The definition of homelessness is the circumstance when people are without a permanent dwelling, such as a house & or apartment. People who are homeless are most often unable to acquire and maintain regular, safe, secure and adequate housing due to a lack of, or an unsteady income. – via Wikipedia
That being said just because a person is homeless, it makes them no lesser or more than a person than say you nor I. Read about how to Open a Dialogue to help bridge the gap and to start treating people with dignity and respect that they deserve.
It is important to treat the individuals struggling with homelessness as people. A good piece of advice is to be aware of your body language when you meet someone. Look each person in the eye and be mindful of not cringing, if they reach out a hand or accidentally graze your sleeve. Be conscious to be more on their level. There’s no greater metaphorical power imbalance than looking down on somebody you are talking to. Towering over them could be viewed as aggressive to them. No matter the struggle a person may go through, they are, before, during, and after their homelessness, just another human being on this planet, worthy of interaction.
First Step Of Opening a Dialogue
Start a Normal Conversation.
You may ask them about their story, but be prepared if they don’t want to share details with a stranger. Ask them where they are from originally or, if they indicate they are a veteran, thank them for their service. You don’t have to enter into a long conversation but a small exchange may brighten their day and yours.
How Are You Doing Today?
This question is great because it’s open-ended, giving the homeless person a choice either to brush off a deeper conversation or engage in one without judgment or pressure. Don’t be surprised if the individual isn’t interested in chatting. You’re getting into people’s personal lives. Maybe they don’t want to discuss that with a complete stranger. If the person is open to talking, this can lead to a real conversation — and maybe even provide a way for you to offer help. Even if you’re just having a casual exchange, you could be satisfying an important need: social connection. Many who live on the streets battle the feeling that they’re inadequate or nonexistent to the rest of the world. Having a real conversation can reduce those sentiments.
Or say “hi” or “hello” or try to acknowledge the person in some way. It’s good to hear kindness regardless of what your greeting may be, it’s important to look the person in the eye when speaking. The non-homeless person almost never looks homeless in the eye. If you just look a person in the eye and sort of nod, it’s the most respectful thing you can ever do.
Reach Out and Offer a Handshake
This simple gesture breaks a barrier and expresses that you recognize their dignity. One moment of awkwardness for you can be the highlight of the day for him or her.
If you think someone might want help, then ask.
You’ll gain a rich understanding of these people, and you will know that you’re playing a part in breaking loneliness down. But don’t assume someone hasn’t thought of something they need or needs advice.
Always think first about your safety. Never offer rides in your car to someone you don’t know, and never stand with anyone in a poorly lit place. If you feel unsafe, don’t worry about being rude. Just leave the situation. Your safety is a top priority always.