What do you do when a person shows up at your church asking for help? Do you wonder what to do when someone approaches you on the street and asks for money? Should you give money to the person holding up a sign at an intersection?

Links to National Center on Family Homelessness Site:

Information about homeless children

Information about homeless families

Report card on the state of children in Georgia

Here are some things you can do
that will help people who are homeless.

1. Become familiar with programs in your area that provide help.
When someone asks for help, you can direct that person to a program that will provide the help they need (see inset at right).

2. Do not assume that homeless persons are alike.
There are a number of circumstances that cause a person to become homeless. The shabby person on the street may be the stereotype, but the homeless person may be a woman fleeing a domestic violence situation with her children, someone who is working but unable to make enough to pay the rent, or someone living out of a car.

3. Talk to the person with respect.
Homeless people face isolation and scorn. It means a lot when someone addresses them in a civil, polite way.

Is your church considering opening a shelter?  See PACT's guidelines for using your church property for sheltering homeless persons:

Click Here
Most of North Georgia is part of the 211 network, which allows you to call 211 or check with a national web site to find out what agencies in your area can help people in need. To see if your area is served, go to http://www.211.org/.

4. Share the love of Christ.
Encourage the person with loving words and actions. Often the homeless person is a Christian. You may be amazed at that person's faith in light of his or her circumstances.

5. Pray for them.
I have been amazed at how much homeless persons appreciate someone taking the time to listen to their concerns and pray with them. You may feel powerless to help someone in a difficult situation, but the power of prayer connects you with a powerful God!

6. Consider carefully before giving cash.
It is often easier to give cash to a homeless person than to take the time to help with the person's actual needs. If someone says he needs money for food, it is better to buy food than to give cash. Cash may present a temptation to purchase drugs or alcohol, or it may even make the recipient a victim of crime.

7. Take precautions for your own safety.
While most homeless persons are not dangerous, there are some who may present a threat to you. You can let the person know in a courteous manner that you are taking precautions because you don't know him and that you expect him to respect your boundaries.

8. Support ministries that help poor and homeless persons.
There are many wonderful ministries that serve people in need. You can help as a volunteer and by in-kind gifts and financial giving. The Housing and Homeless Council distributes grants from the Homeless Offering to programs that provide shelter, food, transitional housing, permanent housing, and rent and utility assistance, as well as programs that help persons learn skills to get them out of homelessness. The official date for the Homeless Offering is February 28.

9. Help start a ministry in your area.
If you find that there are no programs in your area that will help with needs you see, your church or a group in your community may want to start a ministry.  The Housing and Homeless Council is available to help you organize a ministry, and programs that serve poor and homeless people can apply for grants. The application deadlines are March 1 and September 1.

10. Support policies that help poor and homeless persons.
Many persons cannot afford housing because the cost of rent is beyond their income level. Often organizations  who try to help special populations run into opposition from community groups who say, "Not in my backyard!" You can advocate for more affordable housing for low-income workers and for facilities in your community that help persons who need housing and assistance because of domestic violence, mental illness, and addiction.

Are you about to become homeless?

Here are some practical things to consider.

To contact us:

Rev. Virginia Tinsley, Director
4105 Briarcliff Road, NE
Atlanta, GA 30345

Phone: 1-866-333-1760
Fax: 1-866-380-2348
Email:  director@nghhc.org