You have nothing, How do you build a life?

Say you suddenly find your self in a medium sized city in the United States. You have no money. You have no identification. You have no possesions, save the clothes on your back. You have no one to call for help.

How would you build a life? How would you survive? How would you find food or shelter? I would prefer if use of state aid was avoided.

I think it mostly depends on your health, mental and physical, and your acquired skill set. Without any skills I suppose you would have to show up at the day-labor hall, or apply for some menial jobs. If you are a good enough “salesman”, you can pretty much get whatever you need. I suppose I would stay in some cheap hotel or try to get a job where a room was provided. If I could only make minimum wage, I would try my best to learn a new skill or “hookup” with some business that would train me.

I’m sure it wouldn’t be easy, but I think it really depends on your health, and your outlook on life.

I like to think I could still manage somehow, but who knows…

Priorities: food, and some kind of shelter and warmth. The local homeless shelters, I guess, but I don’t suppose they’re all that safe from predators, so I know I’d need to keep my eyes open. I’d try to find out what local churches have some kind of charity program.

Since I don’t intend to stay homeless, I’d try as soon as possible to stop looking like a transient. Hygiene is important; shaving is important. There’s a lot to be said for attitude, as well. Yes, I can sort of imagine that holding on to a good attitude would be tough. No, we don’t know what we can do until we’re really tested.

The lack of a Social Security card would be tough. Don’t know how I’d get around that one, but I imagine there are ways, maybe.

From the OP, I presume I’d still have my education, not that I’d try to walk in anywhere off the street - I’m homeless, please hire me as a professional; I’ll do a good job, trust me. No, I’d try for a laborer job, then try to let my boss know (without offense) that if he needs help filling out all those damned forms, maybe I can help.

I don’t know if I’d make it, but I’d try.

Interesting premise. I just hope nobody from Fox is reading this. This has “reality show” written all over it.

Marry rich.

Can you get into a cheap hotel without ID these days?

OK, if a guy, find out where the day laborers hang out looking for yard work, etc. It might be a Home Depot.

You might get $8 or $10 per hour in cash at the end of the day. Or no job at all…

You could try asking for money as a homeless, who knows what you may get after eight hours asking.

If you got six hours’ work at 8 dollars, that’s $48, say the guy gives you $50 and drops you off somewhere. Ask him to drop you off at Target, and buy a sleeping bag? and get food and hide in some landscaping somewhere for the first night?–that’s assuming you can’t find a hotel that won’t ask for ID.

If you get no job at all, maybe you begged a few dollars. Look for homeless shelter, if they are full ask how others cope. Maybe locate a city bus that runs all night, out to the end of the line and back, and see if the driver might not kick you off when he realizes.

That gets you through the first 18 hours. There must be something better, though.

oh sheesh, not another reality show

You know, that’s all so depressing let’s change it, let’s say you spend the first day locating/making a friend, who will set you up and get you a job!

Well, here in my town I’d hike over to the Rescue Mission, after finding out where it is. They provide food, shelter, and have programs for just what the OP described. Help out at the mission, get a good rep for references, and they will help you find a job.

Several years ago I saw a TV show where they basically had three teams of 2 in each team. They were given a car (a Yugo, I think), a full tank of gas, and a quarter, and nothing else. They had to get to the opposite coast of the US. The first one across won, or something like that.

The first thing they had to do was get money to refill the tank, or they weren’t going to get very far. This put them in pretty much the same situation as the OP. All three teams came up with something different. The only one I recall was that one team bought flowers from somewhere and sold them on the street corner, which netted them about $20. The teams did various other things along the way to make money, like begging a car dealership to let them wash all the cars on the lot for something like $20 or $30. The owner of the car dealership said they were doing an awful job, but he felt sorry for them.

All three teams made it across the US, though one team had a bit of a panic about having enough money for the last toll at the end. The show was proof that a little creativity and a lot of desperation go a long way.

I have heard that fairly attractive white female beggars (who are the biggest “wage” earners demographics-wise in the hobo market) make an average of $40,000 a year if they beg ten hours a day every day. I’d do that. In fact, looking at my paycheck, I’m sort of wondering why I don’t do it now. Must be that pesky pride.

My initial reaction to the OP was: head for the nearest police station and have them run my prints to establish my identity. My prints are on record all over the national databases. then use that to get new ID, which would enable me to tap into all the resources that I have. But of course, that wasn’t what the OP was trying to get at. Barring that, I’d turn myself in to the nearest INS office. Let them figure out how I got into the country without ID. In the meantime, holding means a roof and three squares.

Busking isn’t hard. Find a handy unclaimed streetcorner or offramp, and start with the hard-luck story. Stay clean and neat and polite.

