watch "Tour of Ithaca's Tent City Where Homeless People Survive in the Freezing Cold" on YouTube
https://youtu.be/rZjoHWARvjU
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Stuart Sparber
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In the same positive mood of my last post how about those who helped us and gave us hope? We have so many benefactors from our years of homelessness! A short little woman in her late forties was one of our first angels.She would bring us beautiful home-cooked food that she had made the night before.We sat in the freezing cold begging out of a Florida Marlins hat and this delicious lady would set a feast at our feet in a big brown Macy's bag! So good!  We had a young man who would talk to us about our faith and then leave some money.He always came at the right time! Our coffee truck guy always included free extras.Was much appreciated!Those first few months were lean times and it did take a lot of humility to start to beg!  Some woman had in Losaida (lower Eastside) an outdoor sermon and pantry two days a week.She gave us our sleeping bags and blankets as well as a lot of food. Our friend Dino told us about her and we'd bring him yogurts because he couldn't get there. Dino slept on the old W.T.C. plaza till the day 9/11. Dino survived and many of us homeless saw many strange things happen in those buildings before hand.No homeless were killed. There were no planes! Back to my friends; there was HotZ which was the name of his Halal truck with delicious Egyptian Chicken and rice.HotZ fed us everyday for three years for FREE.He was a true believer in Charity and did it very matter of fact. Sergei was a friend from Siberia whose wife fixed a simple lunch for us every now and then Sergei's friendship was precious to us and even when he left for a different job in another part of Manhattan he used to show up at critical moments and from his heart he would give us from his pocket. We befriended many wonderful people at Marble Collegiate Church who helped us in many ways. Outstanding among them was a Rev.Ron Patterson whose kindness extended to so many homeless. Another great guy was a fellow who rode-up in a bicycle just before 4 P.M. on many days.He was a corporate chef who brought unbelievable leftovers! Once he saved the day by replacing a busted cart for us!Such good souls all of them!  A soul sent from Heaven as an answer to a desperate prayer helps with a place to stay once a week.He is very devoted to St.Mary as we are. And so many others who are known to God and us! They offered friendship,real help and gave us solace and hope!

.Watch
https://youtu.be/a3qN30mqiqU
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pollinator
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Thanks for reminding us all that "Christian" (they are certainly  espoused by many other faiths and practiced by many who don't proclaim any faith) values  and action exist  out there if we pay attention and approach with humility. Easy to forget sometimes.

Regards,
Rufus
 
Stuart Sparber
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Rufus, thank you for your reply. So many people have been kind to us!But there were those that honestly missed the boat! Every day a guy would give us a nickel.We called him nickelman. Occasionally he'd tell us why; if everyone who passed you gave you a nickel- but they didn't! Then a man would buy us a cup of coffee and a donut and think he could interrogate us. Then a lady used to unload chip and pretzel bags with expired dates ( by many months) I know this because I got sick the first time. It takes all kinds! But thank God for the good ones!πŸ˜‚
 
Stuart Sparber
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W We are very devoted to Our Lady Mary! We look to her  and pray to her . This is our favorite picture of her taken from a statue in St. Jean Baptiste Church that lord's over their vestibule to their Monastery of the Blessed Sacrament Fathers from the Church proper.
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Stuart Sparber
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            In the year 2001 we were homeless and referred by a priest to the sisters of the Missionaries of Charity, the order St. Teresa of Calcutta started. We both had been co-workers for eight years but never stayed in their shelters which I helped institute and build when they were young. Now we would be staying at them! I in the Bronx at the So. Bronx men,s shelter and she at the Harlem St. Joseph's shelter. I had to cross the bridge to Manhattan every day by foot to be with my wife. We stayed three weeks there. While I was in the men's shelter I met a seminarian who belonged to the parish of the priest who married us in Astoria in 1983, He was now the pastor of St. Anthony of Padua in So. Ozone Park, Queens, a parish near J.F.K. Airport.
 
