Help Homeless People While Socially Distancing?

by | Apr 30, 2020 | Formation, Homelessness, Reflections

What can I do in this time of social distancing? The highly committed and knowledgeable folks at Invisible People offer many ways you can contribute to the welfare of homeless people in your community— all while maintaining social distance. Here is what I learned from them.

1) Advocate for Services to Respond to Your Community’s Needs

The reality for half a million Americans is that they are not only at-risk of dying from COVID-19, but also of dying from a lack of support to meet their basic needs. Homeless people need food; homeless people need shelter. They need your advocacy.

Connect with the agencies in your municipality to find out how their services are responding to COVID-19, where there are gaps, and how you can support their movement. Contact your local government to amplify their message and to ask for more funding from the government. Ask the people in your network to do the same to garner widespread community support.

The funding may come from the top, but only if there is first movement on the ground.

2) Make Financial Donations… If You Have the Means

Your financial donations make a big impact. It can allow organizations to stomach the additional costs of purchasing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to keep frontline workers safe. Or, it can help organizations purchase food as many have been forced to decline food donations.

You may not have the capacity to donate financially if your job security may be grim in these precarious times. If you’re one of the millions of Americans that finds themselves in this boat, know this: it is okay to receive. Money comes, just like money goes. Part of how we will get through this is by giving; the other part is by receiving. Please reach out for services and support if you need it.

3) Fortify Your Community’s Social Safety Net

Think globally, act locally. The coronavirus pandemic straddles this paradox: it is a global phenomenon whose transmission is local. Communities across the world need to band together (even if not physically) in order to battle this pandemic.
Connect with your neighbors, acquaintances or even strangers in your community. Find out how their life has been impacted by this pandemic. Maybe your neighbors have been laid off of work and are not eligible to receive mortgage deferrals from the bank. Your neighbor may need help with childcare if the local schools have shut down. Maybe your neighbor is elderly and needs someone to run to the store to grab groceries for them.
This pandemic gives us time to pause, ponder, and reclaim our actions locally. Although these supports are not directed at people experiencing homelessness, these measures may prevent homelessness. Most Americans have only $1,000 in savings; their social safety net may be thinner than you think.

4) Carve Some Time Into Your Schedule to Learn About Homelessness

COVID-19 brings a full suite of unprecedented challenges; time, for many, is not one of them. There are few times in our adult lives when we have more time on our hands than we do tasks to complete. Why not use a portion of that time to learn about homelessness?
Mark Horvath, the founder of Invisible People offers many resources

5) Get Political

Social distancing may have made our lives slow down, but the world of politics rages on. The primary elections are still taking place in the imminent future and the November 3rd Election Day persists. Reflect on which leaders will best advance the fight to end homelessness and poverty in America.
The right leader may push this dream towards a reality; the wrong leader could make it a nightmare. We choose on November 3rd.