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Looking for Work

I’m looking for work. If you know of anything, please contact me at: chris@homelessunlimited.com.

Recently, I’ve been able to keep most of my belongings in a locker, which makes everything much easier — mobility, appearance of normalcy, etc.

I’ve an almost 15 year gap in my resume (quick reminder, my 15 years homeless anniversary is coming up!), so I expect to be interviewing with people who are willing to offer a person a chance for success.

Any help, any suggestions are welcome!

Thanks!

Chris

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Text, Not Imagery

The following is the text supporting my video, ‘Para / Social.’ I’m inordinately proud of both the edit and the writing I’ve done in support of the piece. YouTube link: Para / Social

We are living through a long, accelerated process of change as we grapple with the technologies and systems we’ve created. Reality and the world as we experience it shapes our perception of what is possible while also defining what will follow us into the future. Para-social relationships are only one element, one point of impact on the landscape we move through in our lives.

The audio track from ‘Annihilation,’ is always present in this video. Even with the rise of ‘Just My Imagination,’ sending us into a reverie we share, briefly, an unsettling reality emerges. A perceived love relationship, presented as startling and beautiful, is revealed to be an illusion, a corrupt self-reflection. This is the nature of most para-social relationships. They exist in a parallel reality, with brief snaps, existing mainly as the creation of one another and independent of truth, depth, or any meaningful catalyst for growth.

The film ‘Annihilation,’ (and the reference to my earlier, ‘Origin Story,’) as referenced here stands in for the complex processes set in motion when all the rules change — in the world of science, in society, and in an individual’s life. In the film, an unknown organism arrives on the Earth, spreading and growing, interacting with the environment in ways that undermine the sense of order human civilization has developed to master the world. The organism — perhaps more accurately defined as a force — has no regard for the destruction it causes, appearing in some ways to behave as a child in a sandbox, exploring and building and wrecking as it chews through the world it has encountered. One character describes the affected zone, known as ‘The Shimmer,’ as refracting the material it encounters, functioning as a prism. Rapid mass networked communication has a similar effect on our psychology.

The dangers of contemporary communications and social media are difficult to fathom, and, I suspect, will prove to outweigh the benefits. Interrogating that area of thought we must look to the sources of power in human society and the ways they are consciously and unconsciously directed.

Cultural and social values forever drive societies forward in time, yet our world is being driven by increasingly anti-human values. The world is shiny and clean, or narrow and gritty, or maybe bubble gum scented — as long as it’s mediated, controlled, and providing whatever it is you think you need from it, it’s saleable. Personal relationships, especially those managed through the filter of modern technology, are not immune to commodification and a sort of transactional superficiality built on little moments of transmitted emotion.

The experience of finding someone bright, someone who stands out, and experiencing them reveal themselves, gradually, can be magical. That experience is not built only on their personality, their loves, their talents or interests. What’s magical is the interplay, the tension, the force and transformation of perception, thought and idea, as a shared reality. These are not what curation offers. These elements may germinate in a snapshot, but they die, untended, in the real world. Beyond that moment, when something conjured out of notes of light and shadow is revealed as gossamer, can define a universe of possibilities, narrowing to a singular outcome. For some, it’s the illusion itself they love. For others, it’s the drama, the angst of something forever just out of reach.

In the realm of para-social connection, it is commonplace to find a game of seduction drawn out, flattening the experience into a two-dimensional caricature of life. Here, momentary interruptions in the natural rhythm of arousal and response are filled with silence, or advice on how to better appeal to the vanity, the ego of the other. In a real-world setting, these are cues. In a mediated elicitation, they are something else. When the power dynamic is wrong, it becomes a strange kind of expectation of service. At best, from any perspective, a para-social-transactional relationship results not in connection, but in something more akin to mutual self-absorption.

In some para-social relationships a moment arrives, delicate and swollen with uncertain promise, when transformation is possible. It’s a beginning-again in a flawed and over-bright realm where nuance and shadow are more substantial and less easily marshaled. Failure is possible in ways not imaginable in a fantasy. Perhaps it is the danger of real consequences that make such a transition worth the attempt.


