What Can I Do to Help The Unhoused?

Homelessness issues

Homelessness is more than just not having a roof over your head. It’s a complex issue that affects millions of people, not only taking away their comfort but also impacting their health, safety, and opportunities for a better future. Communities around the world see the effects of homelessness every day – it’s something that touches us all in different ways, whether we see it on our streets, in our schools, or through stories in the media.

Today, we’re going to look into the different ways each of us can make a difference for those who are unhoused. It’s about more than just giving money. It’s about giving time, effort, and sometimes, a bit of our hearts. We’ll look at how simple actions by individuals can lead to big changes, the career paths that allow you to work directly with those in need, and how getting involved with organizations like MEDLIFE and the Safe Homes Movement can help make a bigger impact. Whether you’re thinking of volunteering a few hours a week or considering a career that helps fight homelessness, there are countless ways to lend a hand. Let’s answer the question, “What can I do to help the unhoused?

Celeda, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

What Can I Do to Help the Unhoused?

Homelessness affects millions of individuals and families worldwide, leaving them without a safe place to call home. Beyond the absence of physical shelter, being unhoused means facing so many challenges on a daily basis, from securing food and clothing to accessing basic healthcare. However, each of us holds the power to make a positive impact on the lives of those experiencing homelessness.

Personal Actions

Want to make a difference? Here’s how you can start:

  • Volunteer Your Time: Local shelters and soup kitchens always need extra hands. By volunteering, you’re directly helping those in need and gaining a deeper understanding of the challenges they face.
  • Organize and Donate: Got an eye for organizing events? Set up clothing and food drives to collect essential items for the unhoused. Every little bit helps.
  • Be a Voice: Speak up for those who can’t. Advocate for policy changes and more funding for homeless services in your community. Your voice matters.
  • Learn and Educate: Understanding homelessness is the first step to solving it. Educate yourself and others about the reasons people become unhoused, and share what you learn.

Career Paths to Support the Unhoused

Interested in dedicating your career to helping? Consider these paths:

  • Shelter Support Workers: Provide direct support and make a daily difference in the lives of the unhoused.
  • Social Workers and Mental Health Professionals: Address the psychological and social challenges faced by the unhoused, offering support and solutions.
  • Urban Planners and Local Government Officials: Use your role to create policies and plans that reduce homelessness and improve living conditions.
  • Nonprofit Sector Careers: Join organizations dedicated to housing advocacy and homeless services. There’s a lot of good you can do here.

Safe Homes Movement: Building a Better Future

As part of MEDLIFE, the Safe Homes Movement is on a mission in Peru and Ecuador. We’re not just about providing immediate aid; we’re about creating lasting change. From building staircases for safer community access to renovating homes, our projects are designed to improve daily life and dignity for all. Access to a safe, secure home is a basic human right, and we’re here to make that a reality.

Our Safe Homes Service Learning Trip offers a unique opportunity for students and graduates in design, engineering, and architecture. This isn’t just a trip; it’s a chance to work alongside local professionals on projects that matter. You’ll leave behind more than just footprints—you’ll leave a legacy of improvement and empowerment. 

First hardcover edition (2005) The Glass Castle

Understanding the Issue

Getting to know the real stories behind homelessness can change the way we see the world. Books and movies offer us a window into the lives of people who face this challenge every day. Here are some recommendations that can help you understand more about what causes homelessness and the human stories behind the statistics.

Books to Broaden Your Perspective

  • “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City” by Matthew Desmond: This book takes you inside the lives of eight families in Milwaukee as they struggle to keep a roof over their heads. It’s a powerful exploration of poverty and economic exploitation.
  • “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls: A memoir that recounts the unconventional, poverty-stricken upbringing Walls and her siblings had at the hands of their deeply dysfunctional parents. It’s a testament to resilience in the face of homelessness.
  • “Under the Overpass” by Mike Yankoski: The author’s firsthand account of living on the streets for five months. It offers a unique insight into the day-to-day realities of life without a home.

Movies That Make a Difference

  • “The Pursuit of Happyness”: Based on a true story, this film follows Chris Gardner’s one-year struggle with homelessness while raising his son and pursuing a career. It’s a heart-wrenching look at how quickly one can fall into homelessness and the fight to escape it.
  • “Homeless to Harvard: The Liz Murray Story”: This movie tells the true story of Liz Murray, who became homeless as a teenager but overcame her circumstances to eventually attend Harvard University. It’s an inspiring story of determination and education.
  • “Dark Days”: This film explores the lives of people living in the underground tunnels of New York City. It offers a raw, unfiltered look at the conditions some unhoused people live in.

Why These Resources Matter

Books and movies about homelessness can do more than just tell stories; they can inspire action and empathy. By understanding the personal experiences and systemic issues that lead to homelessness, we can better appreciate the complexities of the problem. These resources remind us that behind every statistic is a person with hopes, fears, and dreams. As we learn more about the issue, we become more equipped to contribute to meaningful solutions and to treat every individual with the dignity and respect they deserve.

Together, We Can Make a Difference

Every action, big or small, plays a crucial role in supporting the unhoused. Whether you choose to volunteer at a local shelter, pursue a career in social work, or support organizations working on the front lines, your contribution can lead to significant change.

Understanding and addressing homelessness demands compassion, empathy, and informed action. By educating ourselves, sharing knowledge, and actively participating in solutions, we can help uplift those who are unhoused. It’s about more than just providing shelter; it’s about offering hope, dignity, and opportunities for a better future.

MEDLIFE and the Safe Homes Movement are at the forefront of creating sustainable change for families in Peru and Ecuador. By focusing on projects like building staircases, creating parks, and renovating homes, they’re making daily life safer and more dignified. Their Service Learning Trips offer a hands-on opportunity for students and graduates in design, engineering, and architecture to contribute their skills and learn from local professionals.

Do you want to be part of the solution? Join MEDLIFE or participate in a Safe Homes Service Learning Trip! It’s a chance to not only make a big impact but also grow personally and professionally. Visit MEDLIFE’s website to learn more, download the brochure for detailed information on how you can get involved, and find out more about what I can do to help the unhoused.

Together, we can break the cycle of poverty and homelessness. It starts with us, with every small step we take toward understanding, compassion, and action. Let’s join hands in making the world a safer, more inclusive place for everyone.

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