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Some of us feel unsure of what to do when we see an unhoused person on the street or when somebody asks us for money. Next time you’re in that situation, remember these tips to stay safe and avoid an awkward encounter.
Follow Your Gut
One user said, “I personally won’t do it because I gave a homeless guy 20 dollars once and he started harassing me at work until he had to get escorted away by cops.”
That’s right—sometimes, the best way to help is to protect yourself first. A homeless person chasing you for money isn’t common. Still, you should always scope out the area and ensure there are other people around you.
Become a Detective
This is a personal preference, but if you feel better knowing how the homeless person will spend the money, just ask! A homeless person can lie to you just like anyone else, but at least you’ll know you showed them kindness.
Flip the Script
Skip the questions and offer to buy them food and water at the nearest store. At best, the homeless person will thank you; at worst, you will keep your cash for another day.
Don’t Hold Traffic
If you’re driving up to a red light and see a homeless person waiting there, quickly decide if you want to give away some cash. If you don’t make the decision fast, you’ll end up scrambling, looking for your wallet as the light turns green and hearing those nasty honks.
Prepay Your Giving
Another user commented, “I give to local organizations that provide social support, housing, and food instead.”
Donating to local charities that give aid to the homeless is a great way to help without making yourself overthink things. Start by googling “homeless charities near me” and choose the reputable organization that interests you the most.
Feel Your Mood
The reality is that you won’t be able to give money to each homeless person you see.
This will be different for everyone, but if you see homeless people on your way to and from work, consider giving money when it feels right. Of course, if you can afford to do so and it’s safe, you can also give away money daily.
Set Money Aside Ahead of Time
It’s only a matter of time until you bump into a homeless person. Why not set some cash aside so you can quickly pull it out when you do?
This will ensure that you’re able to give them money quickly and safely. The last thing you want to do is pull your wallet out in public and search for the “right” dollar bill.
Evaluate the Homeless
“Depends on who they are, small town you can easily tell what type the person is depending on the outfit they wore,” someone commented.
This may surprise some people, but a user online mentioned giving homeless people books. While this may not solve their hunger or housing problems, giving them the right book could help them start making money to escape their tough situation.
Do Your Best
Aim to be kind, but know your boundaries. Giving away money each time you encounter a homeless person could hurt you financially and emotionally. If you can’t help a homeless person, don’t beat yourself up—let yourself give when you can.
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