Stuart Sparber
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  Maybe you've been to Manhattan and seen the food carts? Mostly they sell four types of food:A.M. Breakfast carts sell all kinds of Danish,pastry,donuts,bagels and of course coffee; then there are the ubiquitous Hot Dog Carts that also sell Knishes( do you know what a knish is?); then the Caramelized Peanut Carts and finally the Hallel Carts that sell rice with chicken,lamb,fish,gyro,or falafel with side veggies.  So many of these carts owners have been kind to us and other homeless.They really have a heart! I have told you about HotZ which was the name on his truck, how he fed us for free his Hallel chicken and rice. Recently by where we stay most of the time by Battery Park City we were blessed with Gus's frankfurter and knish cart.Blessed because when Gus found out we were homeless, the Frank's and knishes became discounted for free! Gus is a former immigrant from Italy with a heart of gold.Recently Gus has undergone cancer therapy and we have prayed for him everyday.    Some breakfast guys are funny as Gus is.They always give us extras for free. I find that these owners work so hard but always seem to be the happiest people on the street! A big big hug to them all!πŸ˜‚
 
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I am fascinated by you and your wife's story...and I hope you have an early spring there on the east coast.
My sister lived on the street in the southwest for a year or so...much easier to sleep outside there.
I like knowing that for the most part people are good to you...
I'm reminded of the 'Food not Bombs' cart on the west coast...no one should go hungry.

Thank you for sharing...  
 
Stuart Sparber
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Thank you Judith Browning for your thoughtful reply! Just yesterday I saw an Australian T.V. network YouTube blurb about Flagstaff, Arizona homeless and R.V.ers using Walmart parking lots.Walmart has a policy of allowing this.The mayor of Flagstaff was also on board! We are lucky we have our 24hr. subway here.The current mayor is very lenient;maybe too much so for people are now laying down and sleeping which brings anti-homeless sentiment
!😊Watch "Meet the Homeless Americans Living in Walmart Parking Lots" on YouTube
https://youtu.be/h1AWLo_fK1U
 
