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Under the Overpass: A Journey of Faith on the Streets of America

4.09  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,659 Ratings  ·  353 Reviews

5th Anniversary - Updated & Expanded Edition
With foreword by Francis Chan


Ever Wonder What it Would Be Like to Live Homeless?

Mike Yankoski did more than just wonder. By his own choice, Mike's life went from upper-middle class plush to scum-of-the-earth repulsive overnight. With only a backpack, a sleeping bag and a guitar, Mike and his traveling companion, Sam, set out

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Kindle Edition
Published (first published March 1st 2005)
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Michael
Oct 11, 2011 Michael rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I would probably never have read this book had not some very sweet and well-intentioned people given it to me. Reading it was an unpleasant experience. "Under the Overpass" somehow manages to be condescending, arrogant, misinformed, and hypocritical all at the same time. Here are just a few of the many problems I had with this book:

1. On page 114 he mentions walking past a church on a Friday evening. The church is closed, locked, chained, and padlocked. The two took offense to this and then went
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Heather Pulley
I read this book because I work at a rescue mission and it was recommended to me by one of my volunteers. I had quite a struggle with it. First, I have a problem with people who are willfully "homeless", but who, at any time, could go back to the safety and security of their real lives. This author spent much of the book being shocked by the fact that Christians weren't willing to give him more handouts. He had such a sense of entitlement. Some of the experiences he held up as examples of "good ...more
Elliot Ratzman
Before “homelessness” was recognizable as an issue, Jack London and George Orwell experimented with poverty in their classic books “People of the Abyss” and “Down and Out in Paris and London.” What makes this immersion book unique is that the experimenter, Yankoski, is an apolitical middle class evangelical. This tall, white teetotaler is shocked to find that drug users also call themselves Christian and that mega-churches are wary-to-indifferent of the homeless. He avoids any analysis of the pl ...more
Brody
Sep 10, 2009 Brody rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
THIS BOOK WAS AWFUL.
Aside from being full of unverified (read; made up, fake, lies, ect) "facts" (if you go below south Mission, the latinos will kill you for being white. If you go any further below the soup kitchen on market, the blacks will kill you for being white. but don't worry-- if you hang out in the bloody TENDERLOIN all the time, you'll be just fine), this book is the most hypocritical peice of crap.
EXAMPLE: lots of time is spent in this book complaining that people ignore them beca
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Melody
Apr 27, 2014 Melody rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
This was a quick, interesting read, but far more interesting to me are the reviewers that took such offense at Yankoski's experience. What is there to be so offended by? Mike Yankoski felt that he needed a radical experience to help him come to terms with the disparity between Sunday morning and daily life, and it worked for him. Mike's goals were: to understand life of the homeless in America; to encourage others to do what God asks of them; and to learn to depend on Christ for his daily needs. ...more
Autumn Blues Reviews
Dec 22, 2010 Autumn Blues Reviews rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed

Read Under the Overpass and you will look differently at the homeless problem in America and your heart and soul will forever be changed.
Mike Yankoski did more than just wonder. By his own choice, Mike’s life went from upper-middle class plush to scum-of-the-earth repulsive overnight. With only a backpack, a sleeping bag and a guitar, Mike and his traveling companion, Sam, set out to experience life on the streets in six different cities—from Washington D.C. to San Diego— and they put themselves
...more
Linda
Oct 17, 2012 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another life-altering book. The homeless are no longer just one-dimensional beings; and it was eye-opening for me to realize that that was how I viewed them. Some are homeless by choice, some by necessity, some because of poor choices and some due to circumstances totally out of their control, but all need to be acknowledged as fellow human beings. The day after I finished this book I pulled into a McDonald's parking lot to answer my cell phone and came face to face with a homeless woman holding ...more
CJ Bowen
Mixed feelings - the story itself was quite engaging and well-told. The author is honest about the drawbacks and unrealities of his experience. Finding out that the experiment is still shaping and affecting him five years later is important - five months of voluntary homelessness gave the author a deep, true and lasting picture of homelessness in America. Not a complete picture, and not an overabundance of wisdom in dealing with bigger issues surrounding homelessness, but at least an understandi ...more
Ashley
Dec 08, 2011 Ashley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, social-issues
I think the most interesting parts of the book were when Mike would write about the experiences they had with Christians- especially when they would show up for a church service on Sunday mornings. Sometimes it was encouraging, but more often than not, the reactions of 'Christians' they encountered left me with a knot in my stomach and a lump in my throat.


