What NOT To Say

There are many ways to approach and talk to someone living on the streets. But there are just as many ways that you could offend or say something that is negative.

homeless person: “spare change?”

“Sorry- all I’ve got are 20s”
If they ask if you if you have change, just say “sorry I have nothing on me” even if you’re lying. At least you recognized them as another human being. How would it feel asking for help and everyone walked around you as if you weren’t there.

Why don’t you get help?

You don’t know a person’s circumstances and if they have already tried to get help. Often times they have tried more than once.

Here’s a dollar. Please don’t use it to buy alcohol.

This is a loaded statement that could really get a person very angry. Not everyone living on the street has alcohol and drug addiction. Don’t assume the worst in people.

Why don’t you go to a shelter?

The “#1 Reason Homeless People Don’t Use Shelters is lack of available Beds. Shelters are over-crowded in many, if not most, cities. People must line up hours before the facility opens to secure a bed for the night — and then go through the same process the next day and the next.

You don’t seem like you should be homeless.

Ask yourself just what a “homeless” person should look like. Is it prejudicial? Why is there a certain mold they should come from?

Maybe you should get a job.

They don’t have addresses, and most employers require addresses. This is a lose-lose situation: They can’t get a place to live until they get a job, but can’t get a job until they get a place to live.
This is by far the thing homeless people hear the most.

Not saying anything at all.

There are many ways to help the homeless, but shaming is not one of them.



  1. Homelessness - The Feminist Project - […] Article: What NOT To Say […]

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