Former Homeless People Explain The Best Ways To Actually Help The Homeless


Can you spare a dime?

Homelessness has been an issue for far too long. With all of the wealth in this world it makes absolutely no sense that any person or family is living on the streets. People who live on the streets are human beings, that seems to be a fact that many forget or choose to ignore. Those of us who can help must help. All we have to do is ask how.

Redditor u/Conmaan wanted to hear from the homeless out there about the real ways to be of service by asking.... Former homeless people of reddit, what can we do to help homeless people the most?


First and foremost,treat them with dignity. I was homeless last with my partner and the thing that killed our spirit was people being unnecessarily rude. If I am in that situation you can bet that I'm doing my best to get out of it as soon as yesterday because it's really not nice begging for food,being cold and walking for what feels like eternities looking for literally any kind of employment opportunity while trying to look decent and trying to be positive. If you can't or do not want to help you don't need to make snide remarks because homeless people are still people. potter981


I have a trailer on my land where I have a 22yo homeless kid at the moment. I only have my vegetable garden on that land so it's convenient. It's a very basic and cheap trailer. If I'd had more money I'd build a tiny house to give them some more dignity. But the land is fenced and so they can live on it with their dog. A lot have trouble finding a job or getting their stuff together because they have an animal, a cast away, like them, that stops them from going to refuges or joining programs or even having a job.

He helps me in the garden. If there's too much, he can sell it on the market and buy some clothes and stuff. It gives him freedom. He's learning mechanics now. Not a bad kid, just never had real opportunities in his life and rebelled against the entire society. Waldondo


Idk if this belong here but, my cousin lives in Chicago and is a musician and bartender. She didn't have much. But a while ago she used to go to Sam's club (or whatever their equivalent is) to get the rotisserie chickens at the end of every Sunday. She would bring them to one of the nearby homeless villages and feed them, and play music for them and read to them. According to her, they seemed to enjoy the company. skyrites


I worked with the mentally ill homeless population. Two things that are important, and ID and bus/train tickets. Services are all over the city and all federal assistance needs identification. This is a few dollars but getting the paperwork can be a nightmare. I worked with people who were impacted by hurricane Katrina and their birth records were lost due to water damage. Fucking sucks. thepigfish82


I was homeless due to addiction problems several years ago. Looking back, what ultimately helped me was the criminal justice system that court ordered me to attend drug treatment. There was also a lovely nonprofit that provided cheap housing for after I got clean. These nonprofits usually take donations for furniture and whatnot, and you can get a tax write off.

If you're more looking to help a homeless stranger, I would say socks and food were the items I truly needed most. My feet were wet 24 hours a day if it was wet outside.

If you're trying to help someone you know, meet them where they're at. If there is an underlying issue that can be treated, like mental health or addiction, try to be there for them when they're ready to get help. ItsBrieTimeBabyy


Was formerly homeless, now homeless again.

Do you mean, what can an individual person do, or what can the rest of society do? On a society wide level, there's a lot that could be changed. Better community resources and safety nets, more transitional housing programs extended to more people, removing barriers to employment/care/etc for those without addresses...... etc, etc.

On an individual level, the most important thing you can do for me is have compassion, and treat me like a human being.... Listen to us, advocate for us, and help in more tangible ways when you're able, with food, supplies, etc. You can make an incredible difference in people's lives eith just a little compassion, a little effort, or a little helping hand. SIFremi


A way to learn to drive without spending thousands of dollars. Improve public transportation. Improve access to real treatment for mental health issues (Including addiction). Realize that a majority of people are just one bad thing away from homelessness, and it is often a cycle of getting set up with a job and place to live only to have it ripped away over and over. TwoTerabyte


I was homeless for a week when I was 18. In my case, I just didn't have options, so if anything went wrong, I was screwed. Fortunately, I knew it would go wrong eventually, so I was able to make plans to get out of it quickly, but it was months of a lot of stress.

There needs to be more housing options. When it comes down to it, people just need a safe place to store items, sleep, go to the bathroom, shower, and a place to eat. Sometimes, people just need to escape controlling situations with little cash on hand, sometimes people just need a chance to save up money to get ahead, so there needs to be a range of options so that people can have more opportunities for their futures. Paying a lot in rent with no other options to save is a huge barrier for people with little means.

