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Down and Out in the US

Updated on January 29, 2014

New York City Homeless


Homeless and Unwanted

One of the worst things about being homeless I think, is not just the fact that you are homeless but the way that you are then treated. It is as if you are all alone in the world. You might think you are all alone. But it is surprising to find out really how many celebrities and writers have themselves been homeless.

It is something that they had to go through. It may have just made them into better people. Maybe they would have gone on to be famous anyway. But it may also have been something that inspired them to make something of themselves. It made them into stronger people. It made them also aware of the fact that they would be able to face anything that came their way.

I have also taken the liberty of including books with locations outside of the US. They are still books that are read in the US. That includes Dylan Thomas and George Orwell. I also do have celebs that are not from the US. But they did become famous here.

Marianne Faithfull Singer and Songwriter


Cary Grant

North by Northwest
North by Northwest | Source

No Laughing Matter

Movies and TV can sometimes make it seem as if it is a big joke to be homeless. But it is really no laughing matter. If people are thrown out on the street with nowhere to go, there is no telling what could happen to them.

In New York City there is an attempt made to get everyone into the shelters when it is cold. It is not always possible. The system breaks down and I am not sure how much that is to fault. But I know that there have been some cases of deaths in the cold. It is not funny at all.

In Phoenix there was a homeless man who had been a vet that was set on fire by some guys and died. There was no reason at all for that tragedy.

People worry about what could happen to them if they were to become homeless. For many people now that fear is a horrid reality. It is something that they have to face every day.

Los Angeles Homeless

Venice Beach
Venice Beach | Source

San Francisco Homeless

San Francisco, Silicon area
San Francisco, Silicon area | Source

New York Homeless

Washington Square Park, Greenwich Village
Washington Square Park, Greenwich Village | Source

Truly Homeless

To be truly homeless to me you need to be in a shelter or on the street. If you are in a shelter then you have all sorts of things to deal with there. There are other people that you are not used to. The people can be pretty rude. That goes for the other people living there and also the workers. It is a really terrible plight for some.

If you are on a street every day must be another trial to go through. There is just no describing how really bad that must be. But many do prefer that to the troubles that are there if you do enter a shelter. The shelters do not always have space. That is even though the cities in the US do like to act as if they have it all under control.

If someone has a car and they are living out of a car, I don't really count that myself. But to someone in that situation it can seem to be very difficult. I do understand that. You can also get a fine, etc. now for trying to sleep in your vehicle. It can also be dangerous.

Then there are those that count being homeless as having to sleep on other people's couches. You do still have somewhere to sleep that way. They call it couch surfing. It is nice to have that many places to go to.

Then still, others do count being in a hotel or motel as actually being homeless. They still have a roof over their head I don't count that. I am sure that it can be not that nice to stay in that type of place.

I know that Marianne Faithfull had a lot of trouble and was on the street. There was an article that mentioned her having stayed on one certain street corner. That is an unbearable circumstance. People then tried to help her and were able to eventually do something. Ms. Faithfull had been a girlfriend of Mick Jagger. She was also a singer and songwriter in her own right.

Another person I know was really on the street in New York City was the aunt of Patrick Dennis, the author. She was the aunt that he wrote about in his book "Auntie Mame." She made quite a game of it and was able to get through it. She had made a whole castle type of building with cardboard boxes. Then the authorities did take it down. It sounds like another book.

Getting Through It

People are able to get through it. It does seem like a horrible way to live to be in a shelter. But you do learn to adjust. People can get along. The human spirit is really able to do a lot of things you might not believe right away.

It is not something that you want to kill yourself for being homeless. That is what some people were said to have done in San Francisco. It is like the rich men that threw themselves over the bridge when they lost their money in the depression.


One of the settings of "Down and Out in Paris and London"
One of the settings of "Down and Out in Paris and London" | Source

George Orwell Writer

Writer of "Down and Out in Paris and London" and "Animal Farm"
Writer of "Down and Out in Paris and London" and "Animal Farm" | Source

Books with Homeless Themes

Best Story:

"After the Fair," by Dylan Thomas - A young girl is looking for a place to sleep for the night in a circus tent. It is wonderfully written. She is afraid of being arrested. She talks to a guy that works at a circus. She has found a baby there.

Funniest Book:

"Down and Out in Paris and London" by George Orwell - Before Mr. Orwell became famous, he had to struggle through being homeless. He was living in Paris and in London. He had gotten robbed. There is a horrible chain of different shelters that he goes to. They make fun of the church service they have to sit through. They are able to get through it with some humor.

More Books:

"Memoires De La Vie Privee" by Benjamin Franklin - This is a biography of his about a time when he was homeless.

Of course, there is the O. Henry story, "The Cop and the Anthem," of the man that is homeless and wants to get arrested so that he will have a nice warm place to stay.

"Far From the Madding Crowd" by Thomas Hardy - Troy had married the heroine in the book. But before that he had been supposed to marry Fanny. Fanny became homeless and was pregnant and died in the book.

Movies and TV on Being Homeless

"Down and Out in Beverly Hills" - Nick Nolte does his turn as a bum that knows people in Beverly Hills. He is found by a rich couple that befriends him. Then all kinds of different trouble comes their way.

"The Caveman's Valentine" - A black man is homeless in Central Park, New York City. He lives in a cave in the park. His daughter is a policewoman and a bit ashamed of him. There has been a murder. He beings to solve the murder. The part of him dressing up to go out with his friend is very sad.

"The Fisher King" - Robin Williams plays a homeless man that was a professor. He has a fantasy world.

"The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill" - a true story about a homeless man who fed the birds.

An episode on "Cold Case" the TV show, showed a woman that was homeless with her children. She tried to stay in a shelter but a girl in there fought with her over the bed. She left the shelter because of the fight.

This is a selection of books and TV shows and movies about being homeless. There are more.

Male Homeless

James Arness
Nowhere to sleep
Slept in Central Park, New York
Steve Jobs
Needed Cash
Slept on friend's floor and walked to Hare Krishna meal
Cary Grant
Starting out
Had nowhere to go
William Shatner
TV program cancelled
Slept in truck
Colonel Sanders
Starting his business

Female Homeless

Halle Berry
In New York nowhere to go, her mother wouldn't help
Stayed in a shelter
Marianne Faithfull
Drug problem
Lived on the streets in London
Aunt in Auntie Mame
Out of money on the street
Slept in cardboard boxes
Broke in NYC
Slept in clubs
Shania Twain
Family trouble as a teen
Stayed in a shelter


Have you ever been homeless?

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    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      Wow, this is a very sobering list of people who have experienced homelessness. I had no idea.

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