How to Engage the Homeless this Winter

January 22, 2016

During the winter months, there is great need to care for our homeless neighbors. At HFNY, we want to inform you how to engage and care for the poor and marginalized during one of the most challenging seasons of the year. Here are a few facts and tips about how to engage our homeless friends as well as organizations that are caring for the homeless in New York City. 


5 Facts about Homelessness in NYC

1. In recent years, the homeless population has reached the highest numbers we've seen since the Great Depression in the 1930's. 

2. Currently, there are more than 56,000 homeless people in New York City shelters. 

3. In June 2015, the highest number of homeless children were recorded living in homeless shelters at 23,286.

4. Studies show that the large majority of street homeless New Yorkers are people living with mental illness or other severe health problems. Compared to homeless families, homeless single adults have much higher rates of serious mental illness, addiction disorders, and other severe health problems.

5. 60 percent of New York City's homeless population live in Manhattan, concentrated in Midtown.

(Source: Coalition for the Homeless)


5 Tips for Engaging the Homeless 

1. Acknowledge our homeless neighbors. Look them in the eye and smile even if you decline to hand out money. Remember that they are our neighbors and deserve to be treated as such.

2. There are many resources in the city to help our homeless neighbors. Hand out resource cards that you can get from HFNY that list private shelters that are available for homeless men and women to sleep at and receive help from.

3. Download the Don't Walk By app. The app will show you where the closest shelter is and will even allow you to input information about the person you have encountered in order to gain more information about the homeless population so that we may serve them better. 

4. If someone looks like they need medical attention are in danger, call 911. 

5. Volunteer at Don't Walk By or one of our other affiliates that serve our homeless neighbors. At Don't Walk By, an annual outreach that sends volunteers out to canvass the streets of Manhattan to offer homeless men and women a hot meal, place to stay for the night, and resources for long term care, you can learn how to engage with our homeless neighbors year round.


5 Affiliates that Serve our Homeless Neighbors

1. All Angels - Upper West Side

2. The Bowery Mission - Lower East Side

3. Relief Bus - The Bronx, Harlem, and Port Authority

4. New York City Rescue Mission - Chinatown 

5. St. Paul's House - Midtown West