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Homeless Families - The New Normal Homeless What Can You Do To Help?

Updated on October 21, 2015

Why I Am Writing This

A fellow hubber mothersofnations posted a question about a homeless mother with 3 children who seemed to be refusing housing assistance. While she would accept food she would not accept help in getting into a shelter or permanent housing. Based on mothersofnations interactions with her, she determined the children were not in school and at least one child and the mother needed medical care. It seems the mother would take a hotel room if someone was kind and paid for it, but would not accept the much needed shelter or permanent housing options.

Personally, I stayed in a hotel with my family off and on for our 7 months of homelessness. So I have been there. I know what it is like to be homeless, and I know that ego can really get in the way of getting help. After all I was homeless for 7 months and never even got food stamps. I applied once, but I could not let go of my ego enough to finish the process. Ego can hinder getting the much needed assistance.

So what can you do to help a homeless family?

How to Help a Homeless Family That Refuses Help?

First I want to say I am not a fan of Child Protective Service or the Department of Social Services. There are over 500,000 kids in the foster care system each year. So unless there is a serious reason to, a parent should never have CPS called on them.

Now with the example provided by mothersofnations, my first reaction was do not call CPS. After hearing more details I have changed my stance on that. If a homeless mother is not enrolling her child in school or getting medical assistance to her children CPS needs to be called! Likely they will get (force) the parent the help they need to get the children back. Meanwhile the children will receive adequate medical and mental care. They will also get assessed for school so they can get back on track.

When we were homeless, my children who were school age never missed a day without being sick. They never went without medical care. Any time children are denied some form of schooling and medical care they need someone to step in and fix the issues.

So if a homeless family genuinely refuses help, and you don't think you can convince them otherwise, look at the children to determine how you can help. If the children are cared for and healthy then walk away and accept there is nothing you can do. If they are being neglected or abused then call CPS/DSS.

Helping Homeless

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What Are the Options For a Family That Wants Help?

If this example from mothersofnations would have been a mother that did not refuse help, there are so many unlimited ways of helping.

The first thought that comes to my mind is to pay for a night in a hotel. It doesn't have to be a great hotel if you can't afford it. It could be a $40 a night dump. As long as it has warm water, a roof, and beds then it is better than living on the streets! Many cities have extended stay hotels also that even have a small kitchen. So if you and a church or other group can come up with a couple hundred dollars you could easily get the family a hotel room for a week. This is not a fix, but a temporary bandaid meant to provide much needed relief.

If you live in a city like mine you can rent a one bedroom apartment with all utilities included for $600 a month. It might not offer the multiple bedrooms a family might prefer, but it is a longer term solution while the family looks for work. So a $1200 investment ($600 deposit would come back as long as they don't destroy the place) could likely put them in a position to be able to clean up, and get back on track with their life.

If you only are looking to provide small amounts of financial assistance look into packing a Homeless Bag for them. You can do these in so many different price ranges that almost anyone can help. Get thrifty! In my area Goodwill Thrift Stores have a .50 cent day on Sunday when multiple racks of clothes are only .50 cent each. They also have new kids toys sometimes and nice used ones at super cheap prices. Just remember when you are getting things that they are homeless so the items need to be easily carry-able. So ideally you wouldn't get more than you can fit into a backpack. Another wonderful option is to buy them a cheap prepaid disposable phone with one month of minutes. For $50 you may be able to give them the opportunity to get employment. Many homeless families struggle with keeping a phone long enough to get a call back from a potential employer.

If you financially can't offer financial assistance, my advice would be looking for help for them. Contact your local housing authority to see if there are openings in low income apartments. Look for local shelters that won't separate the family. Go by your local Social Services Department and pick up an application for Family Independence and Food Stamps and take it to them.

Homeless People are Human Too!

Lastly I want to make sure everyone remembers that homeless people are human too. Most did not choose to live the life they have. They don't want to be homeless. Even if they refuse help, remember that their ego is a powerful thing, and while it may be hurting them more than helping them, they are entitled to refuse help and do their best to get it fixed themselves. This doesn't make them less human.

Homeless people are not all just old drunks who are lazy. Being homeless is hard and rough work! Homeless and lazy are opposites not synonyms.

So do what you can to help the homeless. There are so many options out there!

