If you absolutely can’t stand the thought of anyone being homeless, and you run a homeless shelter, do you kick people out when they find a job and are able to afford some kind of rent?

Updated Jul 27, 2019

I didn’t work there, but saw how things operated.

It was very small in “shelter” terms – Just a house with 9 bedrooms.

It also wasn’t free. They ran it with the micromanaging, condescending. thinly-disguised-contemptuous attitude as if it were a free shelter, but actually charged rent. The amount was seriously overpriced for the conditions (crowding, micromanaging etc).

However, they didn’t view the residents as paying customers. Because the general model was for the government welfare department to pay the residents’ dole directly to this place. The residents were all viewed as bludgers, (primarily welfare mothers), with the welfare department being the actual customer. And yes, the welfare mothers crammed as many as three or four children into the room with them. Said children were being raised poorly, and will likely repeat the cycle in another ten years or so.

It was all about chronic dependency. People for whom the term, “no-hoper” was invented. Higher education, or even basic, minimal employment just weren’t on the radar for these people.

They called the people living there “residents”, not “tenants”, and that wasn’t just to be polite or friendly.

The rent was probably set at the maximum they could get based on either welfare regulations, or just the maximum to where the residents had just barely anything left over.

Stays were theoretically for a maximum of three months, but there were suggestions that they didn’t actually enforce this.

They provided a room and food. Residents had to buy their own soap, toothpaste, transportation, etc., with the small amount left over after the rent.

You would have been in very serious difficulty if you had any one-time or ongoing medical costs.

This place acted like they were doing people a personal favour by allowing people to live there. It was owned by some allegedly religious entity, and the abusive manager claimed to be religious. But it was really a business, profiting off of fleecing desperate people.

The deal included rotating duties of cooking dinner, and also cleaning common areas (bathrooms, kitchen, dining room, etc), as a condition of living there. Which meant that, a childfree resident had to clean up the daily mess made by other people’s children.

It also included a level of micromanaging rules that no normal landlord could get away with. No visitors in your room, no booze, all kinds of intrusive questions (including finances and medical information) and “here is what you are going to do about your pathetic situation”.

One command was to apply for long-term welfare housing (with a very long waiting list), with the expectation of long-term welfare dependence.

Another command was to see a “budget counselor”, who would demand a detailed accounting of every dollar you received and spent. So that they could dictate what you were allowed to buy.

The manager and a night supervisor (i.e. adult babysitter) actually reacted negatively towards a resident who got a part-time job.

They lied (because they were generally dishonest and disrespectful). Manager claimed that, the job was willful misbehaviour, because it allegedly distracted said resident from “dealing with” a recent bereavement. Babysitter claimed that, said resident wasn’t mentally fit to be working at a job with other people. It was absolute gaslighting.

The manager confronted the resident, and stated that, a condition of continuing to live there was to get diagnosed with a psychiatric disability, and apply for disability welfare benefits. Despite the fact that said resident was working part-time and attending university part-time, and was a sane, rational, reasonably-functioning person. The manager wanted this person to just give up on life, throw away any future potential, and become one of the totally dependent no-hopers.

It was a blatant attempt at gaslighting a person who happened to be having a very sad moment in life.

Why the negative reaction? My guess is a few reasons:

  1. When a person receives over a certain income from working, the welfare department penalises their dole. This could result in that benefit being lower than the rent amount. Which would mean that, this place would need to arrange for the resident to directly pay some or all of the rent. With the risk of non-payment.
  2. There may have been the idea of a disability benefit paying more money, which the facility could take, based on allegedly providing more services (i.e. micromanaging). And/or the idea of demanding that, the tenant’s entire benefit be paid directly to the manager of the facility, since you can’t trust crazy people with money.
  3. A working person would have a position to feel like a paying customer. With expectations and standards. Like objecting to the poor conditions, and the bad behaviour and attitudes of the other residents and their children.
  4. A person who was working, with good credit history, zero criminal history, zero eviction history, generally adult functioning, childfree, and only low-income due to being a university student… just did not fit with the business model, or the contemptuous mental model of residents.
  5. Said person might actually have other alternatives, and might not be such an easy target for financial exploitation.
  6. There was always at least one empty room in the house. So, if someone moved out (due to working and/or refusing to tolerate the conditions), they couldn’t just reload the room with another profit-making resident.
  7. A working person didn’t “fit in” with the other residents. One of whom tried to instigate conflict based on envy and tall poppy syndrome.

