With 10,000 homeless people in a big city like San Diego, concerned citizens want to help. The city has agencies whose main focus is to get homeless people off the street. Sadly, for every one that they help, ten others take their place. Some people are just unable to get off the street.
There are others who are waiting for their turn to get into shelters or housing programs. The shelters and programs have rules that residents need to follow, but some individuals have problems with drug and alcohol that disqualify them from the service.
There isn’t one formula that can be applied across the board when providing services.
Talking to the people who need help
Talking to those on the streets will give you great information on what they need. Tarps are requested heavily during winter, and clean underwear is also high on the list. People staying in shelters have fewer requests than those who sleep outdoors. Warm clothing and sleeping bags are things that are needed when the weather is cold.
Agencies need to buy good products at affordable prices so they can continue to give to the needy
They find great rates for basics like soap, shampoo, lotions, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and other necessities.
They talk to those willing to speak to them
Harbor Freight sells the agency tarps at $1.99
They serve the homeless in the streets
They do not go to the non-urban areas.
The agency works with food distribution company so they can give food supplies that are inexpensive
They look in thrift shops, garage sales, and swap meets for good-quality items that can be used
The only new items that they give away are socks and underwear. Clothing is secondhand.
They get to know the people they are helping
They have some friends who donate tarps and bags
When approaching the individuals, they tell them that they have water and other supplies for that day and ask them if they need any of those items that they brought
Supplies are kept in a wagon that they pull behind them. Water, toiletries, and other basic items are always needed. People might assume that hundreds of churches and agencies are out there providing for the homeless, but that is not the case.
There are some churches that help, but most of the time, it’s concentrated during Christmas, so the rest of the year is pretty bleak. When more people are aware of how to help, they can reach more homeless people.