This is real market research -- it won't make you rich, but it will make you some cash and won't cost you anything but a little time.
For the unemployed homeless...
I pay attention to the referrers that bring people to this site, especially the search strings. Lately I have seen something in the logs that breaks my heart: Lots of people are looking for things like "unemployed and homeless."
I've never actually been homeless myself, thank Goddess, but I do have some idea of what it must be like due to some tramp-style rough travelling as a young man. That's kind of like being voluntarily homeless for a few weeks or months -- you never know where you're going to sleep or what you're going to eat. I also know what it's like to look the real thing in the face because I've been narrowly avoiding it for the past six months or so, scrambling each month to come up with enough money to make my rent and bills.
In those moments of intense anxiety when it feels like I might not make it, I always tell myself one thing: Lots of people have survived homelessness, and you will too if it comes to that. For those newly homeless people surfing in here from libraries and shelters, that's all I can offer in the way of consolation, unfortunately.
The truth of the matter is that this is a horrible time to be on the street. In better economic times, it is easier to recover from homelessness; homeless services are better funded, and some sort of crappy job is usually available. Nowadays, a lot of cities are cutting back on their programs, and privately funded programs are also strapped. Making matters worse, a job is the impossible dream for a lot of people. If getting a job when rested, bathed, and fed is hard, how hard must it be for someone who can't get a good night's sleep, a decent shower or a decent meal? It has to be the ultimate suck.
It hurts me physically to think about this. Nausea burbles in my belly, and my chest tightens. Millions of homeless people, many of them children, and empty buildings everywhere you look -- how can this be? Why is this nation -- supposedly "the richest country in the world" -- not totally ashamed of itself at this point? We're spending hundreds of billions of dollars every year to bomb and kill poor people in other countries and abandoning our own poor and (formerly) working people. "Outrageous" is not strong enough. No mere word suffices to describe this ignominy. Proud to be an American? What a joke.
(Sorry for that little foray into political Rantville. I just can't help myself sometimes -- I get mighty pissed off.)
To the homeless, especially those who never really saw it coming, I just want to say this:
Have faith. Keep moving. Keep yourself clean. Take full advantage of whatever programs your area offers. Maintain your dignity. Don't despair too much. Most of all, don't lose hope. It will get better. It can't get much worse, right?
I know that's kind of lame, but I don't know what else to say.
Best of luck.