Homeless Charities Tips

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How can I help combat homelessness?

Take an Interest in the People

It is easy for homeless people to fall through the cracks. As a result, they spend so much of their time trying to meet their basic, physical needs that their need for friendship, intellectual stimulation, and camaraderie can often fall by the wayside. One of the ways you might be able to help out at a homeless helter is to spend time with the clients, teaching and sharing your hobbies, and finding out about and learning from their interests.

Ask the shelter about planning an evening program such as a board game night, an open mike poetry reading, a musical performance, or a holiday party. These kinds of interactions and events can help reestablish some of the creature comforts of life, and will help build self-esteem. Don't underestimate how helpful it can be to just treat people like people: it will make them more able to face the world without shame, to seek and gain employment, and escape poverty and homelessness.

How does the Enterprise Foundation support community development and fight homelessness?

Enterprise Foundation

Many argue that breaking out of poverty starts with a decent home in a safe, thriving community, and that one's chances for keeping out of poverty are strengthened by access to steady employment, a good education, and quality child care.

The Enterprise Foundation works in neglected communities nationwide to provide those opportunities by supporting community development organizations that improve the quality of life in their communities by focusing on areas of particular concern, including the need for affordable housing, better schools, safer streets or more jobs.

Enterprise provides community development organizations with a range of financial, operational and managerial support. For more information on where and how the Enterprise Foundation operates, visit www.enterprisefoundation.org.

How can I help combat homelessness?

Help Build or Fix up Houses or Shelters.

Homelessness and other housing issues are, in large part, a question of the quantity, quality, and accessibility of available homes. You can improve all three of these factors by helping to build or fix up affordable housing or shelters in your community.

Check with your local public housing authority, or find the nearest chapter of Habitat for Humanity (http://www.habitat.org) to find opportunities for you to really put your back into combating homelessness.

What does the National Coalition for the Homeless focus on?

The National Coalition for the Homeless

The National Coalition for the Homeless works to secure housing justice, economic justice, health care justice, and civil and voting rights in order to eliminate the causes of homelessness in the United Starts. The Coalition uses grassroots organizing, public education, policy advocacy, technical assistance, and partnerships to promote and advance its mission.

*For more information on the issues of justice and homelessness, and to find how you can help, visit www.nationalhomeless.org.

How does America's Second Harvest address hunger and homelessness in the United States?

Hunger and Homelessness

While not explicitly a homeless charity, America's Second Harvest addresses some of the same concerns as do many homeless charities. In fact, Second Harvest's mission extends to all the hungry in the United States, aiming to create a hunger-free America.

Hunger in America is widespread, even if it does not look like the hunger we see in places like Africa or Afghanistan. Therefore, America's Second Harvest works to not only to distribute food, but also to increase public awareness of domestic hunger and advocate for policies that benefit America's hungry. The America's Second Harvest food bank network serves people in need in every county in the United States, securing and storing surplus food and distributing it through local service agencies.

*For more information about America's Second Harvest, its work, and how to help, visit www.secondharvest.org.

Are homeless charities meeting current needs or helping homeless people become self-sufficient?

Homeless Charities

Homelessness is a constant problem in modern America, as well as throughout the world. Food, shelter and clothing are basic needs, and many nonprofit organizations focus on providing these to homeless people, and on addressing the causes of homelessness and on ways to help the homeless people get the education, representation, employment, housing and healthcare that they need. Many people have skewed perceptions of the homeless (they think of them as lazy or drunk or addicted, or even just unemployed). The reality is that homelessness most often results from one piece of a tenuous puzzle failing to fit (i.e. illness makes a working mother miss work; she gets fired and can no longer pay the rent. Suddenly, she and her family are homeless).

Many homeless charities acknowledge preconditions that must be established to really help the homeless: they advocate an increase in affordable housing and greater scale in housing assistance programs (they advocate better healthcare for the poor and the homeless so that they can get and keep regular and gainful employment, and so that their children can attend school often enough to get benefit from education and break the poverty cycle). As a result, when you help a homeless charity, chances are that you are supporting a short-term and a long-term goal: to feed, clothe and shelter the homeless today, and to reduce homelessness in the future.

How can I help combat homelessness?

Offer Professional Skills Directly or Assist in Job tTaining

The ability to find and maintain a home is directly affected by a person's ability to find and keep a job. You can help people lay the foundation for breaking the cycle of under- and unemployment, poverty, and homelessness by offering to help with job training.

Talk with local direct service agencies to find out how you could use your skills and knowledge to help their clients build their own skill sets. You could also ask whether you could volunteer your time and skills to fulfill any of the needs of the agency itself, freeing up its staff and funds for job training.

How can I help combat homelessness?

Support the Fight Against Homelessness

Volunteering your time to work directly with people experiencing homelessness is one of the best ways to learn about homelessness and while meeting immediate needs at the same time. However, if you are more interested in donating to the cause, consider gifts-in-kind, such as food, blankets, clothing, games, books, or other items that will help make a shelter or direct service agency a war, welcoming, effective and safe place. Or, give money. Talk with people at your local homeless shelter and ask what they most need.

Remember to be patient, as many service providers are under-funded and understaffed, and staff members are focused on meeting people's basic needs or coping with emergencies. Let them know how you can help, when, and for how long, and give them time to figure out how to work you in. Also, remember that service providers need help at all times of year-not just holidays.

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