Stuart Sparber
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Liberty and freedom are two big words in how Americans describe theirselves.The homeless people who cherish their freedom and liberty and exercise these American rights most call crazy and foolish or at least irresponsible! The N.Y.C. homeless system neither respects your liberty or freedom as if very poor people do not have these rights.We were put in a holding building office for 26 hours and were expected to live on plastic bench seats with other families and their children We needed a pass to leave while we waited for shelter.This was later changed.Then in the middle of the winter at 1 A.M. they ferried you in a bus to a hotel that was like a ghetto in miniature that had no hot water and little heat.We only knew what time we had to leave by hearing the commotion in the hall at 7:30 A.M. Back to E.A.U. for the day and the plastic benches!  Our first placement was in a Chelsea Manhattan hotel.We were lucky,it was summer and we had a front room that was cooler than the horrible backroom we received two months later. The toilets were down the hall and our corridor had other legally and older married couples who were peaceful and friendly.Not so for other residents one who consistently either threw her fem.hygiene pads either out the window or clogging the toilet! On the first week there the anteroom to the private shower had feces on the floor.The crew cleaned but this was not picked up for the remaining three weeks till our next placement! Our next place was considered the gold standard of shelters! We had our own upper West side apt.  with private shower and microwave. The neighborhood  along Broadway in the W.130's was chock full of convenient stores where we could now use our new allotment of Food Stamps and cook for ourselves.There was even a bakery that made delicious hot Cubano Sandwiches purchased with food stamps.A beautiful state park called Riverview along the Hudson River was our frequent destination. But at night the whole neighborhood became a drug den that one would not want to venture out in.Outside our shelter the dealer's cavorted all night and it seemed like the Manager of this shelter didn't really mind because the police were never called.    Just to let you know we might have chosen this gold standard shelter ourselves but certainly the only way to go somewhere else of their choosing would have required proof of being assaulted!     We started our W.E.P. job placements here in a city park in the W.190's. My wife had to leave 7A.M. and take a bus uptown and then pick-up garbage and hear from the Parks Dep't workers cursing and foul remarks about women as well as going there alone in a very bad neighborhood. But we prayed for her protection and carried on until our month was up and they sent us back to Chelsea where we had to travel uptown.But now we did so together until they placed us back uptown in an unrenovated room that had mice galore and no shower or in the hall shower room no shower curtains. When that month was up after having insisted to patch mouseholes and get a shower curtain, we were placed in downtown Brooklyn in a renovated former hospital with not even a sink or refrigerator but a toilet.No set of drawers and the shower room was co-ed! There was a private bath that had no hot water but the sink did and thus we filled it up bucket by bucket.There was food provided among the families of six and 9 and ten kids runn ing around the lunch room. You had to see a social worker just to get a bar of soap or deodorant. In one week we had had it.It was nearly impossible  to get uptown on time and clean with breakfast.We quit the system and went rough.Later we tried the shelter system again but with changes in mayor's it only got worse. Yes Freedom to choose what neighborhood to live in and what kind of situation is important even for the very poor! Liberty is not negotiable unless you have no sense! And most people have good sense how they can keep safe even if they have to live rough on the street or on a train! If anything happens on the train there is always someone to help you but not so in the shelters.If I don't like the people on one street or in one train car I can go to another.As I said earlier you forfeit storage and cash benefits but not food stamps if as a couple you leave the shelter system The price of Liberty!
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Stuart Sparber
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Here are a list of videos very informing and Watch "July Newsletter" on YouTube
https://youtu.be/s-95kckvjKQ
Watch "Tour of Ithaca's Tent City Where Homeless People Survive in the Freezing Cold" on YouTube
https://youtu.be/rZjoHWARvjU
Watch "Detroit's tiny houses give residents a home to rebuild their lives" on YouTube
https://youtu.be/q2sLP0ZBbis
Watch "Tiny houses have big impact for homeless" on YouTube
https://youtu.be/MxuagubbM2k
Watch "Meet the Homeless Americans Living in Walmart Parking Lots" on YouTube
https://youtu.be/h1AWLo_fK1U
Thank you.Had to put them in one at a time!
 
Rufus Laggren
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Stuart

> We were put in a holding building office for 26 hours and were expected to live on plastic bench seats with other families and their children We needed a pass to leave while we waited for shelter.This was later changed..... <and more>

Thank you for sharing a place some of us have never come close to. It helps to see a little more, to bulge the bubble we live in, or even pop it. They say that seeing the lives of other people is what started Buddha out of his highest class life and on his quest for true knowledge and peace for all. I think people need to see each other. Sometimes it seems like it must be pretty hard, though, for some reason.


Regards,
Rufus
 
Stuart Sparber
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Thank you Rufus for your reply.Since being homeless I have read and viewed YouTube and especially talked with so many fellow homeless.We all have the same experiences with city shelters and even private religion run ones.  Everyone thinks you're nuts for not being sheltered from inconsiderate family, friends and a few Priests and psychiatrist's as well. Well that American Indian saying and Buddha's advice as well certainly goes far " walk ten miles in another person's moccasins then see what they are about.Jesus did it by becoming a man!      We have suffered so much by saying that we are not going to be treated so nastily! My wife's mental health was in crisis several times.I find that the very biggest evil in this world is not those crimes committed but in the overwhelming omissions in doing good to others.This comes from being overly satisfied with our self-centered ways and lives!  Look to the Good Samaritan, a disliked foreigner going toJerusalem who probably was a merchant; he didn't need to help the beaten and robbed man.He treated his wounds.Put him on his precious donkey,carried him to the Inn,paid for it in advance and said he would give more if needed! Wow! May we do the same! Here is a link about the Humanity Project in Moncton.There is a story on their site about Charlie helping a homeless man.Watch "Changing a HOMELESS man's LIFE" on YouTube
https://youtu.be/_oOJuEHcmHk
A little story for you: single people can find more shelters that the city does not run but where they start with the city they usually go to multi bed facilities like Bellevue or B.R.C. run shelters.These are 400 bed dormitory rooms. A while back while we sat begging on Fifth Ave. a young guy started asking us questions.He said he was a reporter for the Washington D.C. homeless newspaper trying to get actual stuff on N.Y.'s homeless situation.He was a rough Scottish lad who came here after being part of the U.N.forces in Africa where he saw his fellow comrades beheaded. Davey went to the Bellevue Men's shelter to live there and check it out.A few weeks later Davey visited  us in Rockefeller Center seating hall.He was going back to Washington D.C.He had seen enough! Fights,theft and one brute piercing the eye of another with a sharp pencil! Now Davey was a fighter who used to earn money going to mixed martial arts match's where he would take on real fighting monsters but he said he never saw anything like this!
 
