Are You Really Helping the Homeless?


Photo Courtesy of Nevada Health Centers © 2014

This homeless man is sitting with his dog, his only companion, his best friend. People stopped to put money in the poor man’s hat, not only thinking about the man but also the starving dog.

Ariana White, Columnist

You may see many homeless people roaming around the area, either on the freeway or on sidewalks in your community. Oftentimes, they can be seen on the freeway begging for money, hoping that someone will drop off a twenty. The homeless people that you see around your neighborhood are probably either picking up change on the ground, or they’re buying things from a nearby gas station with the money they just earned standing on the freeway. You may know this by now, but the homeless people that you give your money to don’t always use it in the best way. Many of the homeless ended up in their position because of life threatening substances like drugs and alcohol.

Coming from the experiences I’ve had with homelessness and stories that I have heard, it’s quite sad how such a little thing can take over your life. If you stop to give a homeless man a twenty dollar bill and follow him around, you could watch him go into a store and come out with a six pack of beer or some cigarettes. You would think that they might go and get some food from the dollar menu, or some chips from the gas station. But, when I see them take the only money they have and then use it up on things that are only making their situation worse, it breaks my heart.

I’m not saying that people shouldn’t help the homeless, but they should definitely be careful. Even though you may be giving them money, you might not be actually helping them. There are 610,000 homeless people in the U.S. according to the Annual Homeless Assessment Report; 65 percent are living in homeless shelters, while the rest are living in unsheltered locations. If you seriously want to help them, get food for them beforehand, and don’t just give them the money to buy whatever they want. They may not understand that food is what they need most, but you do. Instead of giving them money, try offering some food, or even coupons to get food at a reduced price. Items such as water, clothing, and personal care items can be more helpful and safer to give to the homeless.