Monday, November 7, 2016

When do they call you "homeless?"

This post is inspired by one written by Vanholio in which he tells of the various nomads in the world.
Mainstream US society tries to make something radical and perverse about having "no fixed address."
Society (and some of its laws) don't mind if you constantly wander, as long as you have some building somewhere you claim as "home." Take away that building and, presto, you're a bum, even though your day-to-day life is identical to the constant wanderers who never set foot in their "home."

Take your "home" with you wherever you go? That's radical and perverse. Not wanting to be attached to a building? That's totally beyond most of society's understanding. Therefore it's highly suspicious, and therefore probably criminal.

A threat to society?

By society's standards, I'm homeless. I live in a van, fer crying out loud. That's what losers do. That's what sketchy people do. That's what drug addicts and child molesters do. Society doesn't care that I do it by choice, that I'm retired, that I have money, that I behave myself, that I just want to travel cheaply. No building = homeless.

What about those people in big ass RVs? Funny how no one thinks of them as homeless. Everyone's fine with John and Mary spending their golden years drifting around the continent. Society doesn't think to ask if they have a building somewhere. Because, money.

"Homeless" is actually about class. Exude enough upper-middle-class respectability and people give you a pass. They might even envy your freedom. But do the exact same thing as John and Mary in a low-budget way? The pariah alarms go off. Danger! Danger! Poor people!

Let's do an experiment. Take John and Mary out of their shiny new RV and put them in one that has seen better days. What does society think of them now? Put them in an even more tired RV, and so on, down, down, down the economic scale. When do they cross the line, when does society become uncomfortable with them and start thinking of them as undesirable transients, as poor, as homeless?

Can a lone guy in a self-converted cargo van ever rise above that line? I don't think so. People who figure out I'm not a tradesman, that I'm actually living in the van, will probably put me in the homeless column. People who see me camped on public land on the edge of town definitely will. I'm fine with that. At least until society feels it has to drive me off.


  1. Really i careless of what they think
    As a native Tuscarora before the coming of the invaders we roam this land and changed with the season the earth is our home
    Land or sea

  2. Great read. I hope more than the van dwellers take the time to read and consider your point, and the van dwellers life.

  3. Al, you nailed down right. Excellent read !

  4. Definitely, "homeless" is about class, at least in terms of whether you "pass" or not. For the "homeless" person, I think it's about opportunities and resources, which is tied up with class. Vanholio has enough money, education, job skills, etc. that he can get a sticks-and-bricks home anytime he chooses. I'm merely houseless. Some people are forced into vehicle living because they lack options. Those folks are homeless.

    1. I agree with this. Some vandwellers truly are homeless, and others are not, even though they might live in the same kind of van. Feeling like you have a choice in the matter and alternative options is what makes the difference.

      For me I actually have no money and no income, and couldn't choose to rent right now if I wanted to. But, I chose that lifestyle and I could easily choose to get a job again and save money if I wanted. I'm educated and I know how to act middle class. So I'm not homeless

  5. People fear what they don't understand. Van dwelling falls into that category. We have friends who lost a very successful business and moved into an Airstream a few years ago. My initial thought was "wow, I feel so badly for them that they will have to spend retirement that way." Now that I'm closer to retirement and investigating this lifestyle, I totally understand the appeal. But that transformation only comes through education.

  6. This changed recently. Now even the those who live full time in big RVs are being asked to provide to the government a "real" address. So more and more people are being forced to lie about where they live to avoid being declared a person of no worth.

  7. It is the stinky crazies who park in their garbage for weeks who give the rest of us a bad name!!!

  8. Who is this lady you have shrunk? Was she the owner of this house that you camp in front of? Do not try and shrink me gypsy, I serious.

  9. Fact ... the weed is freed...rumor Trump rigged it. All is as it ever was.