I didn't have much more than the belongings that fit in a mid-sized duffle bag and for a while I mostly survived by cleaning bathrooms at coffee shops before opening hours where the employees didn't really want to do that part of their job - and in return I would get some coffee and a bite to eat. Any money I did get, I saved up.
Once I had access to the internet again, and at least a warm place to sleep at night that I considered safe, I started making contacts on IRC. Eventually I had enough money to relocate across country via Greyhound, a couch to crash on when I arrived and prospects for a new beginning. I quickly jumped from $25k to $40k to $60k etc and am currently at $160k with a whole new life and an amazing career ahead of me.
It's possible to get out of the situation if what got you there isn't addiction or mental illness - the system does little to help, and without being resourceful it's easy to get stuck in that position for a long time. But it can be done. Granted, I never had the ex-con/drug dealer status haunting me in background checks, but I have been upfront in interviews before and still got the job. Greatest accomplishment in life? Escaping homelessness.
I've spoken openly of my 30 months sleeping rough on the streets of the UK. I may have "escaped" homelessness, but the mental scars accumulated whilst on the street do still haunt me. I feel it, the sense of worthlessness, the self-doubt. There's a feeling that I shouldn't be alive let alone here in this workplace or surrounded by good people, a feeling that I don't quite belong.
One can put a roof over one's head, get a job, that leads to a career, obtain an income that is above-average... but can one truly escape something as traumatic as being homeless for any sustained period of time (covering 1 Winter at least)?
I'm less sure on that. I live in the hope that I'm wrong.
And of course, Christmas comes around and people return to family and those who don't are the waifs and strays, an annual reminder that we're not the same.
I hope that you are working to get past any demons that haunt you - you deserve it, everyone does.
A safe place, providing I get out around 5am.
Homeless people and people who are vulnerably housed in the UK have pretty lousy treatment from "services", a lot of which is provided by faith and voluntary groups.
There are huge amounts of stigma, and a lot of misunderstanding of alcoholism and drug use and mental illness.
That is... I went onto the streets to escape poverty, violence and sexual abuse.
For me a hostel was not a safe space, so I didn't even successfully make it onto the first rung of support. It was hostels that distributed information on where to get food and such, so I missed that too.
So there needs to be a better support system for those sleeping rough, and that needs to recognise the flaws in the offerings today and also find better ways to distribute information.
Then, I've made the argument before that we should have a better way to migrate someone off of the street. It's not enough to give a council flat, someone I knew at that time eventually committed suicide because he couldn't cope, fell apart, and suffered from the isolation.
I think instead of that, there should be spaces smaller than a studio apartment that are transition spaces. They should be private, but perhaps clustered so that there is a support network there. People should be given help on how to do things, simple things like how to shop and eat better, how to take care of a home and manage the utilities and bills, how to basically live normally again and construct those routines. How to not shrink into that space and be alone.
I did meet a lot of people with mental illnesses, I don't believe anyone can wave a magic wand and get them off the streets. But we can have the structure in place to help them so that when they are ready, it's possible.
The vast majority of the people on the streets in the UK aren't there because of drugs and alcohol, that's just a visible symptom of a small minority. Most I spoke to had normal lives, good lives, but a trauma occurred and they ended up on the street. There seemed to be a lot of divorced or widowed males. A lot of the young who were physically and/or sexually abused.
Anyhow, a link http://crackandcider.com/ . These people are good, it's no magic wand, but they will take monetary donations and turn it into basic things to help keep people warm and alive even if they are rough-sleeping. I like that they're challenging those misconceptions too.
> I did meet a lot of people with mental illnesses, I don't believe anyone can wave a magic wand and get them off the streets. But we can have the structure in place to help them so that when they are ready, it's possible.
I think you just described a hospital. Don't get me wrong it'd be a hospital that would need more resources than they do now, but maybe that's where this process could start? Especially where the homelessness is caused by mental illness
A roof? Is that all a homeless person needs?
For me what I needed, because I came from a place that of violence and abuse, was to feel safety of person and possession.
In many ways, that sense of security trumped everything.