Part of the difficulty here communicating in brief is translating the language which I constructed this idea into language that is understandable to others. I make an effort to stick very much to my own vocabulary, but I cannot entirely abandon standard English if I expect to communicate the ideas which I spend time thinking on.
Sometimes I forget most people don’t have access to my frame of reference, my process, and my set of beliefs. Which, in some ways is an important part of what this video represents. Until you take a step in one direction or another and view its themes as something apart from what I have written about explicitly…

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Off Ramp

Sooner or later, a person’s homelessness reaches a point of terminal decline. The undelivered resources, the absence of opportunity, the institutional violence of coercive apathy produce a kind of stasis, a kind of non-life. Beyond survival, no outcome has meaning, no choice has value. This is the purpose of homelessness policy in the modern city.

Homelessness…is the death of a meaningful future.

Policy for homelessness is founded on the protection of property rights. The goal is to limit the homeless posing a threat to property. We, as a population, are the epitome of the words, ‘nothing to lose.’ As such we pose a very real threat. With that in mind, policy has been designed not to provide resources or housing, but to deploy force through the application of psychology. We have been turned into objects, into chattel.

The result of these efforts is to condition us for a non-threatening, controllable passivity. The overall effect on a person’s life is to put an end to anything that resembles living. We are beaten into submission. We are formed and shaped through abuse and neglect, pain and suffering. Eventually, we are all walking wounded, barely formed figures of clay.

Let there be no mistake. These policies are the result of decisions made by civil servants. These are choices made by people. This instead of funding. This instead of housing. This instead of education. This instead of a future.

Homelessness is not hunger, it is not discomfort. It is the death of a meaningful future. Eventually, if suicide is not the path you take, every future is a slow nightmare, every future is the enemy. Cold is the enemy. Hunger is the enemy. Police are the enemy. Social workers are the enemy. Time is the enemy. Boredom. Heat. Sleeplessness. Confusion. Impulse. Life itself becomes your enemy. It does not have to be this way, but it is. And everyone believes you’ve chosen it.

The problem of homelessness is one of support. It’s one of resources. It’s one of time. It’s been cured, the problem, according to the goals of homelessness policy as I have experienced it. Homelessness has been cured by grinding out the spark of life, the ambition, the will of the individual to ascend, to aspire, and to fight for their future. This system is an inhuman, vicious attack on people whose only real crime is poverty, whose status as a minority only makes them invisible to everyone else. The culmination of the efforts the city and it’s system of homelessness policy enforcement is not a humane, working set of policies. It is a prison camp. The bars are invisible, and the guards are the inmates themselves.

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Trust Me, It’s Free

(…and if there’s a problem, you did agree to the Terms of Service!)

You’ll notice every wi-fi hotspot you use asks you to agree to terms of service. These always include the caveat that the network may allow others to see the traffic you’re sending across it. No one hesitates to accept.

My lifestyle has me using public wi-fi to access the internet, always. I’ve long had an interest in computers, networks, and how they function. Network access is something I’ve done troubleshooting on with regularity. Not so much recently. I mention it by way of establishing a little credibility. At any rate that brings me to the point of this post.

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are a reliable, well-established way to keep your web browsing secure from outside observers. Back in 2010 or so VPNs were becoming increasingly prevalent as free and subscription services. Wanting to preserve my personal information while using wide-open public networks, I began making use of these services. They were great, initially. It wasn’t long before they became unusable. This followed a pattern.

At first, arriving at my regular wi-fi hotspots, I’d log in, join my VPN service, and it’d work. Everything went smoothly. It’d function perfectly, for a day or so. Soon enough, they’d fail to connect, making the network unusable. Without the VPN, access worked perfectly. Free or paid VPN, it made no difference.

This pattern spread to every public wi-fi spot. From Starbuck’s to Wendy’s, McDonald’s to A&W, before long every ‘free’ wi-fi offered to the public was unusable as soon as a VPN was engaged.

Every company offering publicly available internet was blocking access to the basic tools available to mitigate the very threat they were warning their users of.

