So I just discovered Best of Craiglist and saw a post by a 20-something guy from San Francisco titled "Thoughts from a homeless guy now that I'm back on my feet." It actually had great insight for people who do not know what it's like for a homeless person. Even thinking about stories like The Pursuit of Happiness where some people simply do not have a choice but to be homeless.
Anyway, from a research/design and just learning about people/life/perspective, its good to know that people are always open to share.
Here's a (lengthy) excerpt from his post:
Okay, so what are the things that I really appreciate?
-- Light switches: In a shelter, lights come on, lights come off and you have no say. The ability to control your own lighting is a big deal.
-- Access to toilets: Ever hear someone mention how those 'disgusting' homeless guys pee outside? Where else should we? The search for a place to relieve yourself is a constant problem when you are on the streets.
-- Weather: I don't pay much attention to weather anymore. On the streets, weather is your life. A homeless guy rummaging for newspapers only wants one section, the weather report. If you can read, and you know the weather, you will have every dude you know asking what is coming.
-- Clean water: Are you impressed with the cleanliness of your average gas station restroom? How'd you like to drink from that sink?
-- Not losing things: Homeless shelters are life-savers in bad weather, but they are also a guarrantee that you will lose all your stuff. Either it's stolen while you sleep, or the shelter staff told you you have to leave it outside. Secret hiding places never are.
-- Night fear: You never stop being afraid of being outside at night. Think it's scary to have a breakdown at night? Someone gets mad, gets drunk or gets mean, you are going to be the first person they find.
-- Health Care Fear: Did you hear about that Bumfights video? It's BS! No homeless guys are going to fight. We never fight each other because everyone is afraid of getting hurt. You hear about guys who sprain their ankle and then die because they couldn't move for two weeks. Or, you hear about a guy who cuts his arm and his arm swells up the size of his leg. Little injuries kill. I was always terrified of getting hurt because of that.