Will work for shelter!
May 4, 2010 6:15 PM   Subscribe

Are there any off-the-cuff ways of finding a job and a place to stay that I'm missing?

I'm still in this situation.

I've tried:

- FA office. They told me that in order to register with the homelessness service that declares you an independent, I'd need to be living on the streets for a period of time. I'm trying to avoid that at all costs.

- Work-study/on campus jobs. The school is on a hiring freeze because of too many applicants.

- Putting out dozens more applications.

- Posting up ads for a live-in maid (I've gotten bites but the person usually flakes out.)

- Applying to community colleges with dorms and hoping they don't gap me. (Still waiting for results on that. I am screwed here if they don't accept my old FAFSA, because my Mom is no longer willing to help fill it out with her information.)

- Asking disability services for help.

- Pet sitting. (Put out an app. on a few websites; no callbacks.)

I'm not willing to try:

- Joining the military
- Anything illegal
- Any official maid/nanny match up services (I do not have any experience with children, which has been a stumbling block in the past with that.)

Is there anything else that I can do? I'm incredibly scared to go to a shelter or be without a place to stay in any sense of the word. I feel like once I'm there there's no way out; I won't have a car to look for work, won't have an address to put on the application, won't have a computer to help research my options... I am just scared shitless. My lack of transportation and my inability to afford public transportation severely limit my options as well.

The only thing I've come up with is online employment such as Cashcrate and ChaCha, where you fill out ads and answer questions for money, but that won't be enough to pay rent. I also can't seem to find any places that will pay for plasma/bone marrow/etc in my area. I'm an excellent writer, so any opportunities involving that would be great.

I am just completely stumped. I feel as if I've tried everything in the book, but nothing's working. It's like with each avenue of help, there is something about me that disqualifies me. I don't have children. My Mom makes too much money. Etc.

I know there has to be SOMETHING out there that I'm missing. What is it? What can I do?!
posted by biochemist to Work & Money (32 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
House sitting. Combine with foodbank, welfare, walking dogs, ...

Any inns or B&B's around to work serving tables in exchange for room and board.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 6:25 PM on May 4, 2010

Have you contacted churches? Many have ladies auxiliary groups who would be glad to offer a room or odd jobs or food or something like that. I don't know your stance on religion, but even with mine, I'd reach out if the alternative was living on the street.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 6:29 PM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you're in major metropolitan area, you could try looking at hostels. My understanding is that most hostel employees work for the hostel part time in exchange for housing.
posted by shaun uh at 6:37 PM on May 4, 2010

Seconding peanut_mcgillicuty's suggestion. You might also try campus ministers/chaplains at your university, who will likely have experience helping students in difficulties and may be able to hook you into (official or unofficial) social-services networks you're not currently aware of.
posted by Bardolph at 6:37 PM on May 4, 2010

A couple random ideas:

* Don't just apply at work study jobs, go door to door to all the faculty that you know and also stop into the general offices (eg. biology, etc.). Stop at the offices for faculty that you do not now, too, and see if they have anything available. A few years ago, I was given money to hire a student(s). Did I have time to look for students? No. I hired one of the two students who came to my office door and asked if I was going to hire anyone for the semester/year.

* What size city do you live in? Post an ad on craigslist (Offer to do X, Y, and Z - whatever that is , write articles, online research, I dont know what you can do). You could post these for anywhere, by the way and don't need to limit it to your city.

* If you are located near a large university/medical center, volunteer for studies. Please be careful and review the study. However, as a grad student, I received a few hundred dollars to participate in an exercise induced pain study. They paid us a couple hundred dollars to sit around in a room for the day and take a placebo or something along the lines of an asipirin. Please review the study details and don't take unecessary risks.

* If you are near a large city and/or elderly population, google assisted living. These places hire live in aids to help an elderly person with everything from errands to health care. I don't know what they require of the employees, but maybe they would hire a student if you could promise X hours throughout the year?

I may email you do find out more about your background. You may be able to introduce yourself to companies and offer writing services. More later.

posted by Wolfster at 6:42 PM on May 4, 2010

Have you checked with the student counseling/mental house folks on campus? Most colleges really want to help students in situations like this.

I work at a university myself, and if you send me a note, I'll be more than glad to call around your college and find out what resources there are for you, and send them back to you. I can work on this Wednesday morning if you get in touch with me.

Have you gone to ask at your library's reference desk? While this isn't a typical reference question, librarians know about lots of resources you might not be aware of.

