Jim Kennedy: Hotel-Dwelling Homeless Guy Gets Job

jim kennedyFrequent-flier Jim Kennedy may have finally found a job, but he's still depending on those complimentary buffet breakfasts, since the 46-year-old who has been living off airline and hotel loyalty points for the past five months has yet to find a landlord who will accept his application. "The last rental agent turned me down because of my financial history," he said.

Still, he's not disheartened. Just last Monday he started a job that will eventually enable the multi-faceted marketing expert to leave the Motel 6s and Hampton Inns for good and move into a place of his own. The financial backers of Netword, an Internet advertising company, heard about Kennedy's plight and offered him a job as CEO. He's now making just over half of the six-figure salary he was earning before he was laid off, but he says it's a heck of a lot better than living off his stockpile of more than one million loyalty points. He says he had just enough to get him through June.

More than 20 months ago, Kennedy, who is single and has no children, lost his corporate development job. Times being what they are, he had difficulty finding another position. Seven months ago he filed for bankruptcy, and in January, sheriff's deputies led him away from his Newport Beach, Calif., condo. Kennedy moved most of his worldly possessions into a mini-storage unit, signed up for a post office box, and began moving from budget inn to budget inn -- going wherever there were frequent guest specials, free breakfasts, microwaves, etc.

Orange County on $5 a day

He imposed a $5 a day food budget on himself, and shopped for frozen meal specials in supermarkets. He converted his United Airlines miles into Holiday Inn Express points, and stayed in chains that had similar programs with other airlines. The value of having traveled so much with his former jobs had never been so apparent.

Over the past 20 years, Kennedy had racked up about 85,000 with Starwood Preferred Guest, 400,000 with Hilton Honors, 100,000 Delta Sky Miles, 120,000 with American AAdvantage, 200,000 United Mileage Plus points and 125,000 American Express Membership Rewards points. The Wyndham Hotel chain saw a feature on him on CNN, and gave him a large block of loyalty points, which helped him for a number of weeks. "I'm very grateful to them," he says.

But what about the Internet? It's probably a job-seeker's best friend, but on a $5-dollar-a-day food budget, you can hardly buy a drink in a wireless coffeehouse, and besides, Kennedy was using an 11-year-old laptop with no wireless connection. Internet access can cost upward of $14 per day in a hotel. "I found that there's a relationship between Internet access and the cost of a hotel," he said. The less expensive the hotel, the less expensive the Internet access. Many of the places he stayed, such as the Four Points Sheraton, offered it for free, and Motel 6 was as low as $2.99 per day.

You still have to pay to play

There were some expenses Kennedy could simply not get out of. He had to spend quite a bit on gas, car lease payments and insurance -- all essential for his executive-level job search in Southern California. At least shampoo, lotion, soap and shower caps weren't issues.

He hopes that some landlord in the Ventura area, where he's now working, will perhaps take the media attention he's been getting into consideration and believe that he is now employed and honors his commitments to pay. They surely can't doubt the fact that he's resourceful -- that resourcefulness is what ended up getting him the job, and what he advises other job seekers to master.

"In times like these, you have to find creative ways to market yourself," he says. "Traditional methods just aren't working. Employers are being more selective -- where they used to list four job requirements, now they're listing 12, and they know if they just wait long enough, someone will come along with all 12." Marketing himself as a particularly savvy job seeker with unique problem-solving skills, as demonstrated by his unique accommodation caper, is what finally won over an employer.

"It's been a long journey," he says, adding that he's not celebrating yet. "Of course I'm happy that I'm not sliding downhill anymore, but I've just barely started climbing back up. I'm very thankful to be going in the right direction."

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about Cinders,
People working together without laws and leases and whatever, takes maturity. They have to realize that both people have to benefit and that everything isn't just about themselves. Right now these same types are borderline homeless; trust me there are plenty that can be borderline homeless and still have not learned a thing, and that is the next phase of their life. I tried going for their ad and renting with them which is commonplace because the fools spent both incomes and spoiled the landlords beyond repair, then moved home when they were out of a job and broke. Everything had to be their way, or they felt that since they were there first they had the right to say and do whatever. You dont' - not if you want the money and the business. I took it away gladly and live thousands of times nicer except that now I live in Mexico, and that is not fair on me. But better that then turn into one of those spooky mentally ill ghouls without a dime to their name. You have to keep in mind what you want out of something, and have patience or lose it all. I don't put up with being mistreated when I fork over money. They think I'm going to stay because of so much desperation, and they're wrong, I leave. I don't put up with their mouths. They miss the money I'm sure. All I did was rearrange mine. But now I know...some just want to be homeless, and guess what; now I have no sympathy because they were asking for it.

May 23 2010 at 9:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Bird, renting to sleep on a couch for so many hours while group living; I'm glad you posted; everyone needs to know what's happening. I've seen bad stuff but thats worse. When they got rid of marriage to weaken people, they got what they wanted; they got the women into the workforce, free sex to men, loyalty only to whoever was paying them only to be betrayed by these companies. It was all a big joke, such as I imagine the show Sex In the City is, where women have sex with a bunch of men supposedly earning high salaries and affording a great lifestyle on their own. These live in's and "girlfriends" will have nothing at 40 years old and beyond. They won't even have a job, and they never snagged a husband. On the other hand, men have been losing jobs, and at least women who have some intelligence had some time to correct the damage for themselves, where the men don't now. In any case, the real joke is now here. They gave up power and wealth for being selfish and stupid and following the crowd, and now for once they can all reflect on maybe they weren't that smart after all.

