“I Used To Be Homeless”

by | Feb 20, 2019 | Formation, Reflections, Systemic change

Let me clarify! “I Used to be Homeless” is not my story. But it is a true story!

It is a story that appeared recently in the pages of Readers Digest.  It is the story of Mark Anthony DiBelloas told to Charlotte Hiulton Andersen.

I was homeless for the better part of 20 years and so I’ve lived a lot of places. Some of them are what you might think of as typical, like parks, beaches, overpasses, or shelters, but others might surprise you. When you’re homeless, your first priority is finding a safe place to sleep and sometimes that means you get creative. I’ve spent months living in an outdoor public bathroom, an airport, my car, a deserted cabin in the woods, and a storage locker (which felt so plush it didn’t really even feel like being homeless!). Perhaps the worst one was when I lived in a tractor-trailer; they accidentally locked me in for four days and I almost died.

It is the story of the lessons he learned from homelessness.

What he learned about homelessness

  • Homeless doesn’t always mean living on the streets
  • Homeless doesn’t equal uneducated
  • There isn’t just one reason why someone ends up homeless
  • Not all homeless people are jobless people
  • Some people are homeless by choice
  • Homeless people are not going to kill you
  • When you’re homeless one tiny mistake can quickly become a massive problem
  • Homelessness and poverty kills
  • Dental problems are the worst problems
  • Looking homeless is often worse than actually being homeless
  • Being homeless doesn’t have to be a life sentence

Visit the Readers Digest article for a brief paragraph about each insight.

How to help – Just look around you!

“People often ask me what they can do to help the homeless and I always say, “Just look around you!”

  • When someone has so little, it doesn’t take much to help. You can start by not judging the homeless.
  • Don’t say that they deserve to be in that situation—no human being deserves that.
  • After that, donate to causes that support the homeless in your community, like local churches, job outreach programs, or other charities.
  • If you’d donate to someone after a natural disaster, donate to a homeless person, they are living a natural disaster every single day.
  • Next, here are some more random acts of kindness random acts of kindness that can change someone’s life in an instant.

Visit Readers Digest for the happy ending in this case. But keep in mind what he says…

But I’m the exception to the rule. Escaping homelessness, once you’re trapped in the cycle, is incredibly difficult, and resources to help the homeless are terribly underfunded and under-served. If I’m being totally honest I still feel like I’m one mistake away from being out on the streets again and that’s terrifying.