Under the Overpass has led me to start asking myself some tough questions. How do I *honestly* react when I see those in need around me? How
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Mikejencostanzo
May 16, 2011 Mikejencostanzo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
God has been dropping several resources in my path dealing with the issue of homelessness lately. I'm trying to be open to what God wants to teach me through it all, and quite frankly, it's exciting. Homelessness is an issue that, try as I might, I simply cannot be neutral on. Living near a big city like Baltimore, Orlando, or even Tokyo, I've found that I either need to ignore the homeless, or address them in some way. For me, my journey of addressing the issue of homelessness starts with getti ...more
Lauri Royall
Nov 09, 2014 Lauri Royall rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I read books from all perspectives and beliefs, but this authors Christian perspective is not one I would read again. A Christian man feels he is "called" to become homeless for five months.

He is clueless about substance abuse disorders, apparently believing prayer can solve complicated medical problems. Faced with describing how women on the street have it "harder than men" he talks about a girl that he hints may be engaging in commercial sex work but so uncomfortable with the subject matter h
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Emily
Nov 06, 2011 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This book is astonishing.

Yankoski professes a need to place his life in the hands of his savior, and believes in the strength provided by Him as having redemptive powers. But he also addressed a universal need, an essential component of being human that is transcendent of religious faith: the need to love one another, and to help those in need.

Bravo also for raising the issues that many do not- specifically the hypocrisy, greed and selfishness evident in many who consider themselves religious,
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Lily
I have mixed feelings on this book. The author certainly has good intentions, and I applaud that. But there is only so much credibility in two young men who choose to go "homeless" for a few months while knowing that they aren't actually homeless. They have a safety net, including a way out of their homeless state if an emergency occurs. Real homeless people do not have the safety nets that these two individuals have and are certainly living in a very different frame of mind. If an emergency sit ...more
Sunflower
Reading,"Under the Overpass: A Journey of Faith on the Streets of America", is one of those books that will haunt me in a good way.

The lyrics to "Give Me the Eyes to See" by Brandon Jacobs, played in the back of my mind as I read the experiences of Mike Yankoski and his friend and companion on his journey, Sam, through the streets of Denver, Washington, D.C., Portland, San Franciso, Phoenix and San Diego and wept at the triumphs, the heartaches and the gritty and captivating reality that they e
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Kelly
Apr 26, 2012 Kelly rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Overall I found this book to be a big disappointment. yes it gives you a glimpse of what it must be like to be homeless but the substance of what's provided isn't very substantial and doesn't really go beyond the surface you might get in any news account of someone who lives homeless for a day or two. Yes it does a reasonable job of saying that people in churches often don't live up to the beliefs they claim to have in those churches. Thanks for stating the obvious.

But for me the big disappointm
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Kristi
Jan 11, 2014 Kristi rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was given this book from a friend. My work touches homeless outreach. I think the self discovery portion of this exercise was probably very profound and life altering for these two men but I am not sure I see any other value. While it is nice that you gave people food when you had enough to share or made conversation with lonely people, I am not sure I share the implied intrinsic value in "making someone's week" with a cup of coffee and short conversation and then leaving them in the situation ...more
Allison
I have to admit that I was afraid to start this book. I knew that it would pull me out of my comfort zone and challenge me in ways that I wasn't sure I was ready for.
It did not disappoint.
Through Mike and Sam's journey I was allowed into a world in which I do not live, and yet I walk by on the streets on a fairly regular basis. Growing up in a small town where homelessness was not a visible part of our community, this book has shaken me deep in my soul.
In my new community, homelessness slaps you
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Lyle
May 21, 2013 Lyle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book! Really.

