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homelessness | human & civil rights | social services

ideas about helping homeless

Here are some suggestions about what ordinary person's can do when they are concerned about homeless and hungry folks.
During the recent storm, I was very concerned about what was happening to the homeless and hungry in our communities. While many of the suggestions on this list are self evident, I thought it might be a good idea to post it. Not all of the "fit" , but there are some good ideas here. Wnenever we can find ways to help each other, it makes a difference. Obviously we cannot rely upon "the authorities" or the corporate media to alieviate suffering.

Here is the link:

Great Idea..... 12.Jan.2004 10:07


Great post! I too was super worried during the winter storm blast, but felt completely inadequate to help anyone! I did go out in my neighborhood just to see if I ran across anyone out there freezing.....not a soul in sight. But, of course they took whatever shelter they could find.

My heart just really dropped as I watched the tv news do the stories about the decent red cross taking friggin sleeping bags and hot cocoa to all those POOR TRAPPED travelers at the airport! Thank GOD they were able to become more comfortable in that sheltered airport! /sarcasm off

Here's an idea:

I have this house that I live in alone. I think a REALLY great program would be to have homeowners sign up at shelters to be called when they overflow. I would take in some homeless people -- feed them, give them a place to sleep, let them take some hot showers (or bubble baths!).

and that's the thing......I am female...and though I care so much about the homeless........and try to help when I can, there's just this prejudice that I think spans most people......It's like......."In MY house? Well......what if they are criminals? Or are violent? Or any sundry of things." Well, after this storm blast, I know I want to get past those fears and really lend a hand to my brothers and sisters.

So.......I think we should start an "extreme weather shelter coop" connected to the local shelters....... What's the main thing these people need? SHELTER and a warm meal. well, let's give it to them directly!!

Alas, the bank is taking MY house in less than 2 weeks........so.....I AM one of the homeless soon enough......... ugh!

another idea 12.Jan.2004 13:27


volunteer where you can get to know people who live outdoors. Homeless people are as varied as housed people. Some of them you will connect with and be able to invite in without a problem... others are like that odd aunt or uncle who occassionally comes to visit and drives you up the wall. Personalities can and do clash at times.
If you get to know people then you can extend a cold weather invitation and feel more comfortable with the guests in your home.
Another approach would be to get to know other people who work with the homeless and let them refer people to you based on your available accomodations... Some of the homeless who stay outdoors will not leave their partners --- shelters separate men and women... what is your preference?;
another common issues is pets --- shelters don't take pets, can you ?
You can't help everyone, but if you can decide ahead of time what your comfort level is... You will be doing a great service to those in need.

in response to Mari 13.Jan.2004 03:30

social service worker

good ideas Mari but would you be prepared to let them stay when it's not freezing but they are still in crisis? you have to work out how much you can accomodate a person and what your boundaries are going to be. this may seem cold and harsh but it is something you must consider before opening your living space to others. thousands are on the streets every night not just when the weather is harsh. i know the unusual weather of last week highlights the homeless isssue but people are just as vulnerable, for a multitude of other reasons, when sleeping on the streets. you should check out organizations like JOIN, who do outreach to homeless people and help them to help themselves. or find an empty building and squat it as a homeless shelter. or help expand dignity village. or volunteer with Yellow Brick Road, who also do outreach and referrals.

in saying all that i would never deter you from opening your home to someone in need, just be prepared for all that it might entail.