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"The Brighter Side of Homeless": a guide to overcoming homelessness

If you try to define it, it becomes a challenge, but when you become homeless it becomes obvious and you learn exactly what it is. It is no longer the chronically ill on the street. It could be someone who has lost their job and house due to the terrible economy or worse taken ill and they can’t work anymore.

According to Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), there are nearly 58,000 men, women and children who are homeless in the greater L.A. area each night.
George McQuade III
Eileen Pheland was homeless for nearly two decades
Courtesy Eileen Pheland

According to Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), there are nearly 58,000 men, women and children who are homeless in the greater L.A. area each night. The Count reveals homelessness has gone up 15 percent since the LAHSA Count in 2011.

School doesn’t talk about homelessness. In fact, students have to resort to Webster’s dictionary to learn the meaning of the word homelessness, “Destitute of a home, those people, who have no permanent residence, especially those who live outdoors due to poverty.”

Eileen Pheland, who has penned, “The Brighter Side of Homelessness,” knows firsthand what it’s like to be without a place to call home. When Phelan’s friends forced her out of their Miami home, she started a journey of the nearly 20 years of homelessness. And by then she reportedly had been medically diagnosed as, “permanently physically disabled”. An accident in Brooklyn severely injured her legs. She trekked through alleys and streets in a half dozen cities before ending up in Orange County nearly two years ago.

Pheland, a 48-year-old Brooklyn native, is a shining example of putting a positive spin on homelessness. Her book, all of 69 pages might take you a half hour to read, and you might need a tissue, because she tells it like it is and guides anyone, who reads it to be positive. It uplifts, inspires and often encourages you to be stronger willed with more inner strength and confidence than ever before.

“I believe that no matter what you are facing in life,” said Pheland. “You can push through everything that comes your way.”

"I was in Honolulu", she told the Orange County Register. "and one day I looked on the Internet for the safest places in the U.S. and Orange County came up," Pheland said. She saved up her disability money and flew to John Wayne Airport; rented a storage locker and a post office box in Costa Mesa, where she hit the streets.

Today she spends most of her time in church, on bus benches, at the beach or in the park. Since late last year, Phelan has spent the cold nights at the National Guard Armory in Fullerton. Every once in awhile, she’ll rent a motel room or spend the night traveling on city buses.

There are two note pages after each chapter of the book for you to write your accomplishments, your innermost thoughts, or whatever you want to write whenever you want to.

The chapters cover everything from, “Freedom to be yourself; No fault of your own,” to “Facing reality, never giving up and counting your blessing, it could be worse.”

“I truly feel that looking on the brighter side can make all the difference in the world, for a brighter and easier way to go,” she said.

Pheland is looking for sponsors for the 2014-2015 school year. This one-of-a-kind homeless guide that turns frowns into smiles and changes lives will be distributed to 5,000 students and faculty.

Phelan hopes to help reach her goal of providing each student and faculty member with a free book. Since financing has been the critical constraint in determining how many students will get a book, sponsorships will help boost the number of books that can be given to the college community.

According to published reports Phelan sells her book for $7.00 and has a local printer in Orange County print them for $3.00. So far, she has only printed 227 according to the Orange County Register.

If you want to sponsor, The Brighter Side of Homelessness, contact Eileen Pheland,, call: (714) – 716-7815. She is planning to hold a small event to thank her sponsors and share her nearly two decades of homeless experience. If you would like to make a donation, make checks out to: Eileen Pheland, The Brighter Side of Homelessness, 2701 Harbor Blvd., #326, Costa Mesa, CA 92626.

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