Stuart Sparber
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ABOUT BEGGING:.        When we first came back to N.Y.C. from our several months in Albany we were living on a little money we had saved. My wife who had been raised in the City Housing Projects in Queens did not want to go to Welfare.We were running out of money and at church some mass goers would give us a few bucks but it wasn't enough to get by.It took a lot to sit on the stairs of the church and beg! But we did it out of extreme need! We were chased away from our own church by the Pastor. Funny but several years ago he had passed on me as a church janitor and sacristan.He hardly remembered that. We sat instead on the stone wall around St.Paul's Chapel and were not chased.We sat there for seven hours or more five days a week in every kind of weather.They let us wash in the early A.M. in their little bathroom until the Pastor there changed. The amounts were meager and the responses maybe one in 300 people passing.But one out of 50 asked us info. without giving.This became very frustrating! Another homeless would at times sit very near us.Here is where my discussion of hustlers and hucksters begins; the guy was homeless but was a huckster! He deliberately dirtied his hands and sat on the floor with a dirty,ripped tee shirt. He would do better than us and it was quite annoying especially when he told us he'd take the money begged and went to Atlantic City to gamble it away! At times a tough would look for Jan because he owed money.         Every morning on Broadway by the Chapel at least six full buses would unload commuters from Middletown. Of the six  bus loads only one person ever gave us anything.A real nice guy who would talk to us as well. Before 9/11 he moved to Boston.These people all arrived at 7 to 8 in the A.M. Most of them worked at the W.T.C. towers. Very many of them died on 9/11! Our friend was in Boston.    After 9/11 we were stuck for a different place to beg as well as sleep.

Watch "Changing a HOMELESS man's LIFE" on YouTube
https://youtu.be/_oOJuEHcmHk
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Stuart Sparber
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In one of our posts we recalled staying separately at the shelters for men and women at the Missionaries of Charity, the order Mother Teresa started.  In the summer of 1980 before I was to be baptized a Catholic in 1981 I volunteered with the Sisters at their Mission in the South Bronx, a place at the time pretty much in it's last year's of disintegration from abandoned fire-gutted buildings and all the ills of desolating urban poverty.I worked two mornings a week in their soup kitchen.It was like finding a new and joyous family;the Sisters radiated this joy the co-workers and volunteers were warm,friendly and spiritually rich. This was true gift to me before my baptism! .I remained doing my work with the Sisters and in Feb.1982 I met my wife to be while working part-time in a Nursery School. She joined me after we were married in October 1983 as a co-worker one day a week on Saturdays.
We remained in touch with the Order for many years. I found the Sisters and Co-workers to be some of the most wonderful people I have known! We had great and fulfilling experiences sharing God's work. However we had a sense that some of the leaders of the Order made too much to do about their work and ways. The Order,despite it's critics has humbly done extraordinary work in this world, putting Love for the Poor in the Spotlight of Nations and their leaders.But this notoriety came with a cost as any famous person knows.Temptations to Pride and prejudice on the part of many critics. But the work truly was of God and we are very grateful for this experience! If it were easier for us to get there we would be eating there in the So.Bronx every day!  I had met Mother Teresa many times and as always it was the magnificent work that impresses me!  I think that she has become a Saint for this reason primarily;this is indisputable! We had our problems at times staying in the Shelter .
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Stuart Sparber
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Update: Nomad Couple-----------------On 3/22/19  night a campaign of harassment began by the N.Y.C. Police,Transit Patrol. Though the Constitutional right of sleeping on public conveyances has been protected in Federal Courts, a way around it has been used by Police waking people "for their own protection". This is now for the last few days being used. They wake you up with a leaflet flier or without.We are not talking of those violating transit rules by inclining on seats.We are talking about anyone found sleeping.Last night we were awoken twice. This policy like many homeless combating policies is for one reason only; to harass and provoke homeless who have no choice but to be there!
 