The implications are clear enough. While there has yet to be a scandal (fingers crossed!), the business model offering free services to the public in exchange for rights to profit from their data is widespread, commonplace. Companies offering public wi-fi are collecting all network traffic, for profit. Without getting into the far flung regions of this subject, I’d point out what that entails. Your email address. Your banking details. All of your passwords. Your secret, flirty messages to your online fantasy affair. It’s all being collected and sorted, stored and used as data to model your behaviour.

Frighteningly, everything you’re using in the cloud, including any truly private, legally protected information you might access while working from your local coffee shop is also potentially being stored. All information you send and receive across one of these networks is being collected, recorded, collated and sold. Your personality, interests, economic status, sexuality, and private life are becoming the intellectual property of strangers, organizations who will use that information to extract maximum value from you, for the duration of your life.

Modern-day standards have been implemented to protect internet users from the threat of unauthorized traffic monitoring. Providers are side-stepping those standards, illegally accessing, collecting and profiting from your activity while denying you the power of self-protection. In a nearly Kafkaesque turn, any counter argument can be slapped down with reference to the terms of the agreement you entered into. In a world which increasingly demands access to networks as precondition to everyday living, this is a dangerous foundation to build upon.

Many aspects of this are troubling, though it is when looking at projected social futures the current state of affairs seem most ominous. Imagine your value being estimated at birth, the statistically probable limits of your economic value being projected based on generations of data and models — tried, tested, and deployed for profit and harmony in our technological future. ‘Dystopian’ hasn’t enough room in it to carry all of the hell that world would be.


The impetus for my posting this was the recent experience I had at my local library branch. My computer was hacked.

As part of my tech routine I format and reinstall my OS multiple times a year. I recently did just this. More than 24 hours passed between the format and my next sign-on at the library. Completely fresh install.

I’m familiar with the moods of the TPL network, including how often it requires a new sign-on — multiple times per day, no matter what.

When I connected to the library hotspot, it hit the internet, right away. No sign-in page, no terms of service. This was unusual. Based on evidence, I believe my laptop was being compromised, hacked.

After verifying I was indeed on the internet, I went about looking at the volume of traffic to and from my computer. That effort proved unnecessary. Next thing that happened was a segmentation fault in a privileged part of my OS. A segmentation fault is a form of program crash. Hackers will often use a specific sort of attack which results in a segmentation fault. The attack causes the system to execute code the attacker has crafted to gain privileges, breaking security so they can install software allowing them reliable access in future. In terms of seriousness, it’s many levels above monitoring traffic and collecting information.

What I am alleging here is that the administrators managing that network not only collect and sell user data, but, as with my example, have no qualms about installing software to illegally monitor patrons computer-based activity.

If you need help putting this kind of attack into context, I refer you to the Pegasus revelations. Pegasus is a formalized system of mobile phone hacking which has been connected to assassinations and kidnappings enacted around the world targeting journalists, activists, and uncooperative royals. Kidnapped, harassed, killed — phones compromised using commercially available Pegasus technology figure prominently in facilitating surveillance leading to violence and disappearances. Traces of Pegasus have been found on mobile phones all over the planet, indicating the widespread use of monitoring as a norm.

The power to illegally access private communications devices is not limited to those perceived as a threat to authoritarian governments. Identifiable data linked to an individual is key to profits for a broad range of businesses operating today. What purpose the Toronto Public Library would have for infiltrating and monitoring a patron’s laptop is something I couldn’t speculate on. Nor would I point to the close cooperation in harassment, gaslighting, and psychological abuse between GARDA Security (employed here in the library) and the City of Toronto as a possible basis for this specific incident.

Remember, the library is a public service institution. It’s a not-for-profit operation. It’s not a cog in the machine of a multi-national corporation. It’s an institution dedicated to public service. What part of that, I ask you, is represented by hacking the computers and personal data of the public? Next they’ll be finding security cameras hidden in public bathrooms. Uhhmmmm… they wouldn’t, would they?

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Numbers/Cost of Living

March 2022 NOTE:

This text was written in late 2021, before inflation began to rise. My food costs have, as of March 28, 2022, increased 30%. My income, which as a homeless person is all of $343 monthly, is not sufficient to cope with these costs. Homelessness is a trap. Resources are the path out.