May 23 2010 at 11:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

He's in his 40's in CA and the area isn't known for committment unless there's alot of money to be had or free sex. Even the old guys had wives who worked their entire lives and homes that will never be paid off whether the wife is there or not. It's very expensive, so 6 digits isn't that meaningful when it doesn't buy a house. I was more prone to be an artist myself and had to learn to be aggressive about handling finances as I saw it was the only thing that mattered to anyone practically and then it didn't even buy anything I wanted because it wasn't even there to be had. I left it, bought a home elsewhere that's almost paid for, and I'm way better off then this guy and never made half of what he did. But what I learned along the way is that what I did, the results of it are what so many secretly want but will never go out and get; go out and get it, go into the new world and get it. No matter what you do there is a big price to pay; if you don't go along with the insistance of meeting expectations that are too high, and all that encompasses, then you have to do it on your own. You will have to move. There are far better places of opportunity, and I know plenty move to CA because they hear of it's wealth. That's not a very truthful picture though. Wealth is you being as debt free as possible, of you having more control over your life, and watch who you get involved with. If they aren't capable themselves, or too much was given to them, they will be too demanding on you financially. It's knowing they'd otherwise have nothing to do with you that's disturbing, because we all know, someone is going to lose a job. Who you get involved with is crucial. They're very financially demanding in CA, so I would stay clear of that one. I realize it's like this to some extent everywhere now, but I think it's really bad in CA; they don't respect you unless you make 6 digits in general. It's only worth the cost of beachfront property if you can walk to the beach, and then it better be the beach right there, no highway next to it. Otherwise all that insistance is to pay higher taxes to support other families while you live on a shell of a loan on two incomes. I am only here for my job and happened to get a location that everyone in the world wants without truly understanding what is there to be had. If you have a caring spouse and your health, you have it made. You have the biggest gifts of all, at one point I realized people didn't even care if I was healthy and had that to offer, and I thought how sad, how sad that money is even more important to them then someone else being healthy. Paying for help like that costs alot. In any case, I actually have 2 credentials and a massive work history, but I don't want to be an example for anyone, because I know how those things can be taken the wrong way. I would never want anyone to expect from anyone else what I ended up getting after many many years and much time. No one deserves that. And with that, I say, I'm happy to see him get this job, I've never had any jealousy of anyone. But I do know that I haven't met a woman yet who wouldn't prefer a paid off home over anything. Since this is the case, stop saying yes to these demands of men for you to improve their lifestyle....did they ever support you? What do you have to be loyal to? Be loyal to yourself and protect yourself. Seems the more we women "accomplish" the less we get back in a man, not more. So, what is your dream? Financial freedom or financial murder? I know it was murderous when you weren't being supported by men.

May 22 2010 at 7:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joe Durbin

Mr. Mirse,
Thank you for your kinds words. I had written a long text in reply which would have come off as rambling. I did not confirm it as I am lucky, and appreciate what my son is doing for me. Unfortunately in-laws see me as freeloading and do not understand that I spend five hours easily per day job searching on many many sites on the internet, searching, applying, emailing, calling. I get an interview here or there and a job that should pay $40K to 50K is now paying $25K. It is good business on the company's side, but it is driving wages down, while our economy is not lowering costs of living.
Our country is becoming more and more divided.
My son in the beginning saw the Obama situation as a good one, and now sees it as a way for people who do not have ambition and work hard to achieve a better life, to simply get it without the effort. It is a shame too because I think people do not realize, people can have the ambition, and simply not have the resources to get or achieve their goals. Out country preaches that a person can still be anyone they want and have riches with just the effort. It is not so! Money gets money.
Again, I am not able to answer without rambling on about not so much my problems, but what I see happening to more and more people in our country. What can you do for the company is not just can you do the job! It is where can you fit in for our tax break and funding so we can make more money and hire people less qualified, pay them less, and make more money.
Soon, they will offer up a camp, where people over 50 can go to live. Offering it up as a possible commune so to speak, when in fact it will simply be a farm to keep us out of their way, and not have to see people our country is not helping.
Enough said!

May 22 2010 at 6:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

oligarchy,the elite few governing the poor many! how did the elite few get into these powerful positions? you know like the president, the decendent of a SLAVE! Do you think they got there by the VOTE OF THE POOR! I do. Vote for change or forever hold your JOHNSON or is that to boorish?

May 22 2010 at 4:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


May 22 2010 at 4:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to bird's comment

No need to yell. I simply think AOL writers can do a better job. This isn't the National Enquirer.

May 22 2010 at 5:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Why does the AOL homepage headline say "He was forced to live in a storage unit?" He had to move his possessions into a storage unit, but he never lived there. Very misleading!

May 22 2010 at 3:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Richard Neva

Lee, ever do any reading, can you read? You use generaizations a lot and none of it is based on fact. It is a fact that capitalism is the most evil form of economics on this earth and is reaposible for killing and enslaving more people than you can count. You sound like a Tea Party member. We have a group of them in our small NY town. They get out every Satruday and preach murder of those who will not bow to democracy when in fact this country never had any democracy. We are an oligarchy of the rich in case you forgot. Why do you support the people with all the property and wealth in this country? You must be one of the rich and I do not like to even explain things to you. Your mind is made up already. You base your comments on what you read in the controlled press in this country. You see a terrorist under every rock and you are running scared. I think you are a funny character and I laugh at your comments, they are so typical of the right wing zealots that hang on to the flag in this country. See if you can respond without calling people names, that is lowest form of argumentation by the way and counts for nothing. It is boorish in fact.

May 22 2010 at 2:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Im not gonna say "love it or leave it", just leave it. Socialists everywhere would love to replace you and enjoy your freedoms,including the freedom to whine about the government without retribution, so "leave it" please or VOTE.

May 22 2010 at 2:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Why didn't he just go to Mexico, walk across the border with a group of illegals and sign up for all of the freebies like them

May 22 2010 at 2:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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