Good luck.
posted by bluedaisy at 6:45 PM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

You might try following up on your applications more, if you haven't being doing so already. Once, after not receiving a call/email back, I emailed the employer politely and graciously asking if there was any interest in my application. They had chosen someone else, so I (still graciously) thanked them for considering me and said I'd be interested in any future positions. A few months later they emailed me with another offer before they put an ad up (though by then I already had a job). It's good to try to have them keep you in mind because hiring new people is often carried out in flaky, "when we get a chance" way, taking a far back seat to everything else going on. With my current job, it only happened after I reminded my employer that I was still interested because while they were hiring, it wasn't a driven expansion they were attempting. They'd mostly forgotten about me because the normal intensity of their work took center stage (understandably).

Also, seconding being a paid participant in studies. I made maybe $15/month on average in university from studies. Not much, but enough for an extra dinner out. I also participated in a study for $800 but chickened out due to the risks (it required taking viagra plus a heart medication, and hospitalization for monitoring... eep).
posted by mnemonic at 6:46 PM on May 4, 2010

^ That should be I also almost participated in a study for $800.
posted by mnemonic at 6:47 PM on May 4, 2010

The suggestion of working in exchange for a hostel bed is a good one. I'm not sure where you're located, but I did this many times while travelling in New Zealand and money was tight. Usually you clean every day for 2 - 3 hours and that pays for one night in a dorm room. Sometimes I even negotiated tasks like fence painting or manning the reception.

Hostels also tend to be a good info resource for short term jobs. The bigger ones will have bulletin boards, and you can network with longer term stayers.

Good luck!
posted by exquisite_deluxe at 6:52 PM on May 4, 2010

FA office. They told me that in order to register with the homelessness service that declares you an independent, I'd need to be living on the streets for a period of time. I'm trying to avoid that at all costs.

In a previous question, you mentioned a boyfriend. Are you two still together? Could you stay with him? Then maybe tell the school (?) that you've been on the streets during that time? It's not honest, but it's a lot better than being homeless.

Also, I'm confused why the school's financial aid office helps students hook up with a homeless service? This is a service that the school offers, or this is a different social service/charity organization?

It might help if you share which state you live in, or which metro area is closest to you.
posted by Houstonian at 7:09 PM on May 4, 2010

Response by poster: We're not still together; I actually was staying with him, we broke up and he moved away, which is why I am now in the dorms.

They basically said that the program was something usually assigned to children in highschool who were homeless, and that some colleges had a college-level program for it, so they didn't. He did a lot of thinking/discussing about what the school's criteria for the classification should be, and ultimately I didn't qualify because I was in the dorms.

I'm closest to Chicago.
posted by biochemist at 7:12 PM on May 4, 2010

In your search for live-in maid jobs, have you included home care/personal care jobs (i.e., helping old or disabled people carry out day-to-day tasks)? A lot of this type of work is done by registered nurses, but if you're willing to be paid less than the going rate, you could find something. My mom held a couple of these jobs when she was young and broke, and actually enjoyed them. A church, as peanut_mcgillicuty recommends, could be a good place to start for this.
posted by oinopaponton at 7:14 PM on May 4, 2010

You may want to sell things you don't need on craigslist if you're really in a tight spot. I still mourn the loss of my Xbox 360, but selling it did get me out of a pinch.

Maybe hit up smaller retail establishments. Where I'm from, a lot of hot dog cart vendors and frozen lemonade people set up shop around this time of year.

If you're still broke around 4th of July, find the people setting up a fireworks stand the week before and help them unload the fireworks. Then ask them if they're looking for some extra help over the next week. You could definitely make a couple hundred bucks in a short amount of time.
posted by rancidchickn at 7:15 PM on May 4, 2010

Oh, and if this hasn't been mentioned-- you might also try calling round to the guidance offices of local high schools and elementary schools, asking whether any parents are looking for the services of a private tutor. As a college freshman, you should be able to handle just about any subject in the K-8 range, and for older kids you could offer specifically English-oriented SAT prep and/or college essay help.
posted by Bardolph at 7:20 PM on May 4, 2010

People make jokes about the YMCA, but the reality is that many YMCAs have both dormitory and SRO (single room occupancy) space available on a weekly or monthly basis, for both men and women. The Y's charter says that they (we - disclaimer: I work for a Y) will provide access to everyone, regardless of ability to pay. There may be a waiting list for housing, but if there is a Y with Dorm/SRO space near you it will be clean, well-maintained, drug- and alcohol free, and safe. You should go in now and fill out a financial assistance form, and get on the waiting list. Dorm/SRO space is somewhat easier to come by in the summer just because its summer and its not unusual for our residents to spend the winter indoors and then choose to move out in the warmer weather months.

