I've been noticing homeless people standing by freeway exits with cardboard signs asking for help and have been thinking of what I could do apart from simply ignoring them.
I've heard differing opinions about responding to homeless [people] on the street and wanted to know what your organization advises. Are "care packages" with socks, food etc. something that the homeless actually want? What about gift cards, or even cash? Please let me know what NEOCH thinks should be the best way for me to respond every time I see a homeless person standing at a freeway exit.
There are a few panhandlers on the freeway exit that we have regular contact because they live in the shelters or on the streets, but the majority are not really our clients. Unfortunately, there is not a panhandling outreach staff in our community to figure out what their barriers are to stability (we have included a proposal that no one responded to locally). There are a sizable number who need treatment or some help for their health issues, but they are not really homeless. They are staying with friends or on private property that we are not allowed to go to.
Care Packages are great for anyone struggling and we would recommend printing out a street card to include in them. You can never go wrong with a care package. Why don't we give out more Care Packages to people we know are struggling? Even the name sounds helpful. I am not sure about gift cards or cash are that helpful, but maybe food gift cards like from popular Sub shops or from Dave's supermarket. The big problem is that it is not safe on the freeway exits and is not safe for people to stop. It is not the best place for these kind of transactions because the cars are travelling so fast. They must be making some money or they would not be there, but it just is so dangerous. There should be an outreach team available locally to help these individuals figure out the best path out of debt and back into the jobs market.
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