The fundraising goal of $35,000 should be adjusted upwards to match rising costs, yet, and I’d like to emphasize this point — the goal of my fundraiser is to return to living. The specific overall amount is less important than what it buys, namely, security and a future.


(Originally Posted July 28, 2021. Minor edits for clarity, March 28, 2022.)

Note – Presenting these numbers is a bit of a challenge. Starting from nothing is expensive. The minimum cost of my return to housing as I’d like it to be starts with first and last month’s rent.

After moving in, the important factor is stability. I am terrified at the prospect of becoming housed again, only to fall back into homelessness for lack of work and income.

The cost of living numbers I’m using are from July, 2021. I’ll continue to use them for a while seeing the costs in grocery stores continue to edge upwards. Hopefully they’ll stabilize by the end of the year.

Numbers as of July, 2021 – Source: www.numbeo.com

Quick Summary:

$6,834 is my before-tax minimum cost of moving into a 1-bedroom apartment in Toronto.

$34,624 ($6,834 [start-up costs] + $27,790 [10 additional months of expenses] is the approximate minimum cost of living for one year.

My criteria for a return to housing is a one bedroom apartment, outside of downtown and near a subway station. This includes internet access, and a cell phone. It also includes a bed, a kitchen table, and a desk. These items can be sourced fairly cheaply from IKEA, or other budget retailer. Second hand furniture is out of the question due to risk of bed bugs.

Moving into an apartment in Toronto requires an up-front payment of First & Last month’s rent. Using those two months as a guide, I’ve listed the minimum base cost as two months expenses. Seeing I’m starting from nothing, that will include start-up costs for items such as utensils, dishes, pots, pans, a bed, a table, and other items.

I’ve used figures including the cost of rent, groceries, phone, etc. My aim is to balance my needs against overall costs. That’s to say I have given a lot of thought to the value and importance of the items I’ve listed.

The numbers, as I’ve written, are crowd-sourced and are averaged by numbeo.com. Fairly accurate from what I’ve seen.

*

Below I abstract the figures around moving into a 1-bedroom apartment. More detailed figures are farther down the page. Costs of bedding, pots and pans, etc, are based on low-middle range examples. Costs of miscellany include average price of condiments, spices, etc.

*

Minimum Start-Up Costs:

Rent – First & Last

2 x $1,800 – Low-Mid Average Cost of 1-bed Apartment as of July, 2021

$3,600

Groceries – (2 Months)

2 x $568 – as of July, 2021

$1,136

Utilities – (2 Months)

2 x $165 – Calculated for 85 square feet, as of July, 2021

$330

Misc. Consumables – (2 Months, Start-Up)

1 x $43 – Grooming, Hygiene, Laundry Soap, etc.

$43

Textiles – (Start-Up)

1 x $150 – Bedding, Towels, Dish Cloths, etc.

$150

Internet Access – (2 Months)

2 x $75 – Budget Network Access Provider

$150

Transit Pass – (2 Months)

2 x $156 – As of July, 2021

$312

Phone – (2 Months)

2 x $15 – Least Expensive Phone Plan

$30

Kitchenware – (Start-Up)

$575 – Coffee Maker, Pots, Pans, Dishes, Can Openers, etc.

Furniture – from IKEA

Kitchen Table – LERHAMN

$130

Twin Bed – Frame & Mattress

$79 – Frame – NEIDEN

$199 – Mattress – MORGEDAL

Writing Desk

$130 – MALM

Totalling:

$6834, before tax – this is the approximate start-up cost to move into a 1-bedroom apartment.

In calculating the ten months additional to the first two start-up months, I’ve used these same numbers, minus the start-up costs around bedding and kitchenware.

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Creative Targets

Over the past few days I sought and found an Amazon delivery box to change into a container for my rice cooker. I lost it once, having to climb into a recycling dumpster to retrieve it. Today I went to work on it at Harrison Baths. Unsatisfactory is the only word to describe the result.

…it’s more than a just solution to an immediate problem. It’s an investment in a future which assumes continued homelessness.

