Panhandlers Are Usually Not Homeless

Guest writer was homeless in the Conejo Valley at the time he wrote this (February 2011). He has regained his footing since then and is doing great.

Panhandlers are Usually Not Homeless


Every day that passes, I again wish I was not a member of a growing group of Americans, known as the invisible homeless.  Today, as usual, I am presented with a unique, but not totally unexpected set of challenges, which are aggravated by my homelessness.  Beginning with my stress level, which is higher than usual today, sometimes resulting in heat flashes.  Then continuing on, I’ve been sneezing occasionally, with a frequent runny nose.  Those symptoms appear in conjunction with some nagging muscle aches, coupled with a feeling of weakness, both physically and mentally. Does that describe anything that you’ve dealt with?

Living homeless, I’ve also experienced a wide range of weather conditions, specifically wide temperature changes, relentless winds, seasonal circumstances and of course moisture.  On those days when I don’t have any work scheduled, “the silence”, which is simply a measure of the mental fatigue and depression, that I live with, is also an unfriendly complaint, exacerbated by my inconsistent sleeping habits.  The lack in either physical or mental activity greatly contributes to my depression.  Living through these never-ending and ultimately exhausting conditions, day in and day out, I’ve learned that these circumstances continue to have an adverse effect on my overall health.

I’ve concluded that I have a mild cold at the moment, but understanding my homeless living conditions, it’s reasonable to assume my ill health could easily turn into something more serious.  I will pay a visit the local drug store, where I may purchase some inexpensive vitamins, and likely a decongestant, which I pray will provide some relief of my more annoying symptoms.

When I’m fortunate to have a commitment during the day, I’m often relieved mentally because these activities stimulate both refreshing thought and often conversation regarding the task at hand.  Frankly, any exertion seems to act as a healing agent that relieves the frequent mental fatigue that regularly extinguishes my mind.  When I have activities scheduled, I’m also happy to enjoy the feeling of being needed, perhaps wanted, and reminded that there is a so much life outside of my own homelessness, and declining state of health.

Occasionally I’m asked my opinion on whether I would give money directly to the increasing number of homeless on the streets.  Perhaps there’s an individual you see regularly, panhandling in your community, presenting a typical card-board sign, asking for food or a donation.  Sadly, I answer, “Unless you know the individual personally, you should not give money directly to any homeless person panhandling on the street”.  If you’re ever approached by a homeless person and asked for money, I would respond with something like “Sorry, not today”. While I believe everyone deserves respect, my response is based on what I’ve seen most homeless repeatedly do with the money they manage to collect from panhandling.  Your donation would be better utilized by a community church or rescue mission, who will likely try and serve all of the poor in your area, who truly need it.

Any homeless person who is panhandling regularly, has in my opinion already accepted their homelessness, likely with little or no plans to turn their life around.  “Statistics show that most panhandlers are not homeless, and most homeless do not panhandle.  For some, panhandling has become a career, and a lucrative one”, which has been reported from the U.S Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.  In fact, a few savvy panhandlers I’ve seen, boast of making $15 an hour or more during daylight hours on a busy corner, and that money in turn, is typically used to support their destructive habits or dependencies.

I work for the day when I’m no longer a member of the invisible homeless, and have a place to truly rest my head.  Perhaps then, I will not resent so much the physical and mental fatigue I often carry around with me.



Homeless Prevention Rental Help Available to Ventura County Residents


Through the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009, the Ventura County Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP) makes federal funds available to local residents who are homeless or about to be evicted. County and city government have joined efforts to operate HPRP, ensuring that eligible County residents receive help when they need it most.

Basic eligibility criteria includes:

  • Homeless or facing eviction within 21 days
  • Household income limits based on family size
  • You have no other options or resources to find or keep housing
  • Financially able to maintain housing after rental assistance is received
  • Ventura County resident and U.S. citizen or qualified resident alien

Eligible HPRP applicants may receive various types of assistance, including eviction prevention rental payment, rental deposit, short-term rental payment, credit counseling, utility deposit/payment, moving and storage costs and case management. Payments go directly to vendors.

Case managers work closely with clients to develop and implement a service plan to ensure that they receive full benefits.  Through HPRP, clients are stabilized in housing and assisted comprehensively to help ensure that they do not face homelessness again.

Visit or call 805.385.8585 for additional information.

Nearly 1,900 are Homeless in Ventura County According to a February 2011 Survey

The Ventura County Homeless and Housing Coalition ( coordinated a count of homeless individuals in Ventura County in February 2011.

A person was considered homeless in the survey if he/she fell within the Department of Housing and Urban Development definition, residing in 1) places not meant for human habitation, such as cars, parks, sidewalks and abandoned buildings, 2) in an emergency shelter or 3) in transitional housing for homeless persons.

In its April 2011 report, the Coalition counted 1,872 homeless individuals, keeping in mind that the count understated the actual number due to the complexities involved. This was 3% higher than the prior year tally of 1,815. In 2009 the count was 2,193. Here are some details from the latest count:

  • 88% were adults and 12% were children
  • 6% of the adults counted were 62 or older
  • 68% of the adults were men and 32% were women
  • 157 families were counted, consisting of 396 people

Of the 1,872 reported homeless, 1427 answered the question of what city they slept in last night; 528 were in Oxnard, 445 were in Ventura, 178 in Simi Valley, 69 in unincorporated areas, 65 in Thousand Oaks, 45 in Santa Paula, 30 in Camarillo, 26 in Ojai, 15 in Port Hueneme, 9 in Fillmore, 6 in Moorpark and 11 in other cities.