This place actually wanted people who were shut out of education, jobs, and regular housing rentals. They wanted people who had/perceived zero other options. Who were terrified of being booted out on the street. And who would submit to bullying and micromanagement, while being used for revenue.

Have you ever stealth camped?

Updated Jul 9, 2019

Yes.

Spent consecutive 84 nights (12 weeks) sleeping outdoors. With a sleeping bag and bivy, etc. In a medium-sized public park, with concealed areas. With a nearby place to take morning showers, and spend the days in a library. And even held down a part-time job.

A few people were aware that I was doing this, and some others apparently weren’t.

Camping was partly related to financial poverty.

However, it was also much better, both financially and mentally, compared to the previous living arrangement. Which involved an overpriced, overcrowded boarding house, with low-functioning people. And an amazingly abusive manager who didn’t grasp the concept of personal boundaries. I had zero interest in getting sucked down into the “no-hoper” mentality, or dealing with the types who like to exploit and micromanage such people.

A large negative impact of being poor is the kind of scummy people that you end up interacting with, and being surrounded by. The solitude of camping was quite a relief.

It was also highly therapeutic, as I was mentally processing a certain very rare and wonderful person’s premature death, and needed personal space for awhile. The discomfort of camping isn’t such a big deal, compared to the profound confrontation with mortality and grief.

The main impetus to stop the camping, and get a rented room, was just due to lowering temperatures and increasing rain.

A huge thing about it was just getting over fear. And developing self-confidence, which might help with other aspects of life. It helps with priorities (e.g. reducing materialism), and developing a sense of freedom, and appreciating the present moment.

Previous stealth camping was as a rather young person, doing extended car-sleeping in L.A. and S.F. Which, in retrospect, was reasonably OK, as well.

Might do extended camping again at some point in the future. Either for the mental space. Or even just to avoid paying rent.

If you and one person of the opposite gender were the last people alive, what would you do?

Updated Sep 27

The problem would be the likely combination.

If the rest of humanity were wiped out, in a plague, an asteroid strike, a zombie apocalypse, or a nuclear war, the Earth would be inherited by microbes, cockroaches, Keith Richards, and me.

We probably wouldn’t be a very attractive or healthy-living couple, and I shudder to think of our potential offspring. And I’d be more interested in the microbes.

At what age should a child be able to make their own decisions without parental interference?

Updated Aug 4

It depends on four factors:

  1. What exactly is meant by “child”? Many people seem to think that parental authority should be permanent, after the “child” is legally and functionally an adult.
  2. What kinds of decisions, leading to what kind of risks and consequences?
  3. Who is bearing the responsibility? Who is doing the work, paying the money, exposed to the risks, experiencing the consequences (either good or bad)?
  4. There is a pervasive societal worship of parents (especially mothers), and a delusion that they always know better than their offspring, and always want what is best. In reality, plenty of parents actually don’t know better than their offspring, and don’t want what is best. Plenty of parents are severely incompetent in making their own decisions. Plenty of parents are savagely abusive, and have earned exactly zero respect from their offspring (of any age). This is one of the most taboo things that you could possibly say to most people, especially regarding mothers.

I like the idea that parents aren’t raising children, but rather, are raising future adults. Who will have the right and the responsibility to make their own decisions.

Decision-making is somewhat like a technical skill. Kind of like learning to read and write at a child’s level, which is the basis for later reading and writing at a much higher adult level.