The problem, of course is a combination of things. Work-surface (the end of a bench, at bench height), less tape than I would like (for weather proofing), and, as always, time.

Constructing these isn’t very difficult, but along with space and resources to work, it takes some forethought and planning. Time and conditions are relevant factors. Figuring out how to fold the material while maintaining dimensions correct both internal and external requires a little finesse. And luck, but that’s also affected by factors.

…I said, “I was homeless yesterday, I’m homeless today, and I’ll be homeless tomorrow.” That is the truth of homelessness. Eventually, the future is your adversary.

The main thing about making these — or buying a new set of Tupperware, or new durable shopping bags, or any of the other items I use daily in my homelessness, is that it’s more than a just solution to an immediate problem. It’s an investment in a future which assumes continued homelessness.

Years ago, a volunteer I’d chatted with at a meal program saw me in the street. He greeted me, asking how I was. The answer I gave him encapsulates the reality of an institutionalized mind, a homeless mind. I said, “I was homeless yesterday, I’m homeless today, and I’ll be homeless tomorrow.” That is the truth of homelessness. Eventually, the future is your adversary.

My time homeless has spanned the years a person would normally build a career, a life, a history of their experiences, memories, which I’d argue are the brickwork of identity. Time, when it becomes your adversary, forces escape. Oblivion, nostalgia, anger, violence — there are many ways to run from an intractable foe. My own escape has been to attack time on it’s own terms. Whether by delving into fictionalized versions of the lives of Roman Emperors, the lives of real, living legends, or galaxies of imagined, extrapolated futures, my escape has been a fight, and a search for meaning, guided by curiosity.

My curiosity finds in history human meaning. It is made of stories, our past. No matter where on earth we are from, or where we are, our lives are the result of a long process of change, and growth, and evolution. People are what make the world, and people are living and telling the stories which make our history.

Periodically, I remember that spices were prized, of staggering value. These are items we now take for granted. Pepper, salt, these are considered staples, and bland staples at that. Items like these were instrumental in conjuring the institutions our world was built upon, the institutions we take for granted as inevitable, natural, normal.

(Wish I could spend time polishing this.)

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3/21/2022

Highlights first, then some detail.

Fundraiser is active and I need your help. All donors are welcome.

My fundraising goal, when I started this process, was about $35,000. That figure represented one year’s security, housed, off the street. The dollar amount now, due to factors related to global events, is higher. For that reason, I’ll describe my fundraising goals more loosely. First, a note on why I’ve chosen the cost of one full year as the bare minimum for success.

One year is not a long time to build a life. Yet it might be just long enough to get started rebuilding one.

In that time I plan to apply to university, work, generate income, and make a return to life and living.

Today, my fundraising goal is the figure that will keep me housed for one year, regardless the specific number – $40,000 or $400,000, whatever it takes to get me housed for one year, that is the fundraising goal. Key to success in this endeavour is that it happen quickly. Otherwise, I’m only some kind of bizarre character whose ongoing misery is being sponsored by people viewing from the sidelines, for a one-time fee.

While my needs are primarily financial I also have a need for therapy. My physical health is good. Mentally, I am not well. Bitter and frustrated, I need to heal the damage caused by grinding long-term traumatic stress, sleep deprivation, social isolation, and the destruction of my sense of self. It’s a complex picture, wholistically, yet achievable with help.

Those are the highlights, in brief.

Thank you for your time, and your donations.

Donations can be made via my GoFundMe, or through my Ko-Fi page.

Instagram: (strictly homeless content) @homeless_daily / (spam/creative) @thiswholethingislame

For your convenience, here is an excerpt form my GFM:

I’ve stayed in shelters. I’ve rented a bed. I’ve applied for housing. I went door to door, mowing lawns. I’ve worked with the system, and with case workers. I’ve appealed to family. I’ve stayed with friends. I’ve been sleeping on the street for many years.

A return to housing starts with funding. Re-building a life is impossible without resources. The ground-level reality is there is no way out of homelessness without money.

Chris Leach / Homeless Since 2007

You’re already familiar with some of my story, I expect. You’ll already be aware I have a meandering, long-winded, and often absurdly convoluted way of communicating. That can be a lot of work. Clearly, you’re up to it. Good.

