If You Could Help a Homeless Person in Any Way Other Than Giving Them Money, What Would You Do?

If You Could Help a Homeless Person in Any Way Other Than Giving Them Money, What Would You Do?

I posted a question on Quora.com and asked: “If you could help a homeless person in any way other than giving them money, what would you do?”. This question received quite a few responses that I will share with you now. Some are quite creative and some are a bit well, you’ll see.


Brett Dawson

Pray to The Father to send someone to minister the true gospel to them,in the name of Jesus,pray,to The Ftaher to send someone to help get them shelter,food,and for their basic needs to be met,in the name of Jesus.Ask the Father to loose ministering angels upon them,in the name of Jesus.Isaiah 51;20 KJV.They may,very well be the real lost sheeep of the Hose of israel.God also curses people,for sins.If God cursed them,unless they repent and turn to him,they likely will stay where they are.Drug addiction is a demon.Mental health issues are demons.Learn to bind demons,and loose spirits of God on people.


Michael Hue

My religion requires us to help the less fortunate. I always try to give them food or drink. I try to give them a few dollars. I have given enough money to rent a hotel room for a week. My husband and I gave rides (I won’t do that now because my husband has passed). Whatever you can do to help them will be appreciated.


James Reed

I used to be a construction contractor. I would hire any homeless person who wanted to work. He would work with my clean up man. If he had a good work ethic I hired him if he wanted the job.


Annie Klup

I wish I could help get them a place to live, a job, a bike that they could ride around town with, a tent that was small and easy to fold up and transport, a coat when it is cold or raining or at least a bus pass to help them get away to different locations if they need to.


Margaret Sue

Teach them the 12 steps of alcoholics anonymous (which is also the basis of narcotics anonymous) because most of the time, they’re addicted to something. If they didn’t listen, get them a pie and chips and wish them well.


Mitch Smith

Giving them a comfortable place to stay would be best, but a large percentage would abuse your trust and damage your property or steal from you. I wouldn’t do it unless I knew them very well.


Yuri Grast

Spend a little time with them, chatting and listening to their stories. You will find not only do you give, you receive.


Janice Polivanik

Engage in respectful conversation – the physical needs are symptoms of inner needs, one of which is respect. That’s not sufficient, but it’s the starting point. In that conversation, if I uncover a need that can be met without giving money, and it was reasonable on my part to meet that need, I would do it. It could be transportation, use of a cellphone (though with COVID, I’d make the call on his behalf)…I’m not sure what else there would be that wasn’t money, or something you could buy with money.


Steven Haster

Thanks for the A2A! What I would do is give them my time and my attention, give them dignity by treating them like a family member, share a meal with them, invite them to come to the gym with me for a shower. If I were a housed person, I would offer to do their laundry. As a fellow homeless person, however, I’m limited to the laundromat, and that costs money. If you are against giving them money but not against spending money, I’d offer to pay for the washers and dryers at the laundromat so that they could do their laundry.

What would you do?? (he asked me)

(I wrote) My husband and I started a nonprofit where we hand out backpacks filled everyday essentials that we all take for granted. Such as toiletries, socks, some food, snacks, and a few other items. This is just the beginning of what we are going to create for ways to change the way people can help the homeless.

Steven: That’s all well and good, but there are many nonprofits that provide those items. If the homeless person has already been given those items and has to carry them around everywhere they go, an excessive abundance of socks and toiletries is a real burden. Maybe they need a part for their car, or gas to keep it moving so that they don’t get towed and impounded, or maybe they’ve been towed and impounded because they couldn’t get that help and now they need someone to help them get it out of impound. Maybe they need gluten free food. Maybe they need a prescription filled. Maybe they need to make a phone call. Maybe they need first aid supplies. Maybe they need a stamp and the paper and envelope to write a letter and send it. Maybe they need internet access to further their education and earn their degree. Maybe they need food or medical care for their animal companion…

The point is that our needs are as unique and diverse as the needs of the housed people. I applaud you for wanting to help. But this belief that you know our needs better than we ourselves know our needs is condescending and inefficient, and frequently does more harm than good. You can’t know what the individual needs are without talking to the individual. That’s true of homeless and housed alike. Giving myself as an example, I’m living in my van with my two dogs. I’m employed. I work long hours, from 6:30 am to 10:30 pm. I buy my own toiletries, pay for my own gym membership so that I have a place to use those toiletries, buy my own gas, pay for my insurance, and provide food and medical for my two dogs… Sorry for breaking this into so many pieces but something is wrong with the app, lol.

In my case, what I need is a dog sitter, or help covering the exhorbitant expense of doggy daycare, so that my dogs are not cooped up in the van for so many hours while I’m working. I also need a safe place to park and sleep when I get off work. I also need someone to teach me how to use this iPhone to better assist me with my disability issues (autism, traumatic brain injuries, and CPTSD). While the doggy daycare is an expense, my other needs are not expenses and require no money.

Space is very limited, living in a van. One extra backpack means I have to discard an equal volume of other things, which makes no sense when the backpack is full of items which I am not in need of. We are people. Our needs are unique and our homelessness is unique.