Being raised by a dangerously violent and incompetent parent had a lot of downsides (including society’s aforementioned denial and victim-blaming). However, that person’s blatantly disordered thought process and behaviour taught me very early on that I needed to rely on myself in making decisions, as soon as possible. And I needed to dismiss that person and her “interference” from my life as soon as possible.

That person seriously believed that her children would remain children permanently. And that, at 30 or 40 years old, we would still have exactly the situation as if we were 5 or 10. Including ongoing violence. With zero right or ability to make any of our own decisions. There seem to be many allegedly adult people out there who surrender to parents like that, and remain dependent (financially, emotionally, etc), and remain under Mommy’s thumb.

I’ve always been of the view that, responsibility and control are a package deal. A large portion of society adamantly disagrees. As a general pattern, women are much worse about this than men, because women often aren’t taught to become fully independent adults, ever.

Examples:

  1. When I under ten years old, I decided that I had zero reason to believe in any religion, god, or afterlife. I was directly told that I “have to” believe in those things. I dismissed that, and made my own decision, because nobody got to dictate what I believe, no matter how young I was.
  2. It isn’t just parents, but also other adults, and society in general, telling children what to think, do, etc. And telling children what they “have to”think and do in their future adulthood. When I was about seven, one of my grandmothers told me that I would “have to” eventually get married and have children. I had already made a clear decision on that matter, and am still single, childfree, and going to stay that way. A decision for which society (women especially) have shown great disrespect, as if I am somehow still not really an adult.
  3. When I was a teenager (under 18), my mother chose to relocate to an impoverished area, solely because the rent was lower compared to prosperous areas. She needed the low rent in order avoid employment, while enjoying a free ride on child support (i.e. estranged-wife support) payments. She made the bad decision, but I was bearing the bad consequence of being in a place with poor employment prospects.
  4. Shortly after I turned 18, she made an even worse decision to move to an even more impoverished, isolated, racist, homophobic, crime-riddled, small-minded podunk rural town (population 3,500, with over half being below the official “poverty line”), in order to mooch off of her own parents. Again, her bad decision, with the expectation that I would bear the bad consequences. And that I would just go along with the delusion that employment wasn’t necessary, and that acting like an adult wasn’t necessary for either of us. Read that as many times as it takes to sink in. This was a parent who believed that she had the authority to dictate that her adult offspring would never be “allowed” to move out from under her roof. And would never be capable of doing so, since we would never be employed. At any age.

I dismissed that person, and any “interference” by moving across the country to stay with my father, in a city that had much better job prospects. Plus, he was onboard with the concept of me becoming a responsible, independent adult.

I got a job, put a few paycheques in the bank, and parted ways with my father, when I was still 18. I started bearing full, 100% responsibility for my life. I got up and went to work every day. I paid the rent on my apartment, and put the food on my table. I bore risks, and experienced consequences (both good and bad). I just assumed that’s what people did at that age, and didn’t anticipate the social condescension and disapproval that I would receive.

From that point on, I have never asked either parent’s “permission” for anything, and have never even sought their advice, for any decision of any kind. And I was in some very adult situations, making very adult decisions, and doing some very adult things. At an age when many people are still too afraid to move out of their mommy’s house. Although I’ve been acquainted with people who had to be independent at an age younger than I was, and who had even worse backgrounds.

My parents strongly disapproved of most of my life decisions. That’s tough luck for them, because they don’t bear the responsibility, and therefore, they have zero authority.

A lot of parents like to tell teenagers (or young alleged adults) “My house, my rules”. I always took that to mean that, the moment I started financially supporting myself, it was going to be my rules. This applies equally to people who start working and supporting themselves at 15 or 16.

If they don’t pay, they have no say.

Even as a teenager, I knew that all of the responsibility was going to be on me, to whatever level was legally and financially viable. That responsibility involved decisions on medical matters, sexuality, alcohol, the people with whom I associate, education, work, geographic location, etc, etc.