I note from your prior question that you are somewhere in Ohio. Here's the housing page for the YMCA of Central Ohio. They also have employment assistance. Here's a list of all the Y's in Ohio.

I want to stress again that its very likely that you will qualify for significant financial assistance, and its possible that you can stay in their housing free of charge.

If you want, Mefi mail me your location and I can point you more specifically to resources in your area.

Also, I know you ruled out childcare, but what about working at a camp? Here's a page of summer camp opportunity in Ohio. Many of them will provide room and board for the summer + pay a salary.

You mentioned in your last question that "fast food" was all you qualify for, but I note your handle here is biochemist, and you're obviously going to college and are well spoken. Have you registered with temp agencies? Are there hotels near you that might be hiring for the summer? Cedar Point is in Ohio and seems to be hiring for the summer, and their web page says they provide low-cost, on-site employee housing. Here's a list of Summer jobs from the Ohio State Parks Service - housing is not included with these but they should pay enough for you to rent or share a place.

Also, do you have or can you borrow a tent? If you can find even a low-paying or part time job living in a campground can be a viable alternative to homeless shelters.

As I said, Mefi mail me with your specific location and I'll see what else I can turn up.
posted by anastasiav at 7:26 PM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you are at Purdue I can suggest a lot of options and have some connections. It is helpful if you are more specific with your location.
posted by bolognius maximus at 7:27 PM on May 4, 2010

whoops. Saw the Ohio thing above.

There are a lot of older professors (around here anyway) that provide room and board in exchange for about 20 hours of housework/yardwork/whatever a week.

Lots of people hiring for yardwork in the summer.

Restaurants by the highway make a ton of cash.

Just suggestions.
posted by bolognius maximus at 7:29 PM on May 4, 2010

One year when I was younger, I hit a rough patch myself -- lived in a smallish city, there were no jobs available via the regular routes (this was pre-internet), I had some work experience (grocery stores) but nothing spectacular. What worked for me was to go to kinda dumpy places, in person, and ask for work. I helped a bartender at a dive bar, waited tables at a roadside cafe, donated blood plasma. The key for me was to go to more run-down places -- the kind of places that, frankly, don't get many applicants. And, go in person.

Selling blood plasma: In the Chicago area, there seem to be at least two locations that will pay you for plasma. They don't publish the pay, but advice that you call them to find out. Many years ago, and a different location than you, I remember a complicated pay scheme: You ccould give twice a week, the pay was $15 dollars the first time in the week, $20 the second time in the week, and if you and the number of days in the calendar month worked out for more than 8 donations in a month, it was more than $20 ($35 maybe). It's worth a phone call, at least. On the phone, tell them about any medications you take and ask about the pay.

Interstate Blood Bank
3324 West Lawrence Avenue
Chicago, IL 60625

Monday - Friday 7am - 6pm
Saturday 7am - 3pm

Plasma Biological Services
1166 North McLean Blvd.
Elgin, IL 60123

Monday, Wednesday and Friday 8am - 4pm
Tuesday and Thursday 10am - 5pm
Saturday 9am - 2pm
posted by Houstonian at 7:37 PM on May 4, 2010

Nthing camp counselor. There are dozens of camps in Michigan (and maybe Ohio?) that need staff.
posted by k8t at 7:59 PM on May 4, 2010

Response by poster: I'm actually not in Ohio at the moment; I'm from Ohio, but I'm currently near Chicago.
posted by biochemist at 9:02 PM on May 4, 2010

Camp counselor is a good suggestion, also look for work on landscaping crews at parks and rec and other seasonal businesses.
posted by fshgrl at 9:08 PM on May 4, 2010

- petsitting. Post in Craigslist, both in pets and in services. Find out the going rate and 1/2 it -- tell folks you're a student looking for work in the summer. Have your references lined up if possible. You can offer to visit people's houses for dog walks during the workday, or stay with pets while they're away. Start a Facebook page for it, or a regular little blog/website. Call places that staff for petsitting until you talk to someone. Make a poster and email it to every department admin assistant at your college and ask them to pass it to their staff and faculty.

- email every professor you've had, and ask for summer work. If they don't have anything, ask them if they know who's hiring for the summer.

- there may be a summer camp at your college campus. find out and see if you can join late.

- email every professor and admin assistant you've ever known at the school. Ask if anyone is going away for the summer and needs a responsible house sitter.
posted by barnone at 10:21 PM on May 4, 2010

Also: tutoring. What subjects do you study? You need to make a really nice flyer. Offer the first meeting for free. Email it to everyone you know and ask department admins to pass it on. Find out if there is a parenting listserv at your school.