Judith Browning
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Stuart, I so hope the housing for you and your wife comes through soon.  Thank you for sharing so much of your personal  story.  That has made the situation so much more real for many of us who have not experienced true homelessness.  I'm so sorry that your family is not there for you to fall back on.  

Do you expect them to continue waking you up every night now?  Do they suggest anywhere else to go?
 
Stuart Sparber
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In response to Judith Browning: Thank you for your supportive reply! The purpose of their waking you is to move you off the train. They have spent millions of dollars sending "outreach teams"that do the same in the middle of the night,2A.M.,3A.M.  This outreach almost exclusively helps only single people, those who get very lucky and get decent respectable shelter are rare. As I said in my blog we have tried their shelters at least seven times with various outcomes none allowing us to stay long-term. Just to get shelter you must face a completely cold hearted bureaucracy and site and people difficulties suited to those without any sensitivity. I have no idea if this Action is temporary but we have to steel ourselves to being awoken. It is still cold outside as well. Yes it would have been nice if there were not very long wait lists! My generation so numerous were not provided for.
 
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Fellow 'urban nomad' here.. an exhausting but fascinating existence to say the least. I was just in NYC a couple weeks ago. Stay warm, friends.

Just an FYI, Plattsburgh, NY follows a "housing first" model for homelessness, meaning if you go to that city and apply as homeless with DSS (which is a nightmare in itself, for me, anyway) they put you up in a hotel room (there is a limited time they will provide assistance to you supposedly, but as long as you comply with their abundance of rules you will be able to find a landlord before your time runs out) and you have to attend weekly appointments, but you are given 1st month and security deposit assistance (usually only 550-650$/ per person), and a second agency will furnish your new house/apartment with sofa/bed/tables/chairs/lamps etc. You are responsible for finding a landlord that will accept the DSS payment, (which can be a challenge, and sometimes their payment comes late, try explaining that to a landlord..)

It worked for me once upon a time, spent a little less than two months in a hotel, got a job, then found a house and landlord for 650$/mo in the center of Plattsburgh. It's about 70$ to bus up to Plattsburgh from NYC. Just an option if you get tired and want to move on/start over in another city. I often feel like that. The stress of life on the streets often tears couples apart, but it warms my heart to see you two staying positive through it. Peace!
 
Stuart Sparber
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I would like to say that those responding to this thread should read all the posts before offering solutions, though well meant. Sometimes the "tortoise" does not beat the "hare" and a Camel may not pass through an "eye of a needle"after eating a Thanksgiving Dinner.  Joking aside it hurts when suggestions are made to homeless people when you haven't gotten to know them!   Much appreciation for your prayers and concerns!πŸ˜ƒ
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A pure fantasy conception of our ideal shipping container house!
 
Rose Bourdeau
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Sorry if I offended you somehow. I am homeless too, have been off and on for years now.
 
