Homeless Families - The New Normal Homeless What Can You Do To Help?
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.
Do You Think Homeless People Can Be Helped?
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!