steve mcmanus
7 min readJul 7, 2021

Life doesn’t work that way. You can’t always fix it.

Our house / Google Street View

On three different occasions in my life I have found myself homeless. Once while married and twice with kids. Once from being burned out. Again from employment downsizing and yet again due to injury.

There is no greater injury to the soul of a man than to have his family endure homelessness while they’re looking to him to be the hero they hope for and fix it.

Life doesn’t work that way. You can’t always fix it.

If you’re lucky — or maybe unlucky — you can ask for shelter from family. Maybe there’s a shelter in the area. They say they will not take men. So you put your family in the shelter and sleep in the car. If you have a car. Maybe you get arrested for sleeping in your car. You spend the better part of a week in the county jail waiting for arraignment. The jail is sixty miles from the shelter where you left your wife and kids. Your wife has no idea where you are. When you finally get to see the judge and explain things, you are slapped with a fine of one hundred dollars. You tell the judge you are broke. The judge tells you the fine can be paid off by being incarcerated at a rate of fifteen dollars a day. It will come to seven days in jail, but since you waited for four days to be arraigned, you are given credit for that. You stay in jail for three more days.

Your wife only knows you have been gone for a week and for all she knows you abandoned her and the kids. You are released from jail and beg for a ride back to the town where the shelter is located. You’re hoping your family is still there. When you walk to the shelter, you find your family just as their allowable time in the shelter is expiring. You look for your car but it is gone. You call the police to report it stolen but they inform you it was impounded when you were arrested. They give you the number for the impound lot which is — of course — across town.

The impound lot says they have the car. Their rate is one hundred dollars a day. To get your car back right now it will cost six hundred dollars. You don’t have the money right now, so it will be more when — or if — you finally pay to get it released.

Being broke and homeless has made your life unbearable and it has just been a week. One. Week.

I remember when the kids were little and the landlord/owner of the house we were renting decided to sell it without warning. We had three weeks to get out. The realtors descended onto the property like vultures. We couldn’t come up with the down payment. My three-year old Son went out to the front yard where the realtor sign was staked into the lawn. He taped a picture over the sign. It was a picture he had made with crayons. In it he was crying and he drew each of us sad. Over the stick figures of us he had written, “No selling our house”.

A few years later I saw that the owner was dying of cancer. Not one bit did I feel sorry for that cocksucker.

Consider the following. According to Smartasset.com, if you had a $100,000 to spend on a home (in the U.S.), you would only be able to afford 186 square feet. Here is what that that looks like:

Andrey Avdeenko via Design Milk

In the U.S., the average price of a 2 or 3 bedroom home is between 300,000 and 600,000 dollars, according to Business Insider.

“Take a home buyer who makes $40,000 a year. The maximum amount for monthly mortgage-related payments at 28% of gross income is $933. ($40,000 times 0.28 equals $11,200, and $11,200 divided by 12 months equals $933.33. Furthermore, the lender says the total debt payments each month should not exceed 36%, which comes to $1,200. ($40,000 times 0.36 equals $14,400, and $14,400 divided by 12 months equals $1,200.)” (foxbusiness.com)

I looked further into that data…

On a $300,000 mortgage with a 3% APR, you’d pay $2,071.74 per month on a 15-year loan and $1,264.81 on a 30-year loan, not including escrow. Escrow costs vary depending on your home’s location, insurer, and other details. (Credible.com)

$1264-per-month. Plus escrow and home owner’s insurance. Figure on $1600-per-month for a $336,000 three bedroom roof. So, figure $400-per-week to be indoors IF your mortgage payment is somewhere around $933-per-month before fees like it says in this example. Of course, you also are paying all the usual stuff like gas for the car(s), insurance on the cars, food, cable, internet, electricity. For this to be a break-even situation, you’d have to bring home about $800-per-week, about $40,000-per-year.

If you’re lucky the mortgage company won’t keep raising the mortgage rate. If you’re lucky your job will be stable. If you’re lucky you won’t become ill and lose your job and income. If you’re lucky there won’t be a fire that destroys your home and has you finding out the insurance company won’t replace it — nickle-and-diming you into homelessness. If you’re lucky.

“This was the basic rule of thumb for many years. Simply take your gross income and multiply it by 2.5 or 3, to get the maximum value of the home you can afford. For somebody making $100,000 a year, the maximum purchase price on a new home should be somewhere between $250,000 and $300,000” (doughroller.net).

In case you’re one of those people that still just doesn’t fucking get it, the vast majority of Americans see $40,000-per-year income the same way they see the Moon. There is no way to get there. To them, the American Dream is a cruel lie told by heartless rich people.

And you have to be asleep to have dreams.

Due to foreclosures there are nearly 1.5 million vacant homes in the United States, or 1.5 percent of all homes (usatoday.com) and approximately 3 million rental housing units were vacant in 2020 (statista.com).

Meanwhile, there are an estimated 553,742 people in the United States experiencing homelessness on a given night (endhomelessness.org) and the average age of a homeless person in the United States is just 11-YEARS-OLD ( firstfocus.org). Additionally, there are 37,252 U.S. Military veterans experiencing homelessness. 22,048 veterans were sheltered, while 15,204 veterans weren’t sheltered. Most homeless veterans were without children; only 2 percent were homeless as part of a family (endhomelessness.org).

Four-and-a-half MILLION places to live that are empty and half-a-million people on the sidewalk. There is something just plain wrong with that.

Diane Nilan / Hear Us

I spoke with longtime advocate for families and children, Diane Nilan, who travels the country educating counties and municipalities about the true nature of homelessness in the U.S. And shows them ways they can help tackle the problem. She travels across the U.S. in a small motorhome, diligently spreading awareness through her organization Hear Us (hearus.us), of which she is President and Founder. She related to me that there is almost always an element of push back when she delivers a presentation. When I asked her to elucidate she said,

The spoken resistance is that they are ‘already doing enough and it costs money’. The unspoken resistance is that they don’t want people from other areas to pour into their community”.

Global Citizen / Santi Palacios/AP

The Foreign policy of the United States has helped create an international refugee crisis and the Domestic policies of the United States have helped create a refugee crisis in our own country. That’s what people suffering homelessness actually are: refugees. They are refugees of a financial system that benefits the very few. The rest are doing ok for now but are learning no one is safe from the greed of those that manipulate the system for their own benefit.

If you really want to know how the economy is going, ask an 11-year-old with no place to live.

If it was up to me, I’d arrest, prosecute and hang every last one of those greedy sons-a-bitches.














steve mcmanus

Producer and Writer of the online radio show Forbidden America. Writing an online TV interview show set for production in 2021. An emerging Voice-Over Talent.