7 Ways to Fight Homelessness
By Kevin Finn
In a world of quick fixes and instant gratification, issues such as homelessness can seem insurmountable. As an issue that directly affects thousands of people in Greater Cincinnati, Strategies to End Homelessness works on a daily basis to coordinate homeless services through data-driven methods and outcomes-based strategies. Concerned citizens, on the other hand, might not know where to begin. It’s easy to feel helpless when thinking about ending homelessness once and for all. But homelessness is a problem that can be solved through deliberate, collective actions.
Together, small actions can make a huge difference, we truly can’t do it without you and the collective support of our community! Here are our top 7 ways you can help fight homelessness.
1. Donate Your Time – Volunteer
First and foremost, we encourage everybody to volunteer for one of our many partner agencies throughout Greater Cincinnati in the work they do. From serving a meal at a shelter, to sorting clothing, your time is one of the most valuable resources you can provide.
Volunteering connects you to your neighbors and community, and helps build lasting relationships that help break the cycles of poverty and homelessness. In addition, when volunteers are not available, organizations have to pay someone to prepare and serve meals – taking funding away from helping people back into housing. So, find an organization that lights your passion, such as working with homeless families with children, homeless vets or homeless youth, and reach out today! Oh, and bring a friend along, too.
2. Educate Yourself – Understand the causes of homelessness
Homelessness doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and most people who experience homelessness don’t become homeless overnight. From our experience, most people do not become homeless for only one reason. Rather, the interplay of many complicated problems creates a perfect storm, leading a person to homelessness.
So, before we can solve homelessness, we have to first understand and identify what homelessness is and its many contributing factors, which are often not what we might think. For example, homelessness is normally a short term crisis (45 days), not a long-term situation; youth are more likely to be homeless; and locally, African Americans are grossly over-represented among the homeless, indicating a host of problems that disproportionately affect black families.
For fast facts, historical perspectives, and a deeper look into the causes of , and solutions for homelessness, check out our Data page. There, you’ll find fact sheets on a wide range of topics surrounding homelessness, as well as current and past Progress Reports, and more to help you be better informed about some of the issues facing your community.
3. Donate Money
Go green! I know this repeats what you hear all the time, but donating money to an organization such as Strategies to End Homelessness ensures your money goes exactly where it’s needed. As the organization that oversees federal, state and local funding for homeless services, in Greater Cincinnati, it’s our job to secure funding to fill in gaps and provide services homeless people need, but which government dollars won’t pay for. We also make sure money is used to support outcomes-based projects that achieve real, measurable results. Donating can be done easily online through our website, by check, or over the phone. Visit our Donation page for more info.
4. Download Street Reach
Get out your smart phone! The Street Reach app is available for iOS AND Android devices, and allows you to connect people who are sleeping in spaces not intended for habitation with our street outreach workers. The free app provides important data to street outreach workers, who are then able to provide potentially life-saving services and connection to shelter and housing.
Street Reach uses geolocation in real time to direct outreach workers, and has become an invaluable tool for the tri-state in identifying where resources are needed.
5. Shop Amazon Smile
Everyone loves the convenience of Amazon. Amazon Smile is exactly like shopping on Amazon.com, except that for every purchase you make, Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to Strategies to End Homelessness. How easy it that?!
Sign up to Amazon Smile, and use Smile.Amazon.com to have your purchases contribute to the great work we and our partner organizations are able to do for Greater Cincinnati.
6. Share information – Educate Others
Before you do anything else, educate your friends and family about the realities of homelessness, dispel myths, and tell them how they can fight to end homelessness. Your voice, echoed among your social networks, can have tremendous influence over your peers and colleagues. Small, collective social actions can change public perception, inform and influence dialogues, and change the law.
7. Contact Your Local Leaders
In Hamilton County, over 7,000 individuals found themselves on the streets on in shelters in 2015. Tell Let your community leaders and elected officials know that ending homelessness is a priority worth fighting for.
Contact Cincinnati City Council , your state representatives , and your congressperson .
Your turn! How are you helping to end homelessness? Is there something you would like to see listed here? Comment below!