Mini Homeless Experiments

During the upcoming Homeless Experiment there’s a couple of things I want to try out. Now since I don’t have a defined plan of how I’m going to acquire food, shelter, water and other basic necessities of life…there will obviously be a massive amount of variables in how much free time I get to do some of these mini-experiences.

Here are some things I’d like to try:

  • How much money can I make in an hour holding a sign asking for money?
  • How much money can I make holding a FUNNY sign?
  • How much money can I make holding a SERIOUS sign?
  • How easy is it to get food on the street corner by asking for it…perhaps holding a sign that says, “Don’t want money, food would be great.” I personally think this would work pretty well as a way of procuring food or leftovers. Since I’m walking out of my house with no food or money, this will probably be one of the FIRST things I need to do.
  • Where exactly will I sleep? Parks, benches, under bridges, homeless shelters, under a tree, in the woods?
  • What if it rains?
  • Access to restrooms. I can always pee in the bushes, but what about….?
  • Can I just show up at a homeless shelter and get a place to sleep? I already partially know the answer to this: At most homeless shelters you have to “reserve” a bed, but they’ll often let you sleep inside on the ground if it’s not too crowded.
  • Can I take a shower somewhere and get a clean change of clothes?
  • Where can I get a decent meal? I’m purposely not researching where the soup kitchens are located in order to make this experience more authentic.
  • What are most homeless people like? I kind of already know the answer….most are just like you and I. The VAST majority of homeless are not the crazy looking bums on the side of the road. I’ve had some experience talking to a wide variety of homeless people, but not AS a homeless person. I’m wondering if their perception or attitudes towards me will change much.
  • Can I get a temporary job at one of the day labor camps in downtown? How much money can I make like this?

There’s a lot of experiments I want to try, but time is a factor. I still think doing THIS would work well:


Blog posted on: May 29, 2009

5 comments on “Mini Homeless Experiments

  1. TMAC

    I love this idea, here are a couple from when I was considering doing the Urban Plunge in college:

    - Go dumpster diving

    - Get a can of dog or cat food; empty out the contents; and replace with corn flakes. Eat from the can in full view of tourists to get their reaction.

    - Go into cafeterias, fast food restaurants and look for food scraps left on the tables. Don’t ask for permission from the manager. Use a plastic bag. Eat the food and stay in the facility until the manager runs you out.

  2. step21

    interesting … although I think at least concerning day labour, you might be much better of then the average homeless, cause you’re still a healthy guy, one week can’t do what years on the street will do I think.

  3. Kevin Barbieux

    Austin is a relatively homeless friendly city. For full effect you should ride the greyhound and try this experiment in a city you are not familiar with.

  4. Damon Ritchhart

    I am not trying to be negative in the least because obviously I am staying informed on how this goes via your blog. You may have said this before but what is your ultimate ambition with this project? I myself have had numerous experiences with homeless people and the thing that seems uncharateristic of this experiment is you are an individual with great ambition. I think for this to be as realistic as possible experiment you would need to lower your ambition levels to that of a homeless person. What are you trying to pay with any money you get? Can you truly disregard your lifestyle to the extent that you may want to take a shower but you don’t have enough ambition to make it happen. Where you use the restroom is almost irrelevant because in a pinch anything works because your not concerned enough with your life that you will have clean facilities to use at any cost. As I said before I am not trying to be derogatory and I don’t have a negative conotation of homeless people but we are all evaluated not by what we say but what we do. Talking about clean clothes or facilities or any of the other number of things that a homeless person may want is not the same as taking action to make them happen. I look forward to seeing how you can interweave this into your experiment. Sorry for any spelling or grammatical errors I am not a english teacher :-).

  5. djave

    I have mixed feelings about your experiement. I am homeless in Cincinnati and it sucks. Sure there are enough soup kitchens that you won't go hungry ,but just the looks you get from some people are enoungh to make you want to crawl into a hole somewhere. Not to mention the rain, taking showers, police harrasement, carrying a bag everywhere you go. I could go on and on. But hey what ever floats your boat.


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