Dierick Paul

I would put them up in a small home and pay their bills for 6 months with the condition that they participate in a job reentry program or other program aimed and securing them a stable job and addressing the Pettibone they may have in keeping it.

With a stable home, they can have acres to a shower, a way to keep clothes clean, regular meals. They can get decent sleep, have an address for job applications and they aren’t wandering the streets trying to survive another day.

When a person is homeless it becomes increasingly difficult to break out of the situation because without a stable home, you do not have access to daily hygiene. This makes going to an interview impossible. No way to wash clothes, brush your teeth or wash your hair. When you are trying to find enough food to live day to day, there isn’t much left over to think about getting and keeping a job. Without an address, what do you put on an application? Without a phone, how do you get called for an interview?


Samantha Drast

Nothing. If money is what they want/need, then that’s what I’d give them.

I’m not the morality police. I don’t care what they do with what I give them, but I’m not going to waste MY money giving them things they don’t need and will just throw away.

At worst, I’d get them a cheap room for one night at a sleazy motel, including laundry service. That would allow them to shower, have a safe night’s sleep, and put on clean clothes in the morning before they go back to their home behind a dumpster.

Or socks. They always need socks.


Diana Swan

Well I routinely allow selected people I know to use my shower, and I give any clothing I can, food if they need or want it but usually they are pretty well fed. A couple bong hits here and there and cigarettes. I give them money, I know they buy beer or shit with it. I know I’m enabling them, I’m enabling them to retain a sense of dignity and pride while they are going through a period of time in their lives (maybe their whole lives, I can’t know that) where they are doing what they’re able to do while concomitantly dealing with trauma and crisis that would honestly put most folks in the ground.

Homelessness has a way of drowning out almost all other problems. Believe me it’s the only way for some to stay sane, and frankly, alive. So next time you see that guy on the street corner with a piece of cardboard and on it some pathetic slogan, think about the goddamn pain he’s in if he doesn’t get that beer. Why not? Give him a couple bucks, make him a little more comfortable tonight. That’s a pretty big gift for only $2.


Constance Girtes

Give them a huge mortgage on a crappy inefficient house buttup against other crappy houses in an Omaha suburb full of a family who hates each other and breathing in carpets and paint and plywood and the very earth itself degassing volatile hydrocarbons and radon gas into their inner environment while all around 90% of this dry planet is rural and vast and solitudinous and thinly populated with extended families who are bound together by kinship rather than money and where everyone young and old work and everyone has a place. I would give them that if I hated them. I wouldn’t give them anything. I’d look them in the eye and tell them that they’re home where they stand. I’d tell them about their local resources and entitlements and point them in the direction of the closest shelter and tell them that they can turn it around, and I’d tell them the number of the warmline I use staffed by recovered addicts and alcoholics formerly homeless support workers, and I’d wish them well.


Gretta Doht

The local charities in my area gives clothing, food, and recommendations on homeless shelters in the area so I donate clothing to them. They keep the best clothing for the homeless and sell off the rest. That money goes toward buying food and other things needed for the homeless and paying portions of bill for the poor of the area. So I shop their thrift shop.

The poor and homeless can come in any time the thrift store is open and get what they need for free. Low income families shop there to buy their kids clothing and this particular charity will help you pay your electric bill or your water bill if you are behind.

I would look into your local charities run through churches in your area. They work with the people in your area and there is no “over head or people to pay” like in bigger charities. Most of the people donate their time. So you can donate your time and your unwanted stuff.

Make some phone calls to local charities to find out how you can help.

Sometimes it’s as easy as cleaning out your closet or pantry and donating to those who strive to make the lives of the poor and homeless better.


Brandon Jingles

Food is one of the easier things to come by. Dark colored socks are in high demand. If the area is buggy, pump or squeeze bottles of a high deet content mosquito repellent mean a lot. Double bag those in zip lock bags as repellent will dissolve nylon.


Shane Whiters

Helping homeless people is something I have been doing my whole life. I understand the troubles of messing up your life and finding yourself homeless, because I have done that to myself in my younger years.

The problem with giving homeless people money is that you don’t know them personally, so you don’t really know what they’ll do with the money. You also don’t know how they became homeless in the first place. It can be a hardship trying to figure out who is going to buy alcohol or drugs, and who isn’t going to, because some of them are really buying food and saving up to get off the streets. I became a person who won’t give money to homeless people, but I’ll do other things.

I give them food and drinks, because they are in fact hungry out on the streets. I also have told them to meet me at the laundry mat and paid for there clothes to get clean. I’ve made up bags with shampoo and conditioner, along with a bar of soap, disposable razor, and shaving cream. This way I could hand those out to people so they could clean up a little bit in a restroom. Sometimes all they need is a way to feel clean so they can get better and find some work, or apply for some assistance somewhere.


(*names have been changed to protect privacy)




Some of the responses were definitely unique. And they gave food for thought. What do you think about the answers?

1 Comment

  1. Sharron Brown

    I ask them what they need or want and I try to fill this. I have given food from a restaurant, gone to buy a bus pass, given a notebook…. I don’t give money to them but I’ll spend money on them if it is a reasonable amount.


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