8 Extreme Homeless Stories

1The man who lived in AOL for 2 months

After completing a four-month incubator program at AOL's Palo Alto campus, Eric Simons discovered that his badge still worked so he decided to live there. "I couldn't afford to live anywhere," Simons recalled. "I started living out of AOL's headquarters."

For someone with neither money nor an aversion to sleeping on others' couches, the AOL building had plenty of allure. "They had a gym there with showers," Simons said. "I'd take a shower after work. I was like - I could totally work here...They have food upstairs, they have every drink on tap. This would be a sweet place to live."

He stayed there for two months, until a security guard came to work an hour earlier and found out about Simons. He was kicked out, but they decided not to call the police.

2The college student who is homeless on purpose

Being homeless is one thing most of us avoid at all costs, but not this college student. Shane Dussault, a philosophy major at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, chooses it for his lifestyle.

Inside one of Shane Dussault's backpacks is a laptop, a small bag of tools, a bag of electronics, and an ultra-absorbent compressed towel the size of a washcloth. In the other is a kettle, food supplies such as olive oil, fruit, cheese and bread, and a bag of toiletries. His other three possessions are a down mat, a sleeping bag, and a “bivy bag,” which is a large Gore-Tex sack.

Shane is a U1 Philosophy student at McGill, and has been homeless for almost a year. He lives on campus, using its facilities like most of us use different rooms in a house. He eats his meals in student lounges and does push-ups in the library. He showers at the gym and stashes extra socks in convenient hiding spots. He won't say where – he guards his possessions closely.

He also sleeps outside year round, on campus in the winter and on the mountain in the summer. Again, for his own safety and privacy, he doesn't disclose where. Every morning, he packs up his gear and begins another typical student day – he walks to class, takes notes on his mini Acer laptop at lectures, and logs long hours in the library to stay on top of his courses. (You can usually find him in Blackader Lauterman, the Art History library in Redpath). At the end of the day, he returns to his spot and sets up again, completing what must be the shortest commute in McGill history. On the weekends, when he visits friends or goes to parties, he's careful not to drink too much – alcohol slows the blood's circulation, something Shane can't risk while sleeping outside in February. And the strangest part? He does it all by choice.

3The homeless woman who lived in a man's closet for a year

A homeless woman in Japan managed to sneak into a man's house and lived undetected in his closet for a year - and was only arrested after he became suspicious when food mysteriously began disappearing.

Police found the 58-year-old woman hiding in the top compartment of the man's closet. The resident of the home installed security cameras that transmitted images to his mobile phone, after becoming puzzled by food disappearing from his kitchen over the past several months.

One of the cameras captured someone moving inside his home after he had left, and he called police believing it was a burglar. However, when they arrived they found the door locked and all windows closed. "We searched the house ... checking everywhere someone could possibly hide," the policeman said. "When we slid open the shelf closet, there she was, nervously curled up on her side."

The woman told police she had no place to live and first sneaked into the man's house about a year ago when he left it unlocked. The closet is part of a Japanese-style room, one of several rooms in his one-story house where the man lived alone - or so he had thought.

Police were investigating how she managed to go in and out of the house unnoticed, as well as details of her life inside the closet, and if she had taken anything else besides food.
She had moved a mattress into the small closet space and apparently even took showers, police said, calling the woman 'neat and clean.'

4The homeless man who lived in a library for two weeks

A man lived in a New Jersey library for two weeks, but that particular chapter in his life was ended by the police. Reports say that the homeless man, Charles Jones Jr, was spotted peeking out of a basement window of the Ocean Township library in Monmouth County by an employee. But we suspect he was giving off some sort of tome-ing (sic) beacon.

Police discovered several books in his lair and found that the 26-year-old had taken food from the employee break room. All in all, it was a novel arrangement, but one that was frowned upon by the law. Mr Jones has been released on a criminal summons and charged with burglary and theft.

5The homeless man who lived in an airport for 4 years and was found by accident by his mother

Scanning the many seated areas of Heathrow's Terminal 1, it seems like everyone is waiting for the call to board a flight. But would you spot someone who is going nowhere - and has been living in the airport lounge for four years? That is what 26-year-old George did until one day, by chance, he was spotted by his mother.

He had not seen or spoken to her in all that time. George, who asked for his surname to be withheld, seemingly disappeared without a trace after falling into debt. The college drop-out sought shelter at the airport after building up a £2,000 overdraft and moving out of his home.

Given the nature of international airports - with delayed passengers often taking a nap across a bank of seats - George found he could go relatively unnoticed, providing he kept himself clean and tidy. Free food was easy to come by, with coffee shops throwing out leftovers in clean plastic bags placed at the back of the building at the end of the day.

George's surreal existence came to an end when his mother spotted him using a payphone. She was at the airport to pick up a relative."We sat down and had a bit of a cry and a cuddle," George said.

"But it would be foolish to think everything was going to be the same again, because they (his parents) have spent four years telling people they don't know where I am. You can't just walk back into their lives and say 'Hi, prodigal son returns' - you have to give everybody time.'" Angela added, "It's like having a death in the family, except nobody has died - you talk to keep their memory alive."

6The homeless billionaire

Meet Nicholas Berggruen, a homeless billionaire. You read that right. Nicholas is worth billions but doesn't even own a home (he stays in hotels) because he's lost all interest in acquiring things. After making his billions, Mr. Berggruen, 46, lost interest in acquiring things; they didn't satisfy him, and in fact had become something of a burden. So he started paring down his material life, selling off his condo in New York, his mansion in Florida and his only car. He hatched plans to leave his fortune to charity and his art collection to a new museum in Berlin.

For him, wealth is about lasting impact, not stuff. Forbes magazine estimated Berggruen's net worth at $2.2 billion as of 2010.

7The homeless man with a golden radio voice

A US homeless man with a "golden voice" has been given a second chance after being discovered by a reporter in Ohio. Williams became a YouTube sensation after a reporter filmed him along a roadside waving a handwritten sign to advertise his vocal gifts in the hopes of scoring a job in radio or TV broadcast. Within days, Williams had been ferried to New York for the morning talk show circuit, had recorded a commercial for Kraft Foods and appeared as a guest on the therapy talk show "Dr. Phil."

Before being discovered, he was a beggar during the day, holding up a cardboard sign, and slept in a makeshift tent behind an abandoned petrol station at night.

A year after his overnight success, he has been in rehab twice, worked with Entertainment Tonight (whose producers also helped him with achieving sobriety), landed a voice-over spot in a Kraft Homestyle Macaroni and Cheese commercial, and is set to release a book chronicling his story this May.

8The homeless man who built a car out of scrap

Orismar de Souza, 35, of São José de Piranha, Brazil, built a functional car out of junk. He actually shaped the body himself out of sheet metal using a hammer and chisel. The 125cc engine is from a motorcycle, and the other parts were gathered from junkyards in his area. After four years of work, off and on, he was successful. “Nobody believed, everybody laughed at me,” Souza told Globo.com. “I was very humbled by this, but I found and I built my car alone with my own hands.”

A few months later, Souza was able to replace the motorcycle engine's kick starter with a car ignition, and add in a gearbox with reverse. The mostly Fiat shrimpmobile can reach 50 mph on the highway, and Souza has been able to use it to find a home and a job in the local sugarcane fields.

Photo: Divulgação/Wagner Batista da Silva/Arquivo Pessoal