Time is a resource all of us possess. Our power to utilize time in ways we choose is determined by our status. As a homeless person, my time is spent, primarily, on basic survival. Conditions don’t allow for a lot of learning, goal-setting, or meaningful time management.

This reality makes any shift in living or circumstance a serious undertaking. Hence the long delay in returning to this blog.

The next post I expect to make will go into some of the factors around the re-imagining of this project. I’ll be writing about my plans around fundraising, re-housing and education and my ultimate goal of applying my experience of homelessness to making deep change to the systems destroying lives for the sin of economic failure.


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strut, cut, blood, lunch [ʊ]

(March, 2022 – Additional update on text. All donors are now welcome. Things are pretty grim.)

York U (etc.) UPDATE: I’ve looked at the resources listed at the York U website and found a couple of bright spots (though not many). I’ve not yet contacted the Financial Aid desk at York University by phone, though I believe it would be helpful. The naked facts are these — while I am homeless I will not be studying. A return to housing does not look like a realistic possibility. The fundraiser has moved very slowly, a critical problem when the amount to be raised is so large. This slow pace is due mostly to the time cost involved in pursuing donations. At the outset I knew I wouldn’t be performing for the internet in the way people find engaging (see my ‘Ronald Villiers’ Guide to Fundraising on Social Media,’ here.) My rationale, and I stand by it even now, is that homelessness is immoral and unjustifiable. It’s my position that people ought to assess my case for their donation and act according to their own beliefs.

There are only two groups of people I won’t accept donations from — high school students, and activists for human rights/social/climate justice. Everyone else is welcome to contribute. I’ll even take money from celebrities, on the condition they keep it private (I’d rather be homeless than someone’s mascot, thanks just the same).

Much of the money I’ve raised over the course of the fundraiser (500+ days at time of writing) has been spent. You could not be blamed for thinking it irresponsible of me, slowly chipping away at that money meant to be saved for housing. In response I’d ask you to put yourself in my shoes. To date, it’s meant the difference between having a rain poncho, or not; clean clothes four times a month instead of once a month; it’s meant an upgrade from ramen or tomato soup & rice every day to mini-ravioi; it’s meant the first pair of new shoes in years; it’s meant owning a phone with the same phone number for longer than a couple of months; it’s meant haircuts, health, grooming, and pain relief supplies without asking for personal credit; it’s meant a minor though meaningful reduction in daily stress. Crucially, it’s meant not going hungry every 26 or so days, and not having the shame of begging a shop owner for a meal. Of course, the pandemic took a hand in things. My expenses tripled.

That’s the most recent update. It’s December 8, 2021. It’s snowing outside. It’s getting colder and I haven’t found a winter’s jacket worth a damn. Also in need of a new pair of shoes. I don’t expect to find anything worth paying for. This is fairly typical in recent years with so many people needing to economize using thrift stores. Subsequent to higher demand, prices have gone up. Quality and volume of clothing donations has gone down as people hold onto items longer, or donate them to friends and family. It’s a cycle which puts a lot of pressure on the homeless, and others living in poverty.

Thrift stores fill a niche for consumers. They’re a useful (and perhaps inevitable) response to a need. Homelessness is not inevitable. It is not the cost of our economic system, or the price of greater prosperity. Homelessness is a result of the decision to deny people resources they need. Governments, bureaucrats, academics and policymakers decide what resources will be directed at homelessness. They have perpetuated a cruel and inhumane condition taking those decisions. We who live it are only visible as unworthy, filthy, and undeserving. Those stereotypes themselves are perpetuated by decisions made in committee rooms, by vote, by silence.

You may be one of the new generation, those who have a homeless family member. It’s not uncommon anymore. Yet they do nothing. The problem of homelessness will continue to worsen, affecting increasing numbers of people until it is impossible to ignore. Great harm will be done. Human lives will be destroyed. Real and wide-ranging problems will have become entrenched. Then they will pronounce, they will celebrate new initiatives, and cry out the mistakes of the old regime. By then it will be — as with so many other issues threatening people today — too fucking late.