It never entered my mind (at any age) to consider their opinions or solicit their advice on any of those things. At 18, I could legally enforce my control position, and act on my decisions, with zero reference to them.

If I decided to relocate thousands of kilometres, alone, I got to do that.

If I decided to have sex with another consenting adult, I got to do that. It’s intensely creepy how some alleged adults worry what their parents might think about this.

If I made decisions on medical matters, education, work, alcohol, the people with whom I associate, how I spend my limited amount of time, etc, etc, I got to do that.

Now, here is the ongoing issue:

Society (especially women) has shown an extreme disrespect for my “responsibility=control” principle.

As an example, I have been directly told, as a middle-aged adult, that I “have to”be geographically domiciled in the same town as my mother. So I can reattach the umbilical cord. Submitting to her authority on the matter, as if I were still a child, while I bear the negative adult consequences. (The fact that she has stated the intent to call the police with false accusations if she ever sees me again, is apparently considered irrelevant.)

And it isn’t just about submitting to parental authority. There is also a pervasive, incredibly arrogant assumption of random-acquaintance authority. Having people whom I’ve just met thinking that they can dictate my life decisions. With an attitude that is very much like a parent dictating to a small child. Including situations where I am the same age, or even older than the other person.

I suspect that, people who are themselves parents get accustomed to micromanaging and dictating to their children, and keep that same “authority-I-know-best-you-have-to” attitude when they are dealing with other adults.

There is a pattern where, I can make a statement to a new random acquaintance, about a situation or decision that I have either already made and acted upon, or that I may make in the future. And they automatically think that I am actually just proposing a theoretical idea, and asking for them to dictate what I can or cannot do. Exactly like a child asking Mommy’s permission, being beholden to parental authority, and the “Mommy knows better than you” delusion.

Although I’ve certainly had numerous nonparents act that way, as well.

Has anyone ever gotten caught stealth camping? What happened?

Updated Jul 1

It’s been a really long time since I was in such a situation. There was a scary version, and an absurd version.

Back in the mid-90s, I had three separate police encounters while car-sleeping.

First, it was a residential side street in a somewhat high crime part of Los Angeles. In the middle of the night, I was awoken by a burglar alarm from a car parked in front of me. The two guys who were trying to break into it yelled and ran away. Then, I drove about a block down the street, to get away from the noise and attention-attraction of the alarm. It must have been a slow-crime night, because, a few minutes later, there were five police cars, and numerous yelling, flashlight-shining, agitated members of the LAPD surrounding me. I ended up standing in the middle of the street, handcuffed, being thoroughly frisked and questioned, and hoping that this wasn’t going to turn out to be some kind of Rodney King replay. They called in my car registration and driving license for checks, and did only a very brief physical search of the car. Eventually, they let me go.

I got the impression that, when they realised their mistake, they didn’t want for me to start taking down badge numbers, or filing complaints over their level of obnoxiousness towards an innocent person.

A couple of weeks later, another brief encounter involved one of the previous officers, so he reassured his obnoxious partner that, I was just a harmless bum.

The third time was in San Francisco, at a discreet, logical spot on a street next to Golden Gate Park (i.e, right next to some trees, without any footpath, and with the nearest houses on the other side of this major street). As part of Mayor Frank Jordan’s “Matrix” campaign to clean up homelessness, the SFPD were going down this street at around 5:30 AM, checking car registrations, running IDs for arrest warrants, and handing out misdemenor “Sleeping in a car between 10PM and 6AM” citations.

I asked if they had suggestions on where to park, and they actually referred me to a nearby smaller street, with a park, with a footpath, and houses a bit closer. This would have actually made me more of a nuisance to the respectable housed people in the vicinity.

Even more absurdly, they informed me that, all of those citations were being automatically dismissed by the court. So I showed up for the court date, just to confirm, and make sure that I wasn’t on the list. I recall checking this paper book thingy, and looking over to some suited guy, and announcing, “Looks like Mr. Kafka will have another continuance of his case today”. He frowned.