Stuart Sparber
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Well the "war" is officially on against the homeless in New York City's subways! Another 2 A.M. wake-up! "Are you all right?" Mr.Progressive Mayor De Blasio has done it again! Our new head of the subway,Mr. Andy Byford bitched enough to Gov.Cuomo about homeless in the subway and now got his way. Instead of just making sure that people don't lay down, or put dirty clutter around them, etc.  civility; now just harassing you for sleeping! There are tried and tested laws protecting sleepers on public conveniences but the dumb police as usual try to get away with what they can
Any Civil Liberties lawyers or advocates out there?       Here's another homeless talking about San Diego harassment;Watch "Homeless Woman Lives on the Streets of San Diego, America's Finest City" on YouTube
https://youtu.be/LpJ9zvULZ-A
 
Stuart Sparber
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I get daily Google Alerts about New Ideas for the homeless.  In Austin this Community First project has been ongoing for some years. There are now Villages with Tiny Homes and more.! Watch "Community First! Village - A New Movement" on YouTube
https://youtu.be/27XDnHnzdck
 
Stuart Sparber
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Current news from Austin's Community First Villagehttps://pin.it/xq7mx7zojncbet
 
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Oh, there is so much I could say about this. You wrote, "Not every person is mentally ill,addicted or even destitute." I would point out that despite the stigma on those who ARE mentally, ill, it wasn't something they chose. No one in their right mind would choose to be mentally ill, LOL. Mental illness can happen unexpectedly for various reasons that the patient has no control over.

The number of times I had to move back in with family members so as not to end up on the streets... and autism spectrum disorder is not even technically a mental illness. You often hear that in the job market, "It's not what you know, it's who you know" -- well, to an autistic person, that looks like blatant ableism. The whole job seeking process, from the way you write your cover letter, to the way you present yourself in your follow up after the interview, is all about socializing your way into the job. And that is why, if autism comes into the picture, an applicant with a master's degree ends up working as an unskilled laborer, if at all. I had to LEARN not to be ashamed of moving back in with family. I had to LEARN to reject the mainstream's judgment of why I was a failure.

This thread's descriptions of what the homeless have to do to obtain assistance rang so familiar to me. I once stayed for a week at what was then called Union Gospel Mission. A week was all I could stand! The list of rules, which they read off every night, got longer every day. You needed permission for literally everything -- I kid you not, to maintain some feeling of human dignity, I took to scavenging bits of toilet paper out of the waste basket, saving it up until I had enough for that day's bowel movement. I agree that's disgusting, but my only other option was literally to go up to the desk and ask permission to go to the bathroom, which I hadn't had to do since elementary school! That's right, no toilet paper was kept in the bathroom. Where do people get the idea that helping someone gives them the rights of a dictator?
 
Judith Browning
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Rose Bourdeau wrote:Fellow 'urban nomad' here.. an exhausting but fascinating existence to say the least. I was just in NYC a couple weeks ago. Stay warm, friends.

Just an FYI, Plattsburgh, NY follows a "housing first" model for homelessness, meaning if you go to that city and apply as homeless with DSS (which is a nightmare in itself, for me, anyway) they put you up in a hotel room (there is a limited time they will provide assistance to you supposedly, but as long as you comply with their abundance of rules you will be able to find a landlord before your time runs out) and you have to attend weekly appointments, but you are given 1st month and security deposit assistance (usually only 550-650$/ per person), and a second agency will furnish your new house/apartment with sofa/bed/tables/chairs/lamps etc. You are responsible for finding a landlord that will accept the DSS payment, (which can be a challenge, and sometimes their payment comes late, try explaining that to a landlord..)

It worked for me once upon a time, spent a little less than two months in a hotel, got a job, then found a house and landlord for 650$/mo in the center of Plattsburgh. It's about 70$ to bus up to Plattsburgh from NYC. Just an option if you get tired and want to move on/start over in another city. I often feel like that. The stress of life on the streets often tears couples apart, but it warms my heart to see you two staying positive through it. Peace!



Hi Rose welcome to permies...good to have you here.  This  site is a wonderful, open place for all to share their experiences and knowledge....thank you for sharing yours.  
 
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