And if you take a teenager that has gone through that and chosen the street over a roof at home... then changing the roof and being surrounded by strangers, some of whom suffer from mental illness and can be violent themselves... a hostel doesn't deliver on safety.
I only stayed in a few, they were how I imagine US summer camps to be. Rooms containing a number of bunk beds, anything from 4 to 8 people in a room.
The ones I experienced separated on gender as you would expect, but didn't separate on age, or other needs.
When I landed on the street I was frightened, crushingly shy, a victim all the way through. A hostel was a brutal experience, horrifying to me in those early weeks on the street in ways that sleeping under bushes, on industrial estates and on building sites just wasn't.
I had a different set of problems outside, namely the weather, shelter and warmth. But what I had with some planning was a sense of security, a sense that my possessions and myself were safe. That the very worst that could happen would just be to be moved on.
Those were things I felt were in my control. I felt safer on the street.
I should note that I didn't spend every night of 2.5 years sleeping rough. I was young, and learned fairly quickly to seek out Universities, find the student union bar, arrive late afternoon and read a book, and then wait for people to arrive so that I could chat to people. From there the opportunities opened up, and there was a good chance that if I overcome shyness, didn't scare them with the state of me, and everything was cool, that for one night there was going to be a bed, a shower, and some toast. I became quite good at this, but never stayed in a city more than a couple of nights before hitching elsewhere so that I never overstayed a welcome and doing this meant I could have a few nights a week on a sofa of someone my age who had a kind heart.
Local council has to put you up in some accommodation. That's what we pay taxes for, so that people who happen to be evicted didn't end up in the streets. There's plenty of money on the table, and all you have to do is ask. You have to work the system, you need to know where to go and whom to talk to, and in a situation when you don't have the money for a bus ticket, that requires much more effort than it would normally do.
The system in the UK can be summed up as "help thyself, and the government will help thee". I think it is a good system, because it taught me to take care of myself. Its unfortunate effect is that people whose coping mechanism involves self-destructive behaviours are not being helped, even when help is available for them.
Yet, I believe the "system" is not the only culprit here, it's also you who is complicit - you say the system is good and still it didn't help in this concrete case.
Now I know it's hard to not pay taxes so I wouldn't expect you to. But for starters you could admit that the system works poorly, is intransparent, doesn't adapt and covers only what falls under its own definition of poverty/...
A good indicator of being "complicit" is always when you use the line "they should do something about it".
For those, who are not of the biblical persuasion, "help thyself, and God will help thee" is a principle that says that you can count on a lot of help, but you have to do a little yourself first; that little is very hard, and no-one can do it for you.
A man down on his luck prays in Church "God, let me win the lottery. All my troubles will be over".
A week goes by and the man is doing even worse, so he prays again: "God, please let me win. I've been a good man with poor luck, and I've never asked for anything before".
Next week, the man has been evicted, and once more he prays: "God, why have you forsaken me? I'm homeless, loveless, and penniless. Please, let me win the lottery!"
To which a booming voice answers him: "Meet me halfway! Buy a ticket!"
Naturally, I only picked the "bad things" (with a big IMHO) in your comment which didn't keep me from upvoting it ;)
I can say now I'm much better, maybe not part of the 1%, but surely part of the 2% :)
But not fully escaped. They say hard times build character. That's true, but the physical and psychological sequels are with me for ever. Nobody should be that poor.
They become a part of your shadow, always with you. Sometimes you catch a glimpse and notice but for the most part we can forget about it... but it's there.
Funny. I've never been homeless, and that's how I feel a lot of the time.
Jokes aside, really I've found the best method for handling what has happened in life is just to share openly and honestly with others, which is what I've done here as well. I haven't personally found as much benefit from professional help as just sharing and reflecting.
Wish you all the best and success and happiness.
Glad it worked out in the end for you!
I have a small issue though with the "it can be done" thing.
Getting to have 10 top 10 hits at the charts can be done too. The question is how easy it is, and what percentage will be able to do it.
The reason I'm saying that is that, while giving the message "it can be done" is good and can help people not give up in a similar situation, it can also give the false idea that it's a workable situation when it might not be save for very few outliers (and even for them, mostly when the right "stars" and chances are aligned, and not just due to their determination and work).
