In the US, roughly 582,000 people are currently homeless. According to a HUD study published this year, this number represents a 2,000-person increase since 2020. During winter, it can be heartbreaking to see homeless individuals struggling in your community. Many people want to help the homeless, but they don’t know where to begin. Maybe you’ve served a meal or provided assistance to someone, but you’d like to get involved in a larger capacity.
It’s also worth noting that homelessness is more visible in some areas than others. 41% of people experiencing homelessness live in rural and suburban areas. In addition, 60% of homeless Americans find shelter in transitional housing programs and safe havens. You may not see homelessness in your area, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t an issue. In your community, there are likely many who are experiencing homelessness and in need of help. The good news is, you can make a difference. Here are five realistic actions you can take to promote systemic change.
5 Ways to Help the Homeless in Your Community
1. Locate Homeless Shelters in Your Area
If you want to help the homeless in your community, the first thing you should do is locate shelters in your area. Seeking out homeless individuals and offering personal assistance isn’t always the best way to help. When you locate a shelter, you can find ways to support and strengthen these services in your community. You can find a comprehensive list of shelters in Maryland on the Homeless Shelters Directory website.
2. Donate and Volunteer Locally
Once as you’ve located local homeless shelters, you can assist them by donating directly. You could donate money or used clothes and other necessities. If possible, reach out to friends and family to help. Getting others involved is a great way to spread change in your community. You can also volunteer your time. Perhaps you have a skill that you could put to work, such as grassroots organizing or event planning. The majority of shelters would likely appreciate extra support.
3. Start a Fundraiser
Do you have a social media following or any type of online platform? If so, you’re already equipped to make a difference in your community. Using a site like GoFundMe, you can encourage your followers to donate. You could also encourage them to join you in participating in a volunteer event.
4. Support Local Politicians Who Fight Homelessness
Making significant changes on a systemic level often involves politics. Political leaders shape the policies that affect housing, funding and access to resources. Thinking about getting involved in politics can be overwhelming for most people, however. One great thing to do is research local candidates and understand their perspective on homelessness. What actions do they plan to take if elected? If you want to help the homeless on a larger scale, you can support politicians with the same priorities.
5. Practice Kindness When You Encounter Homeless Individuals
Volunteering, donating and being informed are all essential in the fight against homelessness. However, sometimes the simplest gestures can be the most impactful. Without even a smile or an eye contact from passersby, unhoused people often struggle to feel hopeful. Like every human being, they want to feel acknowledged and seen. Helping the homeless can be as simple as being kind. Take a moment to talk to those you come across and offer a few kind words. It takes thoughtful and persistent action to make progress, that much is true. But the importance of compassion on a personal level is equally important.
Do You Know Someone in Need of Assistance? Partner with Our Staff at Lead4Life, Inc. Today
At Lead4Life, we strive to empower every participant in our programs so that they may find their purpose, achieve their goals, and become poised, productive members of their community. We advocate for those in need and assist each and every individual by providing compassionate education and valuable resources like mental health tips so that they can make the very best decisions and develop important life, social, and competency skills. Visit our website or contact us at 240-499-8949 to learn more about helping the homeless in your area.