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Housing and Homelessness

Do You Want To Help Your Unhoused Neighbor? Here’s How

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The homelessness crisis can seem like a daunting issue. But there are ways to get involved.
(Alborz Kamalizad
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LAist)
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The homelessness crisis can seem like a daunting issue for many. But there are ways for everyday residents who want to get involved. Even small things can be of great help if you're looking for ways to help your unhoused neighbors.

  • Speak to an unhoused person and listen to their story. Many are fleeing domestic violence or discrimination, surviving trauma or unemployment and falling through the cracks. They probably grew up in your neighborhood. Kira Morrison, a Los Angeles based mutual-aid organizer, told the Good Trade that communicating regularly with unhoused people you see everyday is a good way to build trust. Morrison also said to remember when you approach an unhoused person that you're encroaching on their space, so remember to be respectful. 
  • Sign up to become a host home for young LGBTQ+ youth. The Los Angeles LGBT Center is looking for local residents to sign up for a program that places young people experiencing homelessness in private homes for up to six months. Host Homes is meant to help the roughly 4,000 unhoused LGBTQ+ youth in L.A. who are living on the streets, many of whom suffer from not having a job, support system or positive adult relationships. In addition to temporary housing, Host Homes participants also benefit from wraparound services that include counseling.

  • Offer shower or laundry services. Unhoused people in your neighborhood are stressed over not having clean clothes to wear. If you don’t feel comfortable opening your home for someone to shower, maybe you can offer to have them drop off their laundry. If that’s still a bridge too far, find out if the local laundromat in your neighborhood has gift cards you can hand out. 
  • Put together care packages. Disposable toothbrushes, chap stick, thick socks, Kleenex, chewy granola bars, hand wipes, feminine hygiene products help. And some cash. Yes, cash. Unhoused people need to pay for similar things as you.
  • Offer a place to charge phones and other electronic devices. Unhoused people say the biggest challenge they have is keeping phones charged. Those phones are needed to call different agencies to follow up about housing and to handle other business. Ultimately, having a working cell phone means that unhoused people can stay connected to loved ones and keep up to date with news. 
  • Hand out gift cards.  Many businesses don’t allow unhoused people to rest unless they are paying customers. A gift card to places many unhoused people frequent would provide much needed relief to an unhoused resident looking for supplies, but also to get out of the rain, cold, or the blistering heat.
  • Join a neighborhood group. Many organizations like J-Town Action and Solidarity are on the ground in L.A. helping unhoused people everyday. It’s also a good way to learn more about the daily struggles unhoused people deal with.