This also gives some people a chance to overlook the issue, thinking ("it can't be done, so people who don't do it are just lazy, not trying enough, thus, we don't need to help them").
For such issues who plague thousands, people who have escaped can often be the worse sources to learn about the difficulty of the situation -- because they tend to generalize their outlier experience (and sometimes minimize the chances that helped them escape), and sometimes look back at others still in the same situation as not trying enough (since that will justify their self-image as them being "more worthy/resourceful/persistent" than them).
What is eminently more possible is achieving emotional worthiness. When a person is rejected, however that came to be, this activates a physiological response in them which causes them to perceive scarcity, which wreaks havoc on any number of processes in daily life that, building up, can rip a person down.
What are the antidotes to this response? In my experience, gratitude is a strong antidote, when & where you can find it.
Somehow I mustered up the will to continue job searching throughout that whole time, even putting up with a really crappy situation at one point where I had to sleep in the same room as a former friend who would masturbate loudly at night, thinking I was asleep (but the noise would be what would wake me up).
Job searching alone did not prove fruitful in my case - after 2 years, I pivoted into teaching myself programming, and entered the web development profession a half year later with a modest ~$50k salary for my first job. Slightly more than 3 years later, I am now at a $160k salary with a career that shines brightly with substantial open source software work.
Fear of being caught blindsided & not prepared propels me to continue to work hard and develop my career. The last thing I want is to regress into that situation again.
What job do you do now? What skills / education helped you get the job?
1. A crappy background check system that reports him as an ex-con/drug dealer when he's been exonerated.
2. Companies using those systems and judging him without giving him a chance to speak up.
#2 is at least partly due to the fact the if the companies allowed him an opportunity to refute the claim, they would be incurring various legal liabilities. The rules meant to protect job candidates often result in them being passed over at the first stage where it is realized they are 'complex' cases.
Interesting! I'd thought it was simply done in the name of efficiency.
It seemed that companies are loathed to take risk on employee. At the same time, lot of environments contained toxic working conditions, so it's not clear if their choice of employees matter much.
But people must find a job to keep themselves afloat or depend on someone having a job. It didn't matter if you're bad at social grace or if you have mental illness or if you're a felon, old or young.
Without food, shelter, and peace of mind, I think people would be hard pressed to be economically productive.
Don't forget that it doesn't prevent the creation of toxic working environments.
Often from lawyers who work on contingency and then take the bulk of the damages.
Shouldnt that be instead: "people are somewhat guilty until proven innocent" based on the links you shared?
From the perspective on a motor insurance company, for example, they don't need to serve everyone. If they can classify the world of potential drivers as high, medium & low risk, that's enough. Whether or not an individual falls into one of these categories "incorrectly" is not important, they're average figures and as long as they are "correct" for the people who take out a policy all is well. For an individual that ends up in the "high risk" category, it's inequitable and unfair. They might share characteristics with "truly" high risk individuals but not in ways that actually affect their chances of causing on an accident they just happened to be in a statistical cluster.
The BMI is an interesting example too. Weight bands for height works fine when looking at a population. You can fall into an obese weight/height band by being heavily muscled or broad bodied. Mike Tyson at his youngest, slimmest prime would have been classed as obese and very obese later in his career. Possibly "extremely obese" between matches. This is a good example because you can easily se how BMI works well enough for evaluating insurance risk but not for being "fair" for our puny human defections of fairness.
We are moving to a world of more data and more data based decision making. Online advertising for example, has transformed a big industry to one that is mostly driven by data based decision making.
The side effects of this will be many. There are certainly efficiency gains because that statistics are predictive. Having been arrested or serving time is probably predictive of risk, even if a conviction is overturned. There are also feedback loops that we don't want, biases and "traps." A homeless person is obviously high risk in that he shares measurable characteristics with other homeless people and they (almost by definition) actualize those risks.
There are real society-affecting risks here. It could become more expensive to be poor, as credit and financial services becomes a bigger part of how we purchase things.
And there should be just as much incentive for big data techniques to help identify undervalued employees. For example, I'm sure you can find a separation between "vagrants who can code" and "vagrants who can't".