Like silenus, my fingerprints should be on file. ID solves a lot of my problems right there. Assuming that somehow calling friends or relatives is not an option (and I have lots of cousins I can beg for help), I still have a few choices. I can check into a homeless shelter, which will give me food and shelter and probably some aid in finding a job and a permanent place to live. I still have a semester’s worth of a scholarship back at my old college, if I could scrape together the money or hitchhike my way to Mississippi I’ve can stay in the dorm for a few months. From there I can make new plans to keep myself alive.

If ID isn’t an option for some reason, I can always run off with the hippies. Any medium-sized city is bound to have a band of Rainbow Kids coming in or going out. I ask around, find a band willing to take me, and ride the roads. I could live like that indefinitely, criss-crossing the nation, traveling from Gathering to Gathering. If I want to settle down I can find a commune or a hippie village like in Taos, NM. Maybe not the most glamorous lifestyle, but I could keep body and soul together.

I’m curious about this, where’d you hear it?

No cite, but the figure seems believable. If you do the math it comes out to just under eleven dollars an hour.

The catch is the number of hours involved. Most people wouldn’t work a seventy hour a week job without ever having a day off for $40000 a year.

Assuming in this scenerio that my friends and family don’t exist and I basically just fell from the sky with no trace of where I came from…

Find a job that pays under the table.

Try to buy fake documents so I can have an identity.

Failing that… well sad to say but deliberately getting myself arrested would be an option I’d consider as a last resort. At least in a jail cell I’d get shelter and food.

Been there, done that. NYC in 1981. I ended up there with no job, little money, no place to stay.

It was during spring & summer. I use to sleep in the pubic library during the day and Central Park at night. I would pick up coins from the street until I had 60 cents for a cup of coffe, go into a diner, use the bathroom to wash up, get coffee and take food off of abandoned plates. It’s a really, really crappy way to live.

I finally found a job working in a small card/gift shop over the holidays. There was a small room with a bath in the back, and the owner let me stay there for working under the table. Once I had some money together, I rented a nasty roach infested basement room, and worked my way up to my own apartment and a full time job.

Being in that situation sucks. People take personal hygenie for granted until they don’t have it. Being hungry is bad too–my weight fell below 100 pounds. Safety is always an issue, and I don’t think I would have gotten through the winter if I hadn’t improved my life.

I guess I’d probably start begging. Try to squirrel away enough to get a room in an ultra-cheap hotel. Please, please, put me in a big city. I don’t want to be in a small-town in the USA with no money and no prospects and no white skin!

A Houston TV station did a sweeps-week thing a couple of years ago where they “exposed” panhandlers on streetcorners. They followed one guy that worked a busy corner all day long with a “Homeless - Please Help. God Bless” sort of sign. At sunset, he climbed on a bus and rode downtown to one of the transient hotels. Turns out he was a regular there, pretty much had his own room. They got him to turn out his pockets - he’d pulled in about $150 in cash, tax free. And he did that at least 5 days a week.

They asked him what he did with the money. His response: he gave some of it to his friends, bought some food, paid for the hotel room and drank up the rest.

Sorry to continue the hijack, but around here, we have a few areas with regulars who panhandle - they have interviewed the officers from local PD’s who have arrested them - one woman whose regular spot was right outside of Busse Woods (in fact that is the address the cops have for her) is regularly busted with no less than several hundred dollars on her. She makes out like a bandit. So to speak.

Annie-XMas, I have so much respect for you after hearing that story - you rock, girl.

I did volunteer work in a soup kitchen for awhile, so I’m familiar with the type of resources that typically exist in a medium- or large-sized U.S. city. There are a LOT of places that want to help people. To find one, I’d ask a street person or a police officer or a minister. Once you find one place, they can direct you to others. In Memphis, for example, there is one or more “soup kitchens” open every day, so keeping fed is not a problem. There are plenty of homeless shelters, although most take men only. Once you’ve tapped into the help system, there are an amazing number of people who want to help, and in addition to food and shelter, you can find clothes, showers, clothes washers, and work opportunities.

The people for whom all this help was created are often not-so-good at being able to use it to pull themselves out of the hole; they’re often of low intelligence or mentally ill or alcoholics or drug addicts or they just plain choose to live on the streets. An intelligent, determined, non substance abusing person should be able to create a stable life (permanent residence, job) for themselves pretty quickly.

Re-establishing identity would seem to be the hard part (although there are probably resources available to help with that too). My fingerprints are on file.

I can get a copy of my birth certificate by sending a form and $15 (which is suddenly a lot of money!). A birth certificate isn’t much use as identification though. I know my Social Security Number; I’ve never had to actually show my SS card to get employed (maybe different now?), but I did have to show it to get a driver’s license.

According to the Social Security website, idenitification is required to get a replacement card; birth certificates are not acceptable.

Millions of NYC immigrants were in something of the same situation 100 years ago. However they had ethnic areas they could go to for support.

My biggest concern would be ID. I would probably buy one of those books about reestablishing your identity (paladin press sells them) and build up a new identity. Then work two jobs and save everything until I could afford a cramped apartment with several roommates, still saving money. Then probably try to go to community college a few years down the road.