As many of you know, I was homeless when I was younger. Life on the streets is hard, harder than you can possibly imagine.The first night was terrifying. I knew I was going to die. I knew I was going to get stabbed by other homeless people for my boots and sleeping bag, and God forbid they discover I had u00a338 in cash, they would probably slit my throat for that. I was going to get AIDS and I was going to die. It was a certainty.The first time I came across a group of homeless people that night was when I tried to find a place to sleep in an abandoned building. One happened to see me trying to climb through a broken window and told me it was a bad idea. That's where the prostitutes took their punters, and where the local heroin dealers plied their trade. I had no idea about any of this stuff, so I was glad of the advice.The person who told me to stay away from that building told me he and a few other homeless guys had a place in the park nearby and I could come along if I wanted. I knew the park and knew it was open on all sides, so I could get away if anything went sideways, so figured I had nothing to lose.Those guys asked me what happened to make me homeless. I told them exactly what my landlord did. I think they took pity on me as they could see I was scared, and let me know what to expect. I discovered how to apply for council housing, where the nearest soup van was and how often it turned up. They told me where I could find food and some of the things they found useful to survive. They were really nice people, and that surprised me. I didn't feel threatened in their presence, but wasn't ready to stay with them.Let me tell you, that first night was petrifying. Every noise was a threat. Every shadow a murderer. It was the start of the coldest winter on UK record at that time and believe me, I felt every bit of it. I was alone in the world. I was cold and I was scared. I'm not ashamed to admit I cried my eyes out that night and didn't sleep a single second. It was the longest night of my life.Early the next morning I got out of my sleeping bag and packed it away. I had a steely determination to sort everything out. I had been told what to do, I was intelligent and I could figure this out. I wasn't going to to spend another night on the riverbank.Number one on my list was to get a council flat. All I had to do was visit the housing office, declare myself homeless and sign some forms. Surely they could understand that I was young, nau00efve and desperately vulnerable. It should be enough to get me to the top of the list, or at least into emergency accommodation. Well first I had to find the housing office. I never needed to go there before so I had no idea where it was. Luckily there is a council advice centre in the local shopping centre. I went there, made a quick enquiry and walked to the next town to start the process of getting myself somewhere else to live.I decided on my way there I was going to speak to the police after I had finished at the housing office. I knew they couldn't do anything about the illegal eviction as it was a civil matter, but they would be able to punish my landlord and his mate for threatening me with extreme violence if I didn't leave immediately.I got to the housing office around mid afternoon. It took me a while to find it as I hadn't really been to the next town over much before. Walking in, I took a ticket from the machine on the front desk and waited my turn. I was called up to a private booth within a few hours. I didn't mind the wait as I knew I would get some keys at the end of it.The housing officer asked me loads of questions and gave me stacks of forms to fill out. It took ages. Eventually I was called back to a booth where a different officer looked over everything. He asked me why I left my previous home. I gave him all the details. All he was interested in was that I had left voluntarily. If you make yourself intentionally homeless, regardless of the circumstance, you go straight to the bottom of the list. I tried to plead with him and told him exactly what my landlord said, and how he acted. This guy was huge. Six foot four of bad tempered agressive muscle. I was a 9.5 stone weakling. I am not exaggerating when I say that one punch from this man could easily have killed me. The housing officer didn't care about that. All he kept telling me was that what I was alleging to have happened was illegal and landlords can't evict people without notice, so obviously I had done something wrong to warrant it. I hadn't. I rarely ever spoke to my landlord, and had been paying my rent in full, on time every month. I had never been so much as a day late.I asked to speak to another housing officer as I knew I wasn't getting anywhere with this one. A woman came and sat in front of me and asked me all the same questions, but seemed more willing to listen to me. She said there were other criteria for immediate assistance I might meet so reeled off a few more questions. Was I a drug addict seeking rehab? No. Was I dependent on alcohol? No. Was I disabled or mentally ill? No. Was I an ex offender? No. I didn't fit any profile which mattered. The council had discharged their duty of care by adding me to the waiting list and there was nothing else I could do.Dejected, but more determined than ever to get revenge on my landlord for what he did, I went to the police station next. I told a constable what has transpired and that I wanted to press charges. He didn't care either. The threats, whilst illegal, came down to his word against