(An old-school example of such an insight would be early-GEICO's discovery that, "Hey, government employees have more reliable income than others'. So they're not as risky. We can use that!" So I heard.)
> ,,And ME thinks ,,,That maybe YOU should THINK !!! LOLOL
> Again ,,,Your Kind ,,convict MY kind ,,,ALL the time !!!!!
> You probably have a hard time accepting anything from a Black Person
There are countless more. From my perspective, most (definitely not all) are in response to non-inflammatory commentary. If I were HR and a basic google search turned this up, I wouldn't touch him with a 10 foot pole, let alone even bother with an actual background check. I use full sentences and am reasonably respectful with my username as "lloyd-christmas". If I used my real name, I'd likely be even more PC/respectful/cautious.
For someone that has first hand experience in regards to the impact of background checks, he's sure not making it any easier on himself.
If you were a person that has put 20+ years of hard work into your career at some company would you be willing to risk it all (and by extension the life you built for your family) to put someone who as been convicted for hacking or fraud in the past in a position where he/she could cause considerable damage?
I think this can only be solved by laws that forbid employers to use or acquire this data. In that case no one could touch you for giving someone that chance.
The question is if the outcome of such a law would be positive and where there should be exceptions to it. (for example convicted hackers being employed by banks)
The article states:
> Three months after his conviction, though, the King County deputy whose testimony led to Simmons’ conviction, James Schrimpsher, was fired for dishonesty in a different drug case [..] Simmons insists he didn’t sell drugs and believes he was profiled [..] he served the full prison term at the Washington Corrections Center in Shelton, plus a year of probation when he got out.
This means it has not been exonerated. The background check superficiality is not what this case is about.
The problem in this case is a system where it's not easy for a convicted person receive a retrial unless the defendant has big money.
> That the deputy was being investigated for lying at the same time as Simmons’ trial had not been disclosed to Simmons’ attorneys.
Point 2 still holds.
The article also says
> What’s alarming about Simmons’ story is that his drug-dealing conviction was eventually stricken from the record. He was retroactively exonerated in 2010 . . . He is listed on the National Registry of Exonerations as being wrongly convicted.
which seems to directly contradict your claim that he was not exonerated.
I was put off by the wording of "Simmons insists he didn’t sell drugs and believes he was profiled."; this wording seems to me like a personal claim and not a fact.
There is a way, if one chooses to have the will.
It's not ever easy for someone classified as an ex-con to get a job, but tech discriminates more than most other professions.
You'd then give everyone that basic level of security and enable them to progress in life. Yes there are potential flaws with the Finnish scheme (some people on benefits may ultimately lose out, and millionaires getting the same amount as poor people) - but crucially it would probably stop most, if not all, of cases like this, where someone can't escape the pull of homelessness even with opportunity there.
1 - http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/finland-plans-to-give-ev...
I know a guy who was sober (determined by multiple breathalyzer tests), but arrested for public intoxication. The case was immediately thrown out and the charges dropped, but he lives in a state where arrest records cannot be expunged. It's the only thing that shows up on his criminal record, but he's had job offers fall apart because employers assume he was actually guilty of public intoxication (a charge that usually only comes against people acting belligerent, violent, so drunk they can't walk, etc.) and just lawyered his way out of it. He thought about suing for wrongful arrest, simply to try and bolster his case in employment situations, but his attorney told him that it's nearly impossible to win a wrongful arrest suit and it would cost him 10's of thousands of dollars to even try.
The first kind costs hundreds dollars per candidate. The second can be done for about twenty bucks worth of time. You can guess which approach most companies use.
It's easier on most candidates, too, because a real background check requires them to fill out paperwork. An ad hoc one they may never know about...unless they fail.
IBM. Wells Fargo. Frontier Airlines. T-Mobile. Experian. Daimler Chrysler.
These are some of the companies listed in the article. They are some of the biggest in the world. They don't seem to me to be the type of companies that take the latter approach to recruitment, possibly opening themselves up to discrimination legal issues.
I just find it incredibly sad that the people conducting these background checks at such large companies are so utterly incompetent.
Hiring somebody is risky and expensive. The cost for getting it wrong is quite high. At best, it costs the team money in lost productivity. At worst, the new hire actually is a criminal (or whatever).