I would love to see a variety of housing styles ranging from similar to military barracks (A bed, some lockable storage, communal bathrooms and eating areas) to bunk house options (A small room that you can lock with a bed and desk, communal other essentials) that offer a bit more privacy, but still cost effective. Gold-Tea


Nothing really unless you meet them one on one. Even then 90% will betray/ disappoint you. But not everyone. I was homeless twice. As a child due to my parents love for drugs and alcohol and abuse. Second when I was older and had a heart attack and took it as a sign and sold my shit and went out "into the Wild" for just shy of two years. When I was older, being able to prove I was drug free was a huge help for me. Sadly a lot of people in the streets are there because they can not/will not fit in. Such is life sadly. Invictus380


Make it easier to find long term housing. Right now, I need to move. And even though I have references and have never missed a rent payment, I can't find another place because my credit is shit. So. I'm going to end up in the cycle again.

How do you build up your credit when you're homeless? You can't. It's much harder to find and keep work for hygiene reasons.

The entire system we have right now is almost impossible to claw back up from. It's disheartening. FaustusC


Tampons and pads are in my box of donations for the rescue mission tomorrow. It's something that an article in a magazine brought to my attention. Things people take for granted. I'm guilty of forgetting how much I have. I've never been homeless but I have been broke enough to steal toilet paper from the grocery store bathroom and go days without eating, and be concerned about where my pads and tampons were going to come from. MostTiredMama


I don't know quite how to ask this, so please forgive me. If you have ever passively asked for change (for example, sitting with a cup but not approaching people), what do you think of people who say hello or smile, but don't stop to give anything? I often give, but on days when I don't have any cash/change or I'm in a hurry, I never know if it's better to just walk by or to greet the person but not give. I feel like a greeting is always better, but I worry that I'll look like a jerk if I don't follow it up with something. Marise20

Being homeless makes you feel like you're invisible. So for me a smile or any acknowledgement is welcome. Some of the best help I got wasn't cash, but people's care/time. sassylittlespoon


Every situation and circumstance is different, and the needs of an individual vary greatly. I was always very appreciative of work trades, often doing landscaping/basic maintenance/farm work for food. Quick to establish a relationship if you have a good work ethic, and people often wind up tossing in some cash. For a lot of people, food and hygiene products are greatly appreciated. End of the day though, the number one thing I appreciated was just not being bothered by people while sleeping/sitting/resting. Getting kicked awake, displaced by cops, never being able to lie down, etc takes a toll on your body and the lack of sleep destroys your mental health. spicethyme-continuum


Speaking as a bf to a wonderful woman who was formally homeless: don't give up on them. This should apply to people in general, but especially to those who are down on their luck. It's taken some time and some hoop jumping, but she has her own place now. It's stable housing with stable finances. She's still learning and doing her best. I'm really proud of how far she's come. OtterlyAwesome


I was homeless for six months after fleeing across the country from an abusive relationship. i was lucky to find places to stay for some weeks at a time, though i always found myself in crappy situations.

Anyway, what helped me was getting enrolled with the local community college. i used my refund money to pay upfront for a few months of rent. I eventually stopped attending classes so that turned into a huge debt, but it got me back on my feet at least. so that's what helped me, personally. enchantedbaby


Soap, toothpaste and clean socks and underwear will make them feel better for a short time, but you don't know whether just those things will help someone to feel more confident and look more presentable so that they can land some work.

If all you can do is help in a small way, it's great! and it possibly could help in bigger ways too.

Donating to charities that help homeless people get back on their feet, or being willing to employ a homeless person if you own a business are great ways to contribute to changing a person's life. Isaiah33-24


Takeout food. I used to hold door open at restaurants for people and ask them for any leftovers. Many did and many bought me entire meals, but management often kicked me off before they could give it to me.

Gel insoles. It sucks wearing shoes 18 hours a day and walking eternities. You can get shoes for free, but not insoles. ilikeplumpgirls


Theres no one answer to this. I was homeless in the late 90s as a teen run away. I met a lot of homeless people. Some are there by choice and some circumstance. Many of the kids I knew were running away from abusive homes, some just wanted to party and do drugs.

Some of the older homeless were homeless by choice. They didn't want a job and a home etc. They wanted to be free. Many had drug problems, many were mentally ill.

This was all before a whole new homeless crisis began when former middle class were pushed out by rising rents and stagnant wages after the recession.

Everyone has different needs. mezlabor


From threads similar to this in the past, I remember hearing that getting them things like socks, deodorant, underwear, etc goes a long way.

I have no idea if that would be offensive if you handed a bag of these things to a random homeless person though. kukukele


I've helped a homeless lady find her family after thirty years. She had NO IDEA how easy it is now. Just ask if they need anything, they'll tell you. :) RoadFlowerVIP


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