Inclement weather is hardest on our homeless neighbors.
According to the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH), “44% of the nation’s homeless are unsheltered,” and an estimated 700 homeless neighbors freeze to death every winter.
“Homeless shelters have had to adapt this year, with most reducing the number of people allowed inside to limit virus exposure for guests and staff members,” said NCH Executive Director Donald Whitehead.
Thankfully, organizations across the country have chosen to help, and all of us can be part of the solution to this acute problem while also addressing some of the other chronic issues.
In cities and counties across America, churches and nonprofits cooperate with local government, schools, and healthcare providers to provide shelter from the cold and to let their neighbors know where to go. These and other free and reduced-cost services can be found at www.helpfinder.org or by calling 2-1-1.
How can you help?
- Do some homework. Make sure HelpFinder and 2-1-1 are both updated with your community’s existing cold weather shelters.
- Help with outreach. Print HelpFinder cards and share them with homeless neighbors and the churches, nonprofits, and government organizations that encounter them.
- Volunteer or donate to the organizations found on HelpFinder to help increase their capacity to meet the increased demands during COVID and the winter season.
- Get trained to help family, friends, and neighbors navigate the system.
Especially as COVID continues to wreak havoc on families’ financial, emotional, relational, and physical well-being, all of us need to do something to contribute to the flourishing of others.
If the Christians in our cities work together in both our professional and volunteer capacities, more of us will begin to flourish holistically. As Jesus prays in John 17:23, “May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.”