When someone asks why they should help the homeless the most common answer is one rooted in compassion. The homeless are our fellow man and woman in need. We want to follow the Golden Rule. Helping the homeless is simply the right thing to do. Now, none of those answers are bad answers. In fact, they are great answers. However, compassion isn’t the only reason to help the homeless. There are actually a number of practical reasons why everyone should want to be involved. Here are five practical reasons to help the homeless:
- It keeps emergency services available for others – The homeless, especially the chronically homeless, are constantly using emergency services. For example, some will go to the emergency room for any sickness because the emergency room is required to accept them regardless of if they can pay. By helping the homeless transition into stable living we free up these emergency services for everyone. Imagine faster responses from the police, shorter lines in the emergency room, and more space in the hospital. Helping the homeless frees up emergency services for everyone.
- It saves your city money – On a similar note, by freeing up emergency services we also save the city money. The chronically homeless use up approximately eighty percent of the resources for all homeless people even though they represent only about forty percent of the entire homeless population. By helping these individuals we save our city money and that’s good for everyone.
- You will gain a better perspective – There are a lot of myths out there regarding the homeless. They are often seen as lazy people taking advantage of the system. When you work with the homeless many of the stereotypes we have heard are challenged. This causes us to have a greater perspective. In addition, those who work to help the homeless learn about city government, drug addiction, mental illness and a host of other issues. Also, there is nothing that will make you more grateful for what you have than working with people who have nothing. Helping the homeless gives you a better perspective.
- You can make your city a better place – Who wouldn’t want to make a noticeable mark to improve their city? Helping with the homeless does just that. You can help some of the neediest people in your city become thriving citizens. You can beautify your streets by helping people go from asking for money on the streets to working steady jobs. You can make emergency services faster and more available. You can help your city save money and direct in other places. By helping the homeless we improve our cities.
- You will feel better, too – I am of the conviction that we should help people in need, even if it doesn’t help us. Nonetheless, when we help people there is a sense of pride that comes with it. It simply feels good to help. Those who work with the homeless will often say they find the work extremely rewarding. Helping the homeless helps you feel better, too.