Given two otherwise equal applicants, it's only prudent to hire the one that doesn't have nasty Google results.
Even if dismissed or wrongfully convicted, any mention of anything criminal would cause concern. It's that idea of "where there's smoke there's fire" type of thinking that seems to go on around this kind of stuff. When other candidates exist without the 'concerning circumstances,' why take a risk?
For better or worse, it makes sense. Seeing that someone was arrested for crack for any reason would raise suspicion. There would be little motivation to look into further details once seeing "arrested for crack" pop up in a search about a candidate.
+1 for freelancing idea, it might actually work if there are security jobs. But I think security in it's nature is something that needs assurance that person is capable of auditing the system.
In 1999 or 2000 I turned down an offer from Microsoft, and they asked if I owned a house and if I needed Microsoft to buy that house to get me to say yes. I don't know how that would have worked, but it was an impressive offer.
My employer paid to transport my belongings, all I did was get a few quotes. It was useful for them to be involved, since they knew about necessary insurance etc, but an international move was new to me.
They also offered to transfer my relocation bonus to me as soon as the contract was signed, but I didn't need the cash so I waited until I'd opened a local bank account in the appropriate currency.
This is not how it works
The takeaway from all this being: This man's potential employers are unlikely to even begin to be able to fathom the challenges he faces day-to-day.
I once received an application from someone quite famous. But he was famous because of a criminal case against him which was ongoing. We let this scare us off, because as a small company we didn't want the exposure if we did hire him. I'm not sure it was a very moral decision, but does your startup have time to deal with that?
Pedant: the article is in the Seattle Times :-)
> he will probably be OK.
I sure hope so. I always have mixed feelings when I read articles like this. On one hand, things should usually end up going well for the person (assuming they're legitimate) because of the exposure. But, on the other, it's sad to hear of them being in the situation in the first place.
That is a bargain for removing a homeless person from the system. Local governments and shelters should be jumping at the chance to do it.
If that's all he needs though, where's the Kickstarter?
Why did he not have sufficient savings to survive after he got out of prison?
(Not trying to blame him for anything, trying to plan for my own life. I strive to maintain sufficient savings so that I would never be homeless even if I never worked again.)
The mental debt of being in prison probably doesn't help anyone's financial situation either.
Also it may take weeks to do the full check, you will loose the candidate if you wait for so long to do the assessment .
That he's getting $100k offers pending background checks and failing them?
Also, though I don't like it, the reality is that black folks in IT are also facing subtle discrimination on a daily basis. Getting hired as a contractor often has none of the same protections that large companies have in place for people of color being hired as employees (government contractors are an exception in that the government has guidelines in place to help insure minorities are well-represented, but selling to the government is a whole other set of skills that he may not have, and may not be able to obtain given his circumstances). Among people of color (and women) that I've discussed it with, they tend to prefer applying for jobs and working jobs in major companies because the HR processes are designed to be less discriminatory. Small firms, even when they intend to not discriminate often make "culture fit" decisions that exclude women and minorities. He's also older. Smaller IT firms are infamous for hiring young and overlooking older candidates.
I live in an RV (I did it for four years, traveling full-time, and now I'm back to it after a couple years of stability), and I'm being reminded of all of the ways it makes a "normal life" difficult. And, I'm not dealing with the kind of stuff he is: I have a vehicle and money to travel, I have a phone and reliable Internet, I have a private home where I can have phone/skype conversations with co-workers, etc.
Getting out of homelessness is really tough, is what I'm trying to say, and being homeless makes a lot of things that are obvious solutions to problems for you and I much tougher when you don't have the stability and savings and such to fall back on that you or I have.
I put everything on my credit card to start mine, I doubt he has that luxury.
Judging by his own description of his skill set I would say he doesn't do offensive security at all but rather remediation, policy, and/or maybe forensics.
wrong site anon, back to >>>/g/ with you
Even though he was exonerated, his prison stay and other convictions may show up. He can explain, but a firm can rescind an offer for whatever reason they want (outside of protected statuses, which does not include criminal background). For a security position firms may want perfectly clean backgrounds.