● Friends Couches
No one wants to watch their loved ones suffer on the street if it's possible to provide them aid, and you may be surprised about who amongst your acquaintances might be willing to consider taking you in. Of course, an extra head under any roof can create friction and undue burden on your friends and relatives, who may be struggling to stay afloat as well.
If you cannot contribute financially to the household’s upkeep, you may be able to contribute in other ways, such as caring for children, cooking meals, cleaning and/or doing yard work. Giving back to someone who has been generous with you may help ease some of the tension caused by overcrowding.
Cars were not built for sleeping, but they offer a good alternative to sleeping exposed to the elements. Make sure to dress warmly or augment your clothing with newspapers during inclement weather. Crank seats back and try to lay as flat as you can to reduce aches and pains.
Be mindful about where you park your car as, in some locations, sleeping while parking might be illegal or unsafe. In many cities, you can only park in one spot for a certain amount of time, so be sure you have enough gas in your car to move it from location to location, should the need arise.
Sleeping in the open is doubtlessly the most dangerous option. The safest and driest options are likely to also invite harassment from law enforcement or potential trespassing violations. Look out for signs prohibiting “loitering” and “trespassing.”
Abandoned buildings may offer shelter from the rain, but many which have stood empty for long periods of time, may not be structurally sound. Camping in wooded areas is another option and might be a bit safer, but away from the city, your access to resources to get you on your feet again – (libraries, food stamps, churches, shelters) may be more limited.
● Shelters/Public Housing
Shelters are the most obvious solution for temporary housing, but a lot can stand in the way of you and a good night’s sleep. Many of these locations are overpopulated and understaffed, and many feel uneasy sleeping in open areas among strangers, which leaves them vulnerable to violence or robbery.
To help block noise, try finding earplugs (available for free in many hostels) or wrap a scarf around your head to drown out light and noise. Keep personal belongings on your person or under your body’s weight to inhibit theft.
Some facilities may limit your stay, impose mandatory programming, or charge a small fee. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the policies of several locations so you know what is required of you. See directory below for available options in your area.
For obvious reasons, public housing is the most attractive option, but waiting lists can be long. If you suspect you may lose access to shelter, sign up for these programs as soon as possible so you can limit your time without permanent shelter.