|English: Homeless man in New York 2008, Credit Crises. On any given night in USA, anywhere from 700,000 to 2 million people are homeless, according to estimates of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
We spend three hours driving through parking garages, construction sites, and public parks. We walk the embankments of the canals and then the suburban transit stations, looking in the stairwells and tucked away corners. We pause at empty lots and look for cars with steamy windows or ones with ice on the inside of the glass.
Later that morning I talk with one of the men in the homeless drop in program at the agency where I work. I ask him if he will answer the survey for the Point In Time count. "Where is the last place you lived before becoming homeless?
He had to go back seven years before he remembered, "I used to have a place working with construction. They let me stay in the buildings as soon as the walls went up. Sometimes they let me do day labor. They paid me $25/day. There wasn't any electricity or water though." He and his friend stayed on the train during the night and have been homeless for so long that anything that has a roof and windbreak is considered housed. For seven plus years he's been figuring out how to be safe and survive and make it through the 9 degree nights.
Walking in someone else's shoes. It will get you every time.