- gardening
- house cleaning

Also - there was a recent question about this website called Textbroker. You get a topic and write semi-realistic meaningless drivel, used for SEO (search engine optimization). Which means you're writing for those fake blogs that you reach through a google search.... but if you did a bunch per day, you might make enough to supplement your income.
posted by barnone at 10:28 PM on May 4, 2010

Nurse, Cook, Counselor position still available here. Other camp jobs here, here and here.
posted by barnone at 10:34 PM on May 4, 2010

I am screwed here if they don't accept my old FAFSA, because my Mom is no longer willing to help fill it out with her information

Most likely you've seen this, but in case you haven't:
What if I am unable to provide my parents’ information due to special circumstances?


# Once you submit your FAFSA without parental data, you must follow up with the FAA at the college you plan to attend, in order to complete your FAFSA and receive an EFC. Also note the following:

* Under Federal law, only your FAA has the authority to decide whether or not you must provide parental information on your FAFSA.
* You will have to provide documentation to verify your situation. Gather as much written evidence of your situation as you can. Written evidence may include court or law enforcement documents, letters from a clergy member, school counselor or social worker, and/or any other relevant data that explains your special circumstance.
* After reviewing your circumstances carefully, your FAA will decide if you must provide parental information or if your circumstances allow you to proceed without providing parental data. Your FAA’s decision is final and can not be appealed to Federal Student Aid.

The part I didn't copy does say that unhelpful parents aren't "special circumstances", but it would appear that the final decision as to whether or not you need parental information is up to the FA office of your school (though I could be misreading this).
I know that you said they haven't been helpful in filing your FAFSA independently, but perhaps they would let you file an incomplete form.
posted by niles at 11:00 PM on May 4, 2010

Are there any local housing co-operatives/intentional communities in the area?

I used to live in one during college (20 years ago!), and we took in many a person on a temporary basis who had no money and needed a place to stay. The way we worked it out was that we met with the person, and we either charged them $10-20 a night, or they could 'pay off' their room and board with labor around the house. Of course, they may not be the cleanest of places, and you may have to tolerate your fair share of bad vegan cooking, but I lived in one for 4 years, and enjoyed the experience. Some people who stayed with us on a temporary basis eventually became permanent residents.

Here's a link: Chicago Co-op
posted by spinifex23 at 11:39 PM on May 4, 2010

I'm not sure if you need to stay in the area or are willing to travel, but I know a lot of people who have worked on cruise ships for the summer. You could also see if you can find a farm or ranch that would take you on as a seasonal hand. Some resorts have dorms for seasonal workers too... I'm specifically thinking of friends I know who worked at the Whistler ski resort, but there may be similar setups for seasonal summer work at large amusement parks.
posted by kaudio at 6:36 AM on May 5, 2010

I know several people who have had live-in positions helping elderly people remain independent. These positions did not involve any kind of nursing care, the elderly person and their family just wanted someone to be there at night. If you find the right situation you'd get a free room in exchange for being there every night overnight. This can, of course, put a damper on your social life.

Check with local senior citizen programs, ask faculty, put up signs, advertise on craigslist. Good luck.
posted by mareli at 7:37 AM on May 5, 2010

I've heard that many restaurants will hire walk in dishwashers. Not a glamorous or easy job, but you sound desperate.
posted by xammerboy at 10:23 AM on May 5, 2010

Oh and sometimes you can get a room at the local Y pretty cheap.
posted by xammerboy at 10:24 AM on May 5, 2010

Group homes for semi-independent adults hire for three shifts a day of assistants. Often, the night shift is a sleep shift -- you don't even have to be awake to be paid. The residents of these homes can be Down syndrome adults, the brain-injured, or other people who want to live independently but need some help to do so.

Responsibilities are usually to be there to cook or supervise a meal, to make sure residents with jobs are up and dressed and ready for work, helping people do their laundry, keeping a log for the other workers, and sometimes just playing Go Fish for an hour before bed. Having first aid certification, a license to drive, and basic life skills will make up for a lack of experience.

It is a low-stress job, not demanding physically, very emotionally rewarding, and pays a little more than the things you're considering. It also looks good on a resume if you are looking for childcare, social service, or medical office work later.

Please excuse me for poking, but from the timbre of your question and the sorts of jobs and doomful fates you are thinking of, it looks to me like you may have some anxiety issues and some bleak self-esteem related to what you perceive as failures in your past. Working in a group home and helping other people could be the best thing you ever do for yourself.
posted by Sallyfur at 3:11 PM on May 5, 2010

Response by poster: Just wanted to update ya'll that I've been able to find temporary shelter, and thank you all for your help and suggestions!
posted by biochemist at 1:22 PM on May 24, 2010

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