Ten Ways to Help a Homeless Person

by NWH Admin
  1. Be Prepared
    There’s many ways to help a homeless man or woman.  Often, we fail to act simply because we’re caught off guard.  In most cases, you’ll have better success if you’ve planned ahead and are ready to meet the need.
  2. Engage The Person
    Homeless people are people.  Smile and say hello.  Go out of your way to approach them.  Acknowledging them shows respect and gives dignity.
  3. Ask Questions
    Start a conversation by asking questions.  Learn where they are from.  Ask their name.  Inquire about what they need most.  (Look for our 10 QUESTIONS YOU CAN ASK A HOMELESS PERSON.)
  4. Think Before Giving Money
    Opinions vary on whether it is best to give money to a panhandler.  Some have experimented with giving pre-paid credit cards.  In most cases, meeting the person’s actual immediate need for food or clothing might be better than giving cash.
  5. Offer A Care Kit
    Keep care packages in your vehicle that include essentials.  See our list of 10 ITEMS A HOMELESS PERSON COULD USE.
  6. Offer Public Transit Tickets
    In the St. Louis area, the Metro public transit system can be a convenient way for homeless men and women to get to appointments and resources.  Consider buying tickets in advance to keep with you.  Hand the person an address list of the organizations where they can get help.
  7. Offer Food Gift Cards / Certificates
    Food is the most common need panhandlers request money for.  Be ready to offer gift certificates to restaurants in the area.  Offer to sit and eat a meal with the person as a way to get to know them.
  8. Offer A Meal Voucher
    Many organizations, churches and shelters offer free meals to all comers 7 days a week.  Research the free meal options available in your city.
  9. Point Them To Resources
    St. Louis has a variety of services available to homeless men and women that they may not know about. You can request of a list of resources in St. Louis to hand out.  If you’re in another city, do some research to see if a similar list is available.
  10. Offer To Pray
    If you’re inclined, offer to pray for the person.  Ask what they would like you to pray for.  Your prayers will be most appreciated if you’ve taken the time to listen to the person and have offered tangible help.