When asked to help a particular cause, our minds often jump to the idea of giving monetary donations. For many, this notion may make assisting a cause unappealing or impossible due to financial circumstances. Contrary to popular belief, donating is only one of the many ways that we can aid a relief effort. For example, free ways to relieve the homelessness crisis may not be evident initially but are nonetheless abundant and accessible to most individuals.
In a pandemic-ridden society suffering from inflation and fears of a financial recession, many individuals can not afford to donate money towards homelessness relief. Yet, many still want to support this cause in any way possible. Luckily, no matter where you are, there are plenty of ways to help relieve the homelessness crisis through various organizations across the United States, or you can aid the cause yourself from your own home.
In-person volunteer opportunities can be found throughout the nation. Search for local organizations that offer services for individuals experiencing homelessness. For example, you could cook or serve meals at a homeless shelter. The Coalition for the Homeless, an organization based in NYC, takes volunteers for their First Step Job Training Program. Volunteers in this program take on roles such as student mentor, mock interviewer, or lecturer. The First Step Job Training Program allows individuals experiencing homelessness to gain professional experience that will help them get a job and off the streets. At Breaking Ground, an NYC nonprofit, you can volunteer with the organization’s homeless outreach workers, who help individuals experiencing homelessness find affordable housing.
Aside from volunteering, you could consider donating gently used clothing, shoes, and socks. Local organizations such as churches or nonprofits often collect donations that will be sent directly to those experiencing homelessness or to a charity shop. Please also consider donating children sized items and pet goods. Thousands of children and pets are also experiencing homelessness and need goods. Remember to check what kind of goods your local organizations collect throughout the year.
If relieving the homelessness crisis is a cause you are passionate about, you could consider pursuing a career that will support unhoused individuals. Social workers interact directly with individuals experiencing homelessness. They help these individuals access housing, jobs, education, food, and the support required to get back on their feet. By majoring in public policy, you could become a legislator, representative, or political scientist who analyzes and writes policies to promote change. You could work toward ending homelessness from a legal perspective. Pursuing a degree in teaching and education can also help relieve homelessness. Teachers play a vital role for students experiencing homelessness.
Additionally, teachers can educate the next generation on the realities of homelessness and destigmatize the topic. Urban planning and development do not directly relieve the crisis but play a significant role in the housing issue. Suppose you choose to work in this field: You will develop land use plans and programs. In this way, you can help create accessible and affordable housing. Behavioral health and substance abuse counselors can end addiction before it results in homelessness, or they can help an individual experiencing homelessness due to drug addiction get back on their feet.
Remote ways to relieve the homelessness crisis are just as abundant as in-person opportunities! One of the easiest ways to get involved is to do your research! Homelessness has so many negative stereotypes. You will be better equipped to make informed decisions if you are educated about the realities of homelessness in the United States. Stay up to date on events and laws impacting individuals experiencing homelessness in your area and share your knowledge with others. This diminished harmful stigmatizations that prevent adequate action from being taken to end homelessness.
After educating yourself, educate others! Social media is a powerful tool: spread what you know to everyone who will listen. Tell listeners how they can help, and remind them that they do not have to spend a penny to support this cause!
Familiarize yourself with your local organizations that provide relief to individuals experiencing homelessness. If you can not get directly involved with these organizations, you can share volunteer opportunities with those who can and would like to get involved. Take note of what kind of organizations you have in your area, too: Do you have support for women experiencing homelessness, unhoused students, or those trying to survive with pets? If you see that a particular group in your area needs representation, reach out to your local government and see what there is to do.
If you are old enough, vote! Research your candidates and thoroughly understand their views on homelessness. Make sure that the candidate you vote for cares about relieving homelessness and creating affordable housing.
Here at the HomeMore project, we offer a variety of remote volunteer opportunities for those passionate about ending homelessness. We have individuals working in finance, videography, marketing, communications, editing, and more! The point is that you can bring whatever skills you have to the table and be able to aid this cause effectively. Any help is significant, from cooking food in a shelter weekly to sharing facts you learned with your friends. Everyone can get involved in ending homelessness- pick a way that works best for you!