According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) annual Point-in-Time (PIT)’s 2019 study, “you could fill five football stadiums with the homeless population of the U.S.” Homelessness is a pressing issue in the United States, affecting millions and resulting in a brutal cycle. The American Institute for Research has shown that “a staggering 2.5 million children are now homeless each year in America. This historic high represents one in every 30 children in the United States'.” Homelessness is a daunting issue, and people may think their efforts will not make a difference. However, that is not the case. Here are four ways you, individually, can support the social issue of homelessness and make a difference in the world.
Donations From shirts to socks, donating clothing and even your gently used clothing to homeless shelters can provide a massive difference to those in need. Furthermore, consider donating canned goods, freshly baked treats, store-bought goods, etc, to local food pantries. If you prefer to contribute monetarily, there are plenty of charities to donate to in efforts to fight homelessness; you can donate to your local charity or national charities. Some reputable charities are National Alliance to End Homelessness, Coalition for the Homeless, National Homeless Law Centre, etc. Donating to these charities allows them to provide essential meals, shelter, counseling, and more for those experiencing homelessness in America.
Volunteering If you want to dedicate your time to helping those in need, there are many ways to volunteer to fight homelessness. A popular way to donate your time to helping those in need is by helping prepare, serve, or stock food at a food bank or shelter. You can volunteer to help clean shelters or assist with yard work, or even interact with those who are homeless and help them with their education or provide counseling support if you have the ability. There are many other ways to volunteer to help those who are homeless; search for the opportunities your local organization offers.
Creating care kits Grab some necessities from your local store and put together kits for those who are homeless. Some popular items include socks, underwear, toothbrushes and toothpaste, sanitary pads, vitamin supplements, hand sanitizer, first aid items, non-perishable food, utensils, etc. Many online websites that provide additional examples of what to add to your care kit. As an extra touch, consider writing a thoughtful note and adding it to your kit to show your care for whomever will receive your gift; you can also include the names and details of several homelessness resources nearby for them to refer to if needed. You can drop these kits off at a local shelter or even hand them out to people you see who are homeless.
Use your voice The final method in this article is simply advocating for policy change surrounding homelessness. The National Alliance to End Homelessness states, “the homelessness assistance system in your community likely relies on federal resources to operate,” therefore, you can contact policymakers and encourage them to take charge and enforce better procedures. Furthermore, you can motivate those closely affected by homelessness to advocate as well, such as people who are homeless and various homelessness agencies’ staff and volunteers to contact government officials and ask for new and increased resources, continued or improved funding for services, etc. Advocacy is highly effective in preventing homelessness. The National Alliance to End Homelessness has reported that “over the years, advocates have made a large impact on federal policy to prevent and end homelessness.”
Overall, there are many ways you can help those experiencing homelessness. The methods listed above are only a few ways you can help. Even the smallest gesture can make a huge difference.
National Center on Family Homelessness. American Institutes for Research. (n.d.). Retrieved July 1, 2022, from https://www.air.org/centers/national-center-family-homelessness#:~:text=A%20staggering%202.5%20million%20children,children%20in%20the%20United%20States
Homelessness: Facts to know & how you can help. Mercy Housing. (2020, December 8). Retrieved July 1, 2022, from https://www.mercyhousing.org/2020/10/7-alarming-facts-about-homelessness/
Using advocacy to end homelessness. National Alliance to End Homelessness. (2018, October 18). Retrieved July 1, 2022, from https://endhomelessness.org/resource/using-advocacy-to-end-homelessness/