Such a deep reminder to me of how people were intended to be treated, and how to break apart the preconceptions that are often brought to homelessness. It's easy to rationalize, justify, and come up with new solutions to the problem of avoiding others, but the significance of our lives is the proximity that we live to one another - not learning to empathize with those above us, but reaching to those below us, not from a position of strength to weakness, but real caring
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Kara
Dec 28, 2011 Kara rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Part of me feels bad for rating this so low, but it just wasn't more than okay for me. I appreciated the author's experiences and his thoughts, but a lot of it felt contrived and overly preachy to me. I feel mean saying that, but I really just had a hard time reading it. Maybe had someone else written it I would have felt differently. I gained some new insights and perspective on what life is like on the streets and I know I need to make greater efforts to be Christlike and serve those around me ...more
Christina
Jan 14, 2013 Christina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting account of a college student who lived as a homeless person in six American cities for five months. This books is a quick read that doesn't come off as a guilt trip or lecture but more of a cultural immersion experience. Through Yankoski's eyes, we learn about the homeless "culture," as well see the church in action (or, more often, in avoidance). I think anyone concerned about how to help the homeless in American (without enabling addiction) will have their eyes opened by this ...more
Angie Haden
Feb 02, 2011 Angie Haden rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I only made it to page 130 and had to put it up. I may go back and finish it one day, I hate leaving a book half read. It sounded appealing, but I think the author could have made it a much more interesting book if he had focused a lot more on either the faith aspect or really telling how it is to be homeless. He kind of glossed over both. Not a lot about how it affected his relationship with God and what he mentions about being homeless is common sense things (they don't shower or eat often, he ...more
Crizzle
Jan 28, 2013 Crizzle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author and another middle-class college guy give up their comfortable lives for half a year to live homeless in a handful of metropolitan areas of the US. He wrote on homelessness and how many Christians and churches ignored/turned their back on them... but how even some other homeless guys showed them true Christian love. He challenges you to live out your faith in tangible ways. He gives you ideas at the end of the book in what you can do to show love to the homeless community, and to love ...more
6Hughes D
Apr 11, 2016 6Hughes D rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book Under The Overpass keeps the reader engaged through interesting and relational stories of various people that the main characters, Mike and Sam, have the pleasure of meeting. They meet all different types of people during their travels. One man, by the name of Marco, is quite disruptive and violent and he “started a brawel” and even was “beating Link with a three foot lead pipe” (138). Marco is one of the more extreme people that they met. Another extreme man was named Karl. He was very ...more
Adam Uraynar
Jan 23, 2015 Adam Uraynar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: perspective
Quick read. Practical advice of two guys living for five months on the street; started with minimal supplies/clothes. Cover story, traveling (moving from city to city)panhandling undertheoverpass.com

cockroaches, mice/rats
public facilities - preferred any time shelter/b room

Tortillas & peanut butter per week = $4
Could survive on $3 per day - eat at rescue missions & use free trains around Portland. Good evening $40
Portland better than DC

Friends are good to have (important)

Page 109
1. Don't
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John
Dec 12, 2014 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the kind of book that I want to tell everybody “You HAVE to read this!!!”

I am currently working my way through a list of books related to serving homeless people as I prepare for an outreach project that I am coordinating for next summer. I ran across some mentions of Mike Yankoski's “Under the Overpass” online and quickly got my hands on a copy of the audiobook version of the text. In this brief memoir, Mike writes about the summer in which he and his friend Sam took five months off fro
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Gary
Nov 19, 2014 Gary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We've had this book for a while-my wife read and liked it. I came to read it now because of my recent interactions with several homeless people as part of my job responsibilities with the NYC transit system. Also because of this:

http://khon2.com/2014/11/03/90-year-o...

And this:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014...

And, well, I needed something to read...

So approaching this book I was willing to overlook the preachiness/Christian POV of the author-it's his book, experience and I don't have to b
...more
Rebecca
Get ready to have your views on the homeless tested. In Under the Overpass, Mike Yankoski and his friend Sam Purvis spend five months living homeless in six different American cities - Denver, Washington D.C., Portland, San Francisco, Phoenix, and San Diego. Under the Overpass is a series of small stories and lessons taken from each city, which Mike uses to try and show that the homeless are among those that Christians are called to serve and challenging true followers of Christ to more than jus ...more
Sarabeara
Jan 30, 2016 Sarabeara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was incredible, it impacted me in such a way that I want to view people no matter who they are as amazing because that is what they are, valuable. Why do we walk past people sitting in the street. I was reminded of one incident where I was sitting with a foot-long sub and a woman asked me for some money for lunch. I ended up giving her some money even though I knew in my heart of hearts to give her half of my sub for some food. This book is a challenge to our expectations, our actions, ...more
Danielle
Dec 22, 2007 Danielle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who likes true stories
Shelves: christian-books
Ok so here it is, broadcasted in black and white: would you give up everything you owned because you thought you heard God telling you to do so? Crazy right? Wrong. This book as amazing! A true story about a college student and his friend who heard God calling him to learn something that you can only learn once you sacrifice all. Don't let this amazing book slip through your fingers!
Paula
Nov 24, 2015 Paula rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed reading this book. I picked it up at a thrift shop without knowing much about it aside from the back cover. My initial thought when I read through the first chapter was, "oh great, a book full of religion and proselytizing. But the subject peaked my interest enough to continue reading and I'm really glad I did. Although religion was threaded throughout the book I was not turned off by it and in fact learned a lot from the author about his religion and how through his religion he ...more
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“What says more about who you are in Christ? How loudly you say AMEN in the service or how well you treat strangers in the foyer?” 11 likes
“A hungry man can be a fast learner. When you come to a table with nothing but need, you are grateful for things you might have pushed aside before. And when you kneel, hungry & broken at His table, you receive a grace from Him you might, at some other time, have completely missed.” 10 likes
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