World Homeless Day Is October 10

World Homeless Day is October 10. People who are homeless need protection from two serious threats. The first threat they face is from the upcoming cold weather. The second is from the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly 100 million people around the world are homeless, and another 1 billion live in informal settlements that are overcrowded or in other types of inadequate housing. These numbers could get worse, which is why World Homeless Day deserves attention.

How COVID-19 Is Causing People to Lose Their Homes

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a big impact on the economies of all countries around the world. Tens of millions of people have lost their jobs. In the United States, this is also true. Because many Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck, just one or two missed checks while waiting for unemployment benefits are enough to cause a person to be evicted. While there was a short moratorium on evictions, courts began processing cases around August 1.

How You Can Help With Homelessness

Even if you don't have thousands of dollars to pay someone's overdue mortgage or rent, you can still make an impact on homelessness and the need for housing in your community. One thing you can do is donate goods to your local shelter. Contact them and ask them what they need. Each shelter has its own process for accepting material donations. Some in-demand items include diapers, wipes, menstrual care products, new socks and underwear, soap, shampoo and laundry detergent. If you have extra of those items, you may be able to donate them to your local homeless shelter. Some shelters have wish lists that you can shop from online and have the items delivered directly to their location. This saves you a trip and helps the shelter.

Create Care Packages Related to COVID-19

You can also create care packages to help homeless people lessen their risk of contracting COVID-19. Keep the care packages in your vehicle or backpack. When you see a homeless person without a mask, offer them a care package. Some items you could put in a care package include a disposable mask, hand wipes, socks, shelf-stable food, a bottle of water and a roll of toilet paper. Many homeless people have pets. You might consider providing small packets of pet food, too.

Make a Financial Contribution

Many homeless shelters and nonprofits that offer food, clothing, medical care and other services to people who are homeless or have inadequate shelter are low on funds. If you can provide a monetary donation, this would help them in their mission to prevent homelessness. These organizations are typically 501(c)(3) nonprofits. You can get a receipt for your donation. If you itemize your taxes, you can take a deduction for the cash donation you make. Before you make a donation, use an online tool to verify the organization's status. Many of these tools also show how much of the donations are used for services versus administrative overhead and salaries.

Offer Your Time

If you have more time than money, you can show that you care by offering your time in a way that helps people who are in need of housing. Some neighborhoods are at higher risk of COVID-19 than others. For example, neighborhoods with high eviction rates are places where COVID-19 could quickly spread. You could work with an organization in your community that's helping with the COVID-19 response. For example, you could volunteer at your local food bank. Many food banks are overwhelmed with requests. If a person doesn't have to spend their money on food, they may be able to pay their rent and utility bills. Most food banks are offering no-contact food distribution. Boxes are pre-packed and loaded into the client's trunk or back seat of their vehicle. If you're handy with tools, you could help people whose homes are in disrepair. Plumbers, electricians and carpenters could donate their time and skills.

Provide Services

People who are homeless often have difficulty getting to the agencies that offer help. If you know a person who is homeless, offer them a ride to the social services department. A person who is at a high risk of COVID-19 may not be able to leave their home to get food. In that case, you could be their proxy and drive to the food bank, collect their items and deliver it to their porch. Food banks accept a letter of proxy and typically have the form on their website.

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