The Coalition noted this count does not include people at risk of becoming homeless. In 2000, there were 42,000 households, consisting of about 130,000 people (20% of Ventura County at that time) whose households earned less than $25,000 per year. Additionally, 8%, or close to 64,000 Ventura County residents, were living below the poverty level*.

If you encounter someone in need, refer them to this list of Ventura County homeless shelters and hot meal providers.

* 2011 Poverty Guidelines issued by the Department of Health and Human Services is $10,890 for a 1 person family, $14,710 for 2, $18,530 for 3, $22,350 for 4 and so on.

The Road to an Island of Solace

Guest writer was homeless and out and about around the Conejo Valley at the time he wrote this. He has since regained his footing and is doing great.

Today after wrestling with the cold all night inside my van, I woke up tired at the crack of light.  I grow more and more impatient with my homelessness.  My tears again are a simple reminder that I’m still alive. My schedule will first take me to McDonald’s, where I will enjoy a dollar coffee, free Wi-Fi and where I’ll wait until I have to go to work.  I have little money, and less gasoline to keep my 4-wheel home moving.  My on-going battle with a head-cold has left me congested, and my energy level has yet to return to normal.

Lately the cold, wet weather has interfered with what work I am blessed with, and as a result at times I sometimes feel miserable.  In a number of stories that I’ve written recently, I’ve expressed a increasing level of unhappiness with my life, and my homelessness.  I’m reminded of Viggo Mortensen from the movie “The Road”, a post-apocalyptic tale of a man and his son trying to survive by any means possible.  Like Viggo, I want a clear course but have no map that will lead me to any island of solace.

An older gentleman sitting a few tables away glances over, and kindly asks me

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Over 3.2 Million Californians Seek Food Assistance in the CalFresh Program

Guest post by formerly homeless Conejo Valley resident, Lon V.

According to the California Department of Social Services (CDSS), at the end of 2010, more than 3,200,000 Californians participated in the federally funded California CalFresh program.  The Calfresh program, formerly known as Food Stamps and federally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), can add healthy and nutritious food to your table.

The food stamp benefits are given to you in the form on an ATM type debit card that the state CalFresh program funds, typically once per month.  You then utilize the card and associated PIN number to pay for your groceries at your favorite grocery stores.  You may only purchase unprepared food products; no paper products, pet products, certainly no alcohol or tobacco products.  You also cannot purchase deli products that are already prepared or products that you may open and eat immediately.

If you think about it, that does somewhat limit your possible food choices, especially if you’re homeless and you don’t have the means to cook anything.  Moreover, the homeless population cannot store many foods; therefore, you will often only buy what you plan to prepare and eat immediately.  Fresh foods will not last outdoors without spoiling, and you certainly cannot store any refrigerated products, so those are rarely purchased unless you intend to consume them right away.

The food stamp program, which dates back to the early 1960′s, does have a number of inherent shortcomings.  The first is the restriction on buying healthy, ready-to-ea

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Living As One of The Invisible Homeless in Ventura County

Guest post by (now) formerly homeless Conejo Valley resident, Lon V.

The Invisible Homeless

I frequently post about my own personal experiences while living as one of the invisible homeless in America.  My blog posts on the subject of homelessness are therapeutic for me and allow me to share my day to day experiences and insight on what’s sadly a growing trend in America.  As I’ve written before, the stress on living homeless can be deafening at times, and sometimes overwhelming both physically or emotionally.  I also believe often my stress level is reflected in my writings with posts specific to my day to day activities.  However sometimes, my posts are simply more level headed, offering my insight on today’s social issues that may effect myself and many Americans.  Ultimately, I concluded that that whatever topic I write about, as long as I am true to the subject and my writing; that’s the best I could really hope to do.

When I finally become comfortable and settle into a unique style of my own, I will decide on what my blog is really going to be consistently about.  Clearly my name in on the blogs header and my life as an invisible homeless man in America has caught the interest of many people. I thought to myself, perhaps I’m not so invisible anymore.  It’s amazing, I’ve received so many positive and encouraging emails from absolute, complete strangers.  Furthermore, I’ve forged several new wonderful and inspiring relationships with local leaders, and re-discovered family members who are now following my blog more closely.

The most remarkable relationships that I’ve been blessed with so far while being homeless  have come from two people, that I’ve been so fortunate to re-discover.  One is my older sister, Debbie, who lives in Florida.  The second is my brothers ex-fiancee’ Tina, and my nephew, Ben, who both reside in South Carolina.  Why are these two relationships, perhaps more remarkable to me than the others at this time in my life?  Well first, because they’re family members, and it’s truly heart warming to me that these two are so interested in me, and understanding of the  obvious challenges that are ahead of me.  Second, like the good lord above, these two wonderful people don’t judge me or have any preconceptions about my circumstances.  They’re both keeping an eye on my well being as best they can, and they offer friendly, common sense guidance, whenever I ask for it.  They don’t push their opinions on me, they listen and ultimately offer constructive criticism if needed.  It

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