Remember we only have one world, and one life, so lets do something meaningful with it! Help others in need!

Humanity One World
Humanity One World | Source


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    • peeples profile image

      Peeples 3 years ago from South Carolina

      Thanks teaches I missed your comment! Thanks for helping the homeless community.

      That would be nice peach! Some help from large businesses can be helpful.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 3 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      here in malaysia, homeless people are put into organization, where big companies donate money.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      My hubby and I work with the homeless and I find your message to touching. Yes, we can help them. I love your suggestions and they are ones that will change much in the lives of a person in need.

    • peeples profile image

      Peeples 3 years ago from South Carolina

      Thank everyone. Mothersofnations, I understand your view. I actually grew up through my teen years in foster care and despise it for the most part. However the good thing is, in cases like this, they actually force the parent to get help in order to have the children. They will help her find housing, put her on forms of government assistance that will help her succeed, and provide the children with what they need. Once she is on her feet, the children will go back to her. You said before that the waiting lists were long at the low income housing, if she is dealing with CPS, they will bypass those waiting lists for her. I understand being unsure about being the one to make that call, but if you try the other measures and she is not receptive, then I encourage you, as someone who has been a foster child, homeless, and a mother of 3 to do what is best for the children. It is amazing that you are willing to help her, and I hope she is receptive to your assistance. I will keep her family and you in my thoughts. Please keep us updated in you are able to help her.

    • mothersofnations profile image

      Mothers of Nations 3 years ago

      I have to admit, I know it may seem wrong to some of you that I cannot bring myself to call CPS, but I don't believe taking children away because of homelessness and wrong choices due to fear of separation. I think she must not be aware that there are options where her children do not have to be taken away from her.

      Now, if she still refuses the help after all of this, then I know where/who to go to in order for at least those children to get the help they need. But I at least want to provide her with this last opportunity to do something, only because it's unlikely that others have taken the time that I'm willing to put in to help out to this extent.

      I ask all of you to keep the children and the mother in prayer and that they'll be off the streets soon, permanently. God bless you.

    • mothersofnations profile image

      Mothers of Nations 3 years ago

      Peeples, I was surprised to see this article today and I'm grateful you wrote about it. What makes it so difficult for me is I never want to separate a child from their family. I understand how traumatizing that can be for children and the parent(s) - most times. When you see them, it seems she indeed loves her children and they love her.

      The issue is she doesn't realize how much more she's hurting them mentally (and physically) by refusing permanent help. I don't understand it. I do believe that she has a fear of losing her children. (And I pray she's not using her daughter as a way to get money, as a local once stated as a possibility.)

      I don't see them around too often but when I do, it's the same thing: they're sitting in a plaza somewhere, outside of a store or restaurant, on the ground with their little belongings.

      I can't bring myself to call CPS. I can't be the one to do it. But because of your suggestions and as one other suggested, I'm going to prepare some information for her, have it clearly laid out for her to understand, be encouraging, try to minimize her fears whatever those may be, try to convince her to do something and pray she takes action and doesn't turn away. She's very uncomfortable with letting people in too much so there's a fine line that has to be balanced.

      Again, I thank you for taking the time to write this article, for being passionate enough to do so. Well written, well said. God bless you.

    • my_girl_sara profile image

      Cynthia Lyerly 3 years ago from Georgia

      I've seen a rise in homelessness in the metro Atlanta area. In my opinion, it's going to get a lot worse as inflation continues to rise and wages remain low. I'm not talking minimum wage, I'm talking "premium" jobs--jobs that pay $45K. Who can live off that?

    • Hendrika profile image

      Hendrika 3 years ago from Pretoria, South Africa

      I'm from South Africa and here it is a very big problem. people stand on street corners begging with their children, but they do not always want help. Many of them say they make more on the street than by working. So, here it is a case of getting involved and see if they really want help or not.

    • amiebutchko profile image

      Amie Butchko 3 years ago from Warwick, NY

      A really great and useful hub. Will help many people who all do want to help but really just don't know how. Thank you.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Such an important topic. Thank you for raising awareness about this. As you know, I was homeless at one time. It turns out I was worth saving. With the help of some very caring people, I got back on my feet and made a good life for myself. It can happen to anyone if people are willing to reach out. Thanks for telling this important story.