Not kidding. The actress Erin Moran who played Joanie Cunningham on “Happy Days” and “Joanie Loves Chachi” was evicted from her California home and has found temporary shelter with her mother-in-law in her trailer in New Salisbury, Indiana. Sounds like a new sitcom plot, right? It’s not. It’s real.
Yeah, yeah….I know. She’s just another actress who blew through her money, couldn’t get a comeback spot on a B-lister show like “Dancing with the Stars” and now mooches off whomever she can.
Don’t really know if that’s true. What I do know is that the majority of us are one-step away from starting on the slippery slope that leads to homelessness.
Think not? If you lost your job this second….how much money do you have saved up to live on? What if both you AND your spouse lose your jobs today? Right now the ‘average’ length of time before an American finds a new job is 39.7 weeks. That’s nearly 10 months!
So if you end up homeless and out on the streets, do you really know what to do? Here’s a list I’ve put together…although I’ve never been homeless. It’s just what I’ve observed.
1) Travel light: if you have sold pretty much everything you own to get some spending money that’s good. You’ll need to travel light. You’ll be on the move a lot. There are ordinances pretty much everywhere regulating where you can’t sleep, where you can’t panhandle, etc. Also when you sleep on the street and you hear noises, it could be a threat to your safety, so you’ll need to pack and move on quickly.
2) Don’t expect eye contact: Face it, before you were homeless, how many of the folks standing on the corner with their cardboard signs saying “I’m hungry” did you actually look in the eye? Now that you’re homeless, you’ll be invisible to many.
3) Don’t take it personal, but you’ll be blamed for your circumstances. People will roar by you in their cars calling you names, others will sneer if you get too close. It’s a public misperception of folks without homes.
4) There’s no privacy. You’ll probably want to be near others, anyway, as there is safety in numbers and street sleepers are often targeted victims of violence. Figure out where the public bathrooms are, too.
5) Finding a job is a bit more challenging. You can use the computers at the public libraries for free but only for so much time. Since you won’t have a phone, you’ll need to give potential employers your email address. You should try to check your email often and the library has air conditioning/heat and public restrooms.
6) You’ll be hungry. Expect it. Go to where the food is…and that means dumpsters behind restaurants and grocery stores. Often good food is tossed out because of expiration dates or too much cooked. You can try and panhandle near restaurants but in many places that’s now illegal. You may also want to scope out food pantries and soup kitchens.
7) Plenty of places offer free clothes. Hopefully you can find a way to get to these agencies. Sometimes they even have blankets. You’ll need one – it will be getting colder at night in a few months.
8) Transportation – it’s walking. You’ll do a lot of it.
9) Make friends. This means make friends with other homeless folks. The seasoned homeless will know the safest places to sleep, the best places to find food, and about other organizations that provide help to the homeless.
10) If you can find a free phone, call 2-1-1 (just dial those three numbers) and talk to the helpful person on the end of the line. They are trained to help you find help like temporary shelter, food, and programs to help you get back on your feet.
Maybe Joanie should have stopped loving Chachi so much and planned for her future better. If Joanie, with all her Hollywood money couldn’t avoid being homeless, why are you so sure it will never happen to you?
Photo courtesy of blog.prosperyourmind.