Source: eHow - Homelessness is a controversial issue - many people feel deep sympathies for the homeless and others harbor feelings of anger at homeless who appear to live off the hard-working. Regardless, almost all can agree that homelessness is an issue that needs to be addressed. This article will give you the cold, hard facts of homelessness and show you what you can do to alleviate the situation.
1. Understand Homelessness. We all have stigmas about groups we aren't familiar with, and that's normal. However, to continue growing as individuals, we need to learn the truth about others. Dispel myths about homelessness that you and your family/friends hold. Know that the majority of homeless people are not drug addicts, and that many of them have education past high school. Know that the availability of affordable housing has gone down to the point that it's almost impossible to find safe housing while earning minimum wage. Know that a large portion of homeless people are families, often single mothers with children.
Ask yourself this: If you were single with children and lost your job, would you be able to afford your house after missing two paychecks?
2 Provide Resources. One-time handouts don't necessarily help people become independent and self sufficient. Know what resources (free services and charities that address homelessness) are available in your area, and keep a short list on you for when you meet a homeless person. The best way to learn about services for the homeless is through your local United Way or City Clerk's office.
3 Donate Healthy Foods. Don't try to buy as many food items as possible. While this may feed someone for a long time, it will also lead to obesity and other ill-health issues. You'll help someone in need of food much more by purchasing quality food items. Choose black beans over pork and beans or canned green beans over canned yams. Buy a cereal high in fiber over high in sugar. Donate juices that are actual fruit juice, not high fructose corn syrup. Consider including simple recipes for how to cook the food you're donating. One of the biggest barriers of eating healthy foods is lack of knowledge on how to prepare it.
4 Give Respect. Once you complete step 1, you'll understand just how alike any one of us can be to someone who is homeless. Don't be afraid to walk by or even talk to someone who is homeless. We all have a story. By respecting a homeless person, you are providing more than a sense of dignity. You are also serving as a model to anyone who sees you - a model of how to act humanely.
I realized that If Sean Penn is willing to serve by using his free time to help the people of Haiti build a home for themselves, I can do the same right here in LA.
This year Love Angeles will specifically focus on serving those (especially women and children) who are seeking 'home.' I am currently working on the blueprints for a unique and sustainable campaign/program to help those who are homeless in LA and we will certainly work hand in hand with the many amazing individuals and organizations that have dedicated themselves for many years...
This afternoon I met Kenny on the southwest corner of Crescent Heights and Sunset Blvd. The 50 year old has been hobbling on one crutch after suffering two strokes just over two years ago. Kenny, who is not receiving the proper treatments/medicines he needs, has been homeless for over three years.
I asked him what his greatest wish was. Confidently and with an innocent and widening grin, he replied "a home... one room is all I need." I asked him if he was taking care of himself. He must have trusted me, because with his head down and ashamed like a child who knew he was doing something wrong, he answered, "nooo I haven't been takin' care of meeself." I reminded him that we live in a world that helps each of us the more and more we begin to help ourselves. He agreed. With a loose plan of action for Love Angeles lingering in the background of my mind, I needed to learn more about how he and other men and women living on the streets went about asking for money, how much they made on average and what they spent their money on. The conversation continued until I realized that I was getting late for an appointment. I left Kenny with my cell number and let him know that I intend to meet up again with him later this week to continue our dialogue so that I can broaden my understanding of an issue that not only touches my heart, but desperately needs to be addresses.