On the other hand, here in New Zealand, there is a lot of public negativity towards “freedom camping” by low-budget tourists. It’s a $300 fine if you are officially deemed to be “camping” within 200 metres of the nearest vehicle access. I recently saw a news article where a “working holiday” type of tourist was cited twice within a few days, parked near a work site and a hostel where he claimed to be staying, including once while he was awake and typing on his computer. It should be noted that, there is significant negativity towards foreigners, in general (either immigrants or tourists).

I’m not sure how aggressively the police here deal with regular, domestically-produced homeless bums. The Auckland City Council is trying to reduce people car-sleeping at the fuel tank farm on the waterfront, and apparently are increasing citations. But you can still see some people openly rough-sleeping in shop doorways and bus stops.

Other NZ cities, like Palmy, seem to have fairly low priority on policing for this, although obviously the newspapers don’t report every time somebody gets cited for camping or trespassing.

In numbers of people, it doesn’t even vaguely hint at approaching the scale of, for example, Los Angeles and San Francisco (especially the Skid Row, and Tenderloin districts, respectively, which aren’t “stealth” at all). That includes controlling for the population differences.

One issue with legally approaching stealth campers is just that- “legally approaching”. In my above-described experience in SF, there was a partial motivation of setting up law enforcement encounters with an excuse to stop-and-search. The publicly/politically claimed logic was that, citing somebody for sleeping in a park would escalate to searches that found illegal drugs, or to database checks that showed arrest warrants for serious violent crimes.

The New Zealand version is more xenophobic and economic. It relates to an image of spoiled, obnoxious, cheapskate foreigners carelessly driving around the country, leaving a trail of used toilet paper in their wake. They are seen with a, “Welcome, now fork over some money and go home” mentality.

In either case, the reality is very mixed. All kinds of people sleep rough at some point, or do so chronically. And they range from very evil/dangerous, to merely obnoxious, to rather nice type individuals.

Personally, I’ve considered doing some travelling with stealth camping (just a sleeping bag, etc), or otherwise, just saving money on rent during the summer. I’m a peaceful, considerate person, who cleans up after myself.

My real “getting caught” concern is a balance between avoiding police or security staff, but also avoiding being in a really dark, isolated, non-visible area where some violent-type person could find me sleeping.

Where would you settle down if you were the only human on the planet?

Updated Feb 6, 2018

That depends on what resources were available.

For example, if the world were just like it is now, but everybody else disappeared, I would live in a large city, so that I could salvage old buildings, food, fuel, vehicles, medical supplies, etc. Like Will Smith in, “I Am Legend”. But preferably without the zombies.

The place would need a reasonable climate; not too hot or cold. You would need to be able to grow food all year round, with leafy greens, broccoli, etc, going through the winter.

You don’t want to freeze to death, but you also don’t want to be in a tropical area with disease-carrying insects (e.g. mosquitoes with malaria).

You would need a reliable source of fresh water; either some kind of spring, or regular rain that you could collect in tanks as it drains off the roof of your house.

Reliable fishing would help, so you should be near the ocean, or a large lake. Perhaps someplace where you could use nets for crabs.

A decent climate would help you to keep some animals, like chickens, or a couple of cows that you could milk.

There are plenty of cows and sheep in my area, so I could stay fed for an extended period. This would be less available in some more urban areas. In some places, you would have to actively go hunting. Again, this is a climate issue.

If you could get some solar electric panels, they work best in middle latitudes.

Time-frame and transportation would be a factor. For example, I have zero clue about how to fly an airplane, or sail a boat, so, if it happened tomorrow, I would be confined to the island where I am now. In that case, I might head to a larger city, even if I had to walk for several weeks.

If all the cities and human-built infrastructure also disappeared, it would be much more difficult, but you could still survive with the right climate and food/water situation.