Here in Houston, most of the "homeless resources" are in the downtown area--the SHAPE Center, Goodwill Industries, Bread and Fishes, Star of Hope Center, the Sally Ann Women and Children's Shelter and the Men's Shelter. Because all these do-gooders are concentrated downtown there are about ten zillion homeless guys, a lot of whom are mentally ill, down there all looking to get paid or get over. It's really nerve wracking to be down there at night on the street. My friend Stretch says "I am staying [i:d3ebc33a1e]out[/i:d3ebc33a1e] of downtown Houston. It is tramped out, completely tramped out."
I much prefer the outlying areas near a railyard. You are a sh!tload safer out in the woods away from a populated area than you are in the middle of a couple of thousand people that are all looking for some way to get over.
The first night I ever spent out on the street was at age 12 or so (1963), when my friend Dusty and I camped out near Kuhlman's Gully in Houston, about 50 yards from a well-known hobo jungle. It was behind the Fed-Mart store on Mykawa Road, near the T & NO junction just south of New South Yards on Griggs Road. (These streets all come together right there at New South Yards.) There was nobody in the jungle behind the Fed-Mart, but we knew better than to camp there, because there were adults coming through there all the time. We set up an Army surplus "pup tent" and built a fire to cook on. It did not occur to us that building a fire there might attract predators.
Dusty spent a lot of nights out away from home. His mother was a dead-drunk alcoholic, and whenever she would go off on him, he would take his pack and his gear and go camp out down by The Ditch (Kulman's Gully). I only camped with him when I was supposed to be spending the night at his house.
We caught crawdads in The Ditch, sometimes gigged frogs and tried to fish, but the only fish we ever caught were pathetically small mud cats that tasted like dirt. The crawdads, however, were pretty good. We put them in a coffee can full of fresh water for a day, then boiled them up in salt water and ate them like boiled shrimp. Our favorite campfire meal was always beans and franks with Fritos, though. And RC Cola to rink.