Gadsden native lives homeless

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By Sarrah Peters/News Editor

Last year, Patton Chambers was a pretty normal college student. He worked fast food and attended classes while living in a cheap, but not very nice apartment. 

After his roommate graduated and moved out, Chambers decided that he didn’t want to look for a new roommate or apartment. So with three semesters of school left before he received his Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Education, he decided to try living only off of campus resources, basically homeless.

“It was time for a change in my life,” said Chambers. “Also, I’m into experiments, so I wanted to see if I was capable of doing it.”

Although Chambers made plans to live this way for the remainder of his college career, he wasn’t sure he would make it past the first semester.

“Once you start doing it, you realize it really isn’t that bad,” said Chambers. “It becomes normal just like everything else in life.”

The first night Chambers spent living homeless he spent the night in his tent in a wooded area on campus. The next night he scoped out some abandoned apartments and slept in one of the cleaner hallways.

On the third night after his homeless life began, he found a new sleeping arrangement, Auburn University’s Ralph Brown Draughon library. The building is open 24 hours, five days a week. The other two nights a week, Chambers sleeps in a tent by the track.

“Once Sunday night gets there, I know I have five straight days of sleeping in the library, and that’s a dang good feeling,” said Chambers. “I think, great, the next five nights I have a great place to sleep.”

To keep his belongings safe, Chambers rented multiple lockers at the student recreation center, where he also showers and works out. He also hides or leaves some of his belongings around campus. He has had no problems with his items getting stolen.

“No one ever touches your stuff,” said Chambers. “Like, I had a book in a room in the library where I slept, and it stayed there for about two weeks. Nobody touched it.”

For food, Chambers has a rice cooker, which he uses to cook two or three cheap meals a day. His diet consists of oatmeal for breakfast and rice and beans for lunch and dinner, which he sometimes eats mid-afternoon to combine the two meals.

“I think I have a pretty good diet,” said Chambers.

He buys the food from a damaged goods store and spends less than $20 a week feeding himself. He uses his bicycle as transportation, and frequently rides to the thrift store to scout for deals. 

As a result of his lifestyle, he has a lot more free time, which he uses to get more of a college experience. He joined several extra-curricular activities including the University Program Council, which works to bring speakers and comedians to the school, and some school media on Eagle Eye TV. He also refereed intramural sports, as well as playing several intramural sports. 

Chambers enjoys his life, but has different plans after he leaves college. He plans to intern and work overseas in China or South Korea. He does however say that his lifestyle is a positive experience.

“If I had children, I would encourage them to do exactly what I do, although I wouldn’t force it on them,” said Chambers. “I highly recommend it, but if I was a female I would probably have a different point of view on it and probably wouldn’t do it.”

Chambers blogs about his experience with photos on his Tumblr account at patton1990s.tumblr.com. He has been featured in the Auburn school paper the Plainsmen, as well as in numerous online articles.

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