As you might have seen in my first post or my about page, I have been homeless for several years. To be precise… I have been homeless since I was 13 years of age until I was 29. To be honest…. I did not sleep on the streets most of that time and I considered myself more a wanderer then a “regular” homeless.
Although I have walked the streets people never could tell I was homeless when they looked and talked to me. Personal hygiene was and is important to me and I never begged for money or food. I have always tried to earn a honest living by working for temp agencys or by creating my own jobs (more on that later)
I have seen a lot of changes during my street years. When i became homeless I was the only kid in my town that actualy was homeless. My “compadres” where all at least 30/35 years of age and help organisations like the Salvation Army had no clue on how to handle a 13 year old “hobo”. Nowadays when I look at what is roaming the streets I see a lot of teens and the “old fashioned” homeless are starting to disappear from the streets. Also when I started to wander the streets there where no such things as street papers like “the big issue” and temp agency’s where reluctant to give work to a homeless person due to the fact they thought that someone from the streets would not be able to get enough sleep and food to go to work on time (or at all). Lucky for me there was one temp agecy that wanted to give me a try and I have done many jobs thanks to them which resulteed in me being able to live my life on the streets without becoming a “criminal” (never been arrested in my life)
In 1994 we had a very harsh winter in the Netherlands and there where not enough beds to ensure a save night for all the homeles in my town so me and a bunch of others squated a big house to start our own nightshelter which was (and still is) run by the homeless themselves. People can apply for a job in the shelter and in excange for a number of shifts each week the organisation provides a home, income, debt relieve and support towards full “social” intergration in the “normal” world. Thanks to this initiative many former homeless people now are living a normal live with a job and a future ahead. The organisation won 2 prices for best volunteers organisation of the country during it’s first year of operation and it got copied in other towns across the country
For myself.. it took a bit more then just the N.O.I.Z (NachtOpvang In Zelfbeheer, roughly translated it means Night shelter in self-management). For me it took meeting my current wive. I really didn’t care that much for living in a house, I was pretty content with wandering across Europe but I figured that if I had a girlfriend I could not willingly let her stay on the streets so we took efforts to get off. It took a few years and a lot of hard work but I can say that we are off the streets for the last 15 years now, we are debt free, addiction free and happily married (this year we celebrate our 15th anniversary)
Of course this is just a introduction to my live on the streets, loads more can be told but I think that is for another time. However if you have questios feel free to ask them.