- Anyone can become homeless...a divorce, long term injury or illness, fleeing from violence, losing a job...all of these can move a person from a 3000 square foot home in the 'burbs to a downtown alley.
- Alcohol, drug, domestic violence, and mental health issues seem to exacerbate such situations.
- Stuff to have if you're homeless: a PO Box, ID (passport, ID card, driver's license), a prepaid cell phone would be nice, a bank account, social skills, a monthly bus pass, a monthly membership to the Y or a gym (for showers), a library card (for free computer use), contacts in the community for couch surfing opportunities also would be nice.
- Stuff to be if you're homeless: presentable (if you look homeless you seem to be hassled and targeted much more often), creative and clever and able to identify and take advantage of any opportunity that arises.
- Challenges: finding a dry place to sleep every night, the possibility of violence, social stigma, being shunned by society/friends/former coworkers/family, not being able to trust anyone in your new circle of associates.
- Resources: free meals in the community for the homeless, social service benefits (food stamps, maybe housing, etc), discounts (low income bus passes, low income cell phone service).
- Cars: some homeless have cars or motor homes which adds a bit to the person's safety, dry sleep environment, and ability to get around however paying for gas, maintenance, repairs, and insurance can be a challenge.
I guess the best way to avoid becoming homeless would be to stay sober and sane, have a wide variety of contacts who would help you out if needed, keep money in an emergency fund (especially if you are in a domestic violence situation or if your job is in a tenuous situation), and be proactive in whatever situation you find yourself in (ie: some people see their job being more finite than expected yet they still keep shopping and spending like they will have the job forever or they know they are losing their house but make no concerted effort to find another place to live or a bundle of new jobs to pay for it).