Solutions to Homelessness
Wondering how to help homeless people? Many people have negative stereotypes of homeless people due to lack of awareness and experience. These stereotypes can be hurtful and stigmatizing. They contribute to a lack of public and political drive to do what needs to be done to end homelessness. Here are four ways you can take action and encourage those around you to do the same:
1) Educate Yourself, Your Peers, and Your Community
There are organizations in nearly every community that support homeless people and those living in poverty. Some are homeless shelters. Others provide homeless people with supports like food, clothing, legal advocacy, and financial assistance.
There are also organizations and groups that are not addressing homelessness specifically, but are advocating for affordable housing, increasing minimum wages, and other issues that impact people who are homeless. Find an organization or group that is focused on ending homelessness (not maintaining it), interests you, and is looking for volunteers.
Volunteering is a great way to help people in your community and learn about the challenges they are facing. Some, but not all, non-profit organizations have volunteer coordinators. If you are not sure how to find an organization in your area that helps homeless people, your state’s homeless coalition (every state and many cities have one) is a good place to start. You may want to try a few different organizations or groups to find the right fit for both you and the organization.
3) Raise Money
Most homeless shelters and programs providing services to people living in poverty are non-profit organizations. They depend on donations to do what they do. Look for organizations that work with people who are homeless, support people living in poverty, or advocate to increase affordable housing and improve health and mental health care. Work with your school, civic group, faith community, or even on your own. Raise money and donate to organizations that need financial support. Some organizations even post “wish lists” for specific items they need on their websites or social media channels.
4) Advocate for Change
Solutions to homelessness include more affordable housing and wages that cover the real costs of living. They also include access to supportive services to help people gain and maintain stability including access to affordable health and mental health care services, transportation to work and school, and quality daycare opportunities for young children. The federal government—as well as state, county, and local governments—control many of the laws, programs, and budgets that impact solutions to homelessness. By changing laws and policies, we can help end homelessness.
Some homeless shelters and programs that support people living in poverty—as well as state and local homeless coalitions—also advocate for better laws, programs, and funding. Join them in their advocacy efforts. Encourage family, friends, and neighbors to support these efforts, too. Elected officials including your U.S. Senators, members of Congress, Governor, state and county legislators, and city/town councilors need to hear from their constituents about issues that affect people in their communities. Help educate them by emailing and calling their offices. Invite them to visit local programs. The more people involved, the more they listen, learn and can help by being part of the solution!
If you are 18 years or older, make sure you are registered to vote! AND, when Election Day rolls around, cast your vote to help homeless people. Better yet, be an informed voter! What have candidates said about people living in poverty? Have they mentioned what affects homeless people – like affordable housing, access to health and mental health care, and living wages? Do their solutions seem effective to you? Vote for the people who support the things you want to see in your community and our country.
Learn More on How to Help Homeless People
To learn more about solutions to homelessness, visit:
Each of these activities may seem small, but together, we can have a collective impact to help homeless people.