What would you do to help homeless people?

Laura Adkins,

Originally Answered: What is the nicest thing you've ever done for a homeless person?

I owned a upscale home in Georgetown, WDC, for 22 years, just a short three blocks from the main campus. I had founded a non-profit organization that hired only homeless persons as movers with our moving company. One of the movers, a roundish shaped man of about 40, remarked that he couldn’t work the next day because his girlfriend, with whom he had a daughter had “run off and left him with their 2 year old baby daughter.” The toddler was also HIV positive.

I decided to let the man and his daughter live in my one bedroom apartment, which was actually the first floor of my three story home. I expected some unusual behavior, maybe noise at odd hours, maybe other homeless men crashing for the night, but a devoted father can be just that.

He stayed for two months, which was the plan, and he did have visitors, some homeless, some from social services, but never the mother. He was able to work for the moving company and put together some money, got some support from a jobs program called “Central Union Mission,” and was able to move out with his daughter after two months.

He left me with such a positive experience, that many others came and stayed for specific periods of time, with goals and hopes. No, not everything turned out all roses, but mostly it was goodness in my life. If given half a chance, with the right tools, guidance, and support, people will surprise you.

Nothing, because “homeless people” are not a homogeneous group with well defined issues. There are people who are homeless by choice (they won’t need/want your help), there are people who are homeless because of disabilities, there are people who are just going through a tough time (they will get better without your help) and so on.

I would consider helping a homeless person after I get to know him, understand his problems and decide if he really needs my help. And depending on his case I would decide if I want to help and how I will help.

Generalizations are dangerous because you reduce a person to a single trait and you forget that we humans are all different. When you lump a lot of people together based on a single criteria you deny them their individuality and you inherently assume a superior position: you decide that if they have A then they need B, without any concern about their personal feelings, reasons or needs You could ask “What would you do to help short people?” to the same extent. If you would a person with below average height and some random person would decide that you need high heel shoes to overcome your handicap, would you automatically appreciate the “help”?

Katherine Ochoa, says

I saw a homeless man tonight at 711  at 1 in the morning. My friend was dropping me off there because it's so close to my house and my parents are strict so yeah….I sneaking out of the house with friends and told them to take me back at one. So I could walk back and not risk my parents being awake to see me coming out of my friend’s car.

A 711 rep was taking out the trash and talking to him and it broke me.

He was talking about a paint job he had tomorrow and laughing about how hard work was to come by. He seemed happy that a human being was talking to him. And after she left he started nodding off standing up.

And someone in the back of our car started laughing at him. About how weird and “sketchy” he was. After we said our goodbyes and I got out of the car and they left I went up to him and woke him.

I gave him $100 and he started crying.

Even though I knew 100 was nothing when you don't have a place. Our family spends more than 100 for food in a week alone.

So....I took him home and I let him shower and let him sleep in the basement.

I don't know him but I know he has issues. Not having a home, not having the stability of a place to call home, it cuts you so deeply and destroys you slowly.

He said he'd cry go to sleep crying tonight but he doesn't know I'm crying too.

Because it's not that simple. Because simple kindness is viewed as condoning "bad behavior", because people are scared so they shut their doors and look away from suffering neighbours.

But do you know how hard is it to go weeks and months without showering? To have to sleep standing up surrounded by noise, and people going to 711 in all hours of the night because they felt "in the mood" for chips and soda? And then to go to work the next day for money that won't pay rent?