mine. He was a successful landlord who had evicted me for some reason, I was a homeless guy with a grudge. It was obvious the police were not taking my side and I was wasting my time.I went back to the riverbank.The next morning I met up with the guys from the park. I told them what had happened and they said they weren't surprised. I asked for some more advice. I don't remember what they told me, but I do remember it didn't help.I picked up a free newspaper from one of the stands in the town on my way back from the park to the riverbank. It mentioned that the winter shelter was reopening soon and gave it's address. I was there the day it opened but was already too late, all the rooms were gone. I went there every day for 2 weeks trying to get a room, and eventually got lucky. They had a zero tolerance policy towards drugs and one of the residents had been caught with syringes. He was being kicked out as I arrived. I took his room and stayed there for a week before I was evicted for some made up reason I don't remember.I went back to my friends in the park, but none of them believed I had gotten a room there as they were so difficult to get.A few weeks later, one of the big hospitals in my town closed down for a complete refurbishment. I saw it as a way to move off of the riverbank to somewhere inside. I scoped out the hospital and decided against trying to to sleep inside the main building as I could be found by the workmen and thrown off site. I looked at the external lab buildings but they were either being demolished or had big alarm boxes on the outside. Eventually, at the very far end of the site, I saw what was to become my home for the next several months. It was an abandoned brick shed. It was full to the ceiling with empty cardboard boxes, but best of all, the door could be secured from the inside. I had a roof over my head, it was dry and it was lockable. I made a tunnel through the boxes to the wall furthest from the door and made a little den. There was just enough room for me to sit up in one direction, and lie flat in another. If I was quiet, no one would know I was there.I needed to make it comfortable. I used several thick cardboard boxes to insulate me from the bare concrete base, and took a load of hospital bedding out of a skip on site one evening when the workers had gone home. Piled on top of the cardboard, it was quite comfortable. I already had a sleeping bag, so I slept on top of the sheets in that.That shed probably saved my life.I mentioned the soup kitchen van which came once or twice a week. Well sometimes it didn't come at all. I was already eating out of bins, but I needed that soup as it was the only warm food I could get. Eventually it's funding must have dried up as it stopped coming to altogether. I had also been careless in allowing myself to be seen taking food out of a bin at the back of a bakery, and the bin was locked away. That was the end of the food. I didn't eat for nearly 2 weeks.Something people don't tell you about real hunger is the pain. Being hungry hurts. Being hungry can make you hallucinate. You can die of hunger with a full meal in front of you as you are too weak to eat it. I came very close to starving to death.Someone told me the salvation army give out food, all you have to do is ask. I made my way to the nearest Sally army church and waited until the service was over before asking to see the vicar. He took me to the kitchen and filled a carrier bag with food. I was too dilerious to notice he had given me a frozen loaf of bread and a load of tins I couldn't open as I didn't have a can opener. What it did have was some fruit, a few slices of ham and some biscuits. That carrier bag of food lasted 3 weeks.I was having a conversation with one of the other homeless guys I knew and he told me that the council didn't just offer their own properties, they offered a service to private landlords too. This was later confirmed in a story in one of the free local newspapers, which also mentioned that the council didn't take all the properties offered, despite having a deficit, as they didn't consider some of the accomodation to be suitable. I suddenly had a new mission.I started waking up early, so I could make my way to the housing office and be first in line every day. I stayed there all day,every day for several weeks until I had a lucky break. A middle aged lady came in and I heard her say to the person on the front desk she had some bedsits to offer. They ended up not being suitable, but while she was waiting I struck up a conversation with her. I told her why I was there and what happened to make me homeless. I persuaded her to give me a chance and we filled out the housing benefit forms there and then. She gave me a lift to her bedsits and showed me inside.As I now had an address, on the way to the bedsits we stopped at the benefits agency so I could register for income support. It would be a few days until I received my first payment.As I had not taken off my clothes in many months, I was desperate for a bath. I had to wait a few days as there was no way I was putting my dirty clothes on again. I slept on the floor as I didn't want to get the bed dirty.Once my first payment arrived, I went shopping. I bought fresh socks and pants, a new pair of jeans and a new t-shirt. I also bought the cheapest shampoo and toothpaste they had. I went home, sat in that bath for hours and fell asleep in a warm, comfortable bed for the first time in months. The next morning I put on my fresh clothes and haven't looked back since.