Positive Transitioning 

10 things needed when you are homeless.
Photo by Naomi August on Unsplash

As someone who was homeless for seven years, I would like to offer some strategies for those who find themselves in that situation and to provide insight for those who may not understand the daily struggles of providing for oneself.

The top ten things needed when you are homeless:

1.Clean clothing: 

 Dirty clothes carry germs and bacteria. 

It was not always easy to get clean clothes, especially having to carry all your possessions. This responsibility makes it difficult to be able to work. Being exposed to germs when you have to keep wearing the same dirty clothes can become a medical issue for homeless people. Honestly there is not, unfortunately, any good tips.

I have washed a lot of clothes by hand or tried to scrape together five dollars to get to a laundry mat. And then it becomes more challenging when you wake up soaking wet with no clean or dry clothes. You learn to adapt. I learned to throw away my clothes and blankets and start over every day because often there is no other option. 

2.Bottled water: 

It is very important not get dehydrated. You would think that water would be the easiest thing to obtain but homeless people experience a lot of prejudice, harassments and discrimination. When trying get a bottle of water in the hot summer months, almost every business in Chico would not allow me to do so. Honestly, most business owners in town did not even let me come in to use the restroom let alone get bottled water. Instead, I would go to the park and fill up water containers and that is how I maintained staying hydrated. 

Staying hydrated, basic human need.


Often times strangers were the only way I was able to get blankets. Or sometimes from various agencies in Chico that have programs to help with that specific thing. Although I will say that this specific resource is being offered less and less in 2024. Again, you kind of adapt and sometimes I would freeze, like literally, which is why I have worked so hard to change that situation. 

Staying warm in the winter months is a constant struggle.


Being able to wash your hands with soap to stay free from germs becomes more important on the streets because so many unhoused people are susceptible. 

Trying to stay as clean and free from bacteria is also difficult but essential. 

5.Shelter [tent]: 

Most of the time I was able to acquire a tent to get out of the natural elements, but there were quite a few times that my tent and my personal belongings were confiscated by the local law enforcement and or thieves. 

Staying out of the cold and heat is essential when outdoors.

6.Femine hygiene products: 

This was one of the most frustrating things to experience being a woman who was homeless. Starting your period and not having the proper products or a place to clean yourself up is unbelievably stressful.

Not always easily accessible, but very important for women.


Not having access to electricity make flashlights and batteries a must.


There are numerous programs that help by providing food boxes or serving meals, but sometimes access to these resources is next to impossible due to a person’s location. 

Food is a basic human need.

9.Personal hygiene: 

Being able to find a facility to be able to address your personal hygiene needs is always an obstacle.

For me, the ability to take care of cleanliness is another basic need.

10.Hand sanitizer: 

Besides a temporary way to deal with lack of opportunities to maintain personal hygiene, I often used hand sanitizer in the winter months to stay warm because it is flammable. 

Editor’s note: If you are currently experiencing housing insecurity, you are not alone. There are resources available.

Butte College Roadrunner Hub
(530) 893-7700
The Roadrunner Hub is a basic needs resource center, offering students a food pantry, assistance with CalFresh applications, assisting with the creation of rental resumes, a roommate/housing bulletin board, and referrals to on/off campus services.

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