Reddit isn’t all about fun and games. It’s time for change. They’ve asked their homeless users to enlighten us with ways we can actually make a real difference in their lives and these are our favorites. Shelters are great, but they need to help their members lead a normal existence along with providing everyday necessities. Find more ideas here.
DONATE FRESH SOCKS
For individuals looking to make a difference (rather than something that would require city funding or a number of volunteers): socks are hella f—ing important. They get gross fast, even faster than underwear, and keeping my feet healthy is super duper important.
Resources tend to be reserved for chronic homelessness. In my experience there’s very little in the way of prevention. I think the programs that put housing first have the right idea. Living in a shelter, I could take one plastic shopping bag up a night. Doors closed at 7pm, I got kicked out one night because I didn’t take a shower there, even though I had stayed in a motel the night before and took a shower there. (ex-wife paid so I could baby sit the kids until she got out of work) had my shoes stolen one night because I left them in the shower area by accident. It’s kinda hard to sort out your taxes or file for divorce or prepare your job application in an environment like that. Storage unit hours, shelter hours and bus schedule weren’t exactly coordinated so it’s hard to get places on time without having massive chunks of unusable time in between.
Homes first gives you a chance to reorganize without having having to move everything you own every morning and every night.
Feminine hygiene products. Tampons, pads, liners, yeast infection medication. Anything that has to do with menstruation. Maybe even a Diva Cup if the woman has a way to use it properly.
Shelters are seriously lacking in these things because nobody thinks about it or are too embarrassed. Please don’t be too embarrassed to donate a tampon! You will make a homeless woman’s week a little less miserable, and all you had to do was buy a box of tampons or pads.
I was homeless for a year. I would say that the best way to really help the homeless is to get involved with your local aide programs. You could work in a soup kitchen, hand out sandwiches in the park, provide clean drinking water, donate blankets and socks, or even help them apply for jobs, subsidized housing, or Medicare. Many of them qualify for government help, but don’t have the means or knowledge to do so.
I always carry extra water in my car because I often encounter homeless people on my commute. I have yet to meet one who will turn down a fresh, cool bottle of water.
NO COMMUNITY SHOWERS PLEASE
Personally, a place to be able to take showers in private. I’m homeless and I have PTSD from growing up in a sexually abusive household followed by group homes that weren’t all that different. The few places in my city that I can get a shower have nothing but a curtain (if that) as protection. Some people can probably deal with that, but I’m unable to, and I tend to have poor hygiene, which gets in the way of finding work.
SUBSTANCE ABUSE PROGRAMS
From my own experience, seriously expanded crisis consoling and substance abuse programs. Also, it would require fixing our mental health care system which is an absolute shambles at the moment.
The sky high price of decent childcare was the main reason I was homeless with two young children. I would be making slave wages if I paid for the worst, unlicensed childcare in the area (usually the cheapest is $5/hr per kid, minimum wage being $10 where I am). That’s what kept me trapped.
MORE REASONABLE RENTING OPTIONS
Currently homeless. It would be great if I could get housing without having to pay first, last, and deposit, all at once. If there were some landlords that would work with a person and spread out these payments it would be helpful.
I was homeless for two years, with my children and husband.
Best thing that helped us? A place to stay. We had been evicted so no one wanted to rent to us, but we finally found an RV park willing to rent us a little RV in an RV park for about half of what an apartment would have cost us.
Housing is expensive, and the “affordable” housing isn’t always safe. I didn’t want to raise my children next to drug dealers and domestic abuse issue.
But having a place of our own to go was the real start to us getting back on our feet. We bought the RV, so it became an investment that I later sold to move to Seattle.
More places should have tiny house communities where people can own the tiny homes.
FREE BUZZ CUTS
Haircuts: When I was last in a shelter they claimed to have a volunteer come and cut hair once a week. It’s hard to get a job when you’ve got super long unkempt hair, especially in conservative areas. Yet in about 6 months I didn’t see that person once. Luckily I got a job while my hair was still manageable but due to being in a large expensive city the only place I could find to cut my hair cost me $30. So if you want to help for more than a day, maybe find a way to get a barber to donate their services.