How to Interact with Someone Who Is Homeless
Everyone is eager to find ways to help the most vulnerable residents get through
challenging times. While 10% of Martin County households are living in poverty, another
33% are considered ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed). They're
living one missed paycheck away from being unable to meet their most basic needs,
like housing, health care and food. Since the pandemic and resulting economic hardship
began, local soup kitchens and food banks report their demand has dramatically
increased. We support community partners which seek to share resources, work
cooperatively and avoid unnecessary duplication. Unfortunately, there are no shelters
except in case of emergencies (freezing weather or hurricanes)
and transitional housing services are limited.
What Do People Experiencing Homelessness Need Most Besides Shelter?
Socks. Living on the street, many unsheltered people rarely take their shoes off.
Personal hygiene items/Food/Gift cards and transportation passes ~ NEVER PROVIDE CASH MONEY
DOs to Help the Homeless and At Risk
Remember these individuals are people…Make eye contact, say hello, learn their name, show respect.
Take a moment and listen to their personal stories.
Make sure you understand all that they need for success
Listen to your personal instincts.
Carry along essential items to share with people which they can actually use.
Give hotel size, single use toiletries - soap, lotion, shampoo, disposable razors,
toothpaste, and brushes - in Ziploc bags.
If you distribute food, drinking water and small items that can be held in the hand
and that don't need can openers, plates, silverware, ovens or refrigerators work best.
Donate any clean clothes, blankets, and similar items that are in good condition.
DIAL "211" for emergency assistance, more information or referrals.
Advocate for the services needed to prevent and recover from homelessness.
DON'T to Help the Homeless and Persons At Risk
Don't assume everyone experiencing homelessness is addicted to drugs and
alcohol. Many of these individuals have